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Bulgarian anti-money laundering law requires that companies and other entities having their seat in Bulgaria register their ultimate beneficial owner(s). The registration is mandatory, and the deadline for registration is approaching. These obligations arise from the Bulgarian Anti-Money-Laundering Measures Act (2018) transposing Directive (EU) 2015/849 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 2015 (4th AML Directive) into national law.

Following the adoption of the new EU framework for screening of foreign direct investments (see Schoenherr Newsletter 13.03.2019), the Austrian government recently published a draft bill to amend the current rules on foreign direct investments (FDI) into Austria. This draft is currently under review and shall enter into force in summer 2019.

In March 2019 the Commission for the Protection of Competition (CPC) cleared the acquisition of Nova Broadcasting Group AD (Nova TV) by Advance Media Group EAD, which is owned by the well-known Bulgarian businesspeople Kiril and Georgi Domuschievi. On this decision, Nova's previous owner, Swedish entertainment company Modern Times Group (MTG), was finally able to sell the TV network and exit the Bulgarian market, after having been prohibited from doing so by the CPC in July 2018.

The Romanian Ministry of Energy recently finalised the public debate of a document outlining a new mechanism for supporting low-carbon electricity generation, in the form of a Contract for Difference (CfD) scheme.

EU Regulation 2017/460 (16 March 2017) has established a network code on harmonised transmission tariff structures (TAR NC). It defines, among other provisions, rules on reference price methodologies, publication and consultation requirements and the calculation of reserve prices for standardised-capacity products. Articles 26 and 28 require the national regulatory authority (NRA) or transmission system operators to carry out one or more consultations on the proposed reference price methodology and the resulting indicative reference prices as well as on the proposed discounts, multipliers and seasonal factors.

Scandals from Danske Bank to LuxLeaks and the Panama Papers would never have come to light were it not for insiders who dared to expose major wrongdoings within companies and organisations. Until recently, protection of whistleblowers in the EU has been fragmented across Member States and even across policy areas. The meagre protections granted to whistleblowers have been subject to constant criticism.

Last year was a good one for the automotive industry in Bulgaria. According to information from the Automotive Cluster Bulgaria, a total of 12 projects worth more than EUR 500 million were in the process of implementation in late 2018 and early 2019. These projects are from companies like ETEM, Visteon, Leoni, Voss Automotive, Sensata, and Bosch; i.e. first-, second- and third-tier suppliers whose business is not solely tied to the automotive industry. According to the Cluster, the sector already covers more than 220 enterprises with a turnover of EUR 5 billion, which represents approximately 10% of Bulgaria’s GDP.

Unimpressed by Picadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square, Stela Pavlova and Katerina Kaloyanova have, in recent years, left positions with high-powered international law firms in London to return to their native Bulgaria and join Schoenherr’s office in Sofia. Both insist the trade-offs were less dramatic than many assume … and both credit Schoenherr Bulgaria’s Managing Partner Alexandra Doytchinova with making them feel right at home. 

Social Media is omnipresent these days and individuals as well as companies increasingly use these instruments as communication and marketing tools. Moreover, the development of Social Media platforms, like interactive online rating and comparison platforms, is also of interest for the start-up sector. However, this increasing importance of Social Media also raises questions about the liability for the published content and legal remedies to protect and enforce affected legal positions.

“The talk about the entrance of two regional players – CMS and Schoenherr – onto the Macedonian market last year is still on everyone’s lips (among lawyers),” says Apostolska & Partners’ Founding Partner Emilija Apostolska-Temov in North Macedonia, who says that the presence of such law firms in the market will undoubtedly influence business, increasing both the quality of legal services and competition. “It also gives us a hint about investments coming in – such big law firms would not come without any plans,” she says. “They must know something that the rest of us will learn later. I think it will be a positive experience.”

The Austrian Supreme Court has abolished its former line of decisions on the recognition of collateral granted by way of security transfer (Sicherungsübereignung) under foreign jurisdiction. From now on, Austrian courts will have to recognise such collateral even if it does not comply with Austrian publicity requirements (Pubilzitätserfordernissen). This decision will enhance legal security and the overall position of creditors in an international context.

Schoenherr at a Glance

Schoenherr is a leading full-service law firm in Central and Eastern Europe. With 14 offices located in Belgrade, Bratislava, Brussels, Budapest, Bucharest, Chisinau, Istanbul, Ljubljana, Podgorica, Prague, Sofia, Vienna, Warsaw and Zagreb, as well as country desks for Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Ukraine, Schoenherr provides its clients with comprehensive coverage of the CEE/SEE region. More than 300 legal professionals work across borders according to the individual needs and requirements of local and international companies. Quality, flexibility, innovation and practice-oriented solutions for complex assignments in the field of business law are at the core of Schoenherr's philosophy.

Firm's website: http://www.schoenherr.eu/knowledge/