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Legal market overview
According to OeNB and IMF forecasts, Austria’s economy is expected to pick up gradually throughout 2015. The aftermath of the financial crisis continues to provide law firms with a steady flow of mandates, especially on banking regulatory, white-collar crime and financial issues. Matters relating to the restructuring of Hypo Group Alpe Adria remain a dominant theme in the larger banking practices. The effects of the EU sanctions against Russia are already being felt in the real estate, construction, banking and private client practices. Equity capital markets have been quiet but there remains investor appetite for debt products. M&A has been dominated by strategic deals with low private equity participation as corporates sell non-core assets and merge. Austria remains a popular venue for arbitration and, significantly, a stepping stone into Eastern Europe. Readers seeking guidance on law firms with good experience in Central and Eastern Europe should refer to the relevant Regional Summary chapter.
Generally, the greater cost-sensitivity of clients has led to a rise in instructions for smaller, more flexible law firms on increasingly complex mandates. Reflecting this trend, the Austrian legal market witnessed a number of significant developments. Perhaps the most significant was the establishment of Geistwert, an IP and IT boutique founded by former partners of Baker & McKenzie Diwok Hermann Petsche Rechtsanwälte LLP & Co KG, Gassauer-Fleissner and TaylorWessing e|n|w|c Attorneys at Law; the firms from which those lawyers departed now have to rebuild their practice groups. Other notable moves included Gerold Zeiler, a prominent arbitration and employment law expert, leaving Schoenherr to found zeiler.partners Rechtsanwälte GmbH. Ex-Wolf Theiss partners Clemens Schindler and Christoph Liebscher both left to establish their own firms. Rautner Huber Rechtsanwälte split up, with the two former partners going separate ways, and several partners have moved on from Gassauer-Fleissner.
Firms in the spotlight
Lugger | Bankler
Lugger | Bankler is a modern, independent Austrian business law firm. The firm provides clients with personal, individual and efficient legal advice to the highest professional standards.
The firm advises national and international commercial entities, as well as public institutions in the areas of business and commercial law. It also advises private clients on commercial issues. The firm’s major practice areas are corporate, M&A, commercial, banking and finance, and dispute resolution. Further it focuses on environmental law and energy law.
Legal Business: country analysis
Breaking new ground – advisers hope shale revolution can restart CEE market
Weighed down by political unrest and slowing economies, energy and infra projects look like one area to be driving
the CEE economy. Can the shale revolution power up
Click here to read the feature.
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In the Czech Republic, the permissibility of using hidden recordings or other similar kinds of evidence within a court proceeding is quite questionable. At the end of 2014, the country's Constitutional Court issued an interesting decision (II ÚS 1774/14 dated 9 December 2014) on such matters that is particularly relevant for employers, as it deals with a dismissed employee's use of such means against his or her employer. read more...
On 23 March 2015, the Hungarian Competition Authority ("Competition Authority") imposed a fine of over 1 billion Hungarian forints (HUF 1,061,300,000, corresponding to more than EUR 3.5 million) on the retailer Auchan on the basis of the Hungarian Trade Act for abusing its significant market power. This marks the highest fine ever imposed in the sector by the Competition Authority in Hungary. read more...
The fight against corruption has intensified over the past few years, causing the issue of corporate compliance to become ever more important. In step with this development, corporations are increasingly implementing compliance management systems to ensure compliant behavior. However, there is still a lack of case-law in Austria as to the legal sufficiency of such systems and their effective implementation. For this reason, a recent decision on this issue by the District Court of Munich No I ( Landgericht München I ; the " Court ") is all the more important. read more...
In the Slovak consumer lending market, in addition to banks, an important role is also currently played by other providers, which are usually denominated as non-banking companies. read more...
On 24 March 2015, the Bulgarian parliament promulgated an emergency insolvency law that makes almost all of the major effects of insolvency proceedings applicable to Corporate Commercial Bank, even as the court proceedings on the application for commencement of insolvency against the bank continue. In accordance with the new law, on 25 March 2015 the court appointed temporary insolvency administrators to that bank vested with broad powers to recover assets of the bank. read more...
AT: Responsibility of Managing Directors to Ensure an Effective and Adequate Compliance OrganizationIn our Legal Insights edition of 9 March 2015 , we already adressed the recent decision issued by the District Court of Munich No I in Germany (Landgericht München I; the "Court") on the liability of directors for inadequate compliance organizations. read more...
Initial negative market value "reloaded": The German Supreme Court clarifies substantive questions rFor the first time after its 2011 Spread Ladder Swap Judgment (BGH 22.3.2011- XI ZR 316/13), the banking division of the German Supreme Court has recently (BGH 20.1.2015 – XI ZR 316/13) dealt with the disclosure duties of banks in connection with derivative products. The initial negative market value is the core issue of the judgment, which clarifies important questions that had been left open by the Spread Ladder Swap Judgment. read more...
An updated regulation on the licensing regime in Romania's power sector was recently adopted by ANRE, the national regulatory authority. On 17 March 2015, Order no. 12/2015 on the Regulation for granting licenses and authorizations in the electricity sector (" Order 12 "), effective as of publication, was published in the Romanian Official Gazette no. 180/2015 and repeals the former regulation, ie Order no. 48/2013. read more...
The Czech Republic’s new Civil Code and its Business Corporation Act are effective since 1 January 2014. These two acts represent the leading elements of the re-codification of Czech civil law, which -- apart from many other changes -- has brought changes also in the area of payment of profit sharing. read more...
Poland’s parliament recently adopted a new act on renewable energy sources (“RES ”) that significantly changes the RES support scheme in the country.
Schoenherr advised a consortium of owners of Pivovarna Laško, d.d. ("Laško"), Slovenia's leading brewery group, in the sale of their combined holdings of over 51% in Laško to Heineken International B.V., part of the Netherlands-based brewing group. The opening of final offers took place on 13 April 2015, with Heineken offering EUR 25.56 per share in Laško (translating into a total purchase price of approx. EUR 114 million for the 51.11% stake on sale). Following the selection of Heineken as best bidder, the respective share purchase agreement was signed in Ljubljana the same day. read more...
Leon Kopecký has joined Schoenherr, a leading full-service law firm in Central and Eastern Europe, as Counsel in March 2015. Mr Kopecký focuses on international commercial and investment arbitration, international litigation, and compliance matters. His clients are international firms in the construction, raw materials, infrastructure, finance, fashion and health care industries. He regularly advises clients on complex investment matters. read more...
Vienna, 16 January 2015. Business law firm Fellner Wratzfeld & Partners (fwp) advises UniCredit Bank Austria AG on the multi-stage structured sale of the real estate portfolio it holds via Immobilien Holding GmbH. read more...
Fellner Wratzfeld & Partner Rechtsanwaelte GmbH (fwp) represents HETA Asset Resolution AG (formerly HYPO Alpe-Adria Bank International AG) in connection with the judicial review proceedings before the Austrian Constitutional Court following the implementation of special Hypo legislation. The Constitutional Court has now rejected all individual applications filed by Austrian and international investors as inadmissible. Read more...
Fellner Wratzfeld & Partners (fwp) successfully provided legal advice to HYPO NOE, the association of mortgage banks of the Austrian Provinces and Pfandbriefbank in connection with financing repayments to be made for specific bond issues, thus ensuring the stability of both Pfandbriefbank and the mortgage banks guaranteeing such repayments.
Rita Wittmann has been promoted to counsel at Schoenherr, a leading full-service law firm in Central and Eastern Europe, as of February 2015. The focus of her work lies in advising national and international clients on the legal issues involved in corporate M&A, commercial contracts, and joint ventures, as well as in project developments and project financing, particularly in the field of renewable energy. read more...
Heidemarie Paulitsch has been promoted to counsel at Schoenherr, one of the leading full service corporate law firms in Central and Eastern Europe, as of February 2015. Paulitsch has been specialised in the fields of White Collar Crime and Compliance for many years. She advises both national and international companies on compliance management systems and has wide-ranging experience in providing counsel on the handling of business crime matters. read more...
Schoenherr is assisting Heta Asset Resolution (HETA) in the preparation of the first European resolution pursuant to the European framework for the recovery and resolution of credit institutions on the basis of Directive 2014/59/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 establishing a framework for the recovery and resolution of credit institutions (BRRD). read more...
Schoenherr advised Telekom Slovenije, d.d. on its acquisition of Slovenian mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Debitel telekomunikacije, d.d. (Debitel) from the sellers ACH, d.d., Adria Mobil, d.o.o., and Svema Trade, d.o.o. The deal, which was announced on 27 February 2015, will be concluded after obtaining required merger control approvals. The parties agreed not to disclose further details, including the purchase price amount, until the completion of the transaction. read more...
On 9 February 2015, Erste Bank Hungary entered into an agreement with the Hungarian Government and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Pursuant to the agreement, both the Hungarian Government and the EBRD will participate in Erste Bank Hungary’s capital increase and will each acquire a 15% of the share capital of the bank, which is part of the Vienna-based Erste Group. With the planned increased capital, Erste Bank Hungary has committed to increasing its lending activity in certain sectors (public, energy, and agricultural sectors) that the Hungarian Government views as strategically important. It is envisaged that Erste Bank Hungary will provide credit facilities in the aggregate amount of approximately EUR 550 million for the above-mentioned sectors. read more...