The following Q&A is an extract of the May 2021 edition of the Private Equity Trends Monitor, which provides you with an up-to-date overview of the latest and anticipated trends across the European private equity sector. This extract covers private equity deal activity in Central and Eastern Europe.
“The pandemic has overwritten any expectations we had at the end of 2019,” says Schoenherr Budapest Partner Gergely Szaloki. “We were very optimistic, and the market was booming, but the pandemic changed many things.” He underlines the frequent switch to a home-office working environment as being a particular source of change for the real estate market. “Not only the office spaces,” he says, “but I can imagine that flats will also be designed in a way so that it’s possible to establish at least a working corner at home.”
On 27 April 2021 the Hungarian Parliament adopted a new legislation on the Supervisory Authority for Regulated Services, which will in the future supervise the judicial enforcement body, the liquidators and perform official tasks related to the retail sale of tobacco products and the organization of gambling. The new laws will enter into force on 1 October 2021. The purpose of the law is to strengthen the consumer protection, official control and supervision powers in relation to certain exclusive economic activities of the state.
Based on a bill submitted on 20 April 2021, the new law establishing the ultimate beneficial owner register (UBO) may enter into force on 15 May 2021. According to the bill, the UBO will be based on data obtained by banks in the course of the customer due diligence under the Hungarian Anti Money Laundering Act (AML Act), which data will be passed on to the body maintaining the UBO (i.e. the Hungarian tax authority). After the system is set up, each organization involved will receive a registration number and a TT index.
On May 14, 2021, CEE Legal Matters reported that Kinstellar’s Budapest office had advised Bank of China on an approximately USD 75 million loan to China National Machinery Import and Export for the construction and operation of a 100 MW photovoltaic power plant in Hungary. CEEIHM Spoke with Lucy Shen, Deputy Head of Corporate Banking Department at Bank of China (CEE) Limited to learn more about the deal.
More than a year has elapsed since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a devastating impact on our economy. Due to the extraordinary measures of the Hungarian government to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, numerous services were suspended, many shops were closed, and travel is still restricted. Companies affected by these restrictions suffered huge losses, which may result in their insolvency.
Kinstellar’s Budapest office has advised mandated arranger and facility and security agent Bank of China on an approximately USD 75 million loan to sponsor China National Machinery Import and Export for the construction and operation of a 100 MW photovoltaic power plant in Hungary. Allen & Overy reportedly advised the sponsor.
On 20 April 2021 the Hungarian Government submitted a bill on the Land Register to the Hungarian Parliament. The Government decided on the implementation of the electronic land register project, which requires a new Act on the Land Register, as well as a related execution decree. The purpose of the new system is in particular to develop the land register to an electronic database, completely electronize the land register procedures, connect the land register with other public electronic registers of the state and decrease the time and costs of these proceedings.
According to an information letter issued by the Hungarian National Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (NAIH) on 1 April 2021, employers can only request proof of protection against COVID-19 (e.g. proof of having the vaccine or recovered from COVID19) in certain jobs and after an appropriate risk analysis. If the employer has an appropriate legal basis to process the immunity data, he is obliged to put appropriate measures in place in order to protect its employees against COVID-19 infection. According to the NAIH, the legislator should further precise the requirements for justifying the immunity against COVID-19 in employment relationships.
The chain of general contractor and subcontractors behind large-scale construction and the occasional failure of certain subcontractors to obtain proper payment gave birth to the institution of construction payment agent, a form of collateral management. It was typical in the construction industry that subcontractors were exposed to circle debt. The construction payment agent is a unique statutory solution to eliminate such debts.
On 4 May, the detailed debate has been closed in the Hungarian Parliament in relation to the legislative proposal, which aims to implement Directive 2019/1023, also known as the restructuring directive, providing debtors with a pre-insolvency tool to rescue their viable but struggling enterprises. Restructuring proceedings fill a gap in the Hungarian legal environment and may also help enterprises recover financially from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.