Southern and Eastern Europe: A long recovery

Southern and Eastern Europe: A long recovery

As with many global sub-regions, southern and eastern Europe (SEE) is slowly emerging from a period of stark economic slowdown as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, with regional economies affected in a variety of ways. This ranged from tourism-reliant nations such as Croatia and Greece that faced an unprecedented plunge during 2020, relying on EU relief and revived capital spending intervening to restore growth, to Romania, whose resource-rich economy suffered from a decline in industrial production, only to recover during Q3 2020 after foreign trade and investment – particularly from Germany – resumed in earnest.

Although granular policy details have differed, governments have intervened to prevent the spread of Covid-19, while also seeking to protect key economic sectors and also balancing consumer demands and differing political situations. A number of SEE countries faced elections during the pandemic, a situation that has broadly favoured incumbents. Both the Romanian and Bulgarian governments returned, albeit facing a significant loss of support and ongoing questions over their futures, while control of the Cypriot House of Representatives shifted to the conservative opposition. Continue reading “Southern and Eastern Europe: A long recovery”

Bulgaria – M&A and energy boom

Bulgaria – M&A and energy boom

Bulgaria has, to say the least, performed commendably at shielding its economy from the significant disruption seen in many other European markets. GDP sank 4.2% in 2020, one of the lowest figures in the EU, and was partly supported by an extensive wage subsidy scheme that saw the government cover 60% of wages for employees who would otherwise have been made redundant.

Unsurprisingly, the relatively stable economic climate has allowed larger law firms, both international and local, to continue undisrupted throughout the pandemic period. Veronika Hadjieva of Kambourov & Partners reports that ‘2020 was arguably one of the strongest years the firm has ever had’ as it ‘managed to complete a large number of M&A, even some that were initially put on hold or pending’. Continue reading “Bulgaria – M&A and energy boom”

Sponsored briefing: Interview: Mr Nikolay Cvetanov – managing partner, Penkov, Markov & Partners

Sponsored briefing: Interview: Mr Nikolay Cvetanov – managing partner, Penkov, Markov & Partners

Can you give our Legal Business readers an overview of Penkov, Markov & Partners?

Penkov, Markov & Partners ( PM&P) was one of the first law offices established in Bulgaria immediately after the democratic changes in the country in 1990. During all these years we have been pioneers in various legal spheres. Currently, our law firm provides to its clients a full scope legal assistance in practically all areas of civil and administrative law, eg corporate and commercial law, real estate, banking and financial regulations, energy, competition, personal data protection, pharmaceuticals, litigation, etc. Our clients include a variety of domestic and international companies of varying sizes. Our team of experts is engaged on a daily basis with the provision of legal assistance to some of the primary Bulgarian businesses operating in various spheres of economy. PM&P is part of some of the leading international law organisations, including Lex Mundi, LexAdria, etc, as our office, as well as individual experts, are also regularly ranked in the most prestigious European lawyer’s ranking editions (The Legal 500, Chambers and Partners, etc). As a matter of principle, our professionals strive to help our clients and partners to find the best practical solution to any legal challenges lying ahead from a business perspective, as well as to understand and realise their projects in the best way possible. Continue reading “Sponsored briefing: Interview: Mr Nikolay Cvetanov – managing partner, Penkov, Markov & Partners”

Sponsored focus: Penkov, Markov & Partners

Sponsored focus: Penkov, Markov & Partners

Iztok Dstr., 13B, Tintyava Str., Floor 6, 1113 Sofia, Bulgaria

T: +359 (0) 2 971 39 35 | E: lawyers@penkov-markov.eu | W: www.penkov-markov.eu/en

Practice areas: Commercial and company law; state regulations; tax law; real estate; banking, finance and capital markets; litigation and arbitration; IT, media and telecoms; energy and environment; personal data protection; patents and trade marks

Firm profile

Established in 1990, Penkov, Markov & Partners is one of the first law firms in Bulgaria, having nowadays the biggest and most significant client portfolios and being respected both domestically and internationally.

The firm currently has approximately 40 partners and associated members, several external legal consultants, 12 trainees, 12 assistants and staff members. The firm publishes its own newspaper PMP Legal News, circulation 2,200 (published in Bulgarian, English and German languages) which is also available on its website.

Since 1996 PM&P is the exclusive member firm for the jurisdiction of Bulgaria of Lex Mundi – the world’s leading association of independent law firms. PM&P is a member of Lex Mundi and FLI Net and is the first law firm in Bulgaria certified under the ISO 9001:2000 and later re-certified under ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 9001:2015 standards by Bureau Veritas Certification.

For their professionalism the experts from PM&P are frequently engaged not only in legal advice and procedural representation but also in the legislative process (eg, the Commercial Register Act and the New Renewable Energy Sources Act, as well as competition regulations).

In 2019 PM&P was awarded Superbrand of the Year for a fourth time (2007, 2015, 2017) as recognition for exceptional reputation of the trade mark Penkov, Markov & Partners among its current and potential clients, partners and investors.

The team


Vladimir Penkov, chairman and senior partner (vladimir.penkov@penkov-markov.eu)
Mr Penkov has extensive experience in negotiations, research, drafting of legal documents and representation of clients in various areas of commercial law, such as banking and finance, corporate law and commercial contracts, competition, privatisation and foreign investments, investment management, M&A, project finance, public procurement, licensing and know-how agreements, tax law, telecoms, media and IT, energy law and renewable energy sources.


Ivan Markov, partner (ivan.markov@penkov-markov.eu)
Mr Markov has longstanding practical expertise in legal searches, elaboration of legal instruments and representation of clients in different areas of business law such as company law, commercial agreements, banking and finance law, regulatory permissions, insurance law, M&A, concessions, project finance and the securities related thereto.


Nikolay Cvetanov, managing partner (nikolay.cvetanov@penkov-markov.eu)
Mr Cvetanov has significant experience in research, drafting legal documents and representation of clients in the fields of commercial law and banking and finance law, litigation, corporate law, commercial contracts, financial projects and tax law.


Milena Gaidarska, partner (milena.gaidarska@penkov-markov.eu)
Mrs Gaidarska has longstanding practical expertise in legal searches, elaboration of legal instruments and representation of clients in different areas of business law such as: real estate transactions, development and construction, commercialisation of retail, residential and office space, financing and securitisation of real estate projects, M&A, public procurement.


Roman Stoyanov, partner (roman.stoyanov@penkov-markov.eu)
Mr Stoyanov disposes with long-term practical experience in research, preparation of legal documents and representation of clients in different spheres of business law, such as administrative law, commercial and corporate law, pharmaceutical law, customs law, litigation and arbitration, and M&A.

At a glance: Penkov, Markov & Partners

Headcount: 50+ lawyers

Offices: Sofia, Bourgas, Varna, Pleven, Rousse, Stara Zafora

Key clients: ARTEKS Engineering Group; Booking.com; Cable Internet Systems; Coca-Cola; EMCO; EBRD; Heineken; Klett Bulgaria; InnoPharma International BG; Markan Holding

Sponsored briefing: Family offices: current challenges and trends

Sponsored briefing: Family offices: current challenges and trends

The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has affected not only public health and the well-being of humanity, but also a number of economies, businesses and industries worldwide. Family offices have not remained unaffected; not only by coronavirus but also by the ever-shifting global economic environment. New trends that have arisen during the Covid era, including remote working and the demand for greater connectivity, as well as novel strategic and operational risks, are forcing family offices to rethink the way they have been traditionally doing business.

New trends and challenges

The majority of family offices were until recently relying on a more traditional model for their operation; having a few loyal employees and depending on the decision-making power of the head of the family. Currently, however, family offices are faced with a number of new matters that need to be addressed. Namely, have priorities shifted? Is the existing structure and location of the family office fit for purpose? Can the IT infrastructure in place support the electronic requirements of this new era? What about the younger generation – is it willing to step up and adapt to the new conditions? Continue reading “Sponsored briefing: Family offices: current challenges and trends”

Croatia – ups and downs

Croatia – ups and downs

Having enjoyed steady economic growth following its accession to the European Union (EU) in 2013, Croatia saw an abrupt halt to its development in 2020. With a projected 10% drop in GDP, the depth of the economic trough appears similar to that of the 2008 financial crisis, though optimism remains that this downturn will be shorter as mitigatory factors, particularly Covid vaccines, begin to make themselves felt.

Aside from the global economic impact faced by most countries as a result of the pandemic, Croatia was perhaps most affected by the affect on the tourism sector, which naturally suffered considerably. However, continued progress on vaccinations and the creation of the EU’s Green Pass have bolstered expectations the sector will soon recover (although a similar pre-vaccine reopening of the tourist economy last summer led to a dramatic surge in infections). Continue reading “Croatia – ups and downs”

Romania – bounceback

Romania – bounceback

Romania has seen buoyant growth in recent years, with its economy upgraded to ‘emerging market’ by FTSE Russell in 2019. Gabriel Zbârcea, managing partner at Ţuca Zbârcea & Asociaţii, explains: ‘Until the coronavirus outbreak, business was flourishing in Romania: 26% more deals in 2019 as compared to 2018 with a value of €5bn; also real estate investments went past the €1bn line in 2019, standing 7% higher than in 2018.’

‘2020 has been an interesting year financially,’ says Răzvan Stoicescu, deputy managing partner of Muşat & Asociaţii. ‘We did see a slowdown during Q2 of 2020, but things picked up during the second half of the year and have been on a positive trend. However, since neither us nor our clients have gone through a situation of such a magnitude before, the process was not without challenges. For example, switching abruptly from what was essentially a direct contact way of working for our profession, to virtual meetings, unpredictable schedules and remote work was taxing even if ultimately manageable.’ Continue reading “Romania – bounceback”

Sponsored briefing: Romanian criminal judicial bodies must comply with fiscal courts’ final judgments

Sponsored briefing: Romanian criminal judicial bodies must comply with fiscal courts’ final judgments

The Decision of the Romanian Constitutional Court no. 102/17.02.2021 is set to completely change the approach towards tax evasion cases, stating that criminal prosecution bodies must from now on give appropriate consideration to final decisions rendered by fiscal courts that establish the existence or non-existence of a prejudice brought to the consolidated State budget.

In many cases, criminal prosecution bodies are notified regarding a possible tax evasion offence, following fiscal audits carried out by the National Agency for Fiscal Administration. The latter issues administrative and fiscal documents that may be challenged separately, before fiscal courts. Continue reading “Sponsored briefing: Romanian criminal judicial bodies must comply with fiscal courts’ final judgments”

Ukraine – green shoots and uncertainty

Ukraine – green shoots and uncertainty

Ukraine has broadly seen an improvement in its economic outlook since the 2019 election of comedian and actor Volodymyr Zelenskiy to the presidency. After years of turmoil, culminating in the 2014 defenestration of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych and the Russian invasion of the Crimea, Ukraine has deepened its ties with the EU, adopting reforms that closely map those of European legislation. This has encouraged foreign investors, while legislative reform continues apace, with a new capital markets law coming into effect in 2020 that implemented the provisions of key EU law, including MiFID II, MiFIR, and CRD IV. There are also ‘grandiose governmental plans for the privatisation of state property and large-scale infrastructure projects’, in the words of Armen Khachaturyan, senior partner at major domestic firm Asters, while the legalisation of the gambling industry in July 2021 is also driving client activity.

Ukraine frequently competes with Moldova as the poorest country in Europe, despite its huge agricultural exports, though this is partly due to a lack of transparency in the economy, in which much economic activity goes unreported. Since 2014, the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) has closed a huge percentage of the country’s commercial banks, partly to clamp down on corruption and money laundering, but state control of banks is part of the reason why inflation and interest rates remain high. Continue reading “Ukraine – green shoots and uncertainty”

Greece – the long road back

Greece – the long road back

Despite a Covid-induced 8.2% contraction in GDP last year, compounding over a decade of economic decline, Greece serves as an unexpected source of optimism within the southern and eastern Europe region. Despite losing its title as the largest regional economy to Romania in recent years, it is set for a semi-swift bounce back, with the EU recently forecasting growth of 4.3% for 2021.

Supporting the buoyancy is the fact that, throughout its many years of economic torment, Greece has reformed its economy into a sustainable one which, in the words of Bernitsas Law managing partner Panayotis Bernitsas, is a ‘safe and welcome option for international investment’. Bernitsas adds that his firm has been heavily involved in a number of ‘legislative changes aimed at cutting back the red tape’ and ‘creating a more business-friendly environment’. Continue reading “Greece – the long road back”