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Albania is making significant changes to its gambling laws. The Albanian government has been actively revising its gambling regulations, with the latest amendments poised to usher in a new era for the industry. Recent developments and what they mean for the future of gambling in the country are explored below.

During the past year, the competition enforcement activities of the Albanian Competition Authority (ACA) have seen a considerable increase. The ACA approved 99 decisions, a record since its establishment 17 years ago, and fines during the year were the highest imposed in the last five years. Most of the ACA decisions were related to approvals of merger transactions, followed by decisions on market conduct investigations.

On 07.07.2023, the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Albania adopted the Decision "On the determination of entry, residence, and employment in the Republic of Albania of foreign nationals, employees of an IT company" (hereinafter referred to as the “Decision”).

Brandl Talos has advised Telos Impact on leading the EUR 12 million series A financing round of Kern Tec. Schoenherr advised EIC.

E+H has advised Burgenland Energie on its acquisition of a 25% stake in the Solah Group.

Cerha Hempel, working with Snell & Wilmer and Burges Salmon, has advised customized electronics manufacturer DiscoverIE Group on its acquisition of Slovakia-based antennas manufacturer 2J Antennas Group.

Belarus's Revera law firm has teamed up with Adamante Management to open the firm's Cyprus office.

On July 9, 2021, substantial amendments to Belarusian currency legislation entered into force. We will briefly review the key amendments.

Economic optimism in the face of adversity, the introduction of English law instruments, and some new potential for growth are the highlights in Belarus, according to Aleinikov & Partners Senior Partner Denis Aleinikov.

Bosnia & Herzegovina has experienced a major government change leading to a focus on aligning with the EU, while a significant human rights ruling challenges the country’s ethnic-based voting system – potentially triggering constitutional reform and reshaping its political landscape – according to ODI Law Partner Mia Civic.

Critical legislative occurrences in Bosnia & Herzegovina – primarily focusing on the Constitutional Court, the electricity sector, as well as e-money – are the talk of the town, according to Dimitrijevic & Partners Partner Nina Vjestica.

A brief overview of value added tax and direct tax in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including specifics for direct tax in Federation of B&H, Republic of Srpska, and Brcko District of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Djingov Gouginski Kyutchukov & Velichkov has advised Provitech Solutions on its new lease agreement for office premises located on the top floor of the Sofia Tower.

Wolf Theiss has advised India's automotive systems and components manufacturer Sona BLW Precision Forgings on the EUR 40.5 million acquisition of a 54% stake in Serbia's radar sensor and embedded systems company Novelic. Schoenherr, working with India's Priti Suri & Associates, advised Novelic's founders on the sale.

Under the current legislation, mediation as an alternative method of dispute resolution is voluntary. The amendments adopted in the State Gazette, No. 11 of 2023, which enter into force on 1 July 2024, introduced two categories of obligatory mediation in civil and commercial court proceedings:

Miskovic & Miskovic has advised Infinum on a EUR 10.8 million loan from the EBRD. Mamic, Peric, Reberski, Rimac reportedly advised the EBRD.

Complaints (under Croatian competition law also referred to as “initiatives”), through which different market players may inform the Croatian Competition Agency (CCA) of suspected infringements of competition laws, have been introduced in the Croatian Competition Act back in 2010 and are not a novelty. Complaints have proved to be a useful tool that brought certain competition law violations to the attention of the CCA and helped detect and correct discrepancies in the market.

During the Three Seas Initiative annual general meeting in Bucharest in September 2023, Austria's Dorda, Bulgaria's Boyanov & Co., Croatia's Divjak Topic Bahtijarevic & Krka, the Czech Republic's Kocian Solc Balastik, Estonia's Ellex Raidla, Hungary's Lakatos Koves & Partners, Latvia's Ellex Klavins, Lithuania's Ellex Valiunas, Poland's Wardynski and Partners, Romania's Nestor Nestor Diculescu Kingston Petersen, Slovakia's Barger Prekop, and Slovenia's Selih & Partnerji announced they formed the Three Seas Legal Alliance, in recognition of the progress made by the Three Seas Initiative.

Havel & Partners has advised Investown Technologies shareholder Ceska Sporitelna Seed Starter on the sale of a stake in the company to Finbus.

Glatzova & Co has advised SNP Invest on obtaining permission from the Czech National Bank to operate as a self-managed investment fund of qualified investors.

As the amendment is effective as early as 1 October 2023, we provide below an overview of the main changes, indicating the necessary or recommended steps for employers to be taken:

Everyone may merge with everyone; everyone may absorb everyone; everyone may divide into everyone; everyone may benefit from everyone; everyone may convert to everyone.” This phrase, included in the Explanatory Memorandum of Greek Law 4601/2019 (Law), sums up the rationale of the Greek lawmakers with respect to the legal framework on corporate transformations currently in force.

Greece is consistently ranked among the top tourist destinations in the world, with the Aegean islands being at the center of the hype. But few wonder what it takes to actually conceive, design, and construct a hotel in this gorgeous part of the world. There are so many restrictions and obstacles that one thing is certain: investing in the Aegean is certainly not for the faint-hearted.

An in-depth look at Mika Lalaouni of Drakopoulos covering her career path, education, and top projects as a lawyer as well as a few insights about her as a manager at work and as a person outside the office.

At the end of September, the long-awaited Regulation (EU) 2023/1804) on the deployment of alternative fuel infrastructure, and repealing Directive 2014/94/EU (“AFIR”) was published in the Official Journal of the European Union. Though the entry into force of AFIR is 13 April 2024, it is worth reviewing the key takeaways that the AFIR introduces as part of the EU’s Fit for 55 package.

ESG legislation changes in Hungary are reshaping corporate practices and legal counsel roles, according to Taylor Wessing Partner Zoltan Novak. "Green claims" and expanded reporting obligations, even beyond finance, demand precise compliance, and lawyers in Hungary now play a pivotal role in navigating this evolving ESG landscape, ushering in a new era of corporate responsibility.

Under Hungarian law the judge can reduce the amount of the contractual penalty if it is excessive. The penalty reduction shall be expressly requested by the defendant during the litigation. Can the defendant submit such request at any time during the litigation, or is there any deadline for that? In a recent decision, the Hungarian Supreme Court addressed this issue.

Pohla & Hallmagi has advised VePo Investments, Vildemal Investments, and Sixten Invest on the sale of Rave Moobel to Furnico. Reportedly, Magnusson advised Furnico.

PwC Legal has advised Green Estonia on its acquisition of a majority stake in local furniture industry company Standard AS.

Cobalt has advised the Nordic Secondary Fund II on its acquisition of a 10% stake in Cleveron AS. Eversheds Sutherland reportedly advised the sellers.

Gecic Law, working with Deloitte Legal and RPHS Law, has advised MTS on a dispute with Pristina authorities stemming from the decision to revoke MTS’s operating license in Kosovo.

The recent establishment and practice of its Commercial Court – along with other legal developments and the government's push on energy – signify a shift towards impartiality, transparency, and investor-friendly policies in Kosovo, according to Sejdiu & Qerkini Managing Partner Korab Sejdiu.

On May 13, 2022, the Assembly of Kosovo passed Law No. 08/L-056 on Protection of Competition, replacing the previous law that had been in effect since October 2010. The new law aims to align the legal framework with EU rules and enhance the efficiency of the Kosovo Competition Authority (KCA). In the context of mergers, acquisitions, and other forms of concentration, the KCA aims to scrutinize concentration filings to assess potential threats to competition in the Kosovo market.

Ellex has advised on Orkla’s opening of a new EUR 100 million biscuit and wafer production plant in Adazi, Latvia.

Cobalt has advised Schwenk Latvija on its long-term power purchase agreement with BaltCap Infrastructure fund and AJP Capital Solar Core Plus fund joint-venture PV Power.

Cobalt has advised Italian company Italferr on its successful participation in the EUR 141.5 million Rail Baltica public procurement process for the provision of engineering consultancy and construction supervision services for the construction of the mainline in Latvia.

TGS Baltic has successfully represented Orlen Lietuva, Philip Morris Lietuva, and Lietuvos Pastas in a dispute regarding the lawfulness of an out-of-court bankruptcy process for Inter Rao Lietuva.

From the implementation of a bank windfall tax to a surge in crowdfunding and factoring and banks’ newfound appetite for real estate loans, the legal, financial, and regulatory landscape of Lithuania is constantly evolving, according to Adon Legal Partner Marius Matiukas.

Lithuania's Ilaw Lextal has announced the promotion of four of its Attorneys to Associate Partner positions – Inga Neniske, Egle Visinskiene, Ramune Saikuviene, and Neringa Gylyte – effective September 2023.

In the era of digital technology, it is natural to contemplate the potential effects of the digital revolution on various aspects of life. Generative AI, although still in its development stage, is already causing the anticipated revolution in the markets. Generative AI is beginning to revolutionize the delivery of services and products and has already made significant strides in transforming how markets operate. It is not yet clear whether generative AI will cause competition law issues; however, based on experience with digital revolutions, it is worth noting that a few scenarios are possible that will disrupt the current competition law framework everywhere, including in North Macedonia.

Clifford Chance has advised KKCG Group's Technology pillar on the complete refinancing of its existing bank indebtedness and the further recapitalization of its members, including those in Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Poland, and Serbia.

The summer slowdown in North Macedonia has not dented interest in the energy sector, with several renewable energy initiatives on the docket, while a new law on expert findings and data protection fines are making a splash, according to Apostolska Aleksandrovski & Partners Partner Svetlana Trendova.

On 26 May 2023 the Parliament of Moldova passed Law No.°126, which among other things implements certain novelties to the Moldovan Law on Notarial Procedure. Those relating to electronic notarisation will enter into force when the technical conditions referred to in the law are in place, but not later than 23 June 2026.

By the middle of 2023, Moldova will likely have a modified Competition Law. The existing Competition Law dates back to 2012, and its material and procedural norms are almost intact in their original form. Since then, however, the Moldovan economy and society underwent profound changes.

Moldova's legislative landscape is undergoing a period of significant transformation driven by the government's efforts to align with EU acquis, with key developments including amendments to limited liability company laws, the introduction of contactless business legislation, data protection changes, and comprehensive judicial reforms, according to Stratulat Albulescu Partner Sabina Cerbu.

The Work Program of the Government of Montenegro for 2023 envisages the preparation of a set of draft laws that are in final phase.

If one were to glance over the website of the Montenegrin Agency for Protection of Competition (Agency), one may reach what will turn out to be a premature conclusion that the Agency is not an overly active enforcer, especially when it comes to merger control-related infringements. One will also not be able to learn much about the Agency’s fining practices. To gain a more realistic picture of its track record with gun-jumping cases, a deeper dive into publicly available data is required. Reasons for this lie mostly with how the Montenegrin legal system for the levying of competition fines is set up.

Montenegro intends to implement a profound shift in its spatial planning and construction regulations with the pending adoption of three distinct legal acts that will regulate the country’s spatial planning, the construction of facilities, and legalisation procedures.

White & Case has advised Asseco Poland on a shares buy-back via an invitation for current shareholders to submit offers for the sale of their shares.

In response to evolving global dynamics, Poland's legal sector is undergoing significant changes, according to NGL Legal Partner Krzysztof Wiater who highlights the region's increased commercial activity, driven by defense and energy projects, as well as a generational shift in business.

MFW Fialek has advised the shareholders of Dom Whisky Group, including Premium Brands Spirits, CBMAX Spirits, and Premium Brands, on the sale to United Beverages. Reportedly MJH Moskwa, Jarmul, Haladyj, and Partners advised United Beverages.

CEE Attorneys has advised Sales Partner on an investment from Fortech Investments.

M&A in the CEE region has been a captivating theater of evolving trends and geopolitical dynamics of late. Schoenherr Partner Markus Piuk shares his insights on the current market trends and delves into the influence of the US-China relationship, the status of Russian-based transactions, the resilience of the CEE M&A market, and the prospects of industry consolidation and growth.

The Romanian Financial Supervisory Authority (FSA) released for public consultation a draft regulation proposing amendments to its Regulation 5/2019 applicable mainly to investment firms and, in limited cases, to credit institutions providing investment services and/or activities and alternative fund managers.

The truth is rarely pure and never simple. But in the case of Russia's military operation in Ukraine, it just might be. Russia breached Article 2(4) of the UN Charter, which prohibits the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state. Russia's acts have prompted the EU, the UK and the US to impose economic sanctions, such as freezing assets and disconnecting Russian banks from the SWIFT international payments network. Whilst the number of private businesses that are halting their activities in Russia is steadily growing, Russia has adopted a law paving the way for expropriations of assets of foreign firms that leave the country following economic sanctions. But what can foreign companies do if Russia proceeds to take their assets, if they are unable to freely transfer returns from investments out of Russia or if their profits collapse?

Baker McKenzie and DLA Piper have joined the plethora of firms announcing their exit from the Russian market.

Debevoise & Plimpton, Dentons, Dechert, and CMS have announced they are closing their Russian offices and exiting the market.

Gecic Law, working with Deloitte Legal and RPHS Law, has advised MTS on a dispute with Pristina authorities stemming from the decision to revoke MTS’s operating license in Kosovo.

Trade secrets are an invaluable asset for many businesses, often encompassing years of research, innovation, and strategic development. Protecting them is paramount, and the legal landscape surrounding this protection is ever-evolving. The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) recently published the report “Trade Secrets Litigation Trends in the EU” (June 2023), which provides fresh insights into the state of trade secrets litigation within the European Union.

September 2023 – According to Article 5 of the Serbian Banking Act (Zakon o bankama), no person other than a bank licensed in Serbia may engage in the granting of loans unless authorised by law. One Serbian law that does allow foreign banks (i.e., banks not established and licensed in Serbia) to provide cross-border loans to Serbian entities is the Serbian Foreign Exchange Act (Zakon o deviznom poslovanju). In particular, Article 18(7) of the Foreign Exchange Act expressly allows Serbian entities to borrow cross-border from foreign banks, which are not required to obtain a banking licence in Serbia for this purpose.

Cerha Hempel, working with Snell & Wilmer and Burges Salmon, has advised customized electronics manufacturer DiscoverIE Group on its acquisition of Slovakia-based antennas manufacturer 2J Antennas Group.

Wolf Theiss, working with Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, has advised South Korean waste management company IS Dongseo on its acquisition of Slovakia's BTS Technology.

Former Counsels Zeno Grabmayr, Adelina Iftime-Blagean, Maciej Olszewski, Aleksandar Ristic, Bruno Stefanik, and Stefan Wartinger have all become Partners in Wolf Theiss’ respective offices across CEE.

The rising interest rates in Slovenia are reshaping the banking sector, while the renewables sector is looking at potentially clear skies and the M&A sector is experiencing vibrant SME activity on account of a generational change, according to Sibincic Krizanec Novak Partner Matic Novak.

To introduce a permanent foreign direct investment (FDI) screening mechanism, an amendment to the Investment Promotion Act (Amendment) is expected by the end of June 2023, and the new Prevention of Restriction of Competition Act now foresees a simplified merger review.

During the Three Seas Initiative annual general meeting in Bucharest in September 2023, Austria's Dorda, Bulgaria's Boyanov & Co., Croatia's Divjak Topic Bahtijarevic & Krka, the Czech Republic's Kocian Solc Balastik, Estonia's Ellex Raidla, Hungary's Lakatos Koves & Partners, Latvia's Ellex Klavins, Lithuania's Ellex Valiunas, Poland's Wardynski and Partners, Romania's Nestor Nestor Diculescu Kingston Petersen, Slovakia's Barger Prekop, and Slovenia's Selih & Partnerji announced they formed the Three Seas Legal Alliance, in recognition of the progress made by the Three Seas Initiative.

For almost every industry, sustainability involves adopting environmentally and socially responsible practices throughout a company's operations, from sourcing and production to sales and customer engagement. This includes reducing carbon emissions, promoting fair labor practices, supporting the product lifecycle, leveraging blockchain and digital systems, ensuring supply chain transparency, and maintaining ethical governance standards. Therefore, environmental sustainability policies need to be integrated into internal company rules, and, in particular, stakeholders in every sector need to take more responsibility for ESG practices.

Bagzibagli, Erdem & Sahin has advised Enqura Bilgi Teknolojileri on its USD 2.9 million investment round from Eksim Ventures, Hedef Portfoy Startup Burada GSYF, Lima Ventures, Doga Girisim, Echo Cagri Merkezi, Sistem Global, and private investors. 

One of the important advantages of arbitration proceedings is that the parties can appoint co-arbitrators. Thus, the parties can ensure that those whose impartiality, knowledge and fairness they trust will decide on their dispute. This opportunity raises the question of who the party-appointed arbitrators should be and the criteria by which the parties should appoint the party-appointed arbitrators. 

Everlegal has partnered up with the Norwegian Refugee Council in Ukraine and will be offering the NRC legal support on a number of day-to-day legal issues.

Amidst the tumultuous backdrop of a war-torn Ukraine, the legal market in the country finds itself navigating a complex landscape marked by uncertainty, according to Avellum Senior Partner Kostiantyn Likarchuk who talks about Ukraine's quest for investment, the status of its judicial reforms, and the pivotal role of antitrust legislation in this challenging environment.

M&A in the CEE region has been a captivating theater of evolving trends and geopolitical dynamics of late. Schoenherr Partner Markus Piuk shares his insights on the current market trends and delves into the influence of the US-China relationship, the status of Russian-based transactions, the resilience of the CEE M&A market, and the prospects of industry consolidation and growth.