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- The Legal 500 United Kingdom Awards 2013
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Legal market overview
Positive messages from the Hungarian market included the full repayment of the country’s IMF loan in August 2013, but the weakening of the forint and sectoral taxation to the detriment of foreign investment mean the market outlook remains uncertain.
With certain taxation aimed at financial institutions and the lack of foreign investment contributing to the ongoing dearth of new-money financing, many law firms have shifted their focus from new projects to restructurings and refinancings of existing transactions. The real estate market remained quiet, as did the energy sector, which has been badly hit by the government’s push to lower energy prices.
The state has become an increasingly important player in the market, with recent transactions including its acquisition of stakes in two local banks, and state-owned energy group MVM’s acquisition of E.ON’s natural gas division; these and other examples ensured that law firms with connections to state entities remained busy through 2012-13. Firms with strong competition law practices also had an active year, with headline matters including the Hungarian Competition Office’s continuing cartel investigation into foreign exchange mortgage loans.
Among the prominent international law firms are Andrékó Kinstellar, CMS, Horváth & Partners DLA Piper, Kajtár Takács Hegymegi-Barakonyi Baker & McKenzie Ügyvédi Iroda and Réczicza White & Case LLP. Leading independent firms include Nagy és Trócsányi Ügyvédi Iroda, Oppenheim and Szecskay Attorneys at Law.
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Hungary's new law on information security will plug a hole in existing legislation, but may prove to be excessive in addressing security issues.
In 2013, Hungary has introduced a 10% household utilities price cut in the field of electricity, gas and district heating. To ensure thorough enforcement of the price cuts, the country's energy regulator was restructured and several barriers were set to prevent energy companies from passing on these burdens to consumers.
This guide provides the international practitioner and in-house counsel with a comprehensive worldwide legal analysis of the laws and regulations of real estate. This article appeared in the 2013 edition of The International Comparative Legal Guide to: Real Estate; published by Global Legal Group Ltd, London. www.iclg.co.uk )
Hungary seeks to impose a 35% withholding tax on offshore assets.
The complicated Hungarian legislation on domestic company mergers can cause headaches, including in cross-border mergers. These headaches result mostly from the fundamental differences between Hungarian law and the national laws of other EU member states, which remain applicable alongside the harmonised rules for cross-border mergers.
On 9 July, the Hungarian Government adopted Act CXVI of 2012 on Financial Transactions Tax, which levies tax on payment services. The Hungarian government claims that this new tax - which is also being referred to as a "financial transaction levy" - is aimed at supplementing the extraordinary tax levied on Hungarian credit institutions. The tax comes into effect and will be payable as of 1 January 2013.
A recent second instance judgment by the Metropolitan Court of Appeal (“Court of Appeal”) provides some interesting insight into the court’s approach in cartel matters. The case before the Court of Appeal concerned the second instance review of a first instance judgment that annulled certain parts of the decision of the Hungarian Competition Office (the “HCO”).
Hungary is the first country in the CEE region to introduce the real estate investment trust (REIT) regime on the back of US and Western European examples. The new REIT regime took effect on 27 July 2011.
After the publication of the Annual Growth Survey (AGS) by the European Commission, the Hungarian Presidency undertook to implement the first ever "European Semester" a six-month period of each year in which Member States' budgetary and structural policies are reviewed to identify any inconsistencies and emerging imbalances, so as to facilitate coordination before major budgetary decisions are finalised.
BANKING & FINANCE . REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION . PROCUREMENT & REGULATORY . EMPLOYMENT & PENSIONS
The Exempted Limited Partnership Law, 2014 (the New ELP Law ) has replaced the Exempted Limited Partnership Law (2013 Revision) (the Previous Law ). The New Law includes significant changes to the Cayman Islands' statutory framework regulating exempted limited partnerships ( ELPs ) that will increase the attractiveness of ELPs and will be appreciated by managers, investors and creditors alike. Private equity sponsors in particular will notice substantial improvements that are indicative of Cayman's continuing commitment to balanced and commercially sensible legislation. Read more...
RESTRUCTURING - COURT PROCEDURES
On 23 May 2014, the States of Jersey passed the Companies (Amendment No. 11) (Jersey) Law 201- (the Amendment Law ). This will now be sent to the UK Privy Council for consideration, then laid before the States of Jersey for a final time before coming into force. The latest information we have is that the Privy Council will be approving the law on 19 July 2014 and it may come into effect as soon as 4 August 2014.
The Hague, 4 July 2014 - BarentsKrans has appointed Joost Fanoy as a partner in the Antitrust & Public Procurement department, effective as of July 1, 2014. Joost specializes in European law in general with a particular focus on European and Dutch competition, public procurement and state aid law and is the head of the Antitrust and Public Procurement Practice Group. Joost is also a member of the Cartel damages team of BarentsKrans.
PineBridge Investments Middle East, a global multi-asset class investment manager with regional headquarters in Bahrain, and nearly 60 years of experience in emerging and developed markets, has acquired a 50% equity stake in Romatem, the leading physical therapy and rehabilitation services chain in Turkey.
Isbank issued 750 million USD notes under its GMTN programme established in 2013. The notes are listed on the Irish Stock Exchange and bear interest at the rate of 5 % with a maturity date 2021. Mr. Omer Collak (partner) and Mr. Baris Kencebay (head of tax practice) have acted for the joint lead managers Barclays, Citigroup, HSBC, National Bank of Abu Dhabi and The Royal Bank of Scotland.
Halkbank issued five-year term fixed interest rate US currency notes, with a total amount of USD 500 million with an interest rate of 4.765 % and an annual coupon rate of 4.750 %. The notes offered the lowest borrowing rate in the first five-month period of 2014, and total demand rose nearly nine-fold due to high investor interest. The note issuance drew great interest from international investors settled in the Middle East and Asia, as well as those investors based in the US and Europe. Mr Omer Collak (partner) and Mr Baris Kencebay (head of tax practice) have advised the joint lead managers.
Turkiye Finans issued the first ringgit sukuk originating from Turkey. The bank initially raised MYR 1 billion with a five-year commodity sukuk on June 30, with an annual return of 6 %. The sukuk under the programme will have tenure of one to 20 years. Funds raised will go towards general corporate purposes. The sukuk will be issued through TF Varlik Kiralama A.S., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Turkiye Finans. Malaysia's RAM Ratings has accorded the programme an indicative long-term rating of AA3. HSBC Amanah Malaysia and Standard Chartered Saadiq were the joint advisers. Mr Omer Collak (partner) and Mr Baris Kencebay (head of tax practice) have advised Turkiye Finans and the issuer TF Varlik Kiralama A.S.
Ziraat Bank, the largest state owned bank of Turkey, established GMTN programme on 21 May 2014, for the notes to be issued up to USD 2 billion listed on Irish Stock Exchange. The notes are unconditional, unsubordinated and unsecured obligations, and rank pari-passu with Ziraat Bank's other senior unsecured obligations.
Vakifbank issued EUR 500 million 5-year unsecured and unsubordinated notes under the first GMTN programme of Turkey established in 2013. The notes are listed on Irish Stock Exchange and bear interest at the rate of 3.5 % p.a. with a maturity date 17 June 2019. This is the very first EUR denominated RegS offering of a Turkish entity.