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The Vienna Stock Exchange was founded in 1771, during the reign of Empress Maria Theresa. Initially launched as a market for state-issued bonds – only bonds, bills of exchange, and foreign currencies could be traded – it expanded rapidly. In 1818, the Austrian central bank – which had itself been founded only two years earlier – became the first joint-stock company to be listed on the exchange (and one of the first shareholders was Ludwig van Beethoven, who bought eight shares in 1819). In 1863, the Suez Canal Company had become the first foreign company to be listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange, and in 1865, there was a further foreign listing with premium bonds issued to fund Turkish railway lines (“Turkenlose”). When the Frankfurter Bankverein applied for a listing of the Turkenlose bonds on the VSE, the Exchange Chamber decided to introduce rules for the admission of foreign securities, and thus, in 1873, the “Italian bond” became the first official foreign listing by means of a formal application. In December 1997, the Vienna Stock Exchange Chamber was merged with the Austrian Futures and Options Exchange to form a new exchange operating company, Wiener Borse AG, and in subsequent years the business spectrum of the Vienna Stock Exchange broadened to include market data dissemination and index calculation as well as IT services and central securities depository services.

“The pandemic has overwritten any expectations we had at the end of 2019,” says Schoenherr Budapest Partner Gergely Szaloki. “We were very optimistic, and the market was booming, but the pandemic changed many things.” He underlines the frequent switch to a home-office working environment as being a particular source of change for the real estate market. “Not only the office spaces,” he says, “but I can imagine that flats will also be designed in a way so that it’s possible to establish at least a working corner at home.”

Wolf Theiss has advised Kommunalkredit Austria AG on its successful issue of ordinary senior eligible notes in the amount of EUR 300 million. Schoenherr advised joint lead managers Erste Group Bank AG, Landesbank Baden-Wurttemberg, and Raiffeisenbank International AG, and co-lead manager Landesbank Hessen-Thuringen Girozentrale.

On 1 June 2021 a new Act No. 37/2021 Coll., on Registration of Ultimate Beneficial Owners (the "Act"), which significantly changes the rules for identifying and registering ultimate beneficial owners, will become effective. These changes are a result of EU harmonisation in the field of anti-money laundering based on the Fifth AML Directive (Directive (EU) 2018/843 of the European Parliament and of the Council).

More than a year has elapsed since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a devastating impact on our economy. Due to the extraordinary measures of the Hungarian government to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, numerous services were suspended, many shops were closed, and travel is still restricted. Companies affected by these restrictions suffered huge losses, which may result in their insolvency.

Schoenherr has advised Ventus LLC and Sky Logistica on the acquisition of Skyport, a cargo operator based in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, from the Czechoslovak Group, a.s.. In a parallel transaction, Schoenherr also advised Elite Partners Capital on the acquisition of the Skyport RE cargo property company from the Czechoslovak Group. Dentons advised the Czechoslovak Group on the parallel deals.

Unsurprisingly, 2020 saw a reduction in the A-listers on the Bulgarian real estate market, including investors in office, retail, and hospitality properties. The lockdown sent IT companies, which had been dictating the local office space market, into home office. The future of commercial and entertainment properties like shopping malls, cinemas, concert venues, and sports arenas remains uncertain – but tourism remains the hardest hit.

Schoenherr has advised Twisto FinCo s.r.o. and Twisto payments a.s. on its EUR 25 million debt refinancing, including a senior stream provided by J&T Banka of approximately EUR 17.3 million and a mezzanine stream provided jointly by Orbit Capital and Growth Finance of approximately EUR 7.7 million. Kocian Solc Balastik represented J&T Banka and CMS advised Orbit Capital and Growth Finance.

On 4 May, the detailed debate has been closed in the Hungarian Parliament in relation to the legislative proposal, which aims to implement Directive 2019/1023, also known as the restructuring directive, providing debtors with a pre-insolvency tool to rescue their viable but struggling enterprises. Restructuring proceedings fill a gap in the Hungarian legal environment and may also help enterprises recover financially from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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