The political landscape in the Czech Republic might soon see a change, Schoenherr Partner Vladimir Cizek says, as “the recent regional elections shook the position of the leading party.” Still, he doesn't expect it to have much impact on foreign investment. He notes that previous political changes have not dissuaded investors from coming to the country, and their stream has been constant for decades.
As of 1 September 2020, Hungary closed its borders to non-Hungarian citizens again. The rules abolished the tricolour system of green, yellow and red countries qualifying literally all countries as red. The rules introduced then – by a recent legislative amendment – remain in force until 1 December 2020.
Until 2018 the Bulgarian Commission for Protection of Competition had never prohibited a concentration. In 2018, however, in consecutive decisions, the CPC prohibited the acquisition of CEZ by Inercom and the acquisition of Nova TV by the investment group PPF. In 2019 two other transactions – Eurohold/CEZ and Emko/Dunarit – were blocked.
Already struggling with the international coronavirus pandemic, Bulgaria has recently found itself dealing with a major internal political crisis as well – one which, ironically, despite the general incentive towards social distancing, has brought people outside of their homes and onto the streets of the nation’s major cities.
The Hungarian Competition Authority (HCA) has initiated an investigation against TikTok, the popular social media platform. TikTok's capacity to generate vast amounts of consumer data and shower its users with ads has already sounded several alarm bells as regulators attempt to make sense of the phenomena that is digitalisation. The HCA took the initiative to scrutinise the platform with a focus on consumer protection.
Schoenherr has advised the MET Group on the acquisition of a 100% stake in a 42MW wind park in the Kavarna region of Bulgaria from Enel Green Power. Memery Crystal provided English law advice to the MET Group. CMS advised Enel Green Power on the transaction, which remains subject to regulatory clearance.
The Law on Amendments to the Energy Act entered into force on 14 August 2020. It encompasses a set of changes aiming to simplify the existing procedures and to promote the development of the Montenegrin energy sector, especially in the context of the pending alignment of Montenegrin laws with the EU's acquis, as required under the negotiation chapter no. 15.
In addition to the classic tasks of a competition authority, the Hungarian Competition Authority ("HCA") is also entitled to take action against unfair commercial practices against consumers if such practices are capable of significantly affecting competition. Following the first market study in the field of consumer protection in 2019 relating to the application of digital comparison tools (DCTs), the HCA did not hesitate to apply its findings in practice. In early 2020 it imposed a record fine on Booking.com BV for unfair commercial practices of misleadingly advertising certain hotel rooms with "free cancellation" and engaging in pressure selling. This is now followed by a decision establishing unfair practices of the biggest local market player, Szallas.hu, a main competitor of Booking.com. However, this time no fine was imposed.
As of 11 October 2020 the EU FDI Screening Regulation is in force, ending the long wait for a Union framework to screen foreign direct investments. The umbrella spanned by the EU FDI Regulation is a further (crucial) building block in the EU's endeavors to tighten and coordinate the screening of foreign direct investments.
Schoenherr's Czech office has advised KB SmartSolutions, s.r.o. on the acquisition of an almost 25% stake in Platebni Instituce Roger a.s, from Echilon Capital s.r.o. BPV Braun Partners advised Echilon Capital on the transaction, and Setina, Komendova & Partners advised Platebni Instituce Roger's CEO Adam Soukal and CTO Tomas Slobodnik.