30 March 2013
The Seventh Conference on Strategic Infrastructure was held on the 29th March at the Sheraton Hotel Sofia. New Balkans attended the event, and this article offers a synopsis of the event and highlights the main legal developments that will affect the sector in the coming year.
The Conference opened with a speech from the President of Bulgaria, Mr Plevneliev, and consisted of seven panels which covered:
Overall, the picture painted of Bulgarian Infrastructure was an overwhelmingly positive one: for example, the Road Infrastructure panel focused on 260 km of highway currently under construction. By the end of 2020, an additional 460 of strategic roads are to be finalised. With regards to railway infrastructure, projects to be concluded by 2020 include the modernisation the following railways: Sofia – Plovdiv; Plovdiv – Burgas; Sofia station and Sofia intermodal terminal and Ruse intermodal terminal; the rehabilitation of Ruse- Varna and Mezdra – Gorna Oriahovica; the modernisation of Ruse – Dimitrovgrad and the overall modernisation of railway stations.
An important and persistently occurring theme throughout the conference was a shift towards using public-private partnerships as a means to raise necessary funds in all spheres. At present, the PPP draft legislation in Bulgaria is in Parliament for consideration, but it is predicted that it will come into force by the end of 2012.
The introduction of the new legislation presents a good opportunity for private companies in the sector.
For a detailed analysis of Infrastructure legislation and information on the legal services we offer, please consult our NBLO Infrastructure Note.
Stopping the improper use of insolvency proceedings
A client of our dispute resolution team (led by Kamen Shoylev and Yordan Neshkov) was recently the subject of an indirect claim by a Bulgarian bank with which this client has been engaged in a multi-stage dispute. Unusually, the bank acted through a vehicle registered in an African state, which made an unfounded claim in the tens of millions of euros against our client and sought the commencement of judicial insolvency proceedings against this client. The offshore vehicle was chosen to isolate the bank from liability and create certain evidential difficulties for our client's representation.
NBLO succeeded in terminating the insolvency proceedings, with direct loss fully awarded to our client. A second claim to recover our client's indirect losses is currently under way.
Where targeted in this way through insolvency proceedings, a company may be prevented from trading properly (e.g., by suffering restrictions on its financing or being unable to participate in public procurement).
Through our considerable experience in insolvency litigation, both entirely domestic and where there are European and cross-border elements, we are ideally placed to assist clients in resisting such attacks and recovering the real and considerable losses that may be suffered.
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