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Clifford Chance has one of the market’s top public-private partnership (PPP) practices. The firm is involved in major road, rail and other transport projects, advising on issues such as bids or refinancing and handling sensitive litigation. The practice is representing the Ministry of Environment and Energy in dealing with the complex issues challenging the construction of the new Nantes Airport, as well as acting for the Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Foreign Affairs in managing problems relating to the Perpignan-Figueras new high-speed rail project. Vinci, Eiffage and EDF Energies Nouvelles are also clients. David Préat ranks among the best in his field. Counsels Marion Roquette-Pfister and Gauthier Martin are also key figures.

Gide Loyrette Nouel A.A.R.P.I. has ‘excellent knowledge of public law and project finance work’, including ‘contract execution and litigation expertise that is among the best in the market’. The 25-lawyer team runs a comprehensive practice, covering the most high-profile matters concerning PPP, regulatory, privatisation and urban law, as well as advising on some of the largest transport projects in France. Highlights included advising the French State (Agence des Participations de l’Etat) with the transfer of state export guarantees from Coface to Bpifrance, as well as the sale of 60% stakes in Nice and Lyon airports. Vinci and Engie are clients. Thomas Courtel and Bénédicte Mazel show ‘high technical project expertise and ethical sense’. Other key figures include: Michel Guénaire, ‘the available and expertEmmanuel Vital-Durand, Alexandre Gauthier and new hire Philippe Logak (who joined from Thales). Notably, the firm also hired one the market’s most well regarded environment experts in Jean-Nicolas Clément, who joined from UGGC Avocats.

Jones Day is recommended for ‘handling strategic matters that require high-level expertise’, covering projects, litigation and regulatory work. The ‘excellent and responsive’ seven-lawyer team produces ‘high-quality work that shows a high level of conviction and relevance’. It is particularly renowned for its PPP expertise and recently advised sponsor Vinci Autoroutes on the awarding of the A355 motorway. CDC, Orange, RATP and Engie are also clients. The highly experienced Philippe Delelis and Nicolas Brice lead the team.

Linklaters has top regulatory, public procurement, state aid and foreign investment expertise. The five-lawyer team is especially involved in key projects and regulatory disputes in the energy sector for high-profile French, US and UK clients. M&A deals involving major public sector interests are also a great area of expertise. Practice head Paul Lignières is ‘a well-seasoned adviser who ranks among the best in the market for complex matters and PPP’.

Orrick Rambaud Martelmeets the market’s highest standards for project finance and public law work’. ‘Reliable, goal-oriented and business-minded’, the eight-lawyer team is a top player for advisory and contentious work in public contracts and PPP matters. It is involved in high-profile infrastructure and transport projects and recently advised the lenders on renovation of the Luminy Campus in Marseille. Regulatory and energy work are other strong areas of expertise. The practice is jointly led by Jean-Luc Champy and senior counsel Noël Chahid-Nouraï, who ‘always provides highly rigorous advice and fine analysis that respond to clients’ needs’. Yves Lepage is another name to note.

Quick and efficient’, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP is ‘a top firm for high-level public sector contracts and PPP projects’. The five-lawyer team ‘brings real added value to advice when dealing with complex situations’, such as in circumstances linked to contract performance and financing issues. Highlights included advising Atlandes on the refinancing of the A63 toll road and acting for SNCF Mobilités with financing and state aid issues regarding the SEA high-speed rail line awarded to Lisea. Ecomouv’, Transdev, Dalkia and EDF are also clients. Practice head Thierry Laloum is ‘outstanding and a strategic thinker who is very tough in negotiations’. Associate Anne-Laure Barel is another name to note along with European counsel Charles-Antoine Erignac, who recently joined from King & Spalding LLP.

Allen & Overy LLP has strong PPP, infrastructure and regulatory expertise. The firm is involved in several high-profile projects and successfully advised the Vinci Airports-led consortium with the acquisition of the French state’s 60% stake in Lyon Airport. The team also advised the lenders to the winning consortium on the Condorcet University PPP. Systra, M6 and Engie are clients. Romaric Lazerges heads the six-lawyer practice, which also advises on strategic M&A. After publication, Driss Bererhi joined the firm as a partner, having previously been at Bird & Bird.

Baker & McKenzie SCP’s 12-lawyer team produces ‘exceptional work’, adopting ‘a pragmatic approach’ and showing ‘great understanding of the matters at stake’. The client base includes blue-chip French corporations and state-owned companies, such as EDF, Atos, ADP and La Poste. The practice has leading public contract and regulatory expertise with strong knowledge of the telecoms and transport areas. The group is also dealing with highly sensitive work in the banking sector, is involved in a major construction PPP and recently won a tender award in the defence industry. The practice co-heads are Emmanuel Guillaume, who has ‘a strong knowledge of the telecoms sector and whose advice always goes beyond the pure legal aspects’, and Arnaud Cabanes, who has ‘impressive public law knowledge’. Also recommended is Alexia Robbes, who is ‘always highly involved in matters’, and whose input ‘can unlock complex situations’.

The team at CMS is ‘reliable, responsive and has good knowledge of the public sector actors and entities’. It is highly recommended when dealing with sensitive matters, including public-contract litigation, and is particularly strong in PPP work. The team is involved in various medium to large infrastructure projects and also has strong regulatory, urban law and public tax law expertise, especially in the energy sector. It recently advised the famous La Samaritaine with urban and tax-planning aspects of its renovation. CDC and RATP are also clients. Jean-Luc Tixier is co-head of the practice with the ‘serious and brilliant’ Christophe Barthélemy plus François Tenailleau, who has ‘rigorous public contract analytical skills’. Counsel Céline Cloché-Dubois is another name to note.

Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier has strong expertise in public contracts, litigation and regulatory matters. The practice recently advised on key matters in the rail and telecoms sectors. Names to note are Didier Théophile and practice head Henri Savoie.

The ‘responsiveDentons shows ‘top expertise and professionalism’ in infrastructure projects. The four-lawyer team is involved in many university and transport projects. Ongoing work includes representing the Rhône Alpes-Auvergne transportation agency and the municipality of Lyon with the implementation of an urban toll project, as well as advising the lenders on the Paris-La Santé Prison PPP. The practice also handles strategic regulatory work and sensitive PPP litigation. Bouygues, CDC and Vinci are clients. A market-leading figure, Marc Fornacciari’s ‘interpersonal skills are particularly useful in negotiations’.

Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP has substantial experience in large transport and infrastructure projects. The team is often retained by public authorities, while also advising sponsors. It is currently involved in several of France’s largest road and rail projects, such as assisting the French Ministry of Ecology with the A45 motorway project. AccorHotels Arena, SNCF-Réseau and Implenia are also clients. Practice head Bruno Cantier and Ludovic Babin are highly experienced.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP has strong regulatory expertise and often handles strategic matters, notably in the transport and energy sectors. Its growing infrastructure work included representing SNCF Réseau, ADP and CDC in the CDG Express rail project. Other work included advising consortium member CDC on the acquisition of Lyon Airport, one of numerous M&A-related mandates. Practice head Frédéric Salat-Baroux and counsel Marc Lordonnois are names to note.

Adamas has one of the market’s largest teams, which regularly acts for major public sector entities and companies. The transport sector is a key focus and urban law, public contracts and regulatory advice are areas of expertise. Romain Granjon, Philippe Nugue, Jean-Marc Petit, Gilles Le Chatelier, Laurent Sery are all very experienced.

Bird & Bird assists public sector entities and sponsors regarding PPP projects and related litigation issues. Recent work includes advising Voies Navigables de France regarding the termination and award of three port concessions in Alsace, as well as representing Aéroport Nice-Côte d’Azur in disputes over a terminated concession contract. Sophie Pignon-Xardel leads the practice, which includes two notable finance experts: counsel Sophie Nicolas, who is a notable finance expert. After publication, Driss Bererhi joined Allen & Overy LLP as a partner.

Boivin & Associés’ ‘always available and responsive’ team gives ‘precise and comprehensive advice’; it provides ‘a strategic vision for the long run’ and ‘analysis that shows perfect technical knowledge. The firm is particularly renowned for its environmental law expertise, with additional strength in public contracts, urban law and litigation. It advises leading private companies as well as some public sector entities, with notable recent mandates including assisting a major engineering group in dealing with the environmental and urban law aspects of the Route du Littoral construction project. Jean-Pierre Boivin, Manuel Pennaforte, Malik Memlouk, Frédéric Defradas and Steve Hercé are the key figures.

Bredin Prat has strong regulatory expertise and expertly handles strategic M&A involving the public sector. The practice advised Agence Française de Développement on a strategic partnership with CDC. The three-lawyer team is also representing Uber in challenging French legislation in court. Practice head Yann Aguila is ‘highly experienced and talented’.

DS Avocats has leading urban law expertise, where it is involved in some of France’s most significant projects, often on behalf of public sector entities. The firm also deals with public contracts and recently assisted Auvergne Numérique with a major high-fibre infrastructure project. The practice is led by Daniel Chausse, Frédéric Lévy, Monique Ambal, Frédérique Olivier, Isabelle Carton de Grammon, Laura Ceccarelli-Le Guen, David Guillot and Michaël Moussault.

Headed by the ‘very goodChristine Le Bihan-Graf, De Pardieu Brocas Maffei’s five-lawyer team has strong regulatory expertise, especially in the energy sector, covering issues such as privatisation and state aid law in the context of M&A. It is assisting Areva NP with its sale to EDF. The firm also handles PPP work.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP provides strategic regulatory advice in the context of high-profile M&A and privatisation projects. Pascal Cuche heads the five-lawyer practice, which is notably advising on high-end projects in the energy, infrastructure and property sectors. Highlights included assisting CDC with the creation of a public real estate company as well as in the privatisation of Icade. Other work included advising EDF on the acquisition of Areva NP. Engie, Ardian and 3i Infrastructures are also clients. Counsel Geoffrey Levesque is ‘a very good negotiator who is calm and always tries to find a commercial solution’.

Gibson Dunn is recognised for its strong expertise in regulated sectors, such as transport, energy and insurance. Headed by the highly experienced Nicolas Baverez, the four-lawyer team is retained to handle complex and challenging regulatory issues. SCOR, SNCF and Vinci are clients. Of counsels Nicolas Autet and Maïwenn Beas are other names to note.

Goutal Alibert & Associés produces ‘high-quality work’, combining ‘great listening skills’ with ‘efficient and practical advice’. The large team can provide a complete range of expertise and advises many public sector entities, including several prestigious cultural institutions. It is involved in several top matters, such as assisting Monaco state with its ambitious sea extension project and represented the city of Toulouse in the high-profile AZF case (relating to a chemicals factory explosion in Toulouse in 2001). Florence Alibert and Yvon Goutal head the practice, in which Aurélie Aveline, Sophie Banel, Cyril Coupé and Violaine Euriat have been particularly involved in top matters. Eve-Line Bernardi was promoted partner, and Samuel Dyens recently joined the firm.

Gowling WLG.France.AARPI has strong PPP expertise, advising sponsors and public law entities on major road, telecoms and school projects. It is notably assisting Altitude Infrastructure with a €500m high-fibre PPP project in the Alsace Region. Bouygues Construction, CDC and Eiffage Concession are also clients. Jérôme Pentecoste and Emmanuel Paillard head the practice.

Latournerie Wolfrom & Associés combines ‘valuable advice, great listening skills and high responsiveness’. The team assists private operators and many public sector entities, excelling in public contracts; it is also involved in several significant port and university projects. Telecoms is a key area for the practice, which has been assisting the Alsace Champagne-Ardenne Lorraine region with a major high-speed fibre network project. Free Mobile is another client. The practice is led by Jean Latournerie, Laurent de la Brosse and the ‘precise’ Térence Cabot, as well as Marion Delaigue, who joined from Earth Avocats. Finance expert Eric Charvillat is ‘available and competent’.

Schmitt Avocats is ‘user-friendly and achieves great results’; it ‘always tries to find a solution to the issues raised’. The ‘responsive and competent’ eight-lawyer boutique mainly represents private sector clients. It has strong experience in public contracts and litigation, as well as ‘in-depth urban law expertise’. Recent work includes key matters involving sensitive disputes in the transport, defence and energy sectors. Bayer Healthcare, Citelum and Foncière des Régions are clients. The practice is led by: Olivier Schmitt, who has ‘encyclopaedic knowledge of public law and is always client-oriented’; Emmanuel Bachelier, who is ‘very efficient in urban law’; Elias Berkani, who provides ‘very reliable analysis’; Romain Douineau; and the ‘very responsive and reliable’ Antoine Tabouis.

With some 67 lawyers, Seban & Associés has the market’s largest team entirely dedicated to serving public sector entities; the practice notably advises on public contract and urban law issues. It is assisting Société du Grand Paris with the urban law aspects of the construction of new transport lines, as well as representing several cities and departments with the creation of high-speed fibre networks. The practice is led by: Didier Seban, My-Kim Yang-Paya, Marie-Hélène Pachen-Lefèvre, Thomas Rouveyran, Guillaume Gauch, Jean-Louis Vasseur, Matthieu Hénon, Claire-Marie Dubois-Spaenlé, Lorène Carrère, Marie-Céline Pelé and Alexandre Vandepoorter. Cécile Fontaine joined Fidal.

UGGC Avocats shows ‘high availability and is always there during emergencies’. The 12-lawyer team is also able to demonstrate ‘high-level expertise when dealing with innovative projects’; it has a broad range of skills, including ‘excellent urban law and local public entity law’, and has ‘great knowledge of the rail and telecoms sectors’. The team assists public and private sector clients. The highly regarded Thierry Dal Farra, Franck Lepron and the ‘excellent’ Philippe Hansen are key figures.

White & Case LLP is recognised for its PPP expertise. Advising sponsors or lenders, the practice recently advised on a number of high-profile road and transport tender offers. It assisted Vinci with the A45 motorway project and advised the lenders to Vinci regarding the A355 motorway project. Jacques Bouillon heads the practice. Jean-Paul Tran Thiet left to establish JPTT & Partners.

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