Stabilisation and restructuring law in Slovakia

1. Which financial (not tax or labour) short-term compensation schemes for immediate losses due to social distancing measures have been implemented? For which industries/sizes of business?

On 15 March 2020, the Slovak government announced a state of emergency, effective as of 16 March 2020.

Since then, the Slovak Government and Parliament has approved several packages of measures.

Apart from tax (e.g. postponement of filing income/VAT tax returns and their payment) and labour (e.g. new rules for care leave compensation or sickness leave), the following short-term measures were adopted:

a)    State salary compensation

The state will compensate employers whose operations/shops were closed by the public health authority with 80% of an employee’s average salary (max. EUR 1,100). This particularly concerns the majority of shops and service providers (e.g. fitness/sport centres, hairdressers etc.). 

Other employers can decide between:

  • compensation of 80% of an employee’s average salary (max. EUR 880), and
  • a fixed fee for decline in sales (employee costs), provided that the employer does not cancel/reduce the number of work positions despite having no work for employees.

b)    State contribution for closed operations/reduced revenues for self-employed natural persons

A fixed contribution is to be provided to self-employed persons depending on the level of decline in sales in the given month (March to May 2020). Other fixed contributions are provided to self-employed persons if they do not have any revenues as of 13 March 2020, subject to certain conditions.

c)    Loan postponement

Effective as of 9 April 2020, the loan postponement applies to:

  • consumers: consumer loans, mortgage loans provided by banks/branches of foreign banks or other entities under the special licence of the National Bank of Slovakia
  • SMEs and entrepreneurs – natural persons: loans (except for credit cards and permitted overdraft) provided by any entity within its scope of business according to Slovak Commercial Code (i.e. banks/branches of foreign banks, or leasing companies or other possible creditors).The loan postponement can be up to nine (9) months (no prolongation/new request is possible) in the case of loans by banks/branches or three (3) months (this can be prolonged by further three (3) months) in the case of other entities. The postponement is not automatic, the debtor must apply. The lender is not obliged to approve the postponement in some exceptional cases listed in law, such as default of the debtor for more than 30 days. 

d)    Increased limits for contactless payments

As of 23 April 2020, the limits for contactless payments are increased to EUR 50 for individual transactions, EUR 150 in total or five (5) consecutive contactless transactions; beyond that, strong customer authentication is required. The customer may decrease these limits.

e)    Automatic prolongation of deadlines/licences 

Statutory deadlines stipulated in private law for protecting/defending individual rights before the courts (both time-barring period, in Slovak: premlčanie and foreclosure, in Slovak: preklúzia): 

  • shall be suspended from 27 March to 30 April 2020
  • shall be prolonged by a further 30 days as of 27 March 2020 if they lapsed between 12 March and 27 March 2020. Similar automatic prolongation/suspension applies in administrative and procedural law, in the case of most court or administrative proceedings to restrict any contacts to a minimum.

2. Which medium-to long-term stabilisation measures are in place in your jurisdiction?

In the financial sector, the National Bank of Slovakia is following the coordinated steps by the ECB and EBA.

a)    Financial support for SMEs

This measure is a de minimis scheme for SMEs aimed at maintaining employment and operations. It may be provided by the Ministry of Finance (the “Ministry”) through the Export-Import Bank of the Slovak Republic (“Eximbanka”) or the Slovak Guarantee and Development Bank (“SZRB”), both referred to as the “Bank”, in relation to the loan agreements concluded with the Bank. The support is in form of a guarantee for a bank loan provided to a SME by the Bank and/or interest bonification (i.e. repayment of an interest on the loan provided to the SME by the Bank).

  • Guarantee for a bank loan provided to a SME by the Bank

The Ministry undertakes to satisfy the SME’s obligation under the loan agreement if the SME fails to do so. The Ministry then has the regress claim against the SME including the interests pursuant to the Communication from the Commission on the revision of the method for setting the reference and discount rates (2008/C 14/02). The guarantee is not available to employment agencies. Moreover, further conditions have to be met by the SME stipulated by law (e.g. no bankruptcy/restructuring proceeding or debts against social security agency/health insurance company for more than 180 days) and the Bank.

  •  Interest bonification (i.e. repayment of an interest on the loan provided to the SME by the Bank)   

This is subject to (i) the maintenance of employment level stipulated in the loan agreement for the period specified therein and (ii) no debts on social/health security contributions above the agreed amount at the end of the period under condition (i).

The Ministry is to publish further details and procedures concerning these financial support measures.

b)    COVID-19 Restrictions Alleviation Instrument of Guarantee – CRAIG

Similar to the de minimis scheme by the Bank above, Slovak Investment Holding, a.s., a 100%-owned company of SZRB, is running this financial support scheme in form of a guarantee and/or interest bonification (support up to 4%) for financial institutions so that they provide new operational loans to SMEs. The operational loans should have maturity up to four (4) years (including 12-month postponement on payment of instalments and interest) and be up to EUR 1.2 million. Financial institutions with a bank licence for providing loans can apply for this scheme. 

c)    Operational loan by Eximbanka

Eximbanka and the Ministry are preparing the operational loan for SMEs under advantageous conditions. The loan can be up to EUR 500,000, maximum up to 50% turnover of the SME for 2019 with the maturity of three (3) years and the postponement of repayment of principal and interest to 12 months since drawing the loan. The loan can be used for financing operational costs, asset investments to maintain operation and employment as well as to pay liabilities against social security agency, health insurance companies and tax/tariff authorities. The details are still to be given. 

The measures for large enterprises are still under discussion.

3. Which measures (Guarantees, Loans, Equity Injections, etc.) are available?

Please see above.

4. Have these mid- to long-term stabilisation measures already been notified with EU or other antitrust bodies?

Yes.

Please specify.

The COVID-19 Restrictions Alleviation Instrument of Guarantee – CRAIG was approved by the Antimonopoly Office of the Slovak Republic.

5. Which prerequisites are necessary to qualify for a programme?

In the case of the financial measures for SMEs, reference is made to Annex I to the Commission Regulation (EU) No. 651/2014 declaring certain categories of aid compatible with the internal market in application of Articles 107 and 108 of the Treaty. The prerequisites for SMEs are thus enterprises (self-employed individuals or legal entities irrespective of their legal form) which:

  • employ fewer than 250 persons, and 
  • have an annual turnover not exceeding EUR 50 million, and/or
  • have an annual balance sheet total not exceeding EUR 43 million.

6. Are there any major reasons that may inhibit an applicant from successfully applying for a stabilisation measure?

Yes.

Please specify.

Yes, as written above, in most cases the financial measures are available for enterprises not in bankruptcy/restructuring, having no debts against social security agency or health insurance companies or not in default under certain conditions. 

7. In an international context, are subsidiaries and branches of foreign parent/holding companies eligible to apply? For EU-States: Also for non-EU-third countries?

Yes.

Please specify.

International companies can apply if they fulfill the given conditions.

8. Do your country’s stabilisation schemes foresee restrictions on use of cash/other restrictions?

Other.

Comments

Please see question 2.14 for obligations of entrepreneur under moratorium. 

Under the Slovak Act No. 202/1995 Coll. on Foreign Exchange Transactions as amended, if a foreign exchange emergency (in Slovak: núdzový stav v devízovom hospodárstve) is declared by the Government of the Slovak Republic, payments in foreign currency or abroad generally may be suspended for the duration of such emergency.

9. How are insolvency application deadlines handled in times of Corona?

Effective as of 27 March 2020, the deadline to file for insolvency by the debtor was extended from 30 to 60 days in the case of over-intebtedness occurring between 12 March and 30 April 2020. 

10. How far have local insolvency/restructuring laws been changed/eased which might have an impact on international businesses?

Apart from the abovementioned extension of the deadline for insolvency filing, on 14 April 2020 the Slovak Government approved the legislative draft enabling entrepreneurs with their seat in Slovakia to opt in for the moratorium for their business if they fulfill given conditions, such as their business licences started prior to 12 March 2020 and they were not insolvent on 12 March 2020. Most financial institutions are excluded.

The application has to be filed with the respective court in the form which shall be published on the website of the Ministry of Justice. The court approves applications without undue delay, whereby information is also published in the Commercial Journal maintained by the Ministry of Justice and then effective against third parties.

The approved moratorium has the following effects:

  • creditor bankruptcy applications filed after 12 March 2020 are interrupted provided that the bankruptcy has not been already effectively declared, i.e. debtor bankruptcy applications or restructurings (as a creditor restructuring is subject to debtor’s consent) remain unaffected
  • an entrepreneur (or any persons on its behalf) is not obliged to file for bankruptcy
  • enforcement proceedings commenced after 12 March 2020 are interrupted; if an enforcement had already started, the proceeding is interrupted with blocking under the Execution Order (i.e. the executor can proceed with securing assets without their enforcement)
  • enforcement of security related to business is not possible – if enforcement was already notified and the statutory deadline is running, it starts to run anew when the moratorium terminates
  • an entrepreneur’s claim arising within the moratorium cannot be set off against the claim of a (former) related party arising prior to the moratorium
  • it is impossible to effectively terminate or withdraw from a contract with an entrepreneur under moratorium due to its default prior to the moratorium
  • deadlines for applying rights (including the contest of legal acts) against an entrepreneur are suspended
  • an entrepreneur is obliged to a reasonable extent to satisfy creditors as much as possible and prefer their interests from its own interests or interests of others, e.g. it may not distribute dividends or other sources and is to avoid material disposal of business assets
  • obligations directly related to the maintenance of business operations arising after the moratorium can be preferentially satisfied prior to earlier claims
  • any loan or similar performances provided non-cash during the moratorium and directly related to the maintenance of business operation are not deemed as provided by a company in crisis under the Commercial Code and shall not be treated as subordinated under the Bankruptcy Act. However, the security of such financing will not be effective in the eventual bankruptcy proceeding.   

The moratorium terminates:

  1. on 1 October 2020, unless the Slovak government prolongs it, until 31 December 2020 at the latest
  2. upon the application of the entrepreneur itself, or
  3. upon the court decision – if the conditions were not met or terminated or the entrepreneur breached its obligations.

In case of the termination under lit. (2) and (3), the entrepreneur is not entitled to apply anew.

The legislative draft is still subject to approval by the Slovak Parliament.

No.

Comments

Please see question 8. The moratorium is to apply to entrepreneurs with their seat in Slovakia.

No additional measures yet.

Sona Hankova
Soňa Hanková
Partner
Bratislava
Zuzana Nikodemova
Zuzana Nikodemova
Senior Associate
Bratislava