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Liechtenstein > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


Doing Business in … Liechtenstein

Contributed by Gasser Partner

A. Country report

Liechtenstein, being a tiny country located in the heart of Europe, is ready to provide an excellent business environment for foreign investors. Enclosed between Switzerland and Austria, Liechtenstein benefits from both neighbouring countries. It is a highly developed location both for specialised industries and for sophisticated banking and financial services for international clients.

Although well-known for its banking and financial sector, Liechtenstein is an innovative and export-oriented industrial location. Approximately 38% of the workforce is employed in industry, with 60% in the service sector. The share of national gross value-added is 40% from the industrial sector, 28% from other services and 24% from the financial sector, with a 2015 GNP of approximately CHF5.5bn. In times of global financial crises and ongoing debates regarding taxation, Liechtenstein is committed to making changes where required.

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Legal market overview

Liechtenstein is one of Europe’s financial centres, with a niche in private banking and life insurance services. Its economy is dominated by foreign investment trusts and foundations, which are catered to by the Principality’s highly specialised local law firms. The country acts as a bridge for financial institutions between Switzerland (with which it has a customs union) and the EU – based on a number of bilateral passporting, taxation and saving agreements. According to the Liechtenstein Office of Statistics, 61% of the local population are employed in the banking and financial services industries, and accounts for 24% of the jurisdiction’s gross output.

For the last decade, private-banking institutions have attracted increased scrutiny in the media and from financial regulators and governments, which was additionally fuelled by the Panama Papers and subsequent scandals, as well as a more critical public opinion throughout the EU. During this time, the number of foreign investors involved in Liechtenstein’s trusts is estimated to have halved. There has been a concerted effort by law-makers to reinvent the jurisdiction as a modern and transparent banking destination, through a ‘clean money’ strategy. As of 2009, Liechtenstein has initiated a network of double tax treaties, incorporating OECD and EEA standards on tax transparency and information exchange – notably with a number of other low-tax jurisdictions – that have tentatively renewed investor confidence, and satisfied global regulators.

Amongst the new regulatory measures is the OECD’s Common Reporting Standards agreement, which was signed into law in 2017, with the first exchange of information expected in 2019 for the reporting year starting on 1st January 2018. The EU/EEA’s General Data Protection Regulation will be implemented in 2018, with consequences for the way personal data is handled. Local law firms work closely with the domestic financial regulator and hence are well placed to advise clients on the rapidly changing regulatory environment.

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    CEVA Logistics, one of the world's leading third-party logistics companies, successfully priced its IPO and listed its shares on the SIX Swiss Exchange, where trading commenced on 4 May 2018. With a market capitalization of CHF 1.6 billion and generating gross proceeds of CHF 821 million, this is so far considered as the largest IPO on the SIX Swiss Exchange for 2018. In addition, CMA CGM, the third largest container shipping group in the world, has committed to make a strategic cornerstone investment in CEVA Logistics by purchasing CHF 379 million of mandatory convertible securities which will convert into shares of CEVA Logistics once certain regulatory approvals have been obtained. Simultaneously with the IPO, CEVA Holdings, the former holding company of the CEVA group, migrated from the Marshall Islands to Switzerland by way of a cross-border merger with CEVA Logistic as the surviving company.
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  • Bär & Karrer Advises on Partial Self-Tender Offer

    On 21 September 2017, an extraordinary shareholders' meeting of the SIX Swiss Exchange listed N.V. authorized the board of directors to repurchase up to 33 1/3% of the company's share capital by means of a partial self-tender offer. The resolution adopted under Dutch law contained detailed information, among others regarding the period for which the authorization is granted, the manner in which the shares are repurchased and the price range within which the offer price must be set.
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    In March 2018, the new Serbian Law on Foreigners was adopted, replacing the 2008 version of this law- in force until recently without any amendments. The new law will enter into force on 3 October 2018.
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    On 20 April 2018, the amendments to the Law on Foreign Exchange (the “Law ”) were adopted and will enter into force on 28 April 2018 . Exceptionally, the application of certain provisions related to the assuming of competencies over foreign exchange control by the National Bank of Serbia is delayed until 1 January 2019.
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    Vyaire Medical, Inc., a global leader in respiratory care, acquired all shares in the Acutronic Medical Systems group, a Switzerland and Germany-based leader in the design and manufacture of neonatal ventilation equipment.