CMS Sofia has successfully represented CEZ in an administrative procedure against a regulatory decision from the Energy and Water Regulatory Commission on set prices for electricity sales in Bulgaria.
Schoenherr Sofia Managing Partner Alexandra Doytchinova starts by talking about what’s happening — or rather, what’s not happening — in the Bulgarian legal market. “Nothing has moved,” she says, "which is not surprising, because Bulgaria is very conservative in this respect. Firms splitting and merging happens once in five years, if at all. So there’s nothing happening there on this front.”
Bulgarian anti-money laundering law requires that companies and other entities having their seat in Bulgaria register their ultimate beneficial owner(s). The registration is mandatory, and the deadline for registration is approaching. These obligations arise from the Bulgarian Anti-Money-Laundering Measures Act (2018) transposing Directive (EU) 2015/849 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 2015 (4th AML Directive) into national law.
In March 2019 the Commission for the Protection of Competition (CPC) cleared the acquisition of Nova Broadcasting Group AD (Nova TV) by Advance Media Group EAD, which is owned by the well-known Bulgarian businesspeople Kiril and Georgi Domuschievi. On this decision, Nova's previous owner, Swedish entertainment company Modern Times Group (MTG), was finally able to sell the TV network and exit the Bulgarian market, after having been prohibited from doing so by the CPC in July 2018.
In July 2018, following an in-depth investigation and in a rather hasty and controversial decision, the Commission on the Protection of Competition ("CPC") prohibited the acquisition of the largest media conglomerate in Bulgaria, Nova Broadcasting Group AD ("Nova TV" or "Nova"), by PPF, owned by Czech businessman Petr Kellner.
Last year was a good one for the automotive industry in Bulgaria. According to information from the Automotive Cluster Bulgaria, a total of 12 projects worth more than EUR 500 million were in the process of implementation in late 2018 and early 2019. These projects are from companies like ETEM, Visteon, Leoni, Voss Automotive, Sensata, and Bosch; i.e. first-, second- and third-tier suppliers whose business is not solely tied to the automotive industry. According to the Cluster, the sector already covers more than 220 enterprises with a turnover of EUR 5 billion, which represents approximately 10% of Bulgaria’s GDP.
Legislation and Strategic Changes in the Bulgarian Energy Sector: Several amendments were made to Bulgaria’s energy laws in 2018 facilitating the further liberalization of the energy market. Renewable energy producers exceeding 4 MW installed capacity that enjoyed offtake of their energy at Feed-In Tariff (FiT) were introduced to a different support scheme: Contracts for Premium (CfP), which became effective on January 1, 2019. Under CfP, renewables sell their electricity to the free market – either to the Independent Bulgarian Energy Exchange (IBEX) or to their balancing group coordinators.
Bulgaria, it seems, is in good shape. Fueled by a buoyant tech sector, the country’s economy is registering impressive growth, incomes are rising, and unemployment is down. Still, with corruption still a problem and the prospect of a global slowdown around the corner, few are willing to bet on the good times sticking around long. As always, in the Land of Roses, the thorns are not far away.
Unimpressed by Picadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square, Stela Pavlova and Katerina Kaloyanova have, in recent years, left positions with high-powered international law firms in London to return to their native Bulgaria and join Schoenherr’s office in Sofia. Both insist the trade-offs were less dramatic than many assume … and both credit Schoenherr Bulgaria’s Managing Partner Alexandra Doytchinova with making them feel right at home.
The Deal: In May, 2018, CEE Legal Matters reported that Linklaters, Kocian Solc Balastik, the BLC Law Office, Paksoy, and Tsvetkova Bebov Komarevski had provided advice on Czech, English, Georgian, Turkish, and Bulgarian law, respectively, to Energo-Pro a.s. on its EUR 250 million Eurobond issue in London. Allen & Overy, BGI Legal in Tbilisi, Boyanov & Co. in Bulgaria, and Turkey’s Gedik & Eraksoy advised the joint bookrunners, BNP Paribas, Citigroup Global Markets Limited and J.P. Morgan Securities plc, and the Trustee, Citibank, N.A., London Branch.