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It has been a challenging year for the Bulgarian M&A market, with limited activity, just like in 2019. Undoubtedly, one of the reasons for the slowdown is that business is overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic. Many acquirers abandoned expansion plans in order to focus on protecting both their financial stability and their employees, while waiting to assess the market environment and evaluate potential next steps. Many planned or already-started deals were cancelled at early stages (such as following a letter of intent or during preliminary due diligence) as uncertainty about the fulfilment of potential goals made the transactions risky.

The Chinese Belt and Road Initiative is one of the most ambitious development projects since the turn of the century. Through thousands of individual projects implemented under the BRI umbrella, China intends to develop land and sea corridors to support economic trade and development, integrate various regions of the world, and facilitate policy coordination, connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial services, and the connection of people. The BRI was launched in 2013, and last year was revamped with a new set of objectives.

On November 18, 2020, CEE Legal Matters reported that Gugushev & Partners had helped Fr. Lurssen Werft GmbH & Co KG, part of Northern Germany's Lurssen shipyard group, win a public tender for the supply of two multipurpose modular patrol vessels to the Bulgarian Navy. CEEIHM spoke with Dirk Malgowski, Managing Director at Fr. Lurssen Werft, to learn more about the matter.

On January 18, 2021, CEE Legal Matters reported that DGKV had represented the Mezzanine Partners consortium in a public procurement dispute with the Bulgarian Fund of Funds. CEEIHM spoke with Evgeny Angelov, Managing Partner at Silverline Capital, to learn more. 

“It’s very complicated at this moment, with most people changing their mind very often,” says Irena Georgieva, Managing Partner of PPG Lawyers in Sofia, about the situation in Bulgaria. “Everybody is focused on their personal Covid-19-related problems and it’s hard to adequately measure what the community really thinks about the government, as somehow all political decisions are inextricably linked with pandemic issues.” 

DGKV provided local advice to California's Sanmina Corporation on its acquisition of Osram EOOD, a Bulgarian lights and lighting devices manufacturer owned by Germany's Osram GmbH. Hogan Lovells was lead counsel to Sanmina on the deal. Schoenherr advised Osram GmbH on the deal.

Energy consumers in Bulgaria have been facing two major challenges lately. Within the last several years power prices on the Independent Bulgarian Energy Exchange (IBEX) are showing uncanny volatility. At times they reached remarkable peaks, not only for the Balkans, but for the EU as well. Then, the security of supply has been in doubt, due to sometimes poor power connection.

Bulgaria's Penkov Markov & Partners has joined the Lex Adria network, with the firm's Managing Partner, Nikolay Cvetanov, serving as a member of Lex Adria’s Managing Board with existing board members Matjaz Ulcar, Hrvoje Vidan, Georgi Dimitrov, and Slobodan Doklestic.

Since the cessation of the widely-used LIBOR benchmark has become a realistic prospect, due to the UK Financial Conduct Authority’s announcements that it will stop supporting this benchmark at the end of 2021, the question of what will take its place has become a hot topic for lenders and lawyers drafting credit agreements.

In The Corner Office we ask Managing Partners across Central and Eastern Europe about their unique roles and responsibilities. The question this time: “What one ongoing pro bono initiative or project or charity/volunteering project that your firm is involved with has the most meaning for you personally, and why?”

Penkov, Markov & Partners has helped CEZ a.s. obtain approval from the Bulgarian Energy and Water Regulatory Commission for its disposal of 67% of its shares in CEZ Distribution Bulgaria to Eastern European Electric Company B.V. (which is part of the Eurohold Group).

The dynamic and challenging 2020 somehow distracted the attention of the EU citizens and businesses to the fact that on 31 January last year the United Kingdom made its important step out of the European Union. The transitional period, that was agreed to cover the whole 2020, ensured no changes to the way the day-to-day business was done during the past year. That came to its end on 1 January 2021, when the UK effectively left the European Union and the free movement of workers between the EU member states and the United Kingdom was officially over.

"The majority of us will be more than happy to see 2020 behind us,” laughs Stefana Tsekova, Local Partner at Schoenherr Sofia. “But luckily for us at Schoenherr, it was a good year, especially for big ticket deals. We advised on the Vivacom deal, valued at 1.3 billion euros, making it the biggest deal ever on the Bulgarian market. It started before the Covid crisis hit, but luckily it continued. We actually advised on another big transaction on the energy sector as well — the acquisition by Enery Development of the biggest photovoltaic plant operational in Bulgaria, with 50 MW installed capacity [as reported by CEE Legal Matters on September 15, 2020]. So in terms of deals we were lucky.”

DGKV has successfully represented Bulgaria's Mezzanine Partners Consortium before the Fund Manager of Financial Instruments in Bulgaria EAD, the Bulgarian Commission for Protection of Competition, and the Bulgarian Supreme Administrative Court, in a public procurement tender (and related disputes) for a manager of a BGN 75.4 million (approximately EUR 38.5 million) Mezzanine Fund/ Growth Fund, which is designed to provide financing to small and medium enterprises.

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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