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On January 20, 2023, Wolf Theiss announced that the merger of ALBtelecom and ONE Telecommunications (reported by CEE Legal Matters on May 17, 2022) has now closed.

Kalo & Associates has advised OTP Bank Albania on the merger of its local operation with Alpha Bank Albania, with the resulting outfit to continue as OTP Bank Albania.

With the war in Ukraine raging for more than six months, law firms across the region have reported increased workloads in corporate and M&A, tax, employment, immigration law, and inquiries on the sanctions regimes in relevant jurisdictions, noting that companies from Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus are variously looking for a new home. Whether to avoid sanctions or escape the war, those companies consider a variety of factors in determining where to go.

Waste transports with a total quantity of more than 10 tonnes must be carried out by rail or other means of transport with equivalent or lower pollutant or greenhouse gas potential (e.g. propulsion by means of fuel cell or electric motor). The decisive factor is the transport distance covered in Austria, which will gradually decrease. From 1 January 2023, this obligation applies to a transport distance of 300 km or more; from 1 January 2024, the distance will be only 200 km.

Green energy and ESG will be a significant focus in the coming year in Austria, with a slight upward trend expected in restructuring, alternative finance, and regulatory work, according to Wolf Theiss Banking & Finance Partner Andrea Gritsch.

Klara Kiehl, Clemens Rainer, Sascha Schulz, and Marco Thorbauer have been appointed as Schoenherr Partners in Austria, while Serbia's Jelena Arsic, Jovan Barovic, and Dusan Obradovic, Bulgaria's Tsvetan Krumov, and Hungary's Laszlo Krupl have all been appointed as Local Partners with the firm.

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.

Contributed by Ibrahimovic & Co.

Vukmir & Associates and BH Legal have advised CEFTA on a cross-border project titled CEFTA Intellectual Property and Related Rights 2021-03.

This is a breakthrough moment for Bosnia and Herzegovina as the country receives the EU membership candidacy status but, still, there are difficulties ahead, according to Miljkovic & Partners Managing Partner Sead Miljkovic.

Klara Kiehl, Clemens Rainer, Sascha Schulz, and Marco Thorbauer have been appointed as Schoenherr Partners in Austria, while Serbia's Jelena Arsic, Jovan Barovic, and Dusan Obradovic, Bulgaria's Tsvetan Krumov, and Hungary's Laszlo Krupl have all been appointed as Local Partners with the firm.

Cytowski & Partners has advised Bulgarian start-up Ampeco on its USD 13 million Series A round with BMW i Ventures, LauncHub Ventures, and Cavalry Ventures. Sidley Austin and Djingov Gouginski Kyutchukov & Velichkov reportedly advised BMW i Ventures.

Bozhko Poryazov has been promoted to a Partner position with Popov Arnaudov & Partners in Sofia.

Ilej & Partners, in cooperation with Karanovic & Partners, has advised the MYTY Group on its acquisition of the 404 Group. Dominkovic & Osrecak advised the seller.

BDK Advokati has advised Croatia's Degordian on its acquisition of a 51% stake in Serbian e-commerce software development company Shopycode.

Aside from Croatia entering the Euro and Schengen zones, there have been numerous other legislative updates of note – primarily in the spheres of labor and land rights – according to Miroslav Plascar, Co-Managing Partner of Zuric i Partneri in cooperation with Kinstellar.

If you need statistical data maintained by the National Health Information System for your work or scientific research, whether demographic data on births or deaths, statistics on cancer patients, information on assisted reproduction or other information, you will be interested in a landmark decision of the Constitutional Court.

Did You Know that, according to the Activity Rankings function of the CEELMDirect website, although a total of ten lawyers worked on three reported Corporate/M&A deals in the Czech Republic over the past 12 months, only one of those ten reported working on more?

Do you sell goods to consumers through ane-shop? Do you feel like you already know everything there is to know about the great consumer amendment from all the different articles? While it's true that plenty has been written about the end of fake reviews and discounts, the legal guarantee or the specific labelling of the "order with obligation to pay" button, this is much more than a "button amendment". What affect will it have, for example, on personalising the price for a particular consumer?

Kyriakides Georgopoulos has advised Optima Bank on its acquisition of five portfolios of receivables from performing corporate exposures in the secondary market.

 Metro A.E.B.E. has appointed Dimitris Smirnis to Executive Director - Legal & Government Affairs.

Renewable energy is slowly becoming an evergreen industry in Greece, with strong investor interest in wind and solar power projects that stand to hasten the recovery of the country, according to Reed Smith Partner Dimitris Assimakis.

The most prestigious Hungarian permanent arbitration body, the Court of Arbitration attached to the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HCAC) revised its rules of proceedings with effect from 2023. Will the revised rules increase the speed and efficiency of arbitral proceedings in front of the HCAC, or it is just a facelift of the former regime?

The Hungarian Data Protection and Freedom of Information Authority (NAIH) recently fined a market-leading Hungarian media service provider HUF 10 million (approx. €25,000) for failing to comply with the data processing principles of lawfulness, fairness and transparency in its cookie management solution based on the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Europe's Transparency and Consent (TCF) Framework. This is the first time that the Hungarian authority has imposed a fine for cookie management issues and made it public.

Klara Kiehl, Clemens Rainer, Sascha Schulz, and Marco Thorbauer have been appointed as Schoenherr Partners in Austria, while Serbia's Jelena Arsic, Jovan Barovic, and Dusan Obradovic, Bulgaria's Tsvetan Krumov, and Hungary's Laszlo Krupl have all been appointed as Local Partners with the firm.

Cobalt has advised Salv on its EUR 4 million seed investment round led by ffVC with participation from German G+D Ventures.

Triniti has advised Fort Aero on the addition of Piaggio P.180 Avanti II push-prop aircraft to its fleet.

TGS Baltic has announced the appointment of Dalia Augaite, Sandra Bliuvaite-Sulciene, Marius Brasiunas, Martti Peetsalu, and Chirag Mody as Partners, while Tadas Varapnickas, Karolina Lapinskaite, and Triinu Jarviste have been appointed as Associate Partners at the firm.

The information and technology sector has grown exponentially in Kosovo in the past five years, mainly focusing on the provision of services to international markets. This growth has happened mainly because of two reasons: first, the labor force is cheaper compared to the European market and, second, around 70% of the population is under the age of 35 and has advanced digital skills. The mix of these two has ensured access to international markets and the provision of quality deliverables.

Squire Patton Boggs has successfully represented Kosovo in an International Chamber of Commerce arbitration concerning the revocation of a microfinance license.

The latest legislative amendments on private international law and property ownership are promising for foreign investors, while Kosovo’s renewable energy investments are on the rise, according to Vokshi & Lata Senior Partner Adem Vokshi.

Sorainen has advised the Riga Energy Agency on the development of a concept and business model for the Riga Energy Efficiency Fund.

TGS Baltic has advised Vilnius-headquartered renewable energy company Green Genius on its acquisition of a 100-megawatt solar PV project in Latvia.

Sorainen has advised Tietoevry on its lease agreement with developer Capitalica for office space in the Verde office center in Riga's Skanste district.

Motieka & Audzevicius has advised In Balance Grid on its joint venture with Equite to develop charging station infrastructure. 

Walless has advised the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant on a project tender for reactor dismantling technology design services.

Ellex Valiunas has advised Strava on its acquisition of Fatmap. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati advised Fatmap.

CEELMDirect Profile Pick: A series of interviews with Premium profile-holders on the CEELMDirect legal directory. Today’s interview: Robert Bachovski Sinkoli, Managing Partner at Bachovski Sinkoli Attorneys in North Macedonia.

A new Consumer Protection Act (the "Act") entered into force in North Macedonia on 15 November 2022.

Direct marketing consists of any marketing that relies on direct communication or distribution to individual consumers, rather than through a third party. Unlike traditional public relations campaigns pushed out through a third party, such as media publications or mass media, direct marketing campaigns operate independently to communicate with target audiences directly.

Contributed by ACI Partners.

The country's EU candidate status and grave security concerns gave rise to far-reaching legislative reform in Moldova, with IPOs and digitalization in full swing, according to ACI Partners Partner Cristina Martin.

The Moldovan Government continues to promote in-depth reforms designed to meet the challenges of a digital economy. The last summer was marked by the adoption of new regulations aiming to stimulate private-sector innovation. The new legislation also instituted new responsibilities for digital platforms for creating, sharing, and streaming digital content to Moldovan users.

The new General Collective Agreement („GCA“) has been published at the Official Gazette of Montenegro no. 150/22 on 30, December 2022 and will be valid for period of three years from 31, December 2022 when it came into legal force.

Former Karanovic & Partners Partner Milena Roncevic Pejovic has established Pejovic Legal in Montenegro.

Komnenic & Associates Lawyer Nemanja Radovic has been promoted to a Partner position within the firm on January 1, 2023.

Dentons has advised Develia on its preliminary agreement for the EUR 70 million sale of the Wola Retro office building in Warsaw with the Adventum Group. Act BSWW advised Adventum.

Norton Rose Fulbright has advised Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego on financing the construction of a 7-megawatt wind farm sponsored by Budimex.

Norton Rose Fulbright has advised mBank on financing the construction of the 18-megawatt Cyranka PV project sponsored by ONDE. Allen & Overy advised ONDE.

Former Managing Senior Associate Sebastian Drumaru has been promoted to Partner at Pop Briciu Crai Attorneys-at-Law in Bucharest.

Schoenherr has advised Nofar Energy on its acquisition of a 73-megawatt solar photovoltaic project in Slobozia, Giurgiu county.

Suciu Popa has successfully represented Electroputere VFU Pascani in a public procurement dispute over a public tender cancellation.

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.

Klara Kiehl, Clemens Rainer, Sascha Schulz, and Marco Thorbauer have been appointed as Schoenherr Partners in Austria, while Serbia's Jelena Arsic, Jovan Barovic, and Dusan Obradovic, Bulgaria's Tsvetan Krumov, and Hungary's Laszlo Krupl have all been appointed as Local Partners with the firm.

In December, the European Commission (“Commission”) issued a Statement of Objections (“SO”) to Facebook’s parent company Meta Platforms Inc. The Commission said that based on its preliminary view, Facebook had violated EU antitrust rules by distorting competition for online display advertising on social media linked to Facebook Marketplace.

Vulic Law has advised the Soracom Corporation LTD on the Serbian IoT market.

Kocian Solc Balastik has advised J&T Agriculture and Ecology on its acquisition of 11 companies within Spearhead Czech and Spearhead Slovakia and the related acquisition financing by a banking group led by Komercni Banka. Clifford Chance advised the lenders.

Former Osborne Clarke CEO Simon Beswick has joined Kinstellar’s Board of Directors as a non-executive member.

Partner Stepan Starha has been elevated to an Equity Partner with Havel & Partners, while Lawyer Jiri Kunasek has been promoted to Partner.

Contributed by Kavcic, Bracun & Partners.

Sibincic Krizanec has appointed Matic Novak to Senior Partner and Dinar Rahmatullin to Junior Partner. The firm updated its name after the promotion round to Sibincic Krizanec Novak.

Former Schoenherr Ljubljana Co-Managing Partner Eva Skufca has established the eponymous Law Firm Skufca in Slovenia.

The issue of how to ensure the longevity of family businesses remains as topical all over the world as it is in Turkey. When we look at the statistics, we see that family businesses have an extremely high percentage in Turkey as well as all over the world.

Turunc has advised Bogazici Ventures on its USD 200,000 investment in Nureply. Vircon Legal advised Nureply.

New thresholds triggering independent audit requirements for Turkish companies became applicable as of 1 January 2023. Below is a general overview of the applicable criteria.

The IT industry in Ukraine remains one of the key drivers of the Ukrainian economy even despite the market turmoil in the times of war. Alongside this, the constant development of technology and the need to honour obligations and commitments to implement EU law in terms of copyright and related rights requires certain amendments to the current Ukrainian legislation.

In the 25 January 2023 final decision in the case of Ukraine and the Netherlands v. russia, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (“ECHR”) declared the complaints partly admissibile. The Grand Chamber will now decide the case on the merits.

Following their appointment to Counsel in January 2023, former Senior Associate Inna Kostrytska will lead Integrites' Employment practice while former Senior Associate Kristina Shyposha heads the firm's Business Protection, Compliance, and Anti-Corruption practice.