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Slovenia's Crowded and Controversial Docket: A Buzz Interview with Matjaz Ulcar of Ulcar & Partnerji

Slovenia's Crowded and Controversial Docket: A Buzz Interview with Matjaz Ulcar of Ulcar & Partnerji

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Developments in legislation, controversy on the measures dealing with the energy crisis, and interesting M&A transactions are the major talking points in Slovenia, according to Ulcar & Partnerji Managing Partner Matjaz Ulcar.

"Several systemic changes have been implemented by the legislator in the past few months," Ulcar says. "The first is the Consumer Protection Act, which aims to align with recent developments at the EU level and started to apply in January 2023. The second is the recently adopted Prevention of Restriction of Competition Act, which, inter alia, implements simplified procedures only involving a routine check of mergers not giving rise to meaningful competition problems. The new Electronic Communications Act provides an updated regulatory framework for electronic communications services, aimed at providing the basis for the acceleration of digitalization in Slovenia," and network improvement. He also highlights the act implementing the EU crowdfunding regulation, "governing the supervision of crowdfunding services."

And a recent Constitutional Court decision on loan agreements in Swiss francs has far-reaching implications. "The court ruled that the disputed act applied to certain relations retroactively and as such presented a significant threat to the rule of law since there was no prevailing public interest to justify such retroactive validity." According to Ulcar, "certain class actions, initiated by different groups of consumers, are pending, but it is unclear whether there are still legal grounds for such actions given the CC's decision. It will be interesting to see what the court decides in these cases."

According to Ulcar, the measures dealing with the energy crisis also stir controversy: "the government enacted a package of laws, aimed at addressing the energy crisis and mitigating issues that companies may have with energy procurement, particularly with electricity and gas. As part of these measures, the government implemented price controls for certain groups of distributors, including deliveries of natural gas and electricity. Under these price controls, suppliers are required to provide the energy sources at prices below the market rate." According to him, it is currently unclear, however, whether these companies will be compensated by the state.

Ulcar notes that, while these measures may provide short-term solutions, more investment in energy generation from renewable sources will be needed in the future. "In addition, streamlining zoning and permitting procedures will be crucial to avoid delays in the development of new energy sources," he says. "Price adjustments in various economic sectors, including energy companies, are also likely to be a hot topic in the coming months. There has already been an increase in litigation related to force majeure and price adjustments, and it is expected that there will be more negotiations and possibly an increase in disputes in the future."

Finally, Ulcar highlights key transactions. "We had two big exits, valued at over EUR 200 million, that included sales of Slovenian companies. Pipistrel was sold to American conglomerate Textron and Joc Pececnik sold his business in the entertainment and gaming industry." Also, the Slovenian Alfi Green Energy Fund just recently "completed the first project financing, related to the development of a 105-megawatt wind power plant in Serbia." According to him, "the project is significant due to its nature, size, and high development potential. It is exciting to see that it is possible to fully privately finance non-subsidized projects in a different jurisdiction."