TBP Legal and Business News - January 2013


TBP Legal and Business News January 2013
TBP Legal and Business News January 2013


Referendum on a new nuclear power plant in Bulgaria

A referendum is scheduled for 27 January 2013 on the development of the nuclear energy in Bulgaria. This will be the first national referendum held in the country’s post-communist history. Bulgarians will be asked: "Should we develop nuclear energy in Bulgaria by building a new nuclear power plant?" The question does not refer to any specific nuclear power project. Hence even if the Bulgarians vote “yes” in the referendum, according to political analysts, the Government will retain the flexibility to decide whether to revive the 2,000-megawatt nuclear project at Belene, which was earlier abandoned or to pursue other opportunities in the nuclear energy sector. The results from the referendum are yet to be seen and are expected to be interpreted as a trend indicator for the forthcoming parliamentary elections in the middle of 2013.

Shah Deniz confirmed interest in NABUCCO gas pipeline project

The International consortium operating the Azerbaijan’s natural gas field Shah Deniz II signed an agreement with NABUCCO shareholders in Vienna (OMV, BOTAS, Bulgarian Energy Holding, Transgaz, RWE, FGSZ). Based on this agreement NABUCCO shareholders and Shah Deniz II partners (SOCAR, BP, Statoil and Total) agreed to:
 cooperate to align the time schedule and project development of the NABUCCO West and Shah Deniz Stage 2 projects;
 provide joint funding of the costs of NABUCCO West’s further development up to Shah Deniz’s European pipeline selection decision; and
 grant to SOCAR, BP, Statoil and Total options to take up to a total of 50% equity in the project and to participate in a new NIC shareholder structure, following a positive selection of the NABUCCO West pipeline by the Shah Deniz Consortium.

Transposition of the Prospectus Amending Directive and other amendments to the Bulgarian Public Offering of Securities Act

The long-awaited amendments to the Public Offering of Securities Act were published in the official State Gazette on December 28, 2012. The new law transposes, albeit with some delay, the requirements of Directive 2010/78/EU which amends the Prospectus Directive (2003/71/EC). The amending law further introduces a number of other novelties, such as: rules on a new derivative instrument relating to the increase of the capital of public companies (stock allotment rights); changes and expansion of the rules on the entering by a public company, or a subsidiary thereof, into significant dealings (articles 114-114b of the law); and a new species of mandatory tender offer to apply in situations where an investor acquires more than 1/3 of the votes in a public company that has widely dispersed capital (i.e. no controlling shareholder).

Many of the amendments are positive and come to ease regulatory burden on market participants, others however could create uncertainties in practice if these are to be interpreted formalistically; stay alert for our forthcoming detailed commentaries on the new regime.

Amendments to the Territory Development Act

The Bulgarian Parliament adopted at the end of 2012 a number of important amendments to the Territory Development Act (hereinafter, the “Act”). The Act is the main piece of Bulgarian legislation, regulating the territory planning and construction activities. Some of the major changes can be summarised as follows:
 Reform in the area of strategic territory planning and the planning of regional development. Further to the amendments the entire process of strategic planning comprising the elaboration, adoption, financing and update of the documents concerning both the territory planning and the planning of regional development shall be regulated by a single piece of legislation (the Regional Development Act). Thus, a uniform and hence a more coherent regulation of the process of territory planning has been envisaged, which in turn forms a solid basis for particular investment initiatives;
 Perfection of the procedures related to adoption and approval of detailed zoning plans. The amendments have achieved a clear distinction between the competencies of the different public authorities (Municipal Council and Mayor) regarding the approval of detailed plans;
 Improvement of administrative control mechanisms over construction activities. The amendments have clearly differentiated the supervision authorities of the municipal administrations and the National Construction Supervision Directorate;
 The regime for admission to construction supervision activities has been changed from licensing to registration in compliance with Directive 2006/123/ЕО of the European Parliament and the Council;
 The regime for validation of unlawful constructions: constructions developed between 31 March 2001 and 22 July 2003 can be validated if the application for validation is filed to the competent authority not later than 26 November 2013. 

TBP Legal and Business News - January 2013