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Serbia's Bracing for a Slowdown: A Buzz Interview with Nenad Popovic of JPM Partners

Serbia's Bracing for a Slowdown: A Buzz Interview with Nenad Popovic of JPM Partners

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Between upcoming elections and the situation in Kosovo, Serbia has plenty of reasons to expect a slowdown in the upcoming period, even if current activity levels remain, at times, surprisingly high according to JPM Partners Senior Partner Nenad Popovic.

“For the last two months, everybody was talking about the incoming elections - which are slotted to take place on December 17,” Popovic begins. “This, along with the events that recently took place in Kosovo, has shaped the discourse around the economic repercussions and potential pitfalls that we might collectively experience,” he says.

“As far as the elections are concerned, the legal market always experiences a slowdown - especially M&A or foreign investments,” Popovic continues. “This slowdown, if not a full stop, usually starts with the announcement of the elections and lasts all the way up to the formation of a new government, with investors being cautious about their positions,” he explains. “While there has not yet been any tangible slowdown, the legal market is bracing for a phase of reduced activity. Moreover, with the upcoming orthodox holidays, January has traditionally been a period of a slower pace, which we expect to decelerate matters.”

Additionally, Popovic reports that since the elections were announced, “legislative actions have halted, with the current government putting everything on hold. It's challenging to predict the election results and the duration of potential negotiations for a new government, but until that occurs - we do not expect there to be much to report from the legislative front.”

Continuing, Popovic says that “the Kosovo situation is primarily an EU issue for us. As the EU is our largest foreign investor, any significant deterioration there could slow down our economy,” he says. Although there have been some red flags, Popovic reports that “no concrete investment slowdown from the EU has occurred yet. However, these political issues are beyond our control, so we must prepare for any eventuality.”

Moreover, commenting on the current status of the economy, Popovic says that, “despite a 15.5% inflation rate and an overall economic slowdown, there has been vibrancy.” Specifically, he mentions the booming real estate sector where “the prices are still very high for new projects, and are, indeed, disproportionate to the purchasing power in Serbia right now. Still, surprisingly, all projects that came to the fore were sold - which gave rise to questions of the origin of the funds for all of these acquisitions,” he explains.

Finally, Popovic mentions that the renewable energy sector hasn't seen a slowdown either. “There's significant investor interest here. However, with the lithium extraction issue with Rio Tinto — there have been constitutional and judicial review concerns at play that might affect the entire sector soon,” he reports. “Also, I must mention that the car part production sector has been increasingly active, with many investors entering the market,” he concludes.

JPM Partners at a Glance

We are a full service commercial law firm in Serbia, with over 30 years of successful practice in SEE region and true and lasting partnerships with our clients.

Our diverse teams of lawyers are focused on practice in specific legal areas, handling some of the most high-profile multijurisdictional matters in energy, project development, mining, foreign investments, corporate and commercial. We are highly sought-after for legal advice in creative industries, environmental law and white-collar crime, as well as intellectual property, international arbitration, labor and data protection

As an exclusive member of Lex Mundi – the world’s premiere network of leading independent law firms, we interconnect and reach globally. Regionally, we advise clients in Montenegro directly, through well established partnership with ‘JPM Montenegro Partner Vukmirovic Misic law firm’ and close working relationships with selected first-rate firms in the region. Working together with our domestic and international clients on their most significant transactions and around entry to Serbian market, allows us to operate as the perfect hub for SEE and other cross-border transactions.

Our clients operate in increasingly competitive landscape and we are identifying new methods of using legal technology, to help them increase efficiency, save time and streamline work processes - document management, billing and accounting. By adopting LUMINANCE AI platform for legal professionals, we use machine-learning for contract analyses across our practice groups, as well as eDiscovery revolutionary software to simplify operations in all forms of litigation.

With exclusive access to EQUISPHERE – Lex Mundi Innovative service model, our clients can design their own legal team by choosing the best lawyers in the relevant jurisdictions, sharing documentation and communicating with all teams at any time, from a single point of contact.

Consistently recognized as a top-tier law firm, both by clients and leading independent legal directories Chambers & Partners, Legal 500 and IFLR1000, we remain committed to delivering highest quality service to our clients and help them succeed in overcoming cross-border challenges. We remain committed to continuously share our knowledge by regularly publishing articles, giving lectures and organizing international conferences.

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