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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.
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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1. Recodification of the Czech civil law With effect from 1 January 2014, the entire Czech civil law has been re-enacted by Act No. 89/2012 Coll., the civil code (the “ Civil Code ”), along with Act No. 90/2012 Coll., the business corporation act (the “ Business Corporation Act ”), and other legislation. read more...
On 2 May 2016, restrictions on acquiring agricultural and forest real properties located in Poland by foreigners from the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland will cease to be binding. Does this mean that trade in agricultural real properties will be entirely free and not subject to any restrictions as of that time? read more...
In December 2014, two sets of amendments to the Planning and Construction Act were published in nos. 132/2014 and 145/2014 of the Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia (collectively " New PCA "). read more...
At the end of 2014, the Romanian parliament passed a law whose main purpose is to dissolve the Rasdaq market and unlisted securities markets. These measures must be implemented by 27 October 2015. Considering the potential significant disruptions that may occur in the activity of the companies it targets, this law is important for its addressees, but also for their suppliers, sponsors, and contractual partners. read more...
Proposed EPC is not mandatory for all buildings
AT: "Fair procurement" - initiative requires MEAT as sole award criterion for construction contractsIn March 2014, three new EU Directives on public procurement law ("new Directives") entered into force, introducing significant adjustments to the current regime such as new procedures, new provisions on award criteria, and new exclusion grounds. At the same, a discussion has been unleashed in Austria placing the issue of wage dumping and social dumping in relation to public construction contracts. Experience has demonstrated that applying price-only criteria contributes to ruinous price wars and destructive competition in the construction industry. The key concern of the so-called "fair procurement" initiative is to preserve jobs and foster SMEs by establishing the mandatory application of the best quality/price ratio (instead of only the lowest price). Against this background, the Austrian government is currently in the process of discussing/preparing an amendment to the Federal Procurement Act that is intended to enter into force even before the implementation of the new Directives (April 2016). The amendment inter alia deals with: read more...
On November 10 2014 the Competition Agency announced that it had concluded another proceeding dealing with resale price maintenance, as prohibited under Article 8 of the Competition Act, which mirrors Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. read more...
On 25 December 2014, the Consumer Rights Act, which also amended the Civil Code and introduced several new regulations on sales contracts concerning goods and services, entered into force. The Act's regulations impose new obligations on entrepreneurs executing contracts with consumers, in particular entrepreneurs involved in distance sales or off-premises sales, but should these entrepreneurs be the only ones paying special attention to the amendments? read more...
Proposed amendment to the Slovenian Commercial Company Act
On 1 January 2014, the Romanian Government introduced a new property tax, namely a tax on constructions. This tax has proven to be controversial, with many deeming it to constitute a severe tax burden for any capital intensive businesses such as energy, telecom, or even retail. 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...
Schoenherr has just published the newest edition of roadmap, its renowned annual legal publication providing an overview of the most topical business law topics and developments in the CEE region, as well as insights and analyses. read more
Thomas Kulnigg has been promoted to partner at Schoenherr, a leading corporate law firm in Central and Eastern Europe, as of the start of February 2015. A specialist for M&A transactions and corporate law matters, Kulnigg has worked for Schoenherr in its Vienna head office since 2006, advising clients primarily from the IT, technology, industrial and financial sectors on their national and international transactions. read more...
Schoenherr advised AIM Software Group ("AIM") on the receipt of an investment from and transfer of a majority interest to U.S.-based private equity firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe ("WCAS"). AIM is a leading provider of data management software products to the financial services industry. Under the terms of the transaction, which was announced on 14 January 2015, AIM's existing management team will continue to operate the business and maintain a significant ownership stake in the company. WCAS is also investing primary capital in the business which will be used to further accelerate AIM's expansion. read more...
Schoenherr partner Christian Herbst has been appointed Co-chair of the Corporate and M&A Law Committee of the International Bar Association (IBA). Herbst will serve in this top function for a two-year period starting 1 January 2015. The committee's other Co-Chair is Jocelyn Kelley from the Vancouver-based law firm Blakes. read more...
Schoenherr advised Heta Asset Resolution (HETA) on the agreement over the purchase of Hypo Group Alpe Adria, the South-Eastern European (SEE) banking network of the former Hypo Alpe-Adria-Bank International (SEE Network). The US-fund Advent International and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) signed an agreement on 22 December 2014 to acquire the SEE Network. read more
Schoenherr, a leading corporate law firm in Central and Eastern Europe, has invited its experienced Corporate/M&A specialist Florian Kusznier into the firm's equity. Kusznier has extensive know-how in advising Austrian and international clients on M&A and private equity transactions, public takeovers, and general corporate law matters. read more
Romania/Austria: Schoenherr advises Volksbank Romania shareholders in planned sale to Banca TransilvSchoenherr served as lead counsel to the shareholders of Volksbank Romania S.A. ("VBRO") - Österreichische Volksbanken-AG (VBAG), Groupe BPCE, DZ BANK AG and WGZ BANK - on their agreed sale of VBRO to Romania's third-largest bank, Banca Transilvania SA. Signing of the contracts took place on 10 December 2014. read more