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- The Legal 500 United Kingdom Awards 2013
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- The Legal 500 United States Awards 2014 - Law firm winners
- The Legal 500 Latin America Awards (coming soon)
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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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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...
EU: ECJ confirms that purely national promotion of green electricity does not necessarily violate EUThe ECJ ruled at the start of July 2014 that individual EU Member States are allowed to establish renewable energy support schemes that provide for the awarding of tradable green certificates to producers of green electricity solely with respect to the green electricity produced on the territory of that State. The fact that the national promotion scheme could possibly impede electricity imports from other Member States is justifiable on account of climate change prevention and environmental protection. Thus, no violation of Article 34 TFEU. The ECJ ruling might present a setback for the supporters of a harmonized, EU-wide (common) system of renewables support schemes. read more...
On 3 April 2014, the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova (Moldova) passed Act No. 53/2014 on amending and supplementing certain legal acts (Act No. 53). Act No. 53 entered into force on 25 April 2014 and inter alia changed the Civil Code and Act No. 135/2007 on limited-liability companies (Act on LLCs). The effected changes have a direct and positive impact on the legal aspects which should be observed while incorporating and operating a business in Moldova. read more...
A decision issued by the Supreme Administrative Court (the "Court") on 31 October 2013 (recently published) considered a telephone conversation between two individuals - the manager of an outdoor equipment producer and a representative of its distributor - as legitimate evidence in administrative proceedings. The decision confirmed the precedent decision of the Regional Court in Brno ("the Regional Court") which upheld the original decision of the Czech Competition Authority (The Office for the Protection of Competition, "CCA").
In 2013, the Romanian Competition Council finalised five investigations concerning bid-rigging infringements (amounting to almost a quarter of the authority's investigations on competition law infringements), of which one led to fines of EUR 2.8 million and the other four were closed for lack of evidence. Last year, the competition authority also launched two new investigations on possible bid-rigging infringements. The average duration for investigation of this type of infringement is approximately two years. read more...
The transfer of Austrian real estate triggers a 3.5% (2% in case of intra-family transfers) Austrian real estate transfer tax. In 2012, the Austrian Constitutional Court ruled that the provisions in the Austrian Real Estate Transfer Tax on the tax basis are not in conformity with the country's constitutional law. Shortly prior to the expiry of the transition period, new provisions for determining the tax base for Austrian real estate transfer tax purposes entered into force as of 1 June 2014. read more...
The Hungarian National Bank announced at the end of May that as of autumn 2014, Hungary wishes to follow the approach taken by many other countries by creating a "bad bank". The bad bank concept is not new in Hungary: the approach was already discussed back in 2010, but was turned down due to lack of financing. A bad bank is a special institution with the sole purpose of purchasing and managing the non-performing loans ("NPLs") of commercial banks, so the overall quality of the corporate portfolio of the commercial banks will improve and to make it easier for the banks to meet their capital requirements. read more...
In a recent decision, the Austrian Supreme Court considered the validity of the payment of a cash consideration to a public limited-liability company in the course of an increase of its stated capital (decision dated 25 March 2014, file no. 9 Ob 68/13k). As a consequence of the current Austrian jurisprudence on this matter, any and all business transactions that occur in a substantive and temporal connection with a formal increase of the stated capital - including debt-equity swaps - must be made under the disclosure and examination rules for contributions in kind. read more...
On 1 May 2014, the transitional period during which Slovakia, following the country's accession of the EU, was granted an exception for keeping in place legal limitations regarding the acquisition of agricultural land and forests expired. With the passing of this transitional period, Slovakia was obliged to bring its legislation in line with EU laws and abolish restrictions applicable to EU foreigners. The necessary law was adopted, but - largely due to the concerns of the public that foreign nationals and entities will start buying up the country - a new set of limitations was introduced that will likely complicate the acquisition of agricultural land for everyone (both Slovak and foreign entities). read more...
The fact that the new Hungarian Civil Code, which entered into force on 15 March 2014, at last recognized the concept of transfer of contractual position was a welcome development. Previously, a similar effect was achievable through the parallel assumption of debt and assignment of claims, but this solution was problematic in rather complex transactions (e.g. in case a lender wishes to transfer its stake under a credit facility agreement along with all security interests). 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...
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 a 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.
Anne-Karin Grill has joined Schoenherr, a leading corporate law firm in Central and Eastern Europe, as Counsel. Grill will apply her expertise in international procedural law, arbitration law, and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) as a member of Schoenherr's Dispute Resolution Practice Group. Her activities will focus on commercial arbitration and complex multi-jurisdictional disputes. read more...
Schoenherr, a leading corporate law firm in Central and Eastern Europe, advised América Móvil (AMX) and its wholly-owned subsidiary Carso Telecom in connection with the negotiation and conclusion of a shareholders' agreement with the Republic of Austria's state holding company OIAG, regarding their respective participations in Telekom Austria AG. As a result of an agreement signed on April 23, the parties will pool their Telekom Austria shareholdings. Upon Closing Carso Telecom/AMX will be afforded with industrial leadership and control of Telekom Austria. OIAG's position as a core shareholder will be protected by veto rights. read more...