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Lack of public trust in the legal system together with factors beyond the country's control are adding to the complexity of the challenges in North Macedonia, yet things are going better than expected, according to Polenak Law Firm Managing Partner Kristijan Polenak.

Harmonizing national law with EU legislation, implementing sizeable renewable energy projects, and addressing production shutdowns are high on North Macedonia’s domestic agenda, according to Kiril Papazoski, Director, Papazoski and Mishev Law Firm, an independent law firm in cooperation with PwC.

Gugushev & Partners has advised Blackpeak Capital on its acquisition of a stake in Telelink Bulgaria. Karanovic & Partners’ North Macedonian office, SZA Schilling Zutt & Anschuetz, and Addleshaw Goddard reportedly advised Blackpeak Capital as well.

North Macedonia is preparing for far-reaching tax reforms, with updated rules on the profit tax, VAT, personal income tax, and social contributions, while dealing with the economic slowdown and increased prices, according to Lalicic & Boskoski Partner Vedran Lalicic.

Dentons has advised a syndicate of banks led by Ceska Sporitelna, and including Ceskoslovenska Obchodni Banka and Komercni Banka, on the financing of KKCG Group and Aricoma Group’s acquisition of Musala Soft. Polenak, Boyanov & Co, and, reportedly, Andric and TM & Partners advised the banks as well. Clifford Chance advised Aricoma Group on the deal.

North Macedonia does not have a foreign investment screening regime comparable to those now emerging in the European Union in light of the EU FDI Screening Regulation, but operates a single-sector authorisation system specifically covering the defence sector. Additionally, there is mandatory registration of all direct investments made by non-residents.

Schoenherr, working with Pinsent Masons and Wenger Vieli, has advised Kontron on selling parts of Kontron Group’s IT services business to Vinci Energies during a competitive auction process, for approximately EUR 400 million. Reportedly, Baker McKenzie’s German office advised Vinci Energies. Loloci & Associates advised Kontron on Albanian matters.

The development of road infrastructure is important for the Macedonian authorities. The Government of the Republic of North Macedonia (RoNM) analyzed and undertook different approaches for the realization of infrastructure projects in the past. During the last few years, the Assembly of the RoNM (Assembly) has adopted two laws that stipulated additional regimes for the realization of infrastructure projects.

Financial technology is in its early stages in North Macedonia. The ability of alternative finance companies to utilize technology and provide products and services to underserved individuals enabled them to successfully penetrate the retail lending market and become the most embedded subsector in the fintech space. Incumbent banks, aware of the growing competition, are developing fintech solutions such as better credit scoring solutions, the digitalization of products and services, and facilitating peer-to-peer payments. Fintech players and incumbent banks alike are also experimenting with big data analytics, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence. There are no initiatives in blockchain and distributed ledger technology.

ODI Law Partner Gjorgji Georgievski, EY Law North Macedonia Manager Jana Nikodinovska, CMS Partner Marija Filipovska, Popovski & Partners Partner Ognen Martinov, and Lalicic & Boskoski Partner Vedran Lalicic talk about what practices have been keeping their firms busy and their outlook.

In a 2020 CEE Legal Matters article, Karanovic & Partners Partner Veton Qoku wrote that “in 2016 the Republic of North Macedonia made changes to its Law on the Control of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, defining the terms ‘hemp,’ ‘hemp seed oil,’ and ‘cannabis/hemp oil’ for the first time as well as regulating the procedure for cultivation and production of hemp.” CEELM spoke with Qoku to check in on the development of this young sector in the country.

ODI Law has advised NeoGames on the acquisition of Aspire Global through a recommended public offer. Reportedly, Latham & Watkins, Herzog Fox & Neeman, Hannes Snellman, Allen & Overy, and Camilleri Preziosi advised NeoGames as well. Baker McKenzie reportedly advised Aspire Global.