Dematerialisation of shares: Change in deadlines and the perspective of the Personal Data Protection Office
The mandatory dematerialisation of shares of stock, introduced by the 30 August 2019 amendment of the Commercial Companies Code, was intended to bring about a situation as of 1 January 2021 where the shares of all joint-stock companies and joint-stock limited partnerships in Poland would take the form of an electronic record, and share documents would lose their legal force from that date. But the coronavirus epidemic has made it difficult for commercial entities to make this organisational change, and the parliament has extended the deadlines for complying with certain obligations related to dematerialisation of shares. The Polish Personal Data Protection Office has also issued an opinion on dematerialisation.
The end of 2019 was a kind of a caesura in the legislative process of abandoning the physical document as a carrier of securities used to raise finance on capital markets. Bonds, investment certificates, mortgage bonds, shares and subscription warrants have either bid farewell, or will soon do so to the physical document as a carrier.
In 2019, legal regulations came into force providing for a mandatory dematerialisation of investment certificates issued by closed-end investment funds, including those which are not a part of a public offering and have not been admitted to an organised trading market. Newly issued certificates will no longer be able to be issued as a document, or function as an entry in the record of investment certificates kept by an investment fund company. They will have to be registered in the depository of securities kept by the Krajowy Depozyt Papierów Wartościowych (National Depository for Securities, KDPW). These regulations were then supplemented by rules for how an issuing agent must operate a register of investment certificates before their registration in KDPW. This fundamental change entails a number of practical and formal consequences that are significant in establishing and enforcing collateral on investment certificates.
On 5 November 2019, the President of Poland signed into law an amendment to the Act on Public Offerings and Conditions for Introduction of Financial Instruments into an Organised Trading System and on Public Companies. Most of the new regulations enter into force 14 days after publication of the amending act. It is intended to adjust Polish law to reflect the entry into force of the EU’s Prospectus Regulation (2017/1129) (which generally should have been done by July).
Under the Polish Anti Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act of 1 March 2018, newly established companies and partnerships are required to submit information about their beneficial owners to the Central Register of Beneficial Owners from 13 October 2019, and existing entities must do the same from 13 April 2020. The register is public and accessible free of charge.
The act of 9 November 2018 amending a number of laws, including the Banking Law, in order to reinforce oversight of the financial market entered into force at the beginning of this year. A new chapter was consequently added to the Banking Law concerning forced acquisition of banks coordinated by the Polish Financial Supervision Authority (KNF). The act has now been in force for several months, and it is a good occasion to examine in more detail the new powers vested in KNF.