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On January 4, 2018 CEE Legal Matters reported that Schoenherr had advised BUWOG AG and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer had advised Vonovia SE on Vonovia’s voluntary public takeover bid of BUWOG. The takeover offer placed the enterprise value of BUWOG at around EUR 5.2 billion. We reached out to several of the individuals involved in the deal for information: Christian Herbst, Partner, Schoenherr and Thomas Zottl, Partner, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 

Tim Pfister, Managing Partner at Knoetzl in Vienna, is an American lawyer with over 35 years of experience. In addition to his management responsibilities at Knoetzl, Pfister acts as counsel, advising clients and colleagues on New York law matters and regarding conflicts in international transactions, cross-border financings, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, corporate crisis management, and corporate strategic planning. He moved to Austria in 2013 and was a founder of Knoetzl in 2016.  

There are only a few days left until the GDPR comes into force on May 25, 2018. Despite having had a two-year grace period before the new regime becomes effective, companies all over the European Community and their advisors are struggling to meet that deadline. We at Dorda are as well, despite having introduced a nine-person GDPR implementation project team – which is relatively huge for a country the size of Austria.

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation is, according to the EU-hosted GDPR website, “the most important change in data privacy regulation in the past 20 years.” The Act, which was approved by the EU Parliament on April 14, 2016 and will become fully effective on May 25, 2018, was designed “to harmonize data privacy laws across Europe, to protect and empower all EU citizens’ data privacy, and to reshape the way organizations across the region approach data privacy.”

Unlike those of its neighbours to the East, Austria’s economy was allowed to operate free of communist interference, allowing the country to hit well above its weight, comparatively-speaking. Thus, although Austria is the 11th biggest country in CEE in population, with 8.7 million people, it has the third largest economy, behind only Russia and Poland. And these days, with the global financial crisis now firmly in the rearview mirror, the country is once again able to capitalize on its happy geographical positioning and historical relationship with the former members of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

Widely recognized as an entry point for investors seeking opportunities in Eastern Europe and as a hub for the region, Austria is home to a large number of regional General Counsel and Heads of Legal. We reached out to a number of them to get their perspectives on this critical gateway to CEE.

Austria is definitely lagging behind in terms of Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) penetration: According to recent data of the FTTH Council Europe, only one country worldwide has a worse penetration rate than Austria, while other sources suggest there are two countries below Austria. For this reason many initiatives have been implemented on municipal and provincial levels to provide Austrian households and undertakings with high-speed Internet access in parts of the country where a purely commercial assessment would not justify such investments. Obviously this is not yet enough.

The winners of the 2017 CEE Deal of the Year Awards were announced at the first ever CEE Legal Matters Deal of the Year Awards Banquet last night in Prague. The biggest smiles in the joyous and music-filled celebration of CEE lawyering, perhaps, were on the faces of Partners from Avellum and Sayenko Kharenko, which, along with White & Case and Latham & Watkins, won the award both for Ukrainian Deal of the Year and CEE Deal of the Year for their work on the 2017 Ukraine Eurobond Issue (a story initially reported by CEE Legal Matters on October 2, 2017).

A virtual showdown between German and Austrian insolvency administrators on where the COMI (center of main interests) of Austrian AIR BERLIN subsidiary NIKI was located came to a pragmatic end in January 2018. When it became clear a deal for the sale of NIKI`s assets out of the Austrian process had the support of creditors, the German official dropped his challenge to the competing proceedings in Vienna. The debate around the location of COMI is as relevant now as it has ever been before.

The European Commission has just published its comprehensive proposal for the so-called "New Deal for Consumers", which aims to strengthen EU consumer rights and enforcement. This includes the proposal for a new Directive enabling certain qualified entities to seek redress on behalf of consumers who have been harmed by an unlawful commercial practice.

One might be surprised to read that data protection rules might also impact the competitive assessment of a concentration within merger control proceedings. Nonetheless, the clash of these two universes can be increasingly seen with respect to mergers pertaining to the digital sector.

As of April 2018, California will allow fully autonomous cars to be tested without safety drivers on public roads. One interesting question in this context is whom to blame for damages caused by artificial intelligence or machine learning systems? We took a look at this under Austrian law:

The Czech JSK law firm, the Slovak Majernik & Mihalikova law firm, and Austria's Graf Patsch Taucher have advised ARBES Technologies, a member of the Expandia Group, on its cross-border acquisition of the Slovak software company FINAMIS. The sellers were advised by the Misik law firm.

Reading newspapers in Austria these days one could get the impression that we are in the middle of a financial crisis. Each week another Austrian company seems to be in financial difficulties – or worse – filing for insolvency. But when taking a closer look at the individual insolvency proceedings, things are not as bleak as they seem.   

Dorda has announced the appointment of a new three-person Management Committee, consisting of Partners Felix Horlsberger, who was re-elected after serving as a member in the preceding term, Martin Brodey who previously served as member from 2006 to 2014, and Axel Anderl, who was elected for the first time.

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