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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 draft tax bill introduced in the Austrian Parliament last week will implement the most significant tax reform in the country's history. read more...
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Austria recently experienced a significant boom in start-ups(1) and has produced some major international players (eg, Runtastic, bwin, last.fm and Whatchado). That said, starting a business in Austria requires an understanding of the peculiarities of the legal system. This update discusses some of the common legal risks and issues that come along with starting a business in Austria. read more...
In mid-May 2015, the Austrian government published the text of the changes in the country's tax system that will enter into force on 1 January 2016. One aspect of these impending changes that has not yet been subject to wider discussion is a modification in the rules to the Real Estate Transfer Tax ("RETT") on Share Deals. read more...
In light of its recently revised state aid regulations, it seems that Turkey is aiming to increase the appetite of foreign investors, who have become more cautious about investing in the country on account of the lacklustre global economy. The Turkish Prime Minister announced the new state aid package on 2 April 2015; the regulations entered into force on 8 April 2015. These new measures increase the support provided for investments, in particular to those that are made during the course of the current year (2015). read more...
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On March 5 2015 Austria's agriculture, forestry, environment and water economics minister presented a draft law to amend the Chemicals Act and the Biocidal Products Act. The proposed amendments are the last steps towards the final standardisation of the classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures in accordance with EU Regulation 1272/2008 (the 'CPL Regulation'). The amendments simplify the term 'toxin' and shift the existing toxin purchase permit system to a simplified system of toxin purchase certificates. 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...
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...
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...