Boryana: The senior advisor set up by the Bulgarian government through the Ministry of Transport, Information Technology and Communications, the concessionaire, was the International Finance Corporation, which then hired sabev-Partners as local legal advisor. And with the support of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, DLA Piper has been hired as an international legal advisor. Boryana: I led our company`s team and was directly involved in all stages of the project and all the team tasks. My colleague Iskra Neycheva reviewed the relevant legal framework and participated in the initial discussions on the structure of the transaction, the tender documents and the proposed concession agreement. Two other partners of the firm also played different roles: Nevena Stoeva was actively involved in due diligence, while managing partner George Sabev mainly acted as a liaison with interested government agencies. Boryana: Thank you! It was really exciting and exciting for us to work on such an important project. In fact, this is the most important project in Bulgaria in recent years in the air transport infrastructure industry, as Sofia Airport is the largest airport for public use in the country. In addition, it is the first draft concession of cross-border interest under the new concession law in Bulgaria (which came into force on 2 January 2018 and implemented the 2014/23/EU Directive on the awarding of concession contracts). It is a mixed concession – both for construction and operations – and it has been awarded through an open tendering procedure – which is the most transparent type of procedure, although it is very difficult to establish and manage. The result justified all the efforts – there were five excellent offers from experienced and serious investors! “By introducing new technologies, increasing the level of service and improving the efficiency of airport infrastructure, the consortium will develop Sofia Airport as an example of good practice – and will serve as a reference site for flights across Europe, the Middle East and Transcaucasian.
Boryana: Formally, the two companies had separate independent obligations. However, the nature of the work required close coordination – the aim was to define the rules of procedure and prepare the tender documents in such a way as to ensure not only compliance with Bulgarian law, but also international best practices for such projects. It was even more important that the concession agreement be structured and developed as narrowly as possible to create a model known and acceptable to investors and international financial institutions. To do this, the two companies worked together every day – especially during the busy Q-A sessions (more than 3,000 Q-Ass were published in two languages!). We are very pleased that both teams have managed to establish effective cooperation based on a high level of partner commitment, personal commitment and a friendly atmosphere! In addition, although we already have more than 20 years of legal experience, we have gained valuable experience from our work with Jasna Zwitter-Tehovnik of DLA Piper Vienna and Francesco Ferrari of DLA Piper Milan. SOF Connect AD as a dealer will be the borrower. SOF Connect is an ad hoc entity of a consortium managed by an established independent investment firm Meridiam.