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“The government acted well and fast in response to the crisis,“ says Viktor Tokushev, Managing Partner of Tokushev & Partners in Sofia. “The problem is, however, that the majority of the measures it enacted focus mainly on healthcare and the safety of the population, with other sectors lagging behind.“ In addition, he says, while many economic measures have been announced, not many have been actually implemented.

Over the last few weeks, the search for effective measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 has been the number one priority of affected countries. So far, there is no unified approach. A noteworthy trend is the increased awareness of the potential of data, which is sometimes even referred to as the "new oil". This potential is more than ever being used for key decision-making, e.g. in the development of medicines or vaccines, when assessing whether anti-epidemic measures are effective, in which countries travel restrictions should be imposed, in which public places access should be restricted, etc.

CMS Sofia has advised Korean investors KOSEP and SDN on additional EUR 10 million financing obtained from UniCredit Bulbank AD, Expressbank AD, and DSK Bank EAD for two 42 MWp photovoltaic projects in Bulgaria. CMS Vienna advised the lenders on the financing.

Georgiev, Todorov & Co has successfully defended the rights of concessionaire BMF Port Burgas – Burgas East 2 and Burgas West port terminals – in an administrative proceeding appealing against the Energy and Water Regulatory Commission’s decision under Art. 22 of Bulgaria's Energy Act in a dispute concerning direct connection to electricity grids.

In The Corner Office feature of CEE Legal Matters we ask Managing Partners at leading law firms across Central and Eastern Europe about their unique roles and responsibilities. In light of current events, the question for this online occurrence of the feature is: "What have been the top three most often asked COVID-19 related questions that you have gotten from clients in the last month?

In The Corner Office we ask Managing Partners across Central and Eastern Europe about their unique roles and responsibilities. The question this time around: What major initiative or new plan does your office (or firm) plan – if any – for 2020?

The “order for payment procedure” was initially introduced in Bulgaria with the adoption of the new Civil Procedural Code in 2007 as an accelerated enforcement procedure for debt collection. This procedure provides creditors with a relatively fast and easy way to obtain an enforcement order against debtors. In general, the order for payment procedure is like a closed administrative procedure and requires only the submission of a standard application form and payment of a state fee of 2% of the amount claimed.

During the COVID-19 outbreak businesses are facing the dilemma of whether to seek state aid or survive the crisis using their own resources. Every company should assess if meeting certain criteria for state aid is justifiable financially and in terms of timing. The state has the tool while the business has the option to use it. State aid is a sensitive topic, since it distorts competition by favouring certain undertakings, but this is allowed to take place when its compatibility with the single market is confirmed by the European Commission (the "EC"). Thus, the EC sets the parameters for the implementation of state aid while the Member States align the incentives with the needs of local business.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly spread across Europe, more and more companies have been forced to implement remote working arrangements for their employees. Logistical difficulties aside, businesses are now facing very real risks associated with information leaks due to human error, use of vulnerable equipment or software, or deliberate external misappropriation of sensitive data (both of the employer and its contractual counterparties). Immediate actions may need to be taken to adapt to this new environment.

“The main topic of all discussions in Bulgaria now is of course the COVID-19 crisis,“ says Diana Dimova, Managing Partner of Kinstellar’s Sofia office. “The good news is that the epidemic situation is under control with some 700 active cases, largely due to decisive measures taken early.“

Bulgaria has been in a state of emergency since 13 March due to the COVID-19 outbreak. On 23 March the Parliament voted on a special State of Emergency Act (COVID-19 Act) which suspended all court, arbitration and enforcement terms and proceedings during the state of emergency, currently in force until 13 April.

Dentons, DGKV, Karanovic & Partners, and Ilej & Partners in cooperation with Karanovic & Partners advised Hungary's Optima Befektesi Alapkezelo on its acquisition of a 61.49% share in Globe Trade Centre S.A. from Lone Star Funds. Schoenherr advised the sellers on the deal.

The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to impact the process, timeline and documentation of M&A transactions in the turbulent times ahead of us. Below are some techniques for parties to protect themselves in the current crisis.

Bulgaria Knowledge Partner

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.

Firm's website: www.schoenherr.eu

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