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“Today, what we are doing, is modernizing the financial services industry, tearing down those antiquated laws, and granting banks significant new authority.” President Clinton’s quote is quite relevant nowadays in Albania, where a major overhaul of the financial system’s legal architecture is being implemented. Indeed, in just three weeks, the Albanian Parliament enacted four very important pieces of legislation: the Law on Payment Services, the Law on Capital Markets, the Law on Collective Investment Undertakings, and the Law on Financial Markets Based on Distributed Ledgers Technology.

The control of merger transactions was first introduced in Albania in 1995. This law, however, provided only rudimentary guidance, and merger control really took off only after 2003, following the approval of Law no. 9121, “On Competition Protection” (the “Competition Law”), which established an independent competition authority – the Albanian Competition Authority (the ACA) – and provided for procedures that were aligned with EU standards. The Competition Law has been amended a number of times to further approximate its provisions with the EU acquis. The ACA has also issued regulations and instructions for the implementation of the merger control regime.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit the Western Balkans right during a period of accelerating economic activity and a promising economic outlook for 2020. The rapid spread of the virus forced the governments of the Western Balkans countries to introduce protective measures, lockdowns, and temporary business shutdowns. These restrictions had a devastating direct economic impact on a wide range of sectors – particularly the hospitality and transport industries – and the measures had many indirect side effects that significantly decreased economic activity.

The SEE Legal law firm alliance has announced the formal launch of two new practice groups, one dedicated to Employment and Immigration, headed by Kolcuoglu Demirkan Kocakli Counsel Maral Minasyan, and one dedicated to Intellectual Property, headed by Selih & Partnerji Partner Natasa Pipan Nahtigal.

In 2015, Albania harmonized its legislation with EU Directive 2009/72/EC through law no. 43/2015 “On Electrical Energy Sector” (the “Energy Law”).

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.

“The pandemic situation is overrun with both uncertainty and challenges, but also opportunities,” says Jola Gjuzi, Partner at Kalo & Associates in Tirana. “I believe that the situation is the same for the Albanian Government as is it for businesses in the country.”

"Albania right now has a loaded political and economic situation,” says A.R.S. Legal & Financial Services Manager and Attorney at Law Elisabeta Nezaj, "considering the earthquake that hits on November 26th." That 6.4-magnitude earthquake that hit northwestern Albania was felt mainly in Durres and Tirana and as far away as Taranto and Belgrade, ultimately killing 51 people in the country — making it the world’s deadliest earthquake in 2019 — and causing massive damage to homes and infrastructure. According to her, "all government bodies are focused on providing help for the people who suffered from this event, and we are taking support from other governments to reconstruct the buildings that were damaged.”

Former Wolf Theiss Poland Co-Managing Partner Ron Given has joined Deloitte Legal as its CE Senior Legal Counsel, responsible for all of the firm’s offices in 19 Central and Eastern European countries.

During the last decade, Albania has undertaken several initiatives to liberalize the electric energy sector and increase local generation capacities. Such measures have created a lively market, especially in the renewal energy segment.

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