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The COVID-19 Pandemic in Greece

Greece, among most of the countries in the world, was hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The Greek Government gradually took necessary measures and, ultimately, forced the country to a general “lockdown” on 23 of March.

This led most of the businesses to temporarily suspend their operations and activities, while, at the same time, they were allowed to suspend the employment contracts without being required to pay salaries or damages and cover social insurance obligations.

As a general measure, the country undertook the obligation to pay 800 Euros per employee whose contract was suspended.

Despite being absolutely necessary for the confrontation of the pandemic outbreak, the measures had dramatic consequences for the businesses and the Greek economy in general. In regards with the businesses, the most negative impact was the drastic fall of their turnovers and consequently their inability to perform their debt obligations, even for financially healthy companies.

For this reason, the Greek Government has proceeded to the announcement of new measures, of financial nature this time, with a purpose to keep Greek businesses, to the extent possible, intact from the impact of the “lockdown” or at least to restrict the negative consequences.

Measures Announced to be Taken from May 2020

The Greek Government announced on 28th of April the undertaking of financial measures in order to relieve the Greek businesses and employees that were hit by Covid-19 outbreak and support the recommencement of the economy.

The Most Important Measures in Relation to Businesses Are:

  • Financial aid to the Greek SMEs through loans granted by the Greek State that will be repaid in the next years with minimum interest rate based on each company’s performance. The total value of the aid will be 1 billion Euros, while each company will not receive more than 500.000 Euros. The main criteria require, first, the companies’ turnover to decrease due to Covid-19 outbreak and, second, the companies not to proceed to lay-offs.
  • Financial aid to the Greek SMEs through grant regarding business loans interest payments for a 3-month period, provided that these companies were still performing on their debt obligations in relation to these loans and they have not proceeded to lay-offs.
  • Starting from May 2020, the Greek companies will be able to receive business loans by the Greek banks up to the amount that correspond to the 25% of their turnover with Greek State guarantees.
  • Suspension of VAT and assessed tax debt payments to the Greek State, however if a company pays the April 2020 instalment, a 25% discount is provided. Again, one of the necessary requirements is for the applying companies to retain the employment positions.

Considering that most of these applications can be made electronically through platforms, our law firm assist our clients in the electronic filling and submission of these applications. It, also, uses its contacts to get additional information, if needed, by making using of the available electronic means, so that the applications are properly filled. In these harsh times, the firm provides its advisory services with the best possible manner to assist the companies – clients, especially those hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Greece’s Economy

These liquidity measures are expected to relieve the Greek businesses which were forced to stop operating for more than one month and are now gradually being able to get back to their activities. The measures are considered to be of vital importance if taken into account that the country had just exited an 8-year financial recession implementing harsh economic re-adjustment and austerity measures. Except this, tourism constitutes the backbone of Greece’s economy and the largest contributor to its GDP and it is expected to be severely affected for 2020, as Covid-19 crisis broke out just before the summer.

According to the recently published IMF’s World Economic Outlook report, the projections for 2020 have been substantially altered, as the “lockdown” applied by the most of the Eurozone countries will have immense impact on their economic status.

In particular, Greece is expected to lose approximately 10% out of its GDP for 2020, in contrary to the 2.2% GDP increase that was projected for the same year before the coronavirus outbreak. However, the country is forecasted to return to growth in the next year, to 5.1% for 2021. Despite the deeper economic impact for 2020, Greece’s recovery is projected to be more dynamic than other economies, such as Spain’s and Italy’s.

This fact is justified by the timely actions of the Greek Government in response to the coronavirus outbreak and the periodic consequences of the tourism’s underperformance for 2020.

In the Aftermath of the Pandemic

The gradual lifting of the pandemic measures, starting from the 4th of May, earmarks the return to “normality” which will not be the same as known before. The epidemiologists warn that the pandemic is not over yet and the perils of another outbreak cannot be ignored.

For this, the Greek Government has set, alongside the economic relief measures, certain rules in order to restrict the possibilities for the pandemic to break out again.

These measures purport to minimise the personal contacts that could lead to the spread of the virus.

Among These Rules, the Most Important for the Companies Are:

  • Flexible schedules must be followed for the next months, so that people attend their working place alternately.
  • Teleworking must be encouraged, where possible, to avoid unnecessary contacts.

Our law firm, trying to be in line with the recent legislation, has applied new methods in the working environment and in the manner, it delivers its legal services to our clients by making use the capabilities that technology offers today.

Indicatively, the firm conduct their usual internal meetings only by electronic means through live video calls, while meetings with clients and fellow advisors are made through teleconferences maintaining the level of the services in the same standards as before.

Also, the firm in order to protect its personnel applies a repeating working schedule enabling a certain number of associates/partners to attend the office each time, while in person meetings with clients are scheduled, where absolutely necessary, applying the hygiene rules.

Conclusion

Greece’s journey through the COVID-19 pandemic exemplifies a nation’s ability to face adversity with determination and resourcefulness. Its proactive response, healthcare resilience, and gradual recovery highlight the importance of unity and preparedness. As Greece moves forward, the lessons learned will undoubtedly shape its path towards a more resilient future, ensuring the safety and well-being of its citizens and visitors alike.

BSI Announces Acquisition of US Firm AppSec Consulting: A Strategic Move towards Enhancing Cybersecurity

In a ground-breaking development, BSI, a global leader in business improvement and compliance solutions, has recently revealed its acquisition of AppSec Consulting, a prominent US-based cybersecurity firm. This strategic move not only captures the attention of the business world but also signifies a significant shift in the cybersecurity landscape. In this article, we delve into the details of this acquisition, its implications, and how it is set to impact the industry.

Introduction: The Power of Synergy

In an era where cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving, the acquisition of AppSec Consulting by BSI emerges as a pivotal moment. AppSec Consulting has long been recognised as a trusted name in the field, known for its expertise in providing top-tier cybersecurity services to businesses across various sectors. BSI, on the other hand, boasts a global reputation for its comprehensive solutions that help organisations drive excellence in terms of compliance and performance. This acquisition, a synergy of cybersecurity prowess and business improvement acumen, is poised to redefine the way companies approach their security strategies.

Enhancing Cybersecurity Capabilities

AppSec Consulting’s extensive experience in cybersecurity assessments, risk management, and penetration testing perfectly complements BSI’s existing service portfolio. This acquisition empowers BSI to offer its clients a holistic approach to safeguarding their digital assets. With the rise of cyber threats targeting businesses of all sizes, the combined expertise of BSI and AppSec Consulting will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in fortifying the digital defences of organisations.

Strategic Expansion into the US Market

BSI’s acquisition of AppSec Consulting not only bolsters its cybersecurity offerings but also marks a strategic expansion into the lucrative US market. AppSec Consulting’s established presence and client base in the United States provide BSI with a competitive edge, enabling it to tap into new opportunities and establish a stronger foothold in the region. This move showcases BSI’s commitment to global growth and its proactive approach to addressing the needs of clients on a wider scale.

Implications for the Industry

The cybersecurity landscape is undergoing a seismic shift, with organisations becoming increasingly aware of the risks posed by cyber threats. The BSI-AppSec Consulting acquisition sends a clear message to the industry: the convergence of cybersecurity and business excellence is not just an option but a necessity. As businesses navigate the complex terrain of digital transformation, having a partner that can seamlessly integrate cybersecurity measures into their overall strategy is a game-changer.

Focusing on Innovation and Research

A notable aspect of this acquisition is the emphasis it places on innovation and research. BSI and AppSec Consulting both have a history of investing in cutting-edge technologies and staying at the forefront of industry trends. This acquisition is expected to facilitate even greater collaboration between the two entities, resulting in the development of advanced cybersecurity solutions that can adapt to the evolving threat landscape.

Reimagining the Future of Cybersecurity

The BSI-AppSec Consulting acquisition opens the door to a new era of cybersecurity, one that goes beyond conventional approaches. By combining the strengths of a business improvement giant with a cybersecurity specialist, this move challenges the status quo and encourages organisations to adopt a more proactive and integrated approach to security. The collective knowledge and expertise of BSI and AppSec Consulting have the potential to shape a future where businesses are not only compliant but also resilient in the face of cyber challenges.

Conclusion: A Transformative Partnership

In conclusion, the acquisition of AppSec Consulting by BSI marks a transformative partnership that holds immense promise for the cybersecurity landscape. As businesses grapple with an increasingly complex digital environment, the need for comprehensive and innovative security solutions has never been greater. This acquisition bridges the gap between cybersecurity and business excellence, paving the way for a more secure and resilient future.

BSI’s bold step in acquiring AppSec Consulting demonstrates its commitment to staying ahead of the curve and providing its clients with unparalleled value. This move is not just about business expansion; it’s about creating a safer digital world for organisations to thrive in. As the industry watches this collaboration unfold, it’s clear that the ripple effects of this acquisition will be felt for years to come.

Central Pennsylvania Law Firm Launches New Marketing Agency

In the heart of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, a new era of marketing innovation was born when Granite Creative marketing agency opened its doors on October 1, 2019. This unique agency, closely connected to the esteemed law firm Saxton & Stump, has quickly emerged as a beacon of marketing prowess in the ever-evolving landscape of digital promotion and branding. In this article, we’ll delve into the story of Granite Creative, explore the services they offer, and understand how their partnership with Saxton & Stump sets them apart in the competitive world of marketing.

Granite Creative: A Brief Overview

Lancaster County, nestled along the picturesque Susquehanna River, is known for its rich history and cultural heritage. Lancaster, the county seat, boasts the iconic Central Market building, while the surrounding region showcases the charming Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg. Amidst this landscape of tradition and innovation, Granite Creative has carved its niche.

Granite Creative is not your run-of-the-mill marketing agency. They offer a comprehensive range of services, including marketing strategy development, website design, campaign strategy and execution, graphic design, social media management, content marketing, and video/animation production. Their clientele consists mainly of small- to medium-sized businesses across the United States. What sets them apart is their unwavering commitment to creativity and client success.

Jenna Wagner, the Executive Director of Granite Creative, succinctly captures their ethos, saying, “The team develops creative strategies to enhance clients’ market visibility and give them a competitive edge to help them reach their business goals.”

A Tale of Synergy: Granite Creative and Saxton & Stump

The roots of Granite Creative run deep into the law firm of Saxton & Stump, situated in Manheim Township. For years, the core team at Granite Creative had been working in the marketing department of Saxton & Stump, providing both internal marketing services and extending their expertise to clients who had outsourced marketing work to the law firm.

Anthony Gaenzle, the Director of Marketing and Business Development at Granite Creative Group, elaborates on this synergy, stating, “The core team of the company has been working together at the law firm of Saxton & Stump in Manheim Township in its marketing department, providing internal marketing services and for the last couple years. The department has also assisted clients who had outsourced marketing work to the firm.”

While Granite Creative shares its lineage with Saxton & Stump, it operates as an independent entity. The agency is strategically located in the same building at 280 Granite Run Drive, positioning it as a convenient and accessible partner for clients seeking marketing solutions.

Granite Creative’s ability to tackle projects of various scales makes it an attractive choice for businesses seeking innovative marketing strategies. Whether it’s a small local enterprise looking to boost its online presence or a national corporation in need of a brand revamp, Granite Creative has the expertise and resources to deliver.

Saxton & Stump: A Beacon of Excellence

Saxton & Stump, the law firm behind Granite Creative, is no stranger to excellence. Founded in 2015, it boasts a roster of professionals that includes lawyers, doctors, and nurses. With offices in Manheim Township, Lower Paxton Township, and Chester County, the firm’s reach extends across central Pennsylvania.

Last year, Saxton & Stump took a strategic step by relocating its office to Crums Mill Road in Lower Paxton Township. This move signals the firm’s commitment to serving its clients with even greater efficiency and effectiveness.

Conclusion

In the dynamic world of marketing, Granite Creative stands as a testament to innovation and collaboration. With deep roots in the legal expertise of Saxton & Stump and a passionate team dedicated to creative solutions, the agency has quickly become a rising star in Lancaster County and beyond. As they continue to help businesses navigate the ever-changing marketing landscape, Granite Creative is poised to leave an indelible mark on the industry, combining tradition and modernity in the spirit of Lancaster County itself.

Oil Spill On Northeast Beaches Reach Nine States: Environmental Impact and Response Efforts

In a devastating turn of events, a significant oil spill has struck the North-eastern coastlines, impacting beaches in nine states. The spill, which occurred due to an unfortunate offshore incident, has raised concerns about its environmental repercussions and the urgent need for coordinated response efforts. This article delves into the details of the oil spill, its potential consequences, ongoing response initiatives, and the broader implications for coastal ecosystems and communities.

The Oil Spill Incident

The oil spill, caused by an offshore drilling rig malfunction, has led to the release of thousands of barrels of crude oil into the ocean. The spill has spread rapidly, affecting beaches along the coastlines of nine states.. The incident has raised alarms among environmentalists, scientists, and local communities, fearing the immediate and long-term impacts on marine life, wildlife habitats, tourism, and local economies.

Environmental Impact

The environmental impact of the oil spill is profound and far-reaching. The spill has already begun to coat beaches, harming delicate ecosystems and threatening marine life. Oil-covered birds and fish have been reported, highlighting the immediate danger to local wildlife. Furthermore, the spill’s consequences could extend to disrupting the food chain and causing long-term damage to the breeding and nesting grounds of several species.

Effects on Tourism and Local Economies

The North-eastern beaches have long been popular tourist destinations, drawing visitors with their natural beauty and recreational opportunities. However, the oil spill’s negative impact on these beaches could lead to a significant decline in tourism. The presence of oil on the shores and in the water will likely deter tourists and beachgoers, leading to revenue loss for local businesses that rely on tourism. The spill’s economic ramifications could reverberate through various sectors, including hospitality, retail, and recreation.

Response Efforts

In response to the oil spill, a multi-agency effort involving federal, state, and local authorities has been launched. The immediate focus is on containment, clean-up, and minimising the spill’s ecological impact. Skilled personnel, specialised equipment, and innovative technologies are being deployed to address the crisis. Additionally, volunteers from local communities are playing a crucial role in assisting with clean-up operations, underlining the collective determination to mitigate the disaster’s effects.

Challenges and Obstacles

Despite the concerted efforts to manage the oil spill, several challenges hinder the response process. Unpredictable weather conditions, the vast geographic extent of the spill, and the sheer volume of oil released present formidable obstacles. Additionally, addressing the long-term ecological consequences and restoring the affected ecosystems will require sustained commitment and resources.

Long-Term Environmental Rehabilitation

The oil spill’s impact will not be fully understood for some time. Environmental scientists are closely monitoring the situation to assess the long-term effects on marine life, water quality, and overall ecosystem health. Restoration efforts will likely include habitat rehabilitation, wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, and initiatives to prevent similar incidents in the future, such as stricter regulations on offshore drilling practices.

Conclusion

The oil spill that has spread across the North-eastern beaches, affecting nine states, serves as a stark reminder of the vulnerabilities of our coastal ecosystems. The incident underscores the critical importance of responsible environmental stewardship and the need to transition towards cleaner and more sustainable energy sources. As response efforts continue, collaboration among government agencies, local communities, and environmental organisations remains essential to mitigate the immediate damage and pave the way for the recovery of these precious coastal habitats. By learning from this disaster, we can move towards a future where the beauty and biodiversity of our oceans are safeguarded for generations to come.

Holding a Board of Directors Meeting in Nigeria

In the dynamic landscape of Nigerian business, effective corporate governance is crucial for sustained growth and profitability. A cornerstone of corporate governance is the Board of Directors meeting. This article delves into the essential aspects of holding a successful Board of Directors meeting in Nigeria, highlighting key considerations, best practices, and the legal framework.

Section 1: Understanding the Importance of Board Meetings

Board of Directors meetings are pivotal in shaping a company’s strategic direction, ensuring accountability, and fostering transparent decision-making. These meetings provide a platform for directors to discuss critical matters, review financial performance, and align business strategies with the company’s mission and vision.

Section 2: Preparing for the Meeting

Agenda Creation: Craft a comprehensive agenda that outlines the topics to be discussed. Prioritise critical issues, allocate time for each item, and share the agenda with directors well in advance.

Documentation: Compile relevant documents, reports, and data to support the agenda. This includes financial statements, performance reports, and any other materials necessary for informed discussions.

Legal Compliance: Ensure that the meeting complies with the provisions of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) and other relevant regulations. Adhere to notice requirements, quorum rules, and any other legal obligations.

Section 3: Conducting the Meeting

Quorum: Before commencing the meeting, ensure the presence of the minimum number of directors required for a quorum, as specified in the company’s articles of association.

Chairperson’s Role: Appoint a skilled and impartial chairperson to lead the meeting. The chairperson should manage discussions, maintain order, and ensure that the agenda is followed.

Open Discussions: Encourage active participation from all directors, fostering an environment where diverse perspectives are shared. Engage in open and constructive discussions to reach well-informed decisions.

Decision-Making: Clearly document the decisions made during the meeting. Use appropriate voting methods, such as show of hands or secret ballots, as required by the company’s bylaws.

Section 4: Post-Meeting Actions

Minutes of Meeting: Draft accurate and comprehensive minutes that capture discussions, decisions, and action items. Distribute the minutes to all directors for review and approval.

Follow-Up: Designate responsible individuals for action items and ensure that they are completed within the specified timeframe. Monitor progress and provide updates in subsequent meetings.

Section 5: Enhancing Board Meeting Effectiveness

Technology Integration: Leverage digital tools for virtual meetings, if necessary, and employ collaborative software to facilitate real-time document sharing and discussion.

Training and Development: Regularly update directors about changes in regulations, industry trends, and best practices through workshops, seminars, and training sessions.

Rotating Agendas: Vary the meeting’s agenda to cover different aspects of the business, ensuring a comprehensive assessment of the company’s operations.

Section 6: Ensuring Compliance and Transparency

Regulatory Compliance: Stay up-to-date with changes in legislation and regulations to ensure the company’s operations are in line with the law.

Transparency: Maintain open communication with shareholders and stakeholders by providing access to relevant information and reports, promoting trust and accountability.

Conclusion:

A well-organised and effective Board of Directors meeting is a cornerstone of successful corporate governance in Nigeria. By adhering to legal requirements, fostering open discussions, and implementing best practices, companies can make informed decisions that drive growth and long-term success. Prioritising transparency, accountability, and active participation sets the stage for a prosperous future in the Nigerian business landscape.

Protecting Borrowers Under a Loan and Collateral Agreement in Nigeria

In order to execute large projects or for businesses to expand, there is usually a need to apply for loan facility from Banks (“the Bank”). Though, Banks are likely to grant loan to Borrowers if they have the requisite collateral, most times Borrowers end up in trouble with the Banks either because they cannot pay back the repayment instalments as at when due; or the interest rate on the loan facility is too high; or they breached an important covenant of the Loan and Collateral Agreement (“the Agreement”) or they simply did not understand the risks and obligations under the Agreement. Therefore, Borrowers must take the following provisions in the Agreement seriously.

In the intricate landscape of finance, loans play a crucial role in powering economic growth and personal aspirations. In Nigeria, like many other nations, loans are essential tools that facilitate investment, entrepreneurship, and various financial undertakings. However, the borrower-lender relationship can be complex and potentially risky. To ensure a fair and secure lending environment, protective measures are necessary. This article delves into the importance of protecting borrowers under a loan and collateral agreement in Nigeria, outlining key aspects, legal safeguards, and best practices.

The Collateral Provision;

The Borrower must ensure that it has the collateral stated in the Agreement and the evaluation of the collateral must be as envisaged in the Agreement. If the collateral is to be provided by a third party, the Borrower must ensure that the third party provides the specified collateral timeously. The Borrower must ensure the third party binds himself to provide additional collateral upon the Bank’s request.

If the collateral provision provides that the Bank may demand for additional collateral upon some conditions or the happening of an event, the Borrower must ensure that such conditions or event are clearly spelt out in the Agreement.

The Interest Rate Provision;

The current Central Bank of Nigeria’s lending rate is 14 percent while that of commercial Banks is 18 percent. The Borrower must ascertain whether it will be able to pay the interest rate on the loan sum. If the Bank reserves the right to review the interest rate to a higher margin, the Borrower must know the circumstances in which the Bank will increase the interest rate.

The Borrower must take into account all provision on additional interest rates such as interest rate on sums drawn more than the loan sum or unpaid instalments to the Bank upon expiration of the loan period before it makes a decision on whether to take the loan or not.

Repayment Provision;

There are different repayment schedule towards liquidation of the loan sum. Some of which include; equal payments, equal instalments, fixed equal instalment, bullet repayment and instalment free period. The Borrower must ascertain whether the repayment schedule proposed by the Bank is convenient to it and its line of business.

Commencement Date Provision;

The Borrower must ensure that the date of disbursement of the loan sum is in line with the purpose for which it requires the loan. This will prevent it from incurring interest payment for the period it did not do business with the loan sum.

Conditions of Loan Provision;

In some Agreements, the Bank may withhold, recall or even cancel the loan facility if the Borrower fails to use the loan for the purpose it was granted; diverts repayment instalments to other ventures; breaches obligations under the Agreement; fails to repay the agreed instalments for a period of time; makes material misrepresentation regarding facts which induced the Bank to grant the loan or the value of the collateral depreciates.

Again, the Bank may have the right to convert loan facility to overdraft, advances, commercial papers and other market instruments or vary the terms of the loan to reflect the prevailing conditions in the financial markets or monetary regulations. Disbursement of the loan sum may be subject to the availability of funds and ability of the Bank to accommodate the loan sum.

In such a circumstance, the Borrower must ensure that it uses the loan for the purpose it was granted, avoid misrepresentation of facts on its eligibility to be granted the loan and repay the instalments as at when due. The Borrower must determine whether it agrees with the right of the Bank to convert the loan to other financial instruments or the conditions in which the Bank may withhold, recall or cancel the facility.

The Borrower’s business is premised on the Bank disbursing the entire loan sum in accordance with the Agreement. Hence, the Borrower must be certain that the Bank will disburse the entire loan sum. This will prevent the Borrower from being frustrated and stranded.

Events of Default Provision;

Some Agreements provides that if the Borrower is unable to pay its debts; admits in writing to its inability to discharge its financial obligations; or makes legal authorisation to the Bank to postpone repayment of the instalments, all the monies outstanding to the Bank as principal sum and interest will become immediately due and payable.

This may also extends to circumstances where the Bank perceives that there is an extra ordinary situation which will make it impossible for the Borrower to discharge its obligations under the Agreement; inability of the Borrower to execute a distress levied on its property within 7 days; a call by the Central Bank of Nigeria for the Bank to recall the loan; material adverse change in financial condition of the Borrower and the unenforceability of the Agreement under Nigerian law.

The Borrower must consider whether it can cope with the wide premise in which the Bank may recall disbursed sums or make them immediately due and payable.

Covenants Provisions;

The Agreement may provide for the Borrower to fund its account with the Bank with a monthly turnover of a specific amount to pay interest, commission and other charges. The Borrower must ensure that it can provide such monthly amount in order to prevent itself from being overwhelmed by unpaid instalments and interests.

Insurance Provision;

The Borrower may be obligated to pay the premium and maintain a comprehensive insurance as the Bank may approve in the joint name of both the Bank and the Borrower and the Bank’s interest will be first protected in the insurance policy in case of the occurrence of the insured risk.

The Borrower must determine whether its business interest will be protected if it maintains a comprehensive insurance in its name and that of the Bank and ensure the Bank’s interest is first protected in the insurance policy.

From the foregoing, it is important for Borrowers to understand and evaluate the risks in the Agreement before signing the dotted lines to bind themselves. A stich in time saves nine.

Conclusion

The protection of borrowers under loan and collateral agreements in Nigeria is paramount for a healthy and thriving financial system. Transparent lending practices, fair interest rates, and legal safeguards contribute to a balanced borrower-lender relationship. As regulatory bodies continue to refine guidelines and borrowers become more educated about their rights, Nigeria’s lending landscape is poised for growth while ensuring the well-being of all participants.