On 25 May 2020, the Government of Hungary adopted a new decree on the screening of foreign investments in Hungary (the "Decree"). The new screening regime aims to protect public security, order and health during the COVID-19 pandemic, and introduced a new approval requirement for investments into certain Hungarian companies. The screening will be carried out by the Minister of National Economy (the "Minister"). The Decree entered into force on 26 May 2020 while leaving the earlier FDI screening mechanism unaffected (see our earlier FDI screening article). As a result, two parallel FDI screening mechanisms now apply in Hungary.
In 2010, France’s Agence Nationale de Sécurité du Médicament published the results of tests of breast implants produced by the French company PIP and banned their use, due to an increasing number of reports of incidents related to impaired implant integrity and subsequent health-related complications.
On December 27, 2019, several amendments made to the Hungarian capital markets act by the Hungarian Parliament to adhere to the relevant rules of the European Union be-came effective, also making it easier for Hungarian companies to issue bonds under the Bond Funding for Growth Scheme (BGS) by introducing more lenient information and publication rules for issuances.
On 22 May 2020 the Government of Poland published a proposal for a new law on the screening of foreign investments in Poland. The new screening tool aims to protect public security, order and health during the COVID-19 pandemic, and will introduce a new notification obligation for investments into Polish companies.
“Quite a lot, really —it’s like watching a movie on fast forward,” says Schoenherr Attorney at Law Marko Frantar, from Ljubljana, when asked what’s happening in Slovenia during the COVID-19 epidemic. “As elsewhere, we've been seeing a level of state intervention that is unprecedented in terms of both range and magnitude of measures adopted — all compressed into a period of two months."
An amendment to the Civil Code will enter into force on 1 July 2020, which (i) cancels (save for some exceptions) the pre-emption right of co-owners of real estate, (ii) lifts the ban on contractual penalties against tenants of residential premises, and (iii) significantly changes the legal regulation of unit owners associations.
The Hungarian Competition Authority (HCA) has imposed a record fine on Booking.com for committing unfair commercial practices by misleadingly advertising certain hotel rooms with "free cancellation", as well as for pressure selling. The authority has also banned the company from applying these practices as of 2021.
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.
As the COVID-19 pandemic keeps reshaping the M&A environment across Europe with only deals at the late stage proceeding further, we may also expect the advent – albeit slow and gradual – of distressed M&A in the Czech Republic as businesses fall into financing difficulties. Some businesses will strip off non-core assets, while others will end up in bankruptcy. In each case, this instability presents a wide array of options for strategic investors.