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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In Europe, Middle East and Africa, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for seven consecutive years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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Belgium > Commercial, corporate and M&A > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Commercial, corporate and M&A
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1
    • Jean-Pierre Blumberg - Linklaters
    • Laurent Legein - Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
    • Vincent Macq - Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
    • Pierre-Olivier Mahieu - Allen & Overy LLP
    • Dirk Meeus - Allen & Overy LLP
    • Jan Meyers - Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
    • Jan Peeters - Stibbe
    • Koen Vanhaerents - Baker McKenzie CVBA/SCRL

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

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The ‘pro-active’ and ‘very professional’ corporate and M&A team at Allen & Overy LLPlives up to extremely high expectations’. It has a strong reputation for cross-border work, where ‘the firm’s broad network of offices is clearly an asset in a multi-jurisdictional deal’. In a recent example, Pierre-Olivier Mahieu worked alongside colleagues in Paris to advise Total on its acquisition of all the shares in Belgian company Lampiris. Dirk Meeus ‘brings gravitas to a meeting’ and Wouter Van de Voorde ‘impresses with his ability to capture the core of any issue within seconds’. ‘Very promising senior associate’ Frederiek Adams and associate Gabrielle De Vliegher are also recommended.

The ‘excellent’ M&A department at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP is appreciated for its ‘humble approach’ and ‘eagerness to interact with in-house counsel on a peer-to-peer basis’. It has a strong reputation for big-ticket, multi-jurisdictional M&A. Recent highlights include advising Abbott Laboratories on the non-US corporate, M&A and employment aspects of the $4.3bn sale of the Abbott Medical Optics unit to Johnson & Johnson; and assisting AB InBev with the proposed combination of its beer business in Russia and Ukraine with a Turkish company, where Laurent Legein in Brussels worked alongside colleagues in the London office. Jan Meyers was made-up to senior counsel and the ‘thorough and hardworking’ Carlo Meert was promoted to counsel in January 2017. Filip Moerman has ‘an outstanding business sense’ and ‘a particular experience of US transactions and transactions in China’. Counsel Géraldine Bourguignon has a broad corporate practice that takes in capital markets, financial regulation, securities law and litigation.

Amazing firmFreshfields Bruckhaus Deringerplays an increasingly leading role in the Belgian M&A market’. It is especially active in highly regulated sectors such as telecoms, energy and financial services, and also has a buoyant private equity practice. Recent highlights include advising key client Telenet on numerous corporate and commercial transactions, including the acquisition of SFR Belux from the Altice Group for €400m. Among its ‘broad range of very strong partners’ is the ‘bright, pragmatic, solution-oriented’ Deborah Janssens and Vincent Macq, who is ‘one of the leading corporate lawyers in Brussels with a very strong track record’. It saw significant growth at the associate level; new joiners include Gaïa Pattyn from Loyens & Loeff and Steffie De Backer from Janson Baugniet.

Linklaters is a strong and well-established brand in Belgium and its team provides ‘clear and to-the-point advice, which is based on broad experience and adapted to the specific situation of the company’. It handles a steady flow of major public and private M&A transactions and aside from its transactional work, it is also sought out by listed companies to advise on corporate governance and shareholder activism. In 2017, it advised The Bank of New York Mellon on the consolidation of its European activities by way of an internal merger. In other cross-border work, the team advised KBC Group on its acquisition of United Bulgarian Bank and Interlease. Filip Lecoutre was promoted to counsel in May 2017. Eric Pottier and Arnaud Coibion co-head the department. Jean-Pierre Blumberg and counsel Thierry L’Homme, who has ‘vast knowledge and experience’, are also noted.

Baker McKenzie CVBA/SCRL’s team has ‘a solution-driven approach’ and a broad private and public M&A practice, where it takes leading roles on significant global transactions. A cross-office team including Roel Meers in Belgium and partners in Japan advised Panasonic on the €294m acquisition of Zetes Industries. Practice head Koen Vanhaerents worked alongside UK-based colleagues in assisting TVH Group with its proposed public takeover of Lavendon. Davinia Martens was promoted to the partnership and Dominique Maes is also noted.

A top player in the Belgian market’, Clifford Chance is ‘very quick on the ball’ and is noted for its ‘capacity to handle and coordinate a variety of legal issues and have them converged into an appropriate solution’. The team saw significant activity in the private equity sphere as well as a general uptick in M&A which was most pronounced in the industrial and energy sectors. Senior associate Sylvain Cailleau is noted for his ‘very broad and global legal knowledge’. Niek De Pauw and the ‘very proactive’ Xavier Remy are also noted. Philippe Hamer retired from the partnership in October 2017.

At the ‘business-orientedDLA Piper, the team provides ‘very accurate and to-the-point answers’. The broad corporate practice handles M&A, reorganisations, capital markets, private equity and venture capital transactions. It has developed an impressive start-up practice, where its corporate partners work alongside colleagues in the IP and technology department. It is also a popular choice for multinational companies; clients include Pfizer, GE and Waterland Private Equity. Koen Selleslags has ‘a down-to-earth and easy-going personality with a genuine focus on customer satisfaction’. Caroline Daout heads the corporate team and also co-chairs the firm’s Africa group.

Knowledgeable and reputable’ firm Eubelius has a substantial corporate and M&A offering. It is regularly instructed in significant transactions on the Belgium market; in a recent highlight, Philippe Mulliez advised Schaubroeck on merging its IT and HR consultancy activities with the activities of Cipal IT Solutions. In a cross-border deal involving Belgium, France and Luxemburg, Erwin Destuyver advised bpost on its acquisition of Lagardère Travel Retail’s Belgian activities. Marieke Wyckaert heads the sizeable corporate department, which includes corporate, private equity and capital markets specialist Lars Van Bever.

Jones Day’s team ‘excels in advice and delivery of service, and maintains constant good spirits even when under stress and tight timelines’. The Brussels office has developed a specialised Japan practice; recent highlights include advising Astellas Pharma on the €800m acquisition of Belgian company Ogeda, which was the largest published M&A transaction in Belgium in the first half of 2017. The team also has a burgeoning venture capital practice under the leadership of Thomas De Muynck. Capital markets and company law specialist Matthieu Duplat joined from White & Case LLP in 2016. Howard Liebman is also noted.

The full-service corporate department at Liedekerke Wolters Waelbroeck Kirkpatrick has capabilities in M&A, commercial transactions, public law and regulatory issues, infrastructure projects, PPPs and corporate litigation. Christel Van den Eynden advised Euronext Amsterdam-listed company Sligro Food Group on its purchase of Belgian company ISPC, and Thierry Tilquin and Thérèse Loffet assisted a committee representing 34 shareholders in negotiations with Lufthansa for the acquisition of 55% of the holding of Brussels Airlines. Thibaut Hollanders is based in the Democratic Republic of Congo and excels in cross-border transactions. The ‘remarkable’ Damien Conem ‘offers the knowledge, pragmatism and attitude one would expect from the large multinational firms at a fraction of the price’. Jacques Meunier was a new arrival from Fieldfisher in 2018.

Loyens & Loeff’s team provides ‘quality legal advice’ and demonstrates ‘commercial and strategic thinking’. It has a well-established client base which includes major players in the industrial, consumer goods, financial services and energy sectors, and, as an independent firm, remains a popular choice for international law firms looking for legal counsel in the Benelux region. In 2017, a cross-office and cross-practice team that included Stefaan Deckmyn and counsel Godfried Ampe advised PMV Fund Management and Rebel Infra Developers on the establishment of a new alternative investment fund. Grégoire Jakhian heads the practice; other key practitioners include Wim Vande Velde, who made partner in July 2017, and Peter Callens -

Stibbe’s corporate department is ‘a high-quality, one-stop shop’, which ‘delivers the quality of the big international firms but at local rates’. It regularly handles high-profile M&A, and has recently seen an uptick in work involving public entities, where it leverages its sizeable public law team. Highlights included Pascal Vanden Borre’s advice to Moody’s on its €3bn acquisition of Bureau van Dijk. Dries Hommez has ‘a modest and down-to-earth approach, but should not be underestimated’. Stefan Odeurs, Marc Fyon and Jan Peeters are also noted.

Very flexible and customer oriented’, Altius has a well-established mid-market M&A practice and a solid track record in cross-border transactions and reorganisations. Clients include Heineken, Iron Mountain, Mapfre and Kone. The ‘pragmatic’ Jérôme Vermeylen is ‘an exceptional expert in his field’ and ‘smart lawyer’ Tom Vantroyen ‘knows what really matters, steers the client through issues and goes the extra mile’. Counsel Marie Brasseur acts for industrial and financial investors, including on distressed M&A.

Good all-round firmCMS has a highly regarded corporate department, which is ‘very committed’ and ‘very responsive’. Recent highlights include advising Burger King on the potential acquisition of Belgium fast food chain Quick, and assisting ABN Amro Lease with a cross-border merger with Dutch entity ABN Amro Lease NV. Key practitioners include practice head Vincent Dirckx, ‘outstanding lawyerArnaud Van Oekel, Stéphane Collin and senior associate David Prync.

Fieldfisher has ‘a good platform, both locally in Brussels with a full-service office, as well as internationally’. The team was further bolstered in 2017 by the arrival of ‘excellent business lawyer’ Thomas Lenné from Baker McKenzie CVBA/SCRL. The broad corporate practice handles cross-border M&A, venture capital, restructurings and corporate advisory work. Marie Evrard leads the team; Jacques Meunier and Louis-François du Castillon are also noted. Jacques Meunier joined Liedekerke Wolters Waelbroeck Kirkpatrick in 2018.

David Roelens leads the corporate practice at Laga, which has a strong reputation for mid-market M&A, capital markets transactions, restructurings and corporate advisory work. The team handled several significant corporate transactions during 2017, including its role as advisor to Alimax on the sale of ISPC to Sligro Food Group, and its assistance to Sweco Belgium on the acquisition of M&R Engineering, where Tim Baart led the team. Emmanuel Leroux and Benoît Ferón are ‘outstanding professionals’.

Lydian’s ‘very professional, accurate and responsive’ corporate team is ‘very competitive’. The team has recently advised on five acquisitions for nursing homes and residences company Vivalto Home, and has also assisted with the issuance of senior secured notes. The firm fields ‘a number of extraordinary lawyers’; among them are Patrick della Faille, Tom Geudens and Peter De Ryck, who is ‘fantastic to work with’.

A ‘very capable firm’, Monard Lawhas a strong M&A practice, especially in small and mid-cap transactions’. Clients appreciate its ‘commitment to each project’ and ‘short response times’. The broad corporate practice has developed a strong track record in the energy, telecoms, automotive and pharmaceutical sectors, among others. With over 40 lawyers, it has one of the largest teams in the market; key practitioners are Pieter Van den Broeck, Youri Steverlynck, Nicole Segers, Katrien Vorlat and the ‘excellentNatalie Ulburghs.

The ‘excellent’ department at NautaDutilh has an impressive track record in public and private M&A in the Benelux region. In one highlight, Nicolas de Crombrugghe advised France-based company Natixis on a proposed acquisition of Belgian fintech company Dalenys. The ‘very experiencedDirk Van Gervenalways adds value’ and is singled out for praise. Other key lawyers in the ‘very knowledgeable and responsive’ team are Elke Janssens and Philippine De Wolf, who was appointed local partner in 2017.

Independent Belgian firm Simont Braun’s ‘very responsive’ and ‘flexible’ corporate team excels in transactional, advisory and contentious matters. The team has seen significant growth, with recent hires at associate and senior associate levels. It is particularly active in the real estate and hotels sectors, though its client base stretches beyond these. Sandrine Hirsch heads the team, which also includes Steven Callens and Axel Maeterlinck.

Van Bael & Bellisstrikes the right balance in terms of safeguarding the client’s interests while also allowing a transaction to progress at a reasonable pace’. The team provides ‘very high quality assistance’ to its clients, which include domestic and international companies across the transportation, private equity, manufacturing and retail sectors. Practice head and ‘very good professionalMichel Bonne is ‘adept at explaining the nuances of the Belgian M&A market to an international buyer’.

White & Case LLP concentrates on high-end, high-value and cross-border M&A, where it has a global reputation. In one recent example, the team advised the shareholders of Ogeda on its sale to Japanese pharmaceutical company Astellas Pharma. Corporate law specialist Muriel Alhadeff was promoted to partner. Practice head Thierry Bosly and associate Camille Deveseleer are also recommended.

At Ambos NBGO Advocaten, the corporate team is ‘professional, dynamic and loyal’. Its clients include domestic and international companies and it is also active in advising start-up businesses. Caroline Wildemeersch has ‘in-depth knowledge combined with a strong business mind-set’; Christina Trappeniers and Alexis Goeminne are other key names.

Astrea provides a ‘speedy and professional service’ to its clients, which include companies in the automotive, technology, venture capital and real estate sectors. Steven De Schrijver and Frédéric Verspreeuwen co-head the corporate team and are recommended.

Bird & Bird excels in corporate transactions in its sector focus areas of TMT, life sciences and financial services, and also provides corporate and competition advice to international trade and lobbying organisations and international research institutions. Paul Hermant leads the team.

Cresco Advocaten is a popular choice for start-ups, where it advises entrepreneurs, growth companies and investors on a range of corporate activities. The ‘extremely knowledgeableDavid Dessers and Pieter Capiau are ‘highly regarded and experienced’.

A very strong global firm with an energetic, versatile and client-focused Brussels team’, Dechert LLP leverages the excellent reputation of practice head Eric Deltour, whose experience in complex and cross-border transactions makes him an ‘invaluable asset’. Senior associates Geoffroy Fink and Ysabelle Vuillard are other names to note.

From its offices in Brussels and Antwerp, Laurius advises well-established and growing companies and investors on corporate and private equity transactions. The ‘very devoted’ team ‘sticks to its promises’ and ‘goes the extra mile’. Dirk Wellens, David Ryckaert, Stefaan Wauman and Karen Vermaere are all recommended.

Quinzprovides an excellent quality of services at relatively low rates’, and fields a ‘strong team, from partner to associate’. It handles a range of corporate and private equity transactions and is also highly regarded for corporate and commercial litigation. Bart Lintermans and Klaas Thibaut are key contacts.

Squire Patton Boggs has developed significantly since the arrival of Bart Vanderstraete from Clifford Chance in August 2016. In a recent highlight, the team advised Animalcare Group on its acquisition of Ecuphar, a Belgian company with operations in several European jurisdictions.

The ‘smart, competent and no-nonsense’ lawyers at Strelia have a strong focus on M&A. Key names include Olivier Clevenbergh, Laurent Verhavert and Gisèle Rosselle, who is ‘hands-on and very professional’.

Van Olmen & Wynant has a broad corporate transactional practice; it continued to work with its longstanding clients – which include mid-sized companies, family businesses, investors and start-ups – and also picked up several client wins in 2017. Luc Wynant and Alexei Loubkine are recommended.

Boutique firm Argo Law is active in corporate, private equity and capital markets transactions. Nico Goossens and Bert Van Ingelghem are recommended.

Ashurst LLP is ‘good at listening to the client’s needs’ and provides ‘spot-on advice’. The highly regarded David Du Pont leads the team, which is particularly proficient in the private equity and not-for-profit sectors. Senior associate Jörg Heirman joined from Eubelius.

Cadanz is ‘ideal for M&A for small and medium-sized enterprises’. The ‘clear, calm and pragmatic’ Dirk Strobbe heads the team; Steven Snaet, Jan Stoop and commercial law specialist Bram Gillis are also key names.

Under the leadership of Bart Bellen and Herlinde Burez, the ‘strong and dedicated team’ at contrast works to ‘very high standards’. It had another busy year in 2017, advising buyers and sellers – including private equity firms – on M&A transactions.

Emmanuel Plasschaert leads the team at Crowell & Moring, which advises domestic and international companies on the corporate, commercial and employment law aspects of transactions in Belgium and the EU.

Curia is well known for its work with non-profits, though companies across various sectors (including financial services, transport and telecoms) also turn to the team for assistance with corporate and commercial transactions. Philip Daenen, Bart Windey and Yvette Verleisdonk are the names to note.

Daldewolfdelivers valuable advice to its clients’ and ‘focuses on what really matters in a deal’. It has a broad corporate and commercial practice, with recent work spanning restructurings, M&A and disputes. Patrick De Wolf, Dominique Bogaert, Fabian Tchékémian and Laurent Haverbeke are noted.

Sector specialisms at HVG advocaten-avocats include healthcare, TMT and energy. The firm handles a range of acquisitions, disposals and commercial transactions. Peter Suykens is a key contact.

Recommended to anyone who is serious about starting, acquiring or selling a business’, intui was established in 2013 and stands out for its ‘precise and accurate work’. Anneleen Steeno, Robbie Tas, counsel Caroline Hotterbeekx and senior associate Kim Van Herck are the names to note.

K&L Gates GP handles corporate transactions and litigation and ‘stands out for the appropriateness of its advice provided under challenging time constraints’. Patrice Corbiau and Jeroen Smets jointly head the team, of which Fatiha El-Boubsi is a key member.

The ‘knowledgeable and pragmatic’ team at Koan Law Firm is noted for its ‘can-do approach’. Jan Decorte and Pierre Willemart advised TMC International on a shareholders agreement and phantom share incentive plans for personnel in numerous jurisdictions. Antoine Druetz is also noted.

Well versed’ in corporate and M&A, McGuireWoods LLP is particularly highlighted for its ‘deep expertise in commercial and corporate laws in Africa’. Among the team’s sector specialisms are mining and private equity. Timothy Speelman is praised for his ‘natural leadership’, as is Hubert André-Dumont for his ‘tremendous experience’.

At Olislaegers & De Creus, the four-partner team’s recent work spans acquisitions, mergers and restructurings. Name partner Michael Olislaegers and Kristof De Creus are key contacts.

Osborne Clarke’s team is praised for its ‘responsiveness, knowledge and quality of advice’. Corporate and M&A head David Haex and counsel Hadrien Chef advised a leading international recruitment agency on an investment in a Belgian company. Stefan Deswert leads the commercial practice.

Professional and service-minded’ firm Quorum demonstrates ‘good business acumen and industry knowledge’. The corporate and M&A team handles transactions in a diverse range of sectors. Davy Gorsele and senior associate Ine Jordens are recommended.

Racine advises on corporate transactions and commercial agreements and receives praise for its ‘flexibility, business acumen, timing and openness’. Counsel Stijn Claeys ‘applies his profound legal technical knowledge to real business situations’. Anthony Van der Hauwaert and Stijn Vanschoubroek are also highly rated.

Recent work at Rulkin and Partners includes its advice to BE Networks on a distribution agreement with a company in Serbia, and its assistance to an e-commerce company with the sale of certain assets. Founding partners Guy Rulkin and Adrien Hanoteau are noted.

Very creative’ firm Verhaegen Walravens has a strong focus on M&A and corporate and commercial law. Jacques Verhaegen advised Four Leaf Investment and EHC Investment on the sale of a Belgian and French hotel portfolio. Paula Martins Costa is recommended.

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