Antoniou McCollum & Co. LLC > Nicosia, Cyprus > Firm Profile

Antoniou McCollum & Co. LLC
Nikitara 9
1080 Nicosia
Cyprus

Cyprus > EU and competition Tier 1

Antoniou McCollum & Co. LLC fields a team which is consistently trusted by the big multinational corporations and global private equity funds to advise on their EU regulatory and competition law matters. The skilled team regularly advises on cases before the Commission for the Protection of Competition and has considerable strength in the technology sector as it advises some leading technology companies. The group enjoys considerable niche expertise in the non-performing loans market and continues to advise on large public concessions in Cyprus. Head of department Anastasios A. Antoniou is a leading practitioner who is a member of the European Commission Lawyers Forum.

Practice head(s):

Key clients

Cablenet

GO

Altamira

Yamaha

Tetralaval

Sainsbury’s

AkzoNobel

doValue

Fluidra

AerCap

Work highlights

  • Advising Hermes Airports on EU public procurement and regulatory issues in respect of the concession of the airports of Cyprus by the Republic of Cyprus, and the extension of the concession.
  • Advising doValue on the competition law aspects of the acquisition of the entire share capital of Altamira Cyprus from the state-owned Cyprus Asset Management Company.
  • Acting for Cablenet on the EU electronic communications framework in respect of its network sharing arrangements with Cyta, which is the first of its kind in Cyprus and involved significant regulatory and EU law issues.

Cyprus > Commercial, corporate and M&A Tier 4

The commercial and corporate team at Antoniou McCollum & Co. LLC has considerable experience in the technology sector and in private equity matters. Led by Christina McCollum, it also benefits from substantial expertise in other sectors such as telecommunications, consumer, banking and insurance, as well as energy and transport. The team frequently advises on corporate restructurings, reorganisations and other corporate deals, as well as advising on various commercial contracts such as commercial agency and franchising agreements.

Practice head(s):

Testimonials

‘Great know-how, very warm approach, forthcoming, professional.’.

‘Mr. Antoniou is available all the time,  and does not shy away from tackling all aspects of difficult and complex topics. He is not ‘tight’ with his energy and efforts, lifting a finger only on strictly defined tasks. On the contrary, he has been immensely helpful in identifying and gauging the full extent of the exercise at hand and instrumental in navigating us through the challenges we faced’.

‘Anastasios was very quick in understanding what we needed despite the complexity. He coordinated his team very smoothly and delivered the structure on time and according to the budget’.

‘Anastasios Antoniou led the team which included Irena Zannetti. Anastasios led the discussions around structure and provided creative solutions. Irena provided input regarding the local aspects and implementation’.

Key clients

Cablenet

APS

Tufton Oceanic

GO plc

Hermes Airports

AerCap

Epsilon Hellas

BMIT

Work highlights

  • Acting for GO plc in the negotiations for the acquisition of share capital of Cablenet, drafting share purchase agreement and closing the deal.
  • Acting for APS in the sale of its stake in the first debt servicing platform in Cyprus, to Hellenic Bank.
  • Advising Tufton on its corporate reorganisation, through which it split into Tufton Investment Management Ltd and Oceanic Investment Management.

Cyprus > Banking and finance

The ‘strong, proactive and commercial team’ at Antoniou McCollum & Co. LLC is co-led by Christina McCollum  who is ‘always available and prompt to respond’ and Anastasios A. Antoniou  who is praised for his ‘clarity of thought’.

Antoniou McCollum & Co. is a top-tier Cyprus law firm specialising in corporate transactions, finance, competition law and merger control, technology, media and telecommunications matters.

The firm’s tight-knit team delivers bespoke legal services across major business sectors, supporting domestic and international clients.

The firm prides itself on forming strong client relationships premised on integrity and a commitment to deliver the highest quality legal services.

Finance

The firm advises borrowers and lenders on corporate financing transactions; secured financing; debt sales and distressed lending and trading; debt and equity restructuring; and collateral security enforcement.

Antoniou McCollum & Co. is highly versed in the regulatory framework governing credit institutions, investment funds, financial service providers and credit-acquiring companies, advising clients on all aspects from authorisation and licensing to on-going compliance and operations.

Our track record includes:

  • acting for global private equity firms in secured corporate financing and refinancing transactions
  • acting for financial institutions in the sale and purchase of bank loan portfolios
  • acting for global debt management players on NPL acquisition and servicing matters, including advising on the establishment of the first NPL servicing platform in Cyprus
  • advising on secured finance transactions, involving facilities secured by floating charges, account charges, share pledges, assignments
  • advising on the enforcement of security in financing transactions
  • advising on asset-backed securitisations.

Corporate

Antoniou McCollum & Co. routinely advises and acts for clients in:

  • mergers and acquisitions
  • private equity transactions
  • takeovers and divestments
  • listings of securities and bonds on regulated markets
  • joint ventures
  • asset sales.

The firm consistently acts for some of the biggest global private equity firms, multinational corporations and investment funds. We carry out comprehensive due diligence, advise on deal structuring, draf transaction documents and engage in regulatory problem-solving and implementation.

Antoniou McCollum & Co. provides advice on all aspects of Cyprus corporate law, including on issues relating to share capital and classes of shares, dividends, redeemable equity, shareholder rights and directors’ duties.  We also deal with corporate insolvency matters, including liquidations, receiverships, examinerships and restructurings.

Competition and Merger Control

Antoniou McCollum & Co. is recognised as one of the leading competition practices in Cyprus.

The firm’s expertise includes:

  • merger control filings and clearances in phase I and phase II assessments
  • advising on cartels and anticompetitive practices
  • advising on abuses of dominance
  • advising on abuses of economic relationship
  • advising and representing clients in proceedings before the Cypriot competition authority, the European Commission and the courts of Cyprus and the EU
  • supporting clients in dawn raids
  • advising on in-house competition compliance
  • acting for clients in leniency and immunity cases.

The firm has been consistently advising Fortune 500 companies and multinational corporations on merger control matters and undertakes the filing and clearance of mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures with the relevant competition authorities.

Technology, Media and Telecommunications

We advise multinational clients active in:

  • content streaming and other audiovisual media services
  • video-sharing platforms
  • telecommunications and mobile services
  • online commerce in goods and services
  • media and advertising
  • SaaS, IaaS, PaaS.

The areas on which we provide expert legal advice include:

  • consumer law matters
  • copyright, related rights and licensing matters
  • regulatory compliance
  • B2C and B2B contracts, including terms of use, terms of sale and terms of service
  • unfair commercial practices and misleading advertising
  • cybersecurity and essential infrastructure
  • GDPR and data protection.

Antoniou McCollum & Co. also has extensive hands-on expertise in assisting clients on artificial intelligence, distributed ledger technology and the Internet of Things.

In privacy matters, the firm has a broad track record of advising clients on data protection matters, including on transfers of data; profiling; data breaches; proceedings before regulators and privacy litigation; compliance with the GDPR and Cyprus data protection laws.

Intellectual Property

We advise on copyright with respect to digital content, user-generated content, audiovisual media services, artwork, literature, music, film, software and databases, including issues relating to intermediary liability.

We are specialised in EU copyright and related rights matters and have extensive expertise in dealing with the novel challenges faced by online platforms, marketplaces and video-sharing platforms.

We have a thriving trademarks practice and advise on the registration, renewal, assignment, enforcement and exploitation of trademarks in Cyprus and the EU.

Energy and Environment

Antoniou McCollum & Co. advises multinational companies and international organisations on energy and environmental law matters, including on climate change.

Highlights of our recent work include:

  • acting for a multinational oil and gas company on the licensing of hydrocarbons exploration and exploitation
  • advising a global climate change firm on EU and Cyprus regulatory matters
  • advising a multinational oil and gas company on issues under the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the legality of drilling activities in disputed territorial waters
  • advising a global organisation on forest protection law.

Sanctions and Investigations

Antoniou McCollum & Co. has a strong track record in successfully handling matters involving sanctions and restrictive measures.

We advise clients on transactions affected by sanctions and represent parties that may have breached sanctions before authorities.

We deal with a wide range of regulatory investigations, from tax investigations to market abuse, sanctions breaches and anti-competitive conduct.

Department Name Email Telephone
Finance Christina McCollum christina.mccollum@amc.law +357 22 053333
Corporate and Commercial Christina McCollum christina.mccollum@amc.law +357 22 053333
Competition and merger control Anastasios A. Antoniou anastasios.antoniou@amc.law +357 22 053333
Intellectual Property Anastasios A. Antoniou anastasios.antoniou@amc.law +357 22 053333
Technology, Media and Telecoms Anastasios A. Antoniou anastasios.antoniou@amc.law +357 22 053333
Energy and Environment Anastasios A. Antoniou anastasios.antoniou@amc.law +357 22 053333
Photo Name Position Profile
Ifigenia Iacovou photo Ifigenia Iacovou Ifigenia Iacovou is a Senior Associate at Antoniou McCollum & Co. and…
Irena Zannetti photo Irena Zannetti Irena Zannetti is a Senior Associate at Antoniou McCollum & Co. and…
Photo Name Position Profile
Christina McCollum photo Christina McCollum Christina McCollum is a partner at Antoniou McCollum & Co. and heads…
Photo Name Position Profile
Anastasios A. Antoniou photo Anastasios A. Antoniou Anastasios heads the Competition, TMT and IP practice of Antoniou McCollum &…
English
French
Greek
Spanish
Partner : Anastasios A Antoniou
Partner : Christina McCollum

We thrive when all of our people can be themselves and feel empowered to succeed.

Antoniou McCollum & Co. is a 50% female-owned firm and its members come from diverse backgrounds.

Being a leader in diverse and inclusion is not a branding exercise for our practice.  It is rather how we know that we attract the best talent and deliver the best services for our clients.

Regulatory and competition law developments in Cyprus

1. Competition law

In 2022 Cyprus enacted a new competition framework, which introduces additional powers for the CPC. The new legislation consolidates previous statutes regulating collusive conduct, abuses of dominance and abuses of relationships of economic dependence.

The new legislation enhances the safeguards of the CPC’s independence and competence, as it transposes Directive (EU) 2019/1 into Cyprus law (Directive (EU) 2019/1 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2018 to empower the competition authorities of the Member States to be more effective enforcers and to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market).

Some of the key changes brought about by the new legislation:

  • the CPC is empowered to continue investigating a complaint which has in the meantime been withdrawn
  • the CPC, acting on its own account or on behalf of national competition authorities of other EU member states, is empowered to summon persons before it to provide information and evidence in interviews to the CPC in relation to matters under the CPC’s competence
  • the deadline to settle any fines imposed by the CPC is 60 days (unless specified otherwise in the CPC’s decision) and fines are subject to annual interest if they not settled by such deadline
  • procedural aspects relating to access to case files and the protection of confidential information and personal data have been enhanced
  • the powers of the CPC to cooperate with other national competition authorities in other EU member states have been enhanced, with the CPC now able to carry out dawn-raids and collect evidence on behalf of such other national competition authorities
  • the CPC is now able to issue announcements, recommendations and guidelines regarding its competence, its procedures and the assessment of the seriousness, duration and mitigatory factors relating to an infringement that are considered to impose an administrative fine
  • an undertaking to which a statement of objections has been notified is entitled to access the non-confidential evidence forming part of their case file.

Infringements provided under the law remain largely the same, and comprise:

(a) Abuse of dominance

Any abuse by one or more undertakings of a dominant position within the market or in a substantial part of it in respect of a product is prohibited, particularly if this practice results or may result in:

  • directly or indirectly imposing unfair purchase or selling prices or other unfair trading conditions
  • limiting production, markets or technical development to the prejudice of consumers
  • applying dissimilar conditions to equivalent transactions with other trading parties, thereby placing them at a competitive disadvantage
  • making the conclusion of contracts subject to acceptance by the other parties of supplementary obligations which, by their nature or according to commercial usage, have no connection with the subject of such contracts.

(b) Abuse of relationship of economic dependence

The Cypriot legal order features the abuse of a relationship of economic dependence as a distinct competition infringement. It is prohibited for an undertaking that is either a customer, supplier, producer, representative, distributor or trading partner of another undertaking, which other undertaking does not have an equivalent alternative solution, to abuse a relationship of economic dependence.

(c) Restrictive agreements, decisions and practices

Agreements between undertakings, decisions by associations of undertakings and concerted practices that have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition within the national market are void ab initio.

Restrictive agreements, decisions and practices are those which:

  • directly or indirectly fix purchase or selling prices or any other trading conditions
  • limit or control production, markets, technical development, or investment
  • share markets or sources of supply
  • apply dissimilar conditions to equivalent transactions with other trading parties, thereby placing them at a competitive disadvantage
  • make the conclusion of contracts subject to acceptance by the other parties of supplementary obligations which, by their nature or according to commercial usage, have no connection with the subject of such contracts.

The CPC is also tasked with the control of concentrations between undertakings. The Control of Concentrations Between Undertakings Law of 2014, L. 83(I)/14 (the Merger Control Law), provides for the notification of mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures that meet the jurisdictional thresholds. Clearance of a concentration falling within the ambit of the Merger Control Law is required prior to its implementation.

Amongst the thresholds under the Merger Control Law is the relatively low threshold of two undertakings concerned, taken together, achieving a turnover of at least €3.5 million in Cyprus. This threshold often leads foreign-to-foreign transactions, which otherwise have little impact on the Cypriot market, to requiring clearance by the CPC prior to their implementation.

2. Audiovisual media services

In December 2021 Cyprus transposed the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (EU) 2018/1808 amending the Audiovisual Media Services Directive 2010/13/EU on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the provision of audiovisual media services (AVMS Directive).

Further to television broadcasts and on-demand audiovisual media services, the new framework also regulates video-sharing platforms. The framework also provides for safeguards regarding the prohibition of hate speech, the protection of minors as users of audio-visual media services to maximise consumer protection and general media accessibility in view of changing market realities.

The national regulatory authority responsible for the enforcement of the framework applicable to audiovisual media service providers and video-sharing platform providers is the Cyprus Radio-Television Authority (CRTA).

(a) Video-sharing platforms

Services providing user-generated videos to the public, for which a video-sharing platform provider does not have editorial responsibility but determines the organisation of such content, including by automatic means or algorithms in particular by displaying, tagging and sequencing, are caught under the new framework as video-sharing platform services. Video-sharing platform providers that fall under the jurisdiction of Cyprus are required to register with the CRTA.

Video-sharing platform providers are required to take appropriate measures to protect the public, including:

  • minors, from content that may impair their physical, mental or moral development
  • the public, from content containing incitement to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of a group
  • the public, from the content the dissemination of which constitutes public provocation to commit a terrorist offence, offences concerning child pornography and offences concerning racism and xenophobia.

(b) Advertisements and product placement

Audio-visual media service providers and video-sharing platform providers must comply with a set of obligations and restrictions governing the way advertisements (audiovisual commercial communications) are cognitively understood and made accessible.

Audiovisual advertising must be readily recognisable as such, and must not:

  • use subliminal techniques
  • prejudice respect for human dignity
  • include or promote discrimination
  • encourage behaviour prejudicial to health or safety
  • encourage behaviour grossly prejudicial to the protection of the environment.

Video-sharing platform providers must comply with the same requirements as those applicable to media service providers where advertisements are marketed, sold or arranged by the video-sharing platform providers. When advertisements are marketed, sold or arranged by the video-sharing platform providers, the latter must take appropriate measures to comply with the said requirements, but account must be taken of the limited control exercised by video-sharing platforms over such advertisements.

(c) Financial contributions / levies

The CRTA is tasked with ensuring that media service providers and video-sharing platforms comply with the applicable framework.

The CRTA may require media service providers under the jurisdiction of the Republic of Cyprus to contribute financially to the production of European works, including via direct investment in content and contribution to national funds. In exercising this power, the CRTA may also require media service providers targeting audiences in the territory of the Republic of Cyprus but established in other EU Member States to make such financial contributions.

3. Network and Information Security

Cyprus transposed Directive 2016/1148 on the security of network and information systems (the NIS Directive), through the Security of Networks and Information Systems Law of 2020 (the Cyprus NIS Law).

While the text of the NIS Directive has generally been transposed into the Cypriot legal order, the Cyprus NIS Law also specifically addresses network and information security requirements for electronic communication services provides (i.e. telecommunications operators).

The Cyprus NIS Law creates a framework for the security of network and information systems in all critical information infrastructures in Cyprus and enhances the island State’s existing capabilities of handling and responding to cyberattacks. The key purpose of the Cyprus NIS Law and its subsidiary legislation is to ensure that the Cypriot network infrastructure can respond to cyberattacks and other cybersecurity threats.

The Digital Security Authority (DSA) is designated by the Cyprus NIS Law as the competent supervisory authority for the enforcement of its provisions and the adoption of national cybersecurity strategies. The Cyprus NIS Law also entrusts the Cypriot computer-security incident response team (CSIRT-CY) with the responsibility of offering technical support and for monitoring, risk-handling, management and responding to cybersecurity incidents while participating in the CSIRTs network of the member states. CSIRT-CY is tasked with implementing proactive and reactive security services to reduce the risks of network information and cybersecurity incidents, as well as respond to such incidents.

Under the NIS Directive, EU Member states must supervise the cybersecurity of critical market operators in their jurisdiction:

  • Ex-ante supervision in critical sectors (energy, transport, water, health, digital infrastructure and finance sector)
  • Ex-post supervision for critical digital service providers (online marketplaces, cloud and search engines)

The Cyprus NIS Law identifies the following types of operators and providers falling under its ambit:

  • operators of essential services
  • critical information infrastructure operators
  • electronic communications providers
  • digital services providers

Under the Cyprus NIS Law, critical infrastructure comprises the assets, systems or parts thereof within the territory of Cyprus, which are essential for the maintenance of operations of vital importance for society, health, security, the economic and social welfare of citizens and the interruption of operation or destruction of which would have a significant impact to the State, as a result of an inability of maintaining these operations.

Under the Cyprus NIS Law, the criteria for the identification of both operators of essential services as well as critical information infrastructure operators are for such operators to be:

  • an entity provides a service that is essential for the maintenance of critical societal and/or economic activities
  • the provision of that service depends on network and information systems; and
  • an incident would have significant disruptive effects on the provision of that service.

While the NIS Directive introduces the obligation on essential services providers and digital service providers (providers of search engines, cloud computing services and online marketplaces) to take the appropriate security measures and to notify of serious incidents, the Cyprus NIS Law also imposes the said obligation to providers electronic communication services. As a result, providers electronic communication services are also supervised by the DSA within the ambit of the Cyprus NIS Law and should therefore comply with applicable cybersecurity requirements.

Specifically, network and electronic communication service providers must take appropriate and proportionate technical and organisational measures to manage the risks posed to the security of networks and electronic communication services. The DSA is responsible to ensure that these providers notify every incident regarding security having a significant impact on the operation of networks and electronic communication services.

The Cyprus NIS Law confers the DSA with wide-ranging powers concerning all providers, including the power to carry out investigations, request information and impose administrative fines for infringements of statutory provisions.

in terms of information requests, the DSA is empowered, amongst others, to request information regarding their network and information system security, including their security policies, from digital services providers, operators of essential services, critical information infrastructure operators, electronic communications providers.

The DSA has the power to impose administrative fines of up to EUR 200,000 for any infringement of the Cyprus NIS Law, as well as a fine of up to EUR 10,000 for each day the infringement persists. Infringement of any decisions or regulations could result in administrative fines of up to EUR 300,400, as well as an additional fine up to EUR 200,000 where the infringement persists.

The Cyprus NIS Law provides inter alia for criminal liability in relation to a failure to comply with notification obligations under the Cyprus NIS Law, a failure to take appropriate and proportionate technical and organisational measures to manage the risks posed to the security of networks and information systems under the Cyprus NIS Law or a failure to provide any information requested by the DSA.

Conclusion

Efforts are ongoing to improve the consultation of stakeholders when preparing legislation, particularly bills intended to transpose EU directives.

In the context of the Better Regulation Project, a partnership between the OECD and the European Commission, the Ministry of Finance and the Legal Service of the Republic have established an obligation to conduct a public consultation with all stakeholders before proceeding with a governmental bill. A completed questionnaire accompanies every bill submitted to the Council of Ministers for approval and subsequently presented before the House of Representatives for enactment, explaining all aspects of the proposed legislation and the consultation that has taken place.

As noted by the European Commission in its lates Rule of Law report, several challenges exist in Cyprus regarding the regulatory impact assessment framework concerning both laws and regulations, which could be improved by establishing an oversight body for impact assessment quality control.

Cyprus is poised to seize the growth opportunities expected to arise in the post-pandemic world. The establishment of a Deputy Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digital Policy in 2020 and other policy objectives are steps in the direction of enhancing the competitiveness of Cyprus in an increasingly changing jurisdictional landscape.