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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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The long-expected Law on conversion of usage right into ownership against compensation (" Conversion Act ") entered into force on 28 July 2015. Read more...
On 16 July 2015, in a case of first impression, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (" ECHR ") issued its final decision regarding the liability of a news portal for offensive comments made by its users. In the case Delfi AS v. Estonia (application no. 64569/09, the " Case "), the ECHR decided that holding an internet news portal liable for comments made by a third-party commentator to the portal’s site is not in breach of the portal’s freedom to impart information. read more...
As sufficiently known by practitioners of public procurement law, the transition pe-riod for the new Directives on public procurement law 2014/23/EU, 2014/24/EU and 2014/25/EU ("the Directives"), which entered into force in March 2014, will predominantly elapse on 18 April 2016. read more...
Bulgaria: The Latest Amendments to the Credit Institutions Act: the Dictates of Bank Secrecy OvercomThe Bulgarian Corporate Commercial Bank ("CCB")’s insolvency has resulted in a variety of changes to the Bulgarian banking legislation. Lifting of bank secrecy in cases of bank insolvency is the newest addition to the pile of governmental attempts at accountability and transparency stemming from the CCB affair. read more...
The long-anticipated amendments to the Serbian Mortgage Act (" Mortgage Act "), published in the Official Gazette of RS no. 60/2015, entered into force on 16 July 2015. We would like to highlight the following changes: read more...
Bulgaria: Draft Law Implementing BRRD Needs to be Amended to Provide "Appropriate Protection" for ClOn 10 July 2015, the Bulgarian parliament passed, at first reading, a bill intended to implement the EU Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD). When that bill becomes law, it will provide, inter alia, increased protection for the close-out netting arrangements involving Bulgarian banks in distress. However, the bill must be amended in order to provide "appropriate protection" for close-out netting as required under the BRRD. read more...
The Hungarian Parliament has adopted an amendment to the Hungarian Banking Act (entering into force on 7 July 2015) that provides for the regulation of loan portfolio transfers. The amendment aims to make Hungarian banks' lives easier by deviating from the general rule of the Hungarian Civil Code which normally requires a borrower to agree to the transfer between lenders and terminates all security interests, unless the security provider likewise agrees. read more...
The debate around Section 153 of the Austrian Criminal Code, relating to the offence of breach of trust, is now entering the next round. The question as to whether the legislature will heed the Austrian business community's call for urgent reform could be answered toward the end of this year. Read more...
As one of its main environmental objectives, EU Directive 2000/60/EC ("Water Framework Directive" – WFD), in concreto its art 4, requires all Member States to achieve – subject to several exemptions, such as the possibility to extend the timeframe – the "good status" of all surface water bodies and groundwater bodies by 22 December 2015. read more...
The draft tax bill introduced in the Austrian Parliament last week will implement the most significant tax reform in the country's history. read more...
Austria: Schoenherr advises Allianz Capital Partners on its first acquisition of wind parks in AustrSchoenherr advised Allianz Capital Partners (ACP) on its acquisition of four wind parks in the Austrian state of Lower Austria from ImWind, one of the country’s largest wind farm operators, with a portfolio of 320 MW in operation. read more...
Schoenherr has advised UNION Investment Real Estate GmbH, one of Europe's leading property investment management companies, on several prominent real estate acquisitions that the Hamburg-based group has made in Vienna. In addition to space2move, Schoenherr has also advised UNION Investment. read more...
Schoenherr advised Cimpress N.V., a world leader in mass customization, on its acquisition of Druck.at, one of the leading web-to-print businesses in Austria. The transaction, which was announced on 18 March 2015, closed on 17 April 2015 following the successful achievement of various closing conditions including Austrian antitrust clearance. The acquisition supports Cimpress’ strategy of building a software-enabled operational platform that aggregates and optimizes the supply chain and production of mass customized products such as signage, printing, apparel and promotional products. read more...
Schoenherr has been recognized as " South East Europe Law Firm of the Year " (2015) by the renowned legal publisher Chambers and Partners . Schoenherr lawyers Monica Cojocaru (partner; Bucharest), Miloš Laković (partner, Moravčević, Vojnović & partneri OAD in cooperation with Schoenherr; Belgrade) and Marko Prušnik (partner; Ljubljana) accepted the award on behalf of the firm at the Chambers Europe Awards event held this past Friday evening at Amsterdam’s Hotel Okura. 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...