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Schoenherr and Hugh Owen of Go2Law have advised UNIQA on its acquisition of AXA subsidiaries in the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia for a purchase price of around EUR 1 billion. Clifford Chance advised AXA on the transaction, which remains subject to regulatory approvals.

Pursuant to the Bulgarian Accountancy Act (Закон за счетоводството) companies must publish in the Commercial Register and Register for Nonprofit Legal Entities ("Commercial Register") their annual financial statements by 30 June of the calendar year following the reported period. Companies which have not carried out any activity during the reported period are exempt from this obligation. Prerequisite for the exemption is that the company's lack of activity is expressly declared before the Commercial Register.

From 1 January 2020, the Bulgarian Commission for the Protection of Competition (the "CPC") has been applying new merger filing guidelines (the "Guidelines"). The former guidelines, applied for more than ten years, did not differentiate between transactions (simpler or more complex) irrespectively of their potential competition concerns. This unified approach was unnecessarily bureaucratic with regard to concentrations with insignificant market effect (i.e. insignificant combined shares of the parties), which required a detailed merger filing only because the parties' turnover reached the statutory thresholds. At the same time, the former guidelines did not seem extensive enough for more complicated transactions (with substantial market shares of the parties), and it was not unusual for the CPC to send to the parties several requests for additional information to assess and clear a concentration. Naturally, this approach led to delays both in simpler and more complex transactions.

According to the Public Debt Act (Zakon o javnom dugu) of the Republic of Serbia, the Minister of Finance manages the country's public debt by (i) entering into transactions that would reduce or eliminate currency risk, interest rate risk and other risks, (ii) deciding on the sale and purchase of foreign currencies, and (iii) managing cash balances on the Republic of Serbia's treasury accounts. The aim of public debt management is to provide the means for regular servicing of budgetary needs at the most favourable conditions and cost of financing, with an acceptable level of risk.

The newly sworn in Austrian government recently introduced its 326-page government plan for 2020 – 2024, which also includes some intended changes with respect to taxation. The aim of these possible changes is to lower the overall tax burden and to make the tax system more ecological.

After several extensions and long negotiations, the United Kingdom is now set to leave the European Union on 31 January 2020, after which a transitional period will commence until 31 December 2020. Trade between the EU and the UK will be impacted severely, most notably due to changes to harmonised indirect taxes, such as VAT. When EU law ceases to apply, which is currently projected to be after the transitional period, the UK will be treated as a third country instead of a Member State for VAT purposes. This article will provide a legal analysis of the consequences for VAT law.

In a recent judgment, the Austrian Supreme Court found that the concept of the "single economic entity" (wirtschaftliche Einheit) may also apply to jointly controlled undertakings. The judgment entails an interesting discussion on the applicability of the antitrust group privilege in the relationship between a joint venture and its shareholders.

The new Labour Act (OGM, no. 74/19) (Zakon o radu) ("Labour Act") entered into force in Montenegro on 8 January 2020, replacing the 2008 Labour Act (OGM, nos. 49/08, 26/09, 88/9, 26/10, 59/11, 66/12, 31/14, 53/14 AND 4/18) ("2008 Labour Act").

Tourism in Austria is booming. The capital, Vienna, has reported a 9.9% increase of overnight stays, to 7.94 million, in the period from January to June 2019, a new record. Demand for common rental platforms, such as Airbnb, has increased even more. For several years now, Austria’s federal states, municipal administrations, legislators, and competitors (in particular the hotel industry) have been kept busy with the business model of commercial short-term rentals.

The interest of foreign investors in acquiring real estate in Romania has grown significantly since the January 1, 2014 expiration of the country’s prohibition against EU citizens and businesses acquiring agricultural land. Land is available at competitive prices, compared with many other European countries, and other advantages include the facts that Romania holds an important share of the European crop land due to its grain production, has a favorable position within export routes, has high-quality soil, and has a climate suitable for a wide range of agricultural investments.

Hungary's BLS Law Firm has advised LP Portfolio on its issuance of HUF bonds under the Bond Funding for Growth Scheme announced by the Central Bank of Hungary. Schoenherr advised the arranger, OTP Bank.

CMS has advised Encavis Infrastructure Fund III on its acquisition of the Furstkogel wind farm in Austria, consisting of five wind turbines with a total rated output of 17.25 MW. The sellers, wind energy specialist Ecowind Handels- & Wartungs-GmbH, were advised by Schoenherr.

In late November 2019 the Croatian Parliament passed a series of laws amending Croatian tax legislation. The new laws, in the most part, came into effect on 1 January 2020. The changes form part of wider efforts of the Croatian Government to ease the tax burden on both citizens and businesses.

Cerha Hempel has advised the shareholders of Austrian electric car manufacturer Elin Motoren GmbH on the sale of a 70% stake to Voith technology group. Schoenherr reportedly advised the buyers on the deal, which remains subject to competition authority approval.

Schoenherr at a Glance

Schoenherr is a leading full-service law firm providing local and international companies stellar advice that is straight to the point. With 15 offices and 4 country desks Schoenherr has a firm footprint in Central and Eastern Europe. Our lawyers are recognised leaders in their specialised areas and have a track record of getting deals done with a can-do, solution-oriented approach. Quality, flexibility, innovation and practical problem-solving in complex commercial mandates are at the core of our philosophy.

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