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- The Legal 500 United Kingdom Awards 2013
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Legal market overview
While post-crisis fiscal pressure persists, Austria’s economy is performing comparatively well; GDP expanded marginally in the third quarter of 2013, and further growth is forecast for 2014.
Law firms’ banking and finance practices are becoming increasingly broad, covering issues including financial restructurings, bank and investor liability, and regulatory advice. With the ECM side remaining very quiet, debt products remain the focus of capital markets practices. In the corporate area, a sense of optimism is prevailing, based on a modest but steady increase in M&A activity. IP lawyers, however, are less optimistic; they fear that the arrival of the EU patent regime will further diminish Austria’s already small market for patent work, with Germany dominating European Patent Office work. In terms of international work, Austria remains an entry point to Eastern Europe, and a number of firms have also recently opened offices in Turkey. Some firms are also increasingly looking beyond CEE, to economies such as Brazil, India and China.
A continued trend is the establishment of smaller practices alongside the larger international firms, with spin-offs such as Grama Schwaighofer Vondrak Rechtsanwälte, Aigner Buzanich Rechtsanwälte, Jank Weiler Rechtsanwaelte OG and finance boutique Rautner Huber Rechtsanwälte OG successfully making their mark on the Austrian legal landscape over the past few years. Among notable recent partner moves, labour law expert Franz Marhold and M&A specialist Phillip Dubsky left DLA Piper Weiss-Tessbach for Herbst Kinsky Rechtsanwalte GmbH, and renowned corporate lawyer Stephan Frotz left Schoenherr with plans to open his own firm. After ten years in the market Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP closed its Vienna office, with managing partner Rainer Wachter joining CMS’ corporate transactions practice.
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On 18 July 2014, the Austrian energy regulatory authority E-Control released its affirmative decision in relation to the certification of Trans Austria Gasleitung GmbH (" TAG ") as a transmission system operator (" TSO ") for gas. In its decision, E-Control not only requires TAG to be comprehensively restructured, but also takes a stance on the European Commission's (" EC ") opinion on the potential non-compliance of the Austrian Natural Gas Act 2011 (Gaswirtschaftsgesetz " GWG ") with EU unbundling rules. read more...
The National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) introduced the compulsory exchange of 100% of foreign currency proceeds. read more...
Slovenian legislation is still lagging behind in transposing the IPPC/IED baseline reporting requirements into national environmental law. However, the Slovenian government recently presented a new draft decree that inter alia defines and specifies the obligation of drawing up baseline reports. Many industries will be hit by the new legislation, which is expected to enter into force by the end of 2014. read more...
On 29 May 2014, the Moldovan Parliament passed the Act No. 90/2014 on amending and supplementing of certain legislative acts (Act No. 90). Act No.90, which entered into force on 27 June 2014, implements simplified rules on the liquidation of companies in Moldova (in particular, at the decision of their shareholders), namely by inter alia amending the Civil Code of Moldova, Act No. 845/1992 on Entrepreneurship and Enterprises, Act No. 220/2007 on State Registration of Companies and Individual Entrepreneurs. read more...
In a recent landmark judgment (3 June 2014, XI ZR 147/12), the banking law senate of the German Supreme Court stipulates far-reaching disclosure obligations for banks (active in Germany) with respect to internal commission payments for investments. While the country's banks are obliged to inform their clients of such "hidden" internal commission payments as of 1 August 2014, they will not be held liable for not having disclosed such commission payments in the past. The German Supreme Court's decision will certainly have an immediate impact also in Austria. read more...
Austrian tax law enables taxpayers to avoid criminal tax sanctions or penalties in case of fiscal offences by submitting a voluntary disclosure. The taxpayer's exemption from any criminal tax sanctions on account of having submitted a voluntary disclosure is subject to specific preconditions. A draft tax bill on the Amendment of the Austrian Fiscal Criminal Tax Act 2014 (Finanzstrafgesetznovelle 2014) that is currently pending for vote in the Austrian Parliament is set to tighten these requirements significantly. The new rules are expected to enter into force as of 1 October 2014. read more...
The European Union has recently agreed to an additional, higher level of sanctions against Russia. The new packages include (i) severe restrictions on doing business in Crimea or Sevastopol, (ii) a significant expansion of the list of designated persons and entities (see our newsletter of 28 March 2014 ), and most importantly (iii) severe limitations on the ability of Russian state banks to access (capital markets) financing, embargoes on weapons sales (including dual-use goods), as well as prior authorization requirements for the transfer of sophisticated oil drilling technology. read more...
In Romania, a new law on employee inventions entered into force on 29 June 2014 (Law 83/2014). This new law abrogates former provisions on employee inventions set forth inter alia by the country's Patent Law (Law 64/1991). read more...
It is commonplace for foreign companies active in the Republic of Serbia, including Austrian firms, to second their employees to the country via their affiliates or business partners. In the practical application of such secondments, one must differentiate between secondments in which seconded employees are employed for a fixed term with an employer in Serbia, and those in which employees are not employed by an employer in the country. read more...
As a young and complex matter, compliance presents numerous challenges for organizations. This is partly due to the lack of global standards, which could provide guidance. As a consequence, organizations are having a hard time recognizing those compliance requirements that are necessary, appropriate and capable of serving as indicators of a functioning Compliance Management System ("CMS"). Therefore, it is highly welcome that the International Organization for Standardization ("ISO") is currently working on a global standard for CMS. read more...
Schoenherr, a leading law firm in Central and Eastern Europe, advised Laakman Holding Limited on the increase of their participation in the listed fund company C-QUADRAT Investment AG from 9.4 % to 18.4 %. read more...
Vienna, 28 July 2014. Fellner Wratzfeld & Partners (fwp) advises UniCredit Bank Austria AG on acquiring Immobilien Holding GmbH, which until now was wholly owned by Immobilien Privatstiftung.
AT: Schoenherr advises Ashland on sale of its water technologies business to Clayton Dubilier & RiceSchoenherr, a leading corporate law firm in Central and Eastern Europe, advised Ashland on the Austrian aspects related to the sale of its global water technologies business to private equity fund Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R). The transaction is valued at approximately USD 1.8 billion. By this sale, Ashland intends to focus on their core specialty chemicals business. read more...
Schoenherr, a leading corporate law firm in Central and Eastern Europe, represented Carso Telecom, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the América Móvil group (AMX), in its successful public takeover offer for all shares in Telekom Austria AG not held by Carso Telecom, AMX, Telekom Austria, or the Republic of Austria's state holding company OIAG. The public offer was launched on 15 May 2014. The initial offer period closed 10 July 2014. Through the public offer Carso Telecom/AMX could increase its participation in Telekom Austria from around 27 percent to around 50.8 percent. With an offer price of EUR 7.15 per Telekom Austria share, the transaction volume exceeded EUR 740 million. read more...
Schoenherr, a leading corporate law firm in Central and Eastern Europe, advised Rasperia Trading Ltd ("Rasperia") on its exercise of a call option to purchase shares and increase its shareholding in Vienna Stock Exchange-listed STRABAG SE to a blocking minority of 25 percent and one share. Rasperia, a company of Russia-based industrial conglomerate Basic Element, previously held 19.4 percent in the Vienna-based construction conglomerate. read more...
BLS Rechtsanwälte the First Law Firm in Austria to Successfully Be ISO 9001 Certified by TÜV AUSTRIA
Rosario Sapuppo has joined Schoenherr, a leading corporate law firm in Central and Eastern Europe, as the head of the newly established Italy desk in the firm's Istanbul office. In this role, Sapuppo applies his expertise in corporate/M&A, foreign direct investments and international commercial law to support the growing number of Italian firms with business activities and/or investments in Turkey. In addition, Sapuppo draws on his experience in working in Istanbul, founding the Milan-based Italian-Turkish Association, and in previously heading the Turkey desk of a leading Italian law firm. read more...
Schoenherr advised VB-Leasing International (VBLI), the joint venture between Österreichische Volksbanken-AG (ÖVAG) and German VR-Leasing AG, on the sale of VB Leasing Poland and VB Leasing Romania to the Polish company Getin Holding S.A. The relevant agreement was executed on 15 May 2014. With the sale, the two companies have achieved another milestone in their strategic re-alignment to focus on their core business. The sale of the remaining subsidiaries of VBLI remains ongoing. read more...
Schoenherr, a leading corporate law firm in Central and Eastern Europe, advised Sloveni-an creditor financial institutions in the debt restructuring of the Laško Group, a major re-gional beverage manufacturer and distributor whose companies include Pivovarna Laško d.d. (the largest brewery in Slovenia and a major brewery in the region), Pivovarna Union d.d., and Radenska d.d. Radenci (Slovenia's leading water distributor). The value of the outstanding loan debt addressed by this debt restructuring is EUR 370 million. read more...
Schoenherr, a leading corporate law firm in Central and Eastern Europe, advised PALFINGER AG and individual selling PALFINGER shareholders on the establishment of a mutual capital interlinking between the Salzburg-based manufacturer of hydraulic lifting systems and SANY Heavy Industries Co. Ltd., a member of China's SANY group. The overall value of the transaction amounts to approximately EUR 220 million. read more...