Bulgaria: Corporate Presentation

Last Updated: 26 January 2018
Article by Penkov, Markov & Partners

1. From its very outset, when the company was established in 1990, immediately after the democratic shift in Bulgaria, the qualifications and long-standing experience of the founding partners have been an exclusive competitive advantage of ours, enabling us to extend competent legal advice on any corporate law, commercial law and business-related issues.

Regardless of the absence of a Commerce Act at the time, we participated in the first joint venture between The Coca Cola Company and the Central Cooperative Union. Naturally, when the privatisation process in Bulgaria started, we have successfully provided advice in quite a few of the largest privatisation deals in the country, whereas even to this day all these privatised entities represent a benchmark for foreign and Bulgarian investment activities and for economic development. The above referred include the biggest brewery Zagorka, bought by Heineken, the KNAUF gypsum fibre board factory, the largest glass works in the Balkans, namely Druzhba, purchased by Yioula Glassworks, Zlatna Panega cement works, bought by Titan, the privatisation of the first bank in Bulgaria – United Bulgarian Bank, purchased by EBRD and Oppenheimer, the biggest food processing enterprise – Storko, the Bulgarian Maritime Fleet (with PM&P working in a consortium with Price Waterhouse Coopers), the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company, and many more; we have furthermore worked in a consortium with the UK-based Res & Co and the German Roland Berger throughout the privatisation of the ten largest machinery construction, electronics and electric equipment factories.

2. Currently PM&P is organised in 5 working groups of lawyers, whereas each team specialises, in addition to its general corporate and commercial law competences, in different fields, such as energy and renewables, telecommunications, company reorganizations, project finance, capital markets, real estate and construction, competition protection and antitrust law, as well as intellectual property issues, which are getting ever more relevant to modern business nowadays, such as issues related to trademarks, patents, copyrights, licence and know-how agreements, and, of course, labour law.

For all these years our law firm has gained significant experience in working out strategies, drawing-up legal analyses, preparing all the documentation in relation to transactions of any kind and reorganization deals, as well as procedures involving various (also public) companies regulated by special laws.

Furthermore, quite considerable are also our activities concerning industrial property issues.

PM&P caters for the clients' interests related to hundreds of trademarks and is proud of having successfully conducted the negotiations regarding the state-owned LB Bulgaricum with Meiji Co, Japan for a new license agreement with respect to the production know-how for yoghurt in Japan, China, Thailand, Singapore and eight other countries.

3. Our team has gathered significant experience and expertise in the field of intellectual property (IP), IT, media and telecommunications.

We are well-versed in analysing existing contracts, and drafting new ones, for granting copyrights to third parties, respectively transferring such, with authors and organisations for collective management of copyrights; in analysing existing licence agreements and drafting new ones, including as a part of franchise agreements; agreements for granting rights to use industrial property, such as trademarks, registered and unregistered (industrial) designs, inventions patents, as well as agreements for utilising know-how.

Our services include further the preparation and submission of registration applications for trademarks, industrial designs, inventions patents and utility models, as well as specialised representation before government agencies (such as the Bulgarian Patent Office) and international organisations (including WIPO Geneva, the European Union Intellectual Property Office, and the European Patent Office) in relation to the various procedures involving industrial property matters – oppositions, objections, requests for deregistration or cancellation of a registration, etc.

We provide legal assistance with respect to the preparation of all required documents and participate directly in all licensing, registration and approval procedures before the respective regulatory bodies such as the Communications Regulation Commission and the Council for Electronic Media, as well as in the proceedings before other regulators such as the Competition Protection Commission, the Consumer Protection Commission and others. We also draft all kinds of agreements in the field of electronic communications, including access, infrastructure, interconnection and transmission agreements.

We take an active part in the legislative processes pertaining to these above legal fields and we often draw up independent statements as well as expert and legal opinions concerning the relevant bills or secondary legislative acts.

Some of our attorneys were previously employed by the above regulatory bodies and are currently active in the non-governmental organisations in this sector.

4. Over the past years PM&P has been notably active in the field of energy and renewable energy sources as well.

PM&P has drafted and proposed to the government a compromise scheme for coverage of the insufficiencies within the energy sector, which were of great burden to society and state. The said scheme was indeed approved by the majority of the members. By means of the legal representation offered to clients of ours PM&P has managed to also enrich the Bulgarian case-law by successfully applying the European concept of engaging state liability for unconstitutional acts – something of a revolutionary nature for Bulgaria. As a result tens of lawsuits have been brought before court and are meanwhile in their final stages turning out positively for our clients.

5. Of particular relevance to our clients is our vast practical experience in the fields of public procurement, competition and consumer protection, whereby our efforts are undoubtedly substantiated by the thorough knowledge of EU legislation and regulations.

The services pertaining to public procurement range from overall legal assistance in public tendering and award procedures, including the preparation of the tender documentation for both sides – contracting authority and tenderer, representation before the contracting authorities at the bid opening, announcement of proposals and negotiation procedures, to legal representation before the Competition Protection Commission and the Supreme Administrative Court when appealing against acts issued by the contracting authority.

In the fields of competition and consumer protection PM&P does:

  • analyse existing contracts and legal relations and draw up draft agreements and opinions with a view to risk avoidance related to prohibited agreements, concerted practices and abuse of dominant market position;
  • analyse advertising communications and marketing strategies, games, etc., draw up statements, and provide legal assistance in finalising such, on the restrictions under Chapter 7 of the Competition Protection Act (unfair competition) and under Section 3 to Chapter 4 of the Consumer Protection Act (unfair commercial practices), as well as the set of prohibitions as per the National Ethical Rules on Advertising and Commercial Communications in Bulgaria of the National Council for Self-regulation;
  • provide representation before the Competition Protection Commission, the Consumer Protection Commission, the National Council for Self-regulation, the administrative courts and the Supreme Administrative Court in relation to initiated inquiries, appeals against decisions of the Competition Protection Commission and against acts and rulings of the latter, which aim at imposing sanctions; we further draft objections, appeals, responses, opinions and references for preliminary rulings, and provide legal representation in court hearings.

6. PM&P is positively the law office within the state boundaries having accumulated the most extensive commercial and corporate law experience and traditions, covering services that range from general meetings preparation, share purchase agreements and corporate restructuring and drafting internal rules and procedures.

An exceptionally important aspect of rather complicated corporate transactions is securing those through establishment of special pledges. Our expertise in this field safeguards duly the rights and interests of our clients.

Needless to say, PM&P may offer vast practical experience with litigation and arbitration – a particularly important part of protecting our clients' rights.

7. Undoubtedly, such great performance is due partly to the integration within our structure of a modern and efficient administrative system requiring a minimised number of support staff. Thus, our professional work is personally administered by the partners who are able to internally allocate the workload in a way that serves best our client's interests. Therefore, a commitment and a dialogue-based engagement to our clients is ensured to the greatest extent possible.

The software systems, which have been developed and incorporated so to guarantee transparency and correct formulation and reporting of tasks to the clients, along with the up-to-date technical equipment and a perfect communications system – all of this united by the internal working methods and rules established within our company, are naturally the basis for the European levelled standards as set by PM&P in favour of the clients.

PM&P integrates and uses exclusively an up-to-date technology, thus enabling an interactive and proactive approach to each client. This has a direct effect on the format of the legal services provided, especially when conducting various trainings – through PowerPoint/Prezi presentations.

Comfortable, high-tech and well-organised, PM&P's conference rooms are the perfect setting for efficient work and great performance, based on combining the rationally traditional dialogue with new presentation technologies.

PM&P is the first law office in Bulgaria to be awarded a Quality Management Certificate in the field of law under the ISO 9001:2000 international standards, subsequently recertified under ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 9001:2015.

This standard includes a system of career promotion and specialisation opportunities for talented lawyers and administrative staff, as well as the active pro bono public commitment, such as participation in the development of draft legislation and in various social programmes, as well as rendering financial support to different non-governmental organisations.

8. One of our standard commitments is to regularly send informative letters to our clients and a wider group of interested persons about various newly adopted regulations or forthcoming legislative changes, which are of relevance to them. Such letters do feature commentaries, annotations and analyses aiming at the facilitation of timely undertaking any appropriate measures necessary.

Since 2000 PM&P has been issuing its own newspaper Lega InterConsult News ( https://www.penkov-markov.eu/en/news/our-newspaper) in 3 languages – Bulgarian, English and German, with a total print of 2200 copies. Featuring almost exclusively commentaries including specific proposals and recommendations, it is highly demanded by not only our clients but also the whole legal community, banks, embassies, ministries, agencies, NGOs and others.

This promotes immensely the dialogue-based interactions and communication between our attorneys and the clients. In addition, PM&P's website, also available as a mobile version, gives a more detailed picture of the great diversity of our activities. The website has become an integral part and a distinctive feature of Penkov, Markov & Partners brand.

PM&P is ever since aware of the huge importance of the ability to develop good communication basis with representatives of government and municipal authorities and with the regulators, which is also a characteristic part of the acquired communicative culture of PM&P.

This communicative culture and our public engagement are clearly visible in our direct participation in various NGOs such as the German-Bulgarian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the Hellenic Business Council in Bulgaria, AmCham, the French-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Association for Responsible Non-Banking Lending, the Bulgarian-Swiss Chamber of Commerce, the Bulgarian Business Leaders Forum, the Serbian-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce, the Bulgarian-Japanese Economic Council, the Bulgarian Wind Power Association, as well as in our active stand on numerous issues of importance for the investment climate.

PM&P has on many occasions been awarded as best company in Bulgaria, both for its overall services and in particular categories such as banking and finance, corporate law, mergers and acquisitions, energy, etc.

The company has been three times distinguished with SUPERBRANDS Bulgaria Awards – a direct recognition of our outstanding reputation.

It is of no surprise that precisely PM&P has further been selected as the exclusive Bulgarian member of Lex Mundi, the world's leading network of independent law firms – not only a recognition of PM&P's evolution from a local to an international law firm, but also enabling our clients to benefit from a swift and direct access to top attorneys in more than 100 countries, and from the possibility of a free-of-charge initial counselling.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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