All of us worked in international law offices for years, which is immediately recognized and appreciated by the clients
Atanasković-Božović is a Belgrade based law firm, with an extensive experience working with French clients and one of the rare law offices in Belgrade which has francophone senior attorneys and partners.
You appear to be a young team, was that ever an obstacle for attracting new clients?
› I am really not sure if we are still that young, but thank you for that. To be honest, in practice, our age was never an obstacle for attracting new clients, as most of our clients are informed in advance of our experience and expertise. All of us worked in international law offices for years, which is immediately recognized and appreciated by the clients.
Does that international experience include working with French clients?
› Yes, we have extensive experience working with French clients and we are one of the rare law offices in Belgrade which has francophone senior attorneys and partners. For example, Uroš studied in Nancy, while Vuk studied in Strasbourg and worked for years in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Furthermore, both of them spent a considerable part of their carrier in a reputable French International Business Law Firm. Today we have a long list of French clients, coming from different sectors of economy and also have close cooperation with French-Serbian Chamber of Commerce.
What are in practice the usual queries of the foreign investors, when they are interested in Serbia, as potential investment market?
› We are usually approached with queries regarding the corporate matters (e.g. incorporation formalities, types of companies, etc.), employment matters (e.g. minimal income, forms of engagement, etc.), and the like. However, in the last couple of years we saw a palpable increase of queries regarding the available state incentives and conditions for acquiring them, obtaining the status of a “free zone”, etc. In that respect we assisted and represented the clients in their negotiations with the Republic of Serbia regarding the obtaining the State incentives, acquisition of real estate, building or adaptation of production facilities, and in general setting the conditions for commencement of their business operations in Serbia. Subsequently, we advise all of these clients in their day-today operations during the entire investment period and after implementation of the investment.
What are your experiences with the administrative bodies which are incharge for granting the state incentives?
› We must say that our experiences arerather positive. This is especially applicable for our experience with RAS – Development Agency of Serbia. Their entire management is very professional, responsive and forthcoming. In most cases, our clients are in contact with RAS before they engage our office, and all of them are quite pleased with the approach and proficiency of their team. This in turn makes our job easier, as clients are well informed and prepared even before they approach us. Also, they are of a big help during the implementation of the investment and we can always rely on their assistance if some obstacles occur on the ground.
Does it appear to you that there is an increase in interest of the foreign investors for Serbia?
› Judging from the workload of our office, we believe that there is an increase in their interest. Notably, in the last couple of years our office is seeing a significant increase of clients which are interested in direct investments in Serbia, both “green field” and “brown field” and acquiring state incentives. There is also no rule regarding their main business activities, as we are currently engaged on state incentives stimulated projects for the production of microelectronics, production of garment, petro-chemistry, and the like. Moreover, it appears that every year we have larger and more demanding projects, including high amount investments and employment of thousands of persons.
How would you rate the legal framework applicable to foreign investors in Serbia?
› Well, we believe that the currently applicable legal framework is foreign investor friendly, and has proved to be stimulating for attracting foreign investors. We are aware that the public often criticizes the legal framework for being discriminating toward local investors, but we must be aware that the state incentives are the best and most effective way of attracting foreign investors. The legal framework has changed on several occasions in the last few years which also shows that the authorities are constantly involved in this field and that they actively work on providing the better conditions and overcoming the obstacles that have occurred in practice. In the next few days we expect new changes in these regulations which will most definitely pave the road for even bigger investments