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Traditional banking dominates the financial system of North Macedonia with a share in the total assets of the financial system of over 80%, according to the statistical data of the National Bank of North Macedonia. The rest of the financial assets are distributed between non-banking financial institutions such as pension and insurance funds, investments funds, and alternative financial services institutions.

Due to its strategic position in the heart of Southeast Europe and it being part of three important European corridors, Serbia can boast excellent connections to both Western Europe and the Middle East, and has a huge potential for public and private investments alike.

The still ongoing pandemic and its impact on the economic environment occupy governments all over the world. In Slovakia, several measures have been adopted by legislative bodies since its outbreak last year mainly in the area of financial aids and business loans. Moratoriums have also impacted the positions of banks and other creditors demanding their claims against debtors.

With a population of approximately 2.8 million inhabitants, Albania’s economy is mostly composed of SMEs. To a large extent the financial sector is driven by commercial banks, however, in recent years, thanks also to extensive regulation by the central bank (Bank of Albania – BoA), non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs) have picked up a significant portion of the market.

Environmental sustainability is essential to mitigate the risks of climate change. In order to promote this and develop a green economy, it is essential to secure adequate financing from the private sector. To this end, banks have started making available financial products for environmentally sustainable purposes.

Offsetting of claims (compensation) is one of the ways of termination of obligations, regulated by the Law of Contract and Torts. Certain procedural and legal rules, referring to the offsetting objection and the compensatory counter-claim, are also contained in the Law on Civil Procedure. The institution of offsetting claims is especially important when one of the parties in the obligatory relationship is in bankruptcy, in which case the special bankruptcy rules are applied. The importance of this topic is further enhanced by the changed business conditions in the world after the COVID-19 pandemic, with economic entities being increasingly forced to settle their obligations with compensation for the time being, until new sources of growth yield positive effects on liquidity.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the business environment in Russia considerably, similar to worldwide tendencies. On the one hand, many of the companies in Russia in various industries have been negatively affected and faced a decrease in revenue and, as a result, do not have enough internal resources for further project financing or for financing current operating costs. On the other hand, the new business circumstances have given way to the development of other companies, including various innovative start-up projects with growth potential that also requires financing at the initial stages of launching the business. In such a situation, foreign companies having Russian subsidiaries, as well as foreign companies interested in investing in start-up projects in Russia, may consider different financing options.

Sustainable finance is at the very heart of the financial system ensuring financial service providers offer green products and push them and the corporate businesses to be greener, to reach a higher level of social and corporate relevance when making investment or financing decisions.

REITs first appeared in the US in the 1960s, and the American REIT market has enjoyed considerable growth over the last quarter of a century. From there, REITs have spread to most developed economies, including many EU member states, and can presently be found in approximately 40 countries. In the US, the total return on investment in REITs making up the FTSE Nareit All Equity REITs Index reached 1,225% over the last 25 years, which translates into an average annual return of 10.9%. This, coupled with the good performance of REITs in other countries, contributes to an increased interest in this type of legal structure in jurisdictions where such solutions have yet to be introduced.

There are specific foreign exchange (FX) restrictions set out in Serbian legislation. The FX rules envisage mandatory requirements with respect to cross-border loans, guarantees, assignment and set-off of cross-border claims and debt, the opening of bank accounts abroad, etc. As FX restrictions affect various aspects of transactions between Serbian residents and foreign parties, they are frequently a tumbling stone in cross-border transactions.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the biggest challenges for Moldovan SMEs proved to be access to financing solutions. A financial gap spread nationally across different sectors and industries.  Moldovan banking institutions became reluctant to finance SMEs and sole entrepreneurs, while the existing solutions often proved to be expensive and inaccessible.

Unprecedented times for the entire world, even more so for Montenegro. Apart from the pandemic that still firmly grips the globe, setting back the economies worldwide, Montenegro has witnessed a huge political shift, as the opposition came to power after narrowly winning the parliamentary election held last year. The victory was hailed by many as the beginning of a new era, expecting the new government to lead this Balkan country toward a more stable and prosperous future. Many changes have been announced, and the financial sector was one of the most talked-about topics.

In 2018 the Bulgarian Stock Exchange (BSE) was granted approval by the Financial Supervision Commission (FSC) to create the new Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Growth Market BEAM (Bulgarian Enterprise Accelerator Market), under the provisions of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive 2014/65/EU (MiFID II). The new segment of the BSE aims to promote the development of small and medium-sized companies, which have a key role in the economic growth of the country.

On June 17, 2018, the Republic of North Macedonia and the Republic of Greece concluded the Prespa Agreement which, according to Pepeljugoski Partner Valentin Pepeljugoski, “resolved the name issue as a historical problem between the countries and was a step forward for North Macedonia to become an EU member.” After Bulgaria opposed the start of accession negotiations in October 2020 and again in June 2021, he says that “the country’s next hopes for EU membership are tied to the EU Summit on December 14, 2021, when a date for the start of negotiations with the EU is expected. The focus in the next period is on preparing the administration for all challenges related to the negotiation process, starting from the screening to the achievement of the final goal.”

“Immediately after gaining independence in 2006, Montenegro set EU accession and the integration process as one of its foreign policy priorities,” says Jovovic, Mugosa & Vukovic Managing Partner Vanja Mugosa. “It started membership negotiations with the EU in 2012 and has so far opened all 33 negotiating chapters, three of which have already been temporarily closed: Chapter 25 (Science and Research) in 2012, Chapter 26 (Education and Culture) in 2013, and Chapter 30 (External Relations) in 2017.”

According to Ibrahimovic & Co Managing Partner Adi Ibrahimovic, “the EU’s engagement with Bosnia and Herzegovina has gone through sporadic periods of intensifying cooperation and uncertain situations,” leading Dimitrijevic & Partners Partner Davorin Marinkovic to summarize the current status as: “frankly speaking, the public perception is that nobody actually knows.”

At the end of each year, business development and marketing specialists across the globe are busy identifying strategies and components to plan an annual marketing budget. Accordingly, this time around, given the season, we asked Law Firm Marketing experts across the CEE region a question: Which metrics do you look at when planning your marketing budget?

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