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In February, the EU Commission issued its new White Book on Artificial Intelligence – a European Approach to Excellence and Trust. The White Book is the prelude to a new EU regulatory framework for AI that aims to minimize the risks of AI and seize the opportunities it offers.

From 1 January 2021, foreign nationals will be able* to enter Russia with electronic visas at border control posts to be specified by the Russian government in a separate document.

CMS has advised KEXIM, the Export-Import Bank of Korea, on a USD 36 million financing deal with Grain Terminal Holdings — a Singapore-based joint venture between Posco International and the Orexim Group. Posco International was advised by South Korea's Jipyong law firm, and the Orexim Group was advised by Harneys' Cyprus office.

NKO Partners has advised CTP on financing of EUR 13.5 million from the EBRD for real estate project development in Serbia. CMS advised the EBRD on the transaction.

Schoenherr is reporting that the United Group's EUR 1.2 billion acquisition of Vivacom (Bulgarian Telecommunications Company EAD), the largest telecom operator in Bulgaria — the deal that was signed in November 2019 and won CEE Legal Matters' 2019 Deal of the Year for Bulgaria — has closed. Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison acted as lead English counsel to the United Group, while CMS and Kambourov & Partners were, respectively, English and Bulgarian counsel to the sellers.

2019 was an outstanding year for Ukrainian gas sector, as the country managed to complete the most critical parts of the unbundling of the gas transmission system in a timely manner. The year was also remarkable because, in twelve months, we saw three different unbundling models proposed by the Government, forcing the participants of the unbundling process and the key stakeholders to quickly adapt to the new rules and scenarios. For most of the year the country planned to implement an ownership unbundling model. However, in September 2019, before the third round of trilateral Ukraine-Russia-EU talks on gas transit, the unbundling plan took a U-turn, when the newly appointed Ukrainian Government, in its Resolution 840 (the “New Unbundling Resolution”), decided to switch to the independent system operator (ISO) model.

Since 2008 joint stock companies in Ukraine have functioned under a special corporate governance law (the “JSC Law”), which has improved through the course of its existence. Year after year, with the help of the SEC and the business community, Ukrainian legislators have introduced profound amendments to the law to bring corporate governance in JSCs in Ukraine closer to European standards, to attract foreign investments, and to insure adequate protection of rights of various stakeholders (minority shareholders, creditors, etc.) As a result, Ukraine has moved up in the World Bank’s Doing Business ranking, and in 2020 the country ranks 64th in the ease of doing business and 45th in the minority shareholders protection component.

We decided to lighten the mood this time around by asking our Law Firm Marketing experts from across the region a non-law-firm related question: “What did you most want to be when you were little?”

Over the past few years CMS advised the OTP Bank Group on an extensive series of acquisitions across Bulgaria, Moldova, and former Yugoslavia. This series of separate deals was shortlisted for CEE Legal Matters’ CEE Deal of the Year in each of the countries involved, actually winning the 2018 Deal of the Year for Bulgaria and the 2019 Deal of the Year Award for Montenegro. We reached out to Eva Talmacsi, who led CMS’s multi-jurisdictional team, to learn more about the firm’s impressive work on OTP’s behalf.

On January 1st, 2020, the Hungarian government adopted new legislation making continuing professional education compulsory for lawyers, post-qualification, along the lines of post-certification training and education that tax advisors and accountants had been forced to obtain for many years.

On 20 July 2020, laws governing the activities of financial marketplaces came into force, namely, Federal Law* No. 211-FZ “On Concluding Financial Transactions Using a Financial Platform” dated 20 July 2020 and Federal Law* No. 212-FZ “On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation Concerning the Conclusion of Financial Transactions Using a Financial Platform” dated 20 July 2020 (the “Laws”).

Eurolex Bulgaria and CMS have advised Trace Group Holding and Balkantel — both members of the Plovdiv Railway Project Consortium — on their successful participation in a tender for a EUR 45 million railway public procurement project in Bulgaria.

CMS at a Glance

Founded in 1999, CMS is a full-service top 10 international law firm, based on the number of lawyers (Am Law 2018 Global 100). With 70+ offices in 40+ countries across the world, employing over 4,800 lawyers, CMS has longstanding expertise both at advising in its local jurisdictions and across borders. CMS acts for a large number of Fortune 500 companies and the FT European 500 and for the majority of the DAX 30. Revenues totalled EUR 1.36bn in 2018.

In Russia, CMS has been supporting its clients since 1992. The Moscow office offers a full range of legal and tax services across 21 practice and sector groups. Over 50 lawyers qualified in Russian, English, French and German law advise international clients on all matters relating to doing business in Russia and CEE, and support Russian companies doing business in Europe and other countries.

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