“It has been busy in the business arena,” says Marko Ketler, Senior Partner and Attorney at Law in cooperation with Karanovic & Partners, citing ongoing consolidation in banking sector with the potential sale of Abanka, the third largest bank in Slovenia, and recent major M&A transactions, including the sale of Intereuropa, the largest Slovenian logistics company, to Posta Slovenije. "We can expect a busy summer with several large M&A deals pending."
At the end of 2018, the Government of the Republic of Serbia extended the validity of the Decree on Incentive Measures for the Production of Electric Energy from Renewable Energy Sources and High-efficiency Cogeneration of Electric Energy and Thermal Energy (the “FIT Decree”) until the end of 2019. The FIT Decree was initially valid until the end of 2018.
After a few troublesome years during the global financial crisis, it seems like Slovenia is on a positive economic route again. On December 14, 2018, S&P Global Ratings affirmed an “A+/A-1” credit rating for Slovenia with a positive outlook. Slovenian GDP has grown in the last two years between three and four percent annually, with a growth forecast for 2019 of 3.4 percent.
After the announced reform of the public procurement procedures in 2017, at the beginning of this year the National Parliament adopted the new Public Procurement Law (“Law”). This new piece of legislation embodies the current EU public procurement rules and sets the legal landscape which is expected to result with transparent and efficient spending of public funds. The Law entered into force on 1 April 2019, but its applicability will be de facto prolonged in practice due to the start of the presidential elections.
The new Trade Secrets Act will enter into force on 20 April, introducing further clarity to Slovenian legislation with a renewed definition of business secrets. The new Act comprehensively regulates business secrets, as it uniformly defines the concept of a business secret – which was, until now, regulated in several sector-specific acts. In the event of potential violations of business secrets, the Act also provides for different protective measures and judicial proceedings.
A transformation of the legal profession is happening globally, and its effects are also felt, slowly but surely, in the law firms of Southeast Europe. Due to the changing expectations concerning the quality, speed, and commerciality of services, we are seeing a move towards even more client-oriented solutions. Traditional sectors are being replaced with emerging industries, and where we previously had slow processes, with low profit margins, we see value being generated at lightning speeds. Also, a new generation that entered the workforce recently is slowly imposing their own values and approaches, necessitating changes in structure and the values of traditional legal practices.
Kinstellar, Shearman & Sterling, and Radonjic Associates have advised Masdar on its acquisition of a 49% share in Krnovo Green Energy from a subsidiary of Akuo Energy. Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and Karanovic & Partners advised Akuo Energy, while Allen & Overy acted as general counsel for the lenders.
"Two major things are happening right now which are the focus of our practice: The Tech Industry and Chinese Investors,” says Ivan Nonkovic, Partner and independent attorney at law in cooperation with Karanovic & Partners in Belgrade. "Both things are happening all over the region,” he concedes, ”so not exclusively in Serbia, but they’re definitely significant here too."
It is not uncommon for post-communist societies to wrestle with the idea of competition enforcement. Executives of a more old-school bent are often confounded by having something which once was common market practice, sometimes even mandated by the state, now scrutinized and considered a serious infringement of law. This is why competition advocacy is a crucial tool for relatively inexperienced competition authorities – it would hardly be fair to beat upon market players legitimately unaware of changes to the modus operandi.