Kourkoumelis & Partners News News in English
Investment in road sector in Kazakhstan

EBRD and the government of Kazakhstan have both agreed to boost cooperation on road sector reform and investment and therefore signed a Memorandum of Understanding agreeing in financing the remaining section of Astana-Almaty highway. According to the aforementioned MoU the Bank shall support the national economic policy. One of the first projects under this agreement is expected to be the modernization of an 80 km road section between the villages of Kurty and Buribaytal of the Centre-South road corridor, connecting the capital Astana and the largest city Almaty. EBRD is expected to support road projects carried out both by state entities and private companies, including under private - public partnership (PPP) schemes.

 
Investment in transport infrastructure

European Commission has selected 276 transport projects under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), which are primarily located in the core trans-European transport network. Among the beneficiaries are Rail Baltica, the Brenner Base Tunnel, the Seine - Escaut waterway, the Caland Bridge and the Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link. Smaller - scale initiatives include cross-border projects between Groningen and Bremen, the Iron Rhine rail line, LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) deployment plans or projects enhancing the navigability of the Danube River. EU's financial contribution is made in the form of grants, the co-financing rate of which is between 20% and 85% of a given project, depending on its type.

 
EU rules on energy efficiency in buildings

Under the 2010 Directive, energy performance certificates must be included in all advertisements for the sale or rental of buildings. EU countries must establish inspection schemes for heating and air conditioning systems, all new buildings must be nearly zero - energy by the end of 2020, and EU countries must set minimum energy performance requirements for new buildings and renovations.

http://ec.europa.eu/energy/en/consultations/public-consultation-evaluation-energy-performance-buildings-directive

 
EBRD supports reform of Serbia’s power sector with €200 million loan to EPS

In order to help improve development, management and operational efficiency of energy sector the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is supporting a comprehensive reform programme for the power sector in Serbia by extending a €200 million restructuring line to Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS), a state-owned utility that generates, distributes and supplies electricity across the country. This sovereign-guaranteed loan will help EPS restructure its balance sheet and support its recovery after the devastating aftermath of the Balkan floods in 2014. It will also help the company reach long-term development objectives such as commercialization, raising standards of corporate governance and improving energy efficiency. The EBRD’s financing will support further reforms in Serbia’s energy sector and will help achieve energy market liberalization, an important condition for EU accession. It will also deepen regional integration in the Western Balkans by stimulating cross-border energy distribution and trade. The aforementioned programme will be implemented in close cooperation with the Government of Serbia, alongsidethe World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and is a major part of a wider fiscal consolidation drive by the authorities of Serbia.

 
EU adopts directives for the reform of public procurement

The legislative package for modernization of public procurement in the EU consists of:

  • a directive on public procurement
  • a directive on procurement by entities operating in the utilities sectors: water, energy, transport and postal services and
  • a directive on the award of concession contracts.
 
Mediation in Greece

Mediation in Greece 

The Greek legislation has introduced the implementation of mediation in civil and commercial law by Law 3898/2010, which incorporates the Directive 2008/52/EC. The aforementioned Greek Law applies to any mediation regarding civil and commercial disputes, which take place in Greece regardless to whether a claim is a cross-border one or not.

Mediation is a structured process, whereby two or more parties attempt to resolve a dispute on a voluntary basis, with a view to reaching an agreement on the settlement with the assistance of a Mediator. There are not further requirements for parties and lawyers to consider mediation as a dispute resolution option.

The Mediator is a lawyer accredited as Mediator by the Ministry of Justice, who is asked to conduct a mediation in an effective and impartial way.

The Court during a trial of a civil or a commercial dispute may, at any stage, invite the parties to use mediation in order to settle their dispute, in case they agree. If the parties comply with such invitation, the Court postpones the hearing of the case for at least three (3) months varying up six (6) months.

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New EU online and alternative dispute resolution rules to be introduced

Online traders will be able to resolve contractual disputes with consumers based in other EU countries through a new online dispute resolution (ODR) framework after MEPs voted to back the new regime in March 2013. The European Parliament approved a new ODR Regulation and a new Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Directive. The European Commission has said the new regime will allow disputes over online transactions to be settled faster and at less cost than through the courts. The Commission initially proposed the new ODR and ADR rules in late 2011. “The new ODR Regulation will enable the European Commission to establish a new 'online platform' through which consumers could submit complaints about contracts with businesses. The platform is to be linked to national ADR schemes which would ultimately seek to resolve disputes. Consumers who encounter a problem with an online purchase will be able to submit a complaint online through the ODR platform, in the language of their choice, the Commission said in a statement. The ODR platform will notify the trader that a complaint is lodged against him. The consumer and the trader will then agree on which ADR entity to use to solve their dispute. When they agree, the chosen ADR entity will receive the details of the dispute via the ODR platform. The ODR platform will be connected to the national ADR entities set up and notified to the Commission, in line with the new rules of the ADR Directive. The platform will help speed up the resolution of the dispute by allowing ADR entities to conduct the proceedings online and through electronic means," as said.

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EBRD strengthens the private equity industry in southern and eastern Mediterranean

For the first time in the southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region the EBRD is supporting a Morocco-based fund manager to set a benchmark for local fund managers to become independent and regional. The EBRD has committed up to €20 million to the Capital North Africa Venture Fund II (CNAV II), the first independent and Maghreb-focused fund to be raised by Capital Invest. CNAV II, which just achieved a first closing of up to €80 million (target fund size €100 million), will focus on providing equity and quasi-equity financing to support the expansion of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It will also help carry out a buy-and-build approach in the targeted sectors.

The EBRD’s commitment to the fund will primarily be used for investments in Morocco and, as opportunities arise, it could also be invested in Tunisia and Egypt. The Bank’s investment will help to expand SMEs’ access to finance as well as improve the operational and governance standards of investee companies. In addition, the EBRD will contribute to strengthening the expansion of the private equity industry in Morocco and increase private investors’ awareness in the SEMED region.  

 
Iberdrola launches hybrid bond

The spanish utility Iberdrola has launched a hybrid bond, a debt instrument that combines aspects of both debt and equity. This is attractive to companies because the equity component strengthens their balance sheets without diluting existing shareholders while bolstering their credit rating. This type of debt sale is likely to be a recurring theme in debt capital market this year, market participants said. Iberdrola has set pricing on its hybrid bond launched Thursday at 6.125% to 6.25%.

 
Invitation to submit an expression of interest for EYATH

The Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund invites interested parties to submit their expression of interest for the acquisition of a stake of 51% in EYATH by way of purchasing existing shares from the Fund and assumption of the management of the Company through the conclusion of the Share Purchase Agreement and the Shareholders΄ Agreement. The Shareholders΄ Agreement shall include indicatively, inter alia, rights of the Fund as a minority shareholder, and possibly additional rights which shall be agreed in favour of the Fund and/or the Preferred Investor.

The Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund has undertaken the exploitation of private assets owned by the Hellenic Republic, as well as of private assets of public undertakings whose share capital is fully owned, directly or indirectly, by the Hellenic Republic or Public Law Legal Entities.

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Bulgaria’s Biomashin attracts EBRD support

EBRD is extending a loan of up to €3 million to Bulgaria’s Biomashin, a manufacturer specialised in the design and production of technological equipment for the food-processing, pharmaceutical and chemical industries. EBRD funds shall be used for the purchase of new high-precision equipment, which will significantly increase efficiency by reducing production costs and the time required to fulfil orders. Biomashin, located in the city of Plovdiv and currently employing 200 people, operates on a per order basis to meet customer demands in the most flexible and cost-effective way. The new equipment shall be backed by an integrated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. In total, the company anticipates a production increase of 25 per cent, the majority of which will be exported.

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Risks in emerging Europe recede as eurozone outlook stabilises

Signs of stabilisation in the eurozone are reducing the risks facing emerging Europe, leading to cautious optimism that the worst of the transition region’s problems may slowly be drawing to a close. After a sharp slowdown in economic activity in 2012, economists are expecting a moderate acceleration of growth this year.Across the whole transition region, a growth of 3.1 per cent in 2013 is expexted, after a sharp slowdown to 2.6 per cent in 2012 from 4.6 per cent in 2011. The 2013 forecast is marginally lower than the 3.2 per cent seen in October. Several policy decisions taken within the eurozone in recent months are increasing the chances of an economic improvement in the single currency bloc, albeit a very slow and gradual one.

Recent such decisions include the European Central Bank signalling its readiness to help countries under pressure on the sovereign debt markets as well as moves to create a European Banking Union. Performance still varys from country to country. In recent months the eurozone recession has caught up with relatively strong performers such as Poland and the Slovak Republic. Hungary entered a renewed recession resulting in an overall contraction of about 1.5 per cent in 2012.  The country shows the most rapid pace of bank deleveraging of any transition country and a further small contraction of 0.1 per cent is expected in 2013. However, forecasts for the Baltic countries have been raised for both 2012 and 2013 relative to the previous outlook in October.

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EC consultation on e-invoicing in public procurement

 

A number of EU member states have made electronic invoicing mandatory for public procurement, i.e. in business-to-government (B2G) transactions. This has led to the establishment of several separate national e-invoicing systems, operating on the basis of different – often national – standards. Such multiplication of e-invoicing standards in public procurement creates additional complexity and costs for firms which enter into cross-border contracts with public authorities from other member states. The ultimate result is a fragmentation of the internal market. In addition, despite its recent progress, e-invoicing still accounts for only a small fraction of all invoicing activities in the EU (between 5 and 15%, depending on the source). By most accounts, this fraction is even lower in public procurement. The European Commission is therefore considering ways to overcome the barriers created by the lack of interoperability between the national e-invoicing systems in the field of public procurement and to stimulate the take-up of e-invoicing in the EU. The questionnaire is available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/consultations/2012/einvoicing_en.htm

 

 
Valcea, Romania, to upgrade water and wastewater services with EBRD loan

Up to €13.85 million to Valcea water utility will help extend and modernise water and wastewater networks. EBRD is supporting the modernisation of water infrastructure in Romania with an up to €13.85 million loan for a project, co-financed with EU regional investment programme, that will help improve water and wastewater services for residents of Valcea county in the centre of Romania in line with EU directives. The EBRD loan is extended to SC APAVIL SA Ramnicu Valcea (the “Company”), a regional water utility operating in Valcea County. The county, with about 413 thousand inhabitants, is planning to extend and modernise water and wastewater services, which will slash water losses and costs, in 6 agglomerations: Ramnicu Valcea, Dragasani, Calimanesti, Olanesti, Babeni, and Balcesti.

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EIB’s Europe 2020 Project Bond Initiative

The objective of the Europe 2020 Project Bond Initiative is to increase the availability of debt financing for large-scale infrastructure projects in the target areas of transport, energy and broadband. The initiative is designed to enable promoters of infrastructure projects to attract additional private finance from institutional investors such as insurance companies and pension funds. The European Investment Bank (EIB), supported by the European Union, will provide credit enhancement to project companies raising senior debt in the form of bonds to finance infrastructure projects, thereby ensuring that these bonds can be placed with institutional investors.

The aforementioned bonds shall be issued by the project companies themselves, not the EIB or the Member States. EIB will provide credit enhancement in the form of a subordinated instrument (either a loan or contingent facility) to support the senior debt issued by the project company. As privately financed infrastructure, the project company will generally be a public-private partnership (PPP) established to build, finance and operate an infrastructure project. 

 

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