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The Buzz in Austria: Interview with Marco Steiner of Eisenberger & Herzog

The Buzz in Austria: Interview with Marco Steiner of Eisenberger & Herzog

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“The political situation in Austria is as stable as it ever was,” says Eisenberger & Herzog Partner Marco Steiner. “Everybody’s eyes are pointed towards the government’s handling of the crisis, especially given that we are right now in a third lockdown. However, the government will need to get right on with its reform agenda as soon as the crisis begins to die down.”

In addition, Steiner reports, the country’s insolvency framework has been targeted for an overhaul. “Companies have been given a reprieve in the fact that the moratorium on insolvency proceedings for cases of over-indebtedness has been extended until the end of March,” he says. Companies that are over-indebted aren't out of the woods yet, however. “In the first half of 2021 we expect insolvency proceedings and the distressed situation to increase substantially. For this reason, I believe, we can expect to see new legislation that will help companies in trouble by allowing for them to enter a reorganization process before filing for insolvency.”

In addition, Steiner says, "a new FDI screening framework has been put into place in an effort to screen non-EU investors that seek to invest in critical sectors such as infrastructure, energy, and defense." Under that mechanism, he explains, “non-EU investors must now ask for prior clearance before engaging in these sectors.”

Ultimately, Steiner believes that the Austrian economy is on track for a bounce-back this year. “M&A transactions will be back to a normal pace – not booming as they were before the crisis, but decent enough – and the real estate and infrastructure sectors have been going strong recently as well.” Thus, he says, “I trust that all of these will remain active together with an increase in distressed/insolvency-driven transactions as the year progresses.”

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