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The Buzz in Austria: Interview with Martin Ebner of Schoenherr

The Buzz in Austria: Interview with Martin Ebner of Schoenherr

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With the effects of the war in Ukraine remaining difficult to predict, there is ample work generated by the sanctions alone, according to Schoenherr Partner Martin Ebner.

“The mid-to-long-term effects of the war in Ukraine on the market remain yet to be seen. What is certain, though, is that in the short term, aside from pro bono work, the sanctions have certainly generated a lot of immediate need for legal work,” Ebner begins. He anticipates that, in addition to regulatory advice that will be sorely needed, especially with the “potential supply chain issues, energy supply disruptions, and sky-rocketing energy prices,” financial restructurings will likely occur.

“So far, the economy has been handling things reasonably well, but I think that the second quarter ought to be telling of what could happen by the end of the year,” Ebner continues. “The expectation is that corporations will have to approach lenders more and that financial restructurings will be on an uptick. The Russian aggression in Ukraine and, also, the recent spike in restrictions in China, following the enforcement of its zero-COVID policies, are likely to disrupt businesses more as the year progresses,” he explains.

Still, Ebner reports that “large energy companies that have secured long term contracts have been doing well. Real estate is booming even now, and there is ample banking & finance work and M&A activity in the market,” he reports. In particular, Ebner points to financial institutions (distressed) M&A, including around Austrian-based Sberbank Europe and some others, which “could generate a lot of associated legal work.”

Speaking about legislative updates, Ebner highlights a few items of note. “After the COVID-19 support scheme comes to an end, we will see just how the economy manages to get along without it. This also means changes to the way of doing corporate work – for example, holding virtual shareholder meetings – it will be interesting to see how this moves along.”

Furthermore, Ebner reports that the Ministry of the Economy has been “pretty active” when it comes to FDI controls. “There have been some deals which were blocked, so investors should be on the lookout.” Ebner also believes that “regulation will continue to be a major driver for businesses, especially so in terms of the energy, financial services, healthcare, medical, and tech sectors.” Finally, he reports that there are “ongoing discussions about certain corporate law nuances, such as new start-up organizational forms, although nothing has materialized yet.”

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