JPM Jankovic Popovic Mitic > Belgrade, Serbia > Firm Profile

JPM Jankovic Popovic Mitic
8A VLADIMIRA POPOVICA STREET
11000 BELGRADE
Serbia

Serbia > Commercial, corporate and M&A Tier 1

JPM Jankovic Popovic Mitic’s corporate team comprises sector experts in energy, telecoms, financial services, infrastructure and mining. The team is particularly experienced in multi-jurisdictional matters, including acting for US, Canada and Asia-based clients; it is also a go-to practice for associated regulatory, tax and competition law issues. Heading up the corporate department, senior partner Nenad Popović specialises in major strategic transactions and mining and energy leader Jelena Gazivoda handles market-leading projects. Jelena Stankovic Lukic is also a key partner, while Anja Šakan and Bojana Javorić are experienced senior associates.

Testimonials

JPM’s lawyers are dedicated to their work and provide exceptional legal services.

They are solutions oriented, open-minded and extremely good in terms of responsiveness.

The lawyers provide high-quality advice.

The JPM team is outstanding in every aspect of its performance.

Nenad Popović is a veteran lawyer corporate lawyer and standout figure in the Serbian legal market.

Jelena Gazivoda is a great lawyer with an excellent understanding of the commercial angles of deals, and superior regulatory and M&A knowledge.

Jelena Gazivoda has a proven track record of acting as a lead partner on major transactions in the energy sector, and she is extremely responsive and professional.

Jelena Stanković Lukić is exceptionally meticulous, pragmatic and client oriented.

Key clients

MTU Aero Engines

Gastrans

Rolls Royce & Partners Finance

Panasonic Corporation

Karlovarské minerální vody

Adventura Holding

Decathlon

Cerved Credit Management Group

China Shandong International Economic & Technical Cooperation Group

JP Srbijagas

Transportgas Srbija

Victoria Group

Balkan Mining and Minerals

Work highlights

  • Advised BASF on the establishment of a subsidiary, Master Builders Solutions doo Beograd, as part of a global transaction with Lone Star.
  • Advised Deceuninck on the sale of a Serbian subsidiary and the establishment of an exclusive distribution and trade mark licensing collaboration with the purchasing Serbian company.
  • Advised PT Indofood CBP Sukses Makmur Tbk’s two subsidiaries on due diligence and other issues in relation to the indirect acquisition of Pinehill Co, which involved eight separate jurisdictions.

Serbia > Competition Tier 1

JPM Jankovic Popovic Mitic‘s ‘knowledgeable, responsive and pragmatic‘ competition department routinely acts for clients before the competition authorities in Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The team is consistently sought out for major international mergers as well as multi-jurisdictional cartel investigations, and it is experienced in advising on restrictive agreements and individual exemptions. It also assists with dawn raids, along with defence strategies for competition litigation and follow-on damages claims. Heading the team, Nikola Poznanović‘s workload encompasses an array of merger control mandates. Bojana Javorić is an active senior associate.

Practice head(s):

Testimonials

Full and fast support which gives us confidence.

A very competent and efficient competition team.

Excellent work in a timely manner.

Very good knowledge of the local competition authority.

The team is knowledgeable, responsive and pragmatic in its approach.

The team’s capabilities ensure an efficient and smooth merger control process.

Nikola Poznanović is outstanding.

Nikola Poznanović is pragmatic and business oriented.

Key clients

Messer Medical Homecare Holding

STADA

Europ Assistance Holding

Credit Agricole Assurances

Leonardo

Thales

Hodler Capital

Stanić

JP Srbijagas

Generali Asia

FLSmidth

Messer Group

MK Group

Metinvest

Mylan

Gomex

Exclusive Networks

Barentz International

Gastrans

PepsiCo

Karlovarské minerální vody

Gauselmann Group

BASF

Lidl

Edu Farm

Dr Max

Banca Generali

Assicurazioni Generali

Mid Europa Partners

Work highlights

  • Assisted Generali Asia with a merger control procedure regarding the acquisition of AXA AFFIN General Insurance Berhad, AXA AFFIN Life Insurance Berhad and MPI Generali Insurans Berhad.
  • Advising BASF on drafting its 2021 commercial policy and rebate schemes, which included competition law aspects.
  • Assisted Leonardo Italy and Thales France with merger control proceedings before Serbia’s competition authority.

Serbia > Dispute resolution Tier 1

Routinely acting in high-profile disputes for domestic and international clients, JPM Jankovic Popovic Mitic has extensive experience in litigation, mediation and arbitration. The team’s expertise covers competition, insurance, insolvency, trade marks, financial services and regulatory matters. The ‘prompt and to-the-pointDjordje Novčić regularly handles commercial litigation, insurance disputes and arbitration for clients from the financial services, IT, energy and retail sectors. He also acts for manufacturing, infrastructure and professional services clients. Jelena Milinović heads the firm’s corporate crime practice.

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Testimonials

The communication between the experts is very good and eases the preparation of files, taking into consideration the various litigations arising from the same events.

A smart and reasonable approach to the dispute resolution process, taking into account all the client’s interests.

A very good team that consists of professionals who can cover all areas.

A great tailor-made service.

Djordje Novčić is able to work in English (verbal and written communications with clients and arbitrators) and he is able to mobilise solid resources and respond to short deadlines.

Djordje Novčić is prompt and to the point in providing legal opinions and strategies. I would recommend him anytime.

Jelena Milinović is very responsive.

Jelena Milinović is an expert in Serbian criminal law, and works very well with international clients.

Key clients

BASF

Microsoft

Commerzbank

HP

Siemens

Puma

Schauer

VTB

Bayerische Landesbank

Gastrans

Srbijagas

Bridgestone

China Shandong International

Knauf

Rehau

Helvetia Group

Beiersdorf

Emmezeta

CTP Serbia

Victoria

Adriatic Consultants

Work highlights

  • Acted for Gastrans Serbia in numerous court proceedings further to damage caused during the construction of the 400km Gazprom Turkish Stream gas pipeline through Serbia.
  • Assisted Helvetia Group with the legal analysis of a claim involving a vessel involved in a collision on the Danube River.
  • Assisted Messer with an out-of-court settlement regarding a long-term electricity purchase agreement.

Serbia > Employment Tier 1

JPM Jankovic Popovic Mitic‘s employment department has an enviable client list that stems predominantly from the IT, retail, banking and automotive industries; clients also benefit from the group’s ability to leverage expertise in areas such as data protection, corporate law and IP. Heading the team, Jelena Nikolić consistently advises on day-to-day labour law issues, as well as handling employment-related disputes. The senior associates to note are Anja Šakan, a specialist in labour law matters and foreigners’ rights, and Andrea Cvetanović, whose practice focuses on labour and GDPR matters.

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Testimonials

They always follow the requirements of clients and achieve the set goals.

Individuals with a very professional approach who are very well acquainted with the legislation.

JPM has extraordinary people – their lawyers are very knowledgeable, responsive and reliable.

They cover a wide range of topics, and are always ready to go the extra mile to find solutions that are sometimes very complex.

All credit goes to Jelena Nikolić for her outstanding work and dedication.

Jelena Nikolić is an extraordinary lawyer with deep knowledge and expertise in labour law. She is reliable, responsive, and open to listening to new ideas. Her English is also at the very highest level, which makes our work easier.

Jelena Nikolić is very realistic in providing risk estimations.

We consider Jelena Nikolić a team member – we can count on her for every situation. She is very professional, but also pragmatic and understands the needs of various industries.

Key clients

BASF Srbija

Beiersdorf Serbia

ContiTech Fluid Serbia

Denso Thermal Systems

Deichmann Serbia

Enterprise Services doo Beograd

IKEA Serbia

Alfred Kärcher SE & Co (Serbia)

Lidl Srbija

MTU Aero Engines

Norma Group Southeast Europe

Siemens Healthcare Serbia

TomTom International

Serbia > Projects and energy Tier 1

A market-leading practice for major projects, energy and natural resources work, JPM Jankovic Popovic Mitic‘s group is regularly instructed on large project financings, substantial PPPs, concessions and direct foreign investments. A go-to adviser for work throughout Serbia and the SEE region, senior partner Jelena Gazivoda routinely assists with complex issues across the projects and energy spectrum. Nikola Đorđević‘s expertise covers substantial transactions and regulatory issues and Ivan Petrović has a wide-ranging practice that covers project development, financing and construction work. Marija Vukčević is the senior associate to note.

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Testimonials

JPM is the best provider of legal services in the projects and energy sector. What they know, nobody else on the Serbian market knows. Apart from their expertise, they are a compact team of great individuals, who are always available, effective and collaborative, and work at the highest level.

The team has a great understanding of local law and practice, as well as the country’s energy and infrastructure sector.

The team is capable of translating its comprehensive knowledge into practical advice for clients, and always has a problem-solving attitude.

An abundance of experience in structuring and leading complex transactions.

The firm continuously invests in its training of younger lawyers as well as technology, allowing it to grow.

Jelena Gazivoda is a tour de force, always on top of things, and very hands on and knowledgeable.

Jelena Gazivoda is a person of utmost trust for literally anyone who has ever had the opportunity to collaborate with her.

Nikola Đorđević is an experienced, thorough and hardworking lawyer.

Key clients

Gastrans

Srbijagas

Transportgas Srbija

Underground Natural Gas Storage Banatski Dvor

Distribucija Srbija

Yugorosgaz

Balkan Mining and Minerals

CHP Holding

Respect Energy

Work highlights

  • Assisted Gastrans with the preparation of the Gastrans Network Code, which will detail the contractual obligations for users of the natural gas transmission system.
  • Advised Balkan Mining and Minerals, a subsidiary of Australian mineral developer Jadar Resources, on its development of the Rekovac project.
  • Advised JP Srbijagas, the Serbian state-owned natural gas provider, on its acquisition of the remaining 50% of shares in Progresgas-Trejding.

Serbia > Banking and finance Tier 2

JPM Jankovic Popovic Mitic‘s banking and finance practice fields experts in project finance, PPP work, NPLs, restructurings and reorganisations, along with other complex financial transactions. The team is co-led at senior partner level by mining and energy department leader Jelena Gazivoda, who consistently acts on highly complex finance matters, along with substantial transactions in the financial services sector, and corporate practice head Nenad Popović, whose expertise includes major strategic deals and complex regulatory issues. In addition to leading the competition department, Nikola Poznanovic has notable banking and finance experience.

Other key lawyers:

Testimonials

The JPM lawyers are always dedicated and provide exceptional legal services.

They are solutions oriented, open minded, and extremely good in terms of responsiveness and availability to work odd hours and on weekends (when required).

Great understanding of the commercial angle of deals, along with superior regulatory knowledge.

The service is up to the highest market standards at all times, regardless of the project.

Jelena Gazivoda is a great lawyer with broad expertise, and she has a proven track record of acting as a lead partner on major transactions in the energy sector.

Jelena Gazivoda is extremely responsive and professional.

Nikola Poznanovic is business oriented, hardworking and solutions driven. His key strengths are knowledge, fast thinking, attention to detail and good communication.

Key clients

Gastrans

Work highlights

  • Advising Gastrans on a large natural gas infrastructure project in Serbia.

Serbia > Real estate and construction Tier 2

With credentials in transactions in both the regional and local markets, JPM Jankovic Popovic Mitic‘s department fields specialists in real estate and construction law, as well as strategic projects, PPPs and concessions. The team’s work ranges from conducting due diligence for asset and share deals to advising on greenfield projects, construction agreements, leases and litigation. Group head Ivan Petrović consistently advises major Serbian and multinational companies on complex real estate mandates, construction contracts, permitting and restitution. Petrović is also on hand for real estate-related disputes. Marija Vukčević is a key associate.

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Key clients

Gastrans

China Shandong International Economic & Technical Cooperation Group

JP Srbijagas

Merkur Games

Horizon Energy

UGS Banatski Dvor

CHP

Elbing Investments

Docker

Work highlights

  • Assisted PSG Banatski Dvor with drafting a complex front-end engineering design (FEED) and early works agreement.
  • Assisted Docker with drafting a long-term lease and construction agreement for the development and operation of a brewery and restaurant in a gastro park in Belgrade.

Serbia > Intellectual property Tier 3

Predominantly acting for international clients, JPM Jankovic Popovic Mitic‘s IP practice operates across multiple jurisdictions. It advises on the full gamut of IP work, spanning the creation, exploitation, protection and enforcement of IP rights. Senior partner and IP department head Miloš Mitić has a notable track record in major IP litigation. Aleksandar Popović, who was promoted to the partnership in September 2021, has extensive experience covering patents, trade marks and IP-related litigation.

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Testimonials

Professional, reliable and efficient team.

Great innovations in terms of their billing.

Aleksandar Popović is very professional and reliable.

Aleksandar Popović always has the right solution and adequate advice.

Great personal touch from Aleksandar Popović.

Aleksandar Popović stands out for his punctuality, clarity, confidentiality and promptness. He also has great knowledge and understanding of the film production business and its legal aspects.

Key clients

Masterwork Automodules Tech Corp

Master Builders Solutions

Beiersdorf

Multivista Systems

H&M

Decathlon

New Yorker

adp Gauselmann

The oldest commercial law firm in Serbia, JPM has been helping local and international businesses grow in Serbia and throughout the SEE region for almost 30 years. Rated as a top-tier law firm by all the leading legal directories (Chambers & Partners, The Legal 500 and IFLR1000), we provide clients with full-service coverage and pride ourselves on truly understanding their sector and their business needs.

We have accumulated a wealth of knowledge in every major industrial and corporate sector, from energy to banking, transport, manufacturing and telecommunications, while remaining true to a pioneering spirit that has always drawn us to the latest trends and developments. Today we serve clients in growth sectors such as renewable energy, IT and life sciences, offering innovative solutions and a pro-active approach to broaching new ground.

We are known for working closely with clients and treating their problems as our own. Our lawyers pride themselves on being team players, fast and available, specialised in terms of practice area and industry, but versatile and creative in their thinking. We believe our advice should be tailor-made and that even the thorniest issue has a legal solution.

Our membership of Lex Mundi (the world’s premiere network of independent law firms) and the TLA (a regional alliance of leading firms from Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia) means we have close working relationships with first-rate firms throughout the region and around the world, enabling us to operate as the perfect hub for SEE and other multi-jurisdictional transactions.

DepartmentNameEmailTelephone
Corporate Law and M&A Nenad Popovicnenad.popovic@jpm.rs+38112076850
Corporate Law and M&A Jelena Gazivodajelena.gazivoda@jpm.rs+38112076850
Privatisation Nikola Jankovicnikola.jankovic@jpm.rs+38112076850
Privatisation Aleksandar Hadzicaleksandar.hadzic@jpm.rs+38112076850
Banking and finance Nenad Popovicnenad.popovic@jpm.rs+38112076850
Dispute Resolution Djordje Novcicdjordje.novcic@jpm.rs+38112076850
Competition and Antitrust Nikola Poznanovicnikola.poznanovic@jpm.rs+38112076850
Labour/Employment Law Jelena Nikolicjelena.nikolic@jpm.rs+38112076850
Energy, infrastructure and PPP Jelena Gazivodajelena.gazivoda@jpm.rs+38112076850
Energy, infrastructure and PPP Nikola Djordjevicnikola.djordjevic@jpm.rs+38112076850
IP, broadcasting and advertising Aleksandar Popovicaleksandar.popovic@jpm.rs+38112076850
Privacy / Data Use and Security Ivan Milosevicivan.milosevic@jpm.rs+38112076850
Public procurement Ivan Milosevicivan.milosevic@jpm.rs+38112076850
Tax Law Nikola Djordjevicnikola.djordjevic@jpm.rs+38112076850
Customs Law Ivan Milosevicivan.milosevic@jpm.rs+38112076850
Corporate advisory and compliance Nenad Popovicnenad.popovic@jpm.rs+38112076850
Corporate advisory and compliance Milos Miticmilos.mitic@jpm.rs+38112076850
Regulatory/consumer protection/gaming Jelena Stankovic Lukicjelena.stankovic@jpm.rs+38112076850
Real estate and construction Ivan Petrovicivan.petrovic@jpm.rs+38112076850
Criminal Law and Criminal Compliance Jelena Milinovicjelena.milinovic@jpm.rs+38112076850
Gaming Law Jelena Stankovic Lukicjelena.stankovic@jpm.rs+38112076850
Arbitration Djordje Novcicdjordje.novcic@jpm.rs+38112076850
Number of lawyers : 30
English
French
German
Italian
Russian
Serbian
Lex Mundi
TLA Top-tier Legal Adriatic
Contacts : Nikola Jankovic
Contacts : Nenad Popovic
Contacts : Milos Mitic
Contacts : Jelena Gazivoda

We at JPM Jankovic Popovic Mitic are dedicated to the principles of diversity. We believe that by recruiting, hiring, and promoting people of different cultures, backgrounds, beliefs and preferences, the quality of our work life is enhanced and the legal services that we provide to our clients is more creative. Our vision is to promote a culture where all talented contributors can have and can see a path to long-term success.

Our leadership role in diversity within the legal community requires us to not only support diversity within our firm but to also promote the principles of diversity in the communities in which we live.

For some law firms diversity is just a good business practice. But diversity for JPM Jankovic Popovic Mitic is not just a business practice, it reflects who we are, individually and as a firm, and how we live our lives outside of the workplace.


CLIENT: CEO

COMPANY/FIRM: Serbian Company active in retail

TESTIMONIAL:  JPM is one of the leading Serbian law firms providing full scale legal services in all practice areas we need. JPM is offering a great service at competitive price. Deadlines are always met, response is quick and up to the point. All lawyers and associates are pragmatic and client oriented.


CLIENT: Corporate Compliance Officer

COMPANY/FIRM: Multinational Company active in construction sector

TESTIMONIAL: The overall services provided by JPM lawyers were of a high professional standards. In our opinion, the JPM lawyers have profound knowledge of legislation and legal practice.  We would, also, point out a short response time even in case of complex matters. For these reasons, we are very satisfied with the services provided by JPM. Based on our experience, we think that JPM law office is one of the top-ranking law offices in Serbia.


CLIENT: CFO

COMPANY/FIRM: Multinational Corporation active in energy sector

TESTIMONIAL: JPM has been involved in our business since day one and is as such extremely familiar with our requirements. They offer the tremendous advantage of providing a broad range of practice groups and areas, and

are hence very responsive to the vast multitude of issues businesses face. They provide excellent value for money in comparison to much slower foreign practices we work with across our group.


International

The oldest commercial law firm in Serbia, JPM has been helping local and international businesses grow in Serbia and throughout the SEE region for almost 30 years.

We have accumulated a wealth of knowledge in every major industrial and corporate sector, from energy to banking, transport, manufacturing and telecommunications, while remaining true to a pioneering spirit that has always drawn us to the latest trends and developments. Today we serve clients in growth sectors such as renewable energy, IT and life sciences, offering innovative solutions and a proactive approach to breaching new ground.

Clients

We offer our clients comprehensive legal advice with lawyers specialised in all the key industries and practice areas.

We are known for working closely with clients and treating their problems as our own. Our lawyers pride themselves on being team players, fast and available, specialised in terms of practice area and industry, but versatile and creative in their thinking. We believe our advice should be tailor-made and that even the thorniest issue has a legal solution.

The networks

Our membership of Lex Mundi (the world’s premiere network of independent law firms) and the TLA (a regional alliance of leading firms from Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia) means we have close working relationships with first-rate firms throughout the region and around the world, enabling us to operate as the perfect hub for SEE and other multi-jurisdictional transactions.

SERBIA

Business Environment

In the process of joining the European Union, Serbia has been improving the investment environment for many years, as well as amending numerous laws to attract foreign investment. The purpose of the amendments to laws is harmonization with the EU legislation, as well as making Serbia a competitive investment market.

This significant change has put Serbia in a high position on the list of countries, which investors all around the world take into consideration when deciding where to invest.

Since 2007, Serbia has attracted over €37 billion of inward foreign direct investment. From the onset of economic reforms, the country has grown into one of the premier investment locations in Central and Eastern Europe. A list of leading foreign investors is topped by world-class companies such as Bosch, Michelin, Siemens, ZF, Panasonic, Continental, Microsoft, Schneider Electric, NCR, Johnson Electric, Leoni, MTU and many others. While Serbia might not be the easiest place to do business in, it does offer a lot of opportunities as a market, or as convenient regional headquarters for Central European operation.

Located in southeast Europe, with a total area of 88.361 km², Serbia boasts perfect position – access to the Adriatic Sea through neighboring Montenegro and to inland Europe and the Black Sea through the River Danube. The capital city of Belgrade generates 40% of the national wealth, while Southern and Eastern Serbia only account for 14%. The population is 7’186’862, the median age is 43.4 years and a GDP per capita is USD 8,750.

Hundreds of foreign firms from different parts of the world, large and small, are successfully operating in Serbia today. Competitive advantages of Serbia, as regional hub for market development (outsource, export, import, production, distribution) has proven to be a highly efficient decision of many companies. Because of the geographic position, in which the routes of Corridors X and VII intersect, Belgrade could become one of the key hubs for the most important European river, road and railway routes of international importance. Added value of investors’ market entrance to Serbia are export opportunities to third markets under free trade agreements.

The business structures of the country

According to the Law on Companies (“Law on Companies“), there are four legal forms of companies: limited liability company (“DOO“), joint stock company (“AD“), general partnership (“OD“) and limited partnership (“KD“).

Limited liability company In the Republic of Serbia, the limited liability company is the most dominant legal form of the business entity. Pursuant to the Serbian Law on Companies, a limited liability company (DOO) is a company founded by one or more foreign or domestic natural persons or legal entities holding a share in the company’s capital. The main characteristic of a DOO is that the company is legally liable for its obligations with its total assets, while the shareholders are liable for the obligations of the company only up to the amount of the share they hold in the company’s assets. One of the reasons why DOO is a very common legal form is that such companies can conduct most business activities, except those for which the law specifically prescribes a different legal form (such as banking activities, where the law requires that banks are established in the form of joint stock companies). Minimal basic capital for founding a limited liability company is 100,00 RSD (0,85 EUR).

Joint stock company A joint stock company (AD) is a company founded by one or more legal or natural persons (shareholders), in order to perform certain activities, whose founding capital is determined and divided into shares. The total value of all shares comprises the initial capital of the joint stock company. A joint stock company, like a DOO, is liable for its obligations with its entire property, while shareholders are only liable up to the amount of their contribution in the capital of the company.

Minimal basic capital for founding a joint stock company is 3 million RSD (pecuniary capital). (25.000.000,00 EUR)

Branch/representative office

Branch office A company may conduct its business activities through branch offices, which are separate organizational units of the company. A branch office is not a legal entity and conducts legal transactions in the name and on behalf of the company, meaning that the company that founded the branch office has unlimited liability for obligations towards third parties relating to the business activities of its branch office.

Representative office A foreign legal entity may also conduct business through a representative office. The activities a representative office may conduct are restricted to preliminary activities and preparations for the legal transactions of its founder. It is not authorized to carry out commercial transactions (execution of contracts, payment or collection on the grounds of commercial contracts). As an exception, a representative office may carry out legal transactions relating to its own current business activities. The founder of the representative office is liable for all obligations arising from such business activities.

General and limited partnerships

General partnership A general partnership (“OD”) is a company founded by two or more natural persons and/or legal entities in the capacity of partners with the objective of conducting certain activities. The partners have unlimited joint and several liability for obligations of the partnership up to the value of their entire assets. Like other forms of business organization, general partnerships are also registered with the BRA; the registration procedure has already been explained in the section of the brochure relating to establishing a DOO.

Limited partnership A limited partnership (“KD”) is a company founded by two or more natural persons and/or legal entities with the objective of conducting certain activities, at least one of whom has unlimited joint and several liability for the obligations of the partnership (general partner), and at least one has limited liability up to the amount of its uncontributed or not paid-in contribution (limited partner).

How to invest in Serbia

As attracting foreign investments has been one of the primary economic goals to which the Republic of Serbia is continuously dedicated, measures set to encourage foreign and domestic investments are subject of constant improvement. The general legal framework for investing in the Republic of Serbia is provided in the Law on Investments (“Law on Investments”) which defines the entities for providing investment support in the interest of providing more efficient services to investors, which, inter alia, include the Council for Economic Development and the Development Agency of Serbia, specifying the rights, obligations and competences of the institutions in charge of cooperation with investors. In this regard, easier and better communication has been enabled between investors (domestic and/or foreign, natural and/or legal persons) and institutions of all levels.

In order to define the specific criteria, terms and manner of attracting direct investments and to regulate other issues of importance for attracting direct investments, the Government of the Republic of Serbia passed a Decree on Determining Criteria for Granting Incentives for Attracting Direct Investments (“the Decree”).

Pursuant to the general Decree, incentive funds for attracting direct investments, that is to say for investments in tangible and intangible assets and fixed assets of companies for:

  1. commencement of new business activities;
  2. expansion of existing capacities; or
  3. expanding the existing production by new products and production processes, as well as for acquiring assets directly associated with a business company which has ceased to operate or would cease to operate if it were not purchased from third parties under market conditions, which secure new employment, are provided for in the budget of the Republic of Serbia and may be used for financing investment projects in the manufacturing sector and sector of services of service centers.

On the other hand, incentive funds cannot be used to finance investment projects in the transport sector, software development except as needed for improvement of products, production processes or providing services of service centers, hospitality, games of chance, trade, production of synthetic fibers, coal and steel, mining, tobacco and tobacco products, weapons and ammunition, shipbuilding of self-propelled trade ships with over 100 gross registered tons, airports, public utility sector and the energy sector, broadband networks, fishing and aquaculture. Regarding tax incentives, the Law on Investments stipulates tax relief for contributions of investors in equipment, wherefore the import of equipment which represents the contribution of an investor is free and exempted from customs and other import duties, provided that the equipment imported is in line with the regulations governing health and safety of citizens and environment protection. This relief does not apply to passenger vehicles and machines for entertainment and games of chance. The current regulations of the Republic of Serbia also provide for a special regime of tax incentives for investments. The most important governmental body for support for investments is the Development Agency of Serbia (“DAS”).

Economy

Currency strength

The Serbian Dinar (RSD) is the currency of Serbia. The rate has been stable, as the economy has been improving, driven by macroeconomic reforms, greater financial stability, improved fiscal discipline, and a European Union (EU) accession process that provides impetus for legal changes that improve the business environment.

Inflation rates

  • Serbia inflation rate for 2020 was 1.58%, a 0.27% decline from 2019.
  • The annual inflation rate in Serbia rose to 5.7 % in September of 2021
  • At the end of the first quarter / April 2022, inflation Rate in Serbia was 9.6 %.

Spill-over effects from the Russia-Ukraine war are taking a toll on the local economy, which had a positive outlook at the start of the year. Unfavorable political situation has put further pressure on commodity prices and inflation expectations, due to the region’s reliance on Russian oil and gas.

Main Trade Sectors

The strongest sectors of Serbia ‘s economy remain energy, the automotive industry, machinery, mining, and agriculture. The country’s primary industrial exports are automobiles, base metals, furniture, food processing, machinery, chemicals, sugar, tires, clothes, and pharmaceuticals. Trade plays a major role in Serbian economic output.

Current opportunities & future prospects

What opportunities exist for clients looking to invest in your jurisdiction?

The European integration and regional cooperation are the most important priorities of Serbia, including the Open Balkans Initiative as a key regional project, that will contribute to the development of the entire Western Balkans.

In the context of that initiative and regional cooperation, there are three key areas: transport connections, i.e., development of railway and road infrastructure, energy stability and diversification of supply sources and cooperation in the field of environmental protection.

The Government of Serbia announces large investments in infrastructure improvements over the next decade, with planned spending on construction and upgrades of roads, rail, bridges, and ports. In ICT, there are opportunities to supply the public sector with e-government products, services, and solutions. There is a burgeoning tech scene in Serbia for firms to tap into, with the high-technology services sector accounting for more than six percent of Serbian GDP and a labor force of 45,000.

The Serbian Government is also committed to investing in healthcare, particularly in the medical device/imaging equipment sector and e-health solutions.

Prospects in agribusiness include irrigation, cold-chain storage, freezing equipment, and agricultural equipment for processing and packaging. Across the board, in each subsector, Serbia needs to invest in modernization of energy facilities and in environmental technologies, looking to diversify its energy supply and incorporate cleaner energy sources. The environmental technology sector is in its infancy, with substantial opportunities in remediation, municipal and industrial waste, wastewater processing, recycling, and air quality.

According to EBRD, the Western Balkans region has great potential and, it will continue to support projects in the field of green transition and digital transformation.

Sectors in focus are:

  • Automotive industry
  • Electronics industry
  • Forest-based industry
  • Agri-Food industry
  • Metal Machinery & Equipment
  • ICT
  • Textile industry
  • Chemical & Pharmaceutical industry

The Consumer

There are also considerable economic disparities among consumers, as Serbia suffers from high income inequality. Serbian consumers have gradually become price-sensitive over the recent years, with the crisis negatively affecting the purchasing power. The price remains by far the most important criterion when it comes to maintaining or changing spending habits, while country of origin of the products is still of significant interest, with a tend to favor local products, followed by those made in Germany and the EU.

When it comes to shopping habits, Serbian consumers opt more and more for online shopping (especially cross-border retail for lower prices), which is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 5.59% until 2025. In 2021, 52.7% of Serbs are online shoppers and this percentage is expected to reach 61.4% in 2025.

Legal system

The judiciary system in Serbia is divided into courts of general and special jurisdiction. The courts of general jurisdiction are primary, higher, and appellate courts, as well as the Supreme Court of Cassation as the highest instance court in Serbia. Courts of special jurisdiction are: (i) commercial courts and the Commercial Appellate Court; (ii) misdemeanor courts and the Misdemeanor Appellate Court; and (iii) the Administrative Court.

The time needed for resolving disputes is often recognized as the main deficiency of the judicial system, but current practice suggests that after the implementation of lengthy judicial reforms the decision-making process is speeding up.

Foreign judicial decisions can be recognized and enforced in the Republic of Serbia under conditions prescribed by the law, and after recognition it becomes equal to the domestic court decision. The foreign court decision will be recognized in Serbia if: (i) it is final; (ii) it does not penetrate the exclusive jurisdiction of the Republic of Serbia; and (iii) there is no existing national or previously recognized foreign decision on the same subject matter.

The contemporary practice shows that the increasing number of business entities operating in Serbia opt for their disputes to be resolved before arbitration by signing arbitration agreements with their business partners. An arbitration agreement can be concluded for the disputes on rights which are at the parties’ free disposal, save the disputes that fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts. The Law on Arbitration lays ground rules for resolving disputes without a foreign element (domestic arbitration) and disputes with a foreign element (international arbitration).

Serbia is a party to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. This enables for the arbitral awards rendered in more than 165 other countries to be recognized and enforced in Serbia, as well as the enforcement and recognition of the Serbian arbitral awards in those countries.

Taxation of companies

The companies in Serbia are subject to the corporate income tax at the rate of 15% calculated on the profits as determined in the financial statements of the company and adjusted in line with the corporate income tax. The effective rate can be reduced by applying one or more tax incentives e.g. for research and development, for creating the IP rights or by using the 10-year tax holiday. The legal form of the company does not have the effect on the calculation of the corporate income tax.

The companies in Serbia are also obliged to withhold the individual income tax and the social security contributions calculated to the income paid to individuals. The most important individual income tax is salary tax, payable to salaries paid to the employees at the rate of 10% and the tax on other income payable at the rate of 20% (effective rate 16%) on the reimbursement paid to individual providing services to the companies. The social security contributions rates are: (i) pension and disability insurance – 25%; (ii) health insurance – 10.3%; (iii) unemployment insurance 0.75%. The individuals which are owners of the company are subject to 15% dividends tax calculated on the amount of profits of the company distributed to them.

The companies that possess a real estate are also subject to property tax at the rate of 0.4% calculated on the book value of the real estate.

Finally, sale of goods and provision of services is taxed by VAT, while certain goods are also subject to excise tax. There are two VAT rates, regular of 20% and reduced of 10%.

Foreign investment restrictions

Regulatory environment

In order to define the specific criteria, terms and manner of attracting direct investments and to regulate other issues of importance for attracting direct investments, the Government of the Republic of Serbia passed a Decree on Determining Criteria for Granting Incentives for Attracting Direct Investments (“the Decree”)

Pursuant to the general Decree, incentive funds for attracting direct investments, that is to say, for investments in tangible and intangible assets and fixed assets of companies for: (i) commencement of new business activities; (ii) expansion of existing capacities; or (iii) expanding the existing production by new products and production processes, as well as for acquiring assets directly associated with a business company which has ceased to operate.

On the other hand, incentive funds cannot be used to finance investment projects in the transport sector, software development except as needed for improvement of products, production processes or providing services of service centers, hospitality, games of chance, trade, production of synthetic fibers, coal and steel, mining, tobacco and tobacco products, weapons and ammunition, shipbuilding of self-propelled trade ships with over 100 gross registered tons, airports, public utility sector and the energy sector, broadband networks, fishing and aquaculture.

The most important governmental body for support for investments is the Development Agency of Serbia (“DAS”) whose primary business activity is providing support for micro, small and medium-sized businesses, and entrepreneurs with the goal of strengthening the commercial sector of the Republic of Serbia, supporting direct investments and promoting exports, improving Serbia’s reputation and regional development.

Direct investment

Serbia is open to FDI and attracting FDI is a priority for the government.

Foreign investments enjoy national treatment in Serbia, along with the freedom of payments towards foreign countries (in terms of permitted purchase of foreign currency for such payments) in accordance with the Law on Foreign Exchange Operations, and the right of a foreign investor to transfer its financial and other assets connected to the investment (this includes profit – dividends, fees for use of IP rights, interests, and other; assets obtained after dissolution of the company, amounts obtained as a price for transferred stakes/shares, amounts obtained on the basis of decrease of the registered capital of the company, amounts obtained from additional payments, expropriation remuneration).

Restrictions on foreign capital

The foreign capital is not subject to any general restrictions. However, certain restrictions and limitations are or may be posed for certain transactions, i.e. certain specific fields. For example, foreigners cannot acquire agricultural land in Serbia, except for EU citizens that fulfill very strict conditions regarding agricultural activity. Also, acquisition of other real estate by foreigners is conditioned with reciprocity.

Continuous control, i.e. monitoring of all (domestic and foreign) entities engaged in business operations is conducted in Serbia in accordance with the Law on Prevention of Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism by banks, financial institutions, accountants, auditors, tax advisors, companies providing brokerage services, and others.

Pursuant to the Law on Prevention of Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism, the Ministry of Finance, the National Bank of Serbia and Securities Commission may implement various measures and impose various restrictions in regard to financial transactions and/or business operations with the entities from certain countries if they determine that certain country has strategical deficiencies in dealing against money laundering and financing of terrorism, and that business operations with entities from such countries pose a special risk.

FDI Inflow (mill EUR)
Source: National Bank of Serbia

 

Foreign exchange controls

Payments, collections and transfers between residents and between residents and non-residents in the Republic of Serbia are effected in dinars except if the collections and transfers are related to foreign currency-denominated lending in the country for the purposes of payment of imports of goods and services from abroad, payment of deposit as collateral, insurance premiums and transfer in respect of life insurance etc. Foreign exchange operations between residents and non-residents, as well as exchange operations, are supervised by the Sector for Exchange and Foreign Currency Transactions and Games of Chance. Both residents and non-residents are obliged to keep records of their operations in accordance with the Law on Foreign Exchange Operations.

Top tips to takeaway “What to know before Investing”

Attracting foreign investment remains an important priority for the Serbian government. Investors in Serbia are generally positive, highlighting the country’s strategic location, well-educated and affordable labor force, excellent English language skills, investment incentives, and free trade arrangements with key markets, particularly the EU.

On the legislative front, the government has passed significant reforms to labor law, construction permitting, inspections, public procurement, and privatization that have helped improve the business environment. Investors should monitor the government’s implementation of reforms as well as the government’s changing investment incentive programs.

In the light of continued reforms, sectors that could additionally benefit include agriculture and agro-processing, solid waste management, sewage, environmental protection, information and communications technology (ICT), renewable energy, health care, mining, and manufacturing.

Sources:

https://serbia-business.eu
https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/serbia/overview#1
Republic of Serbia and the IMF
Serbian Market : Consumer – Objectif Import Export (objectif-import-export.fr)
Guide to Doing Business in Serbia (lexmundi.com)
Doing-Business-in-Serbia-2021.pdf
Development Agency of Serbia | Ras
Serbia – Market Opportunities (trade.gov)
www.ebrd.com/where-we-are/serbia/overview.html
https://www.eib.org/

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