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France > Banking and finance > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Banking and finance
  2. Other recommended firms
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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With about 50 lawyers involved, Allen & Overy LLP has one of the largest banking and finance teams in France which provides a full breadth of expertise. The practice is particularly recommended for loan facilities, property or other asset finance, and leveraged buyout (LBO) finance. Clients include French and large global commercial banks, as well as export credit agencies (ECAs) and private equity firms. Highlights included assisting the senior lenders with a first lien financing of the acquisition of Cooper by Charterhouse, as well as advising Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Société Générale on the financing of Blackstone’s acquisition of two property portfolios. Adrian Mellor heads the team, in which Rod Cork, Carine Chassol, Jean-Christophe David and Julien Roux are key contributors.

The ‘quick and responsive’ team at Clifford Chance provides comprehensive expertise across all types of products, including those with a capital markets element. The practice is one of the market’s largest, with some 50 lawyers involved, and notably advises lenders and borrowers with the financing of large LBOs and projects. It assisted PAI with B&B’s acquisition financing, acted for Natixis and the other lenders to Ardian’s consortium on the financing of its bid for Airport Nice Côte d’Azur. Key figures in the team include: Thierry Arachtingi, Daniel Zerbib and Benjamin de Blegiers, who is ‘a real dealmaker who shows perfect understanding of borrowers’ needs’.

Best in class’, Gide Loyrette Nouel A.A.R.P.I. has ‘in-depth knowledge and ability to react quickly on any competitive bid or process’ in property finance. The practice advises banks on the market’s largest transactions and assisted BNP Paribas and CACIB with the €410m financing of the acquisition of Tour First in La Défense. Rémi Tabbagh ranks among the market’s top advisers in the sector, along with the ‘extremely well-knownKamel Ben Salah. The 57-lawyer practice has a broad range of other expertise, advising lenders, corporations and sponsors on acquisition finance, asset finance and project funding. Other highlights included assisting the senior lenders with the financing of Partners Group’s buyout of Foncia, as well as acting for FNAC on financing the acquisition of Darty. Eric Cartier-Millon is a leading figure. Also recommended are counsel Thomas Binet and recently promoted partner Laetitia Lemercier.

Latham & Watkins advises leading French and international banks or private equity funds on most of the market’s largest LBO finance transactions. Highlights included assisting Partners Group with the financing of its €1.8bn acquisition of Foncia, as well as acting for J.P. Morgan on the financing of Ephios Bondco’s acquisition of Labco. BNP Paribas, CACIB, Goldman Sachs and Air Liquide are also clients. The team notably includes Xavier Farde, Lionel Dechmann, Michel Houdayer and counsel Etienne Gentil.

Linklaters has leading LBO finance expertise, where it is entrusted by leading banks and sponsors. The practice has a broad spectrum, which also covers property, corporate and project financings. BNP Paribas, ING, Société Générale, JP Morgan, CACIB and Goldman Sachs are clients. Bertrand Andriani heads the practice, in which Cyril Abtan, Kathryn Merryfield and counsel Rhéa Christophilopoulos are also key contacts.

White & Case LLP’s team is made up of ‘highly technical professionals who have deep market knowledge and experience and are very responsive and available’. Most often advising banks, the 16-lawyer team is particularly excellent in LBO and acquisition finance, and ‘probably has the best experience in the French market for post-IPO transactions’. It also handles some major asset finance work. Highlights included acting for the mandated lead arrangers on a €1.35bn senior financing for FNAC in connection with the acquisition of Darty. Practice head Raphaël Richard is ‘remarkable’. Denise Diallo has ‘great technical skills in various types of products’. Samir Berlat is also recommended.

Ashurst LLP’s team is ‘always dynamic, responsive and up to the task’. Lawyers ‘are creative and tenacious when a hard line is required’. The firm advises lenders and private equity sponsors and is especially strong in LBO finance. It recently assisted Astorg Partners with funding the acquisition of SGG and acted for Charterhouse on the financing of the buyout of Cooper. The practice also advises on corporate lending and has a strong property finance team, whose ‘commercial awareness is exemplary’. Laurent Mabilat is a top name along with property finance expert Hassan Javanshir, who is ‘incredibly thorough and personable, and proposes workable solutions when the situation appears intractable’. Stéphanie Vannier Corbière is ‘very technically gifted and a good negotiator’.

De Pardieu Brocas Maffei excels in property finance transactions, where it advises investors and lenders. The practice acted for ING and Natixis on the financing of the Celsius portfolio acquisition and assisted Blackstone with financing the acquisition of GE’s real estate assets. Corporate and acquisition finance are other areas of expertise. Emmanuel Fatôme and Guillaume Rossignol are highly rated, as is the ‘iconicPierre Gebarowski, who ‘brings very strong technicality, ability to find practicable solutions and very reliable timing for complex financings’. Corentin Coatalem, Christophe Gaillard and Yannick Le Gall are also recommended, as is regulatory expert Olivier Hubert.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP provides ‘a very good level of service, reflecting in-depth knowledge of the banking and finance sector’. The team shows ‘high technical skills’ and ‘an approach to any issue that is always solution-oriented with a clear understanding of the risks’. The practice assists many leading French and international banks, as well as borrowers, with the negotiation of large credit facilities, acquisition finance deals and projects. Highlights included assisting Danone with financing the $13bn acquisition of Whitewave Foods and representing Safran during negotiation of a €2.5bn credit facility. EMEA practice head Régis Oréal is ‘a responsive lawyer, with a strong ability to identify key risks and propose relevant solutions’. Also recommended are Eric Fiszelson, the ‘extremely good’ Louis de Longeaux, and recently promoted partner Laure Bonin, who is ‘very determined, has great negotiation skills and is technically very on point’.

Efficient and responsive’, the team at Norton Rose Fulbright has ‘good expertise’ and assists leading French and international banks such as BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole and HSBC. The practice is one of the best for aviation and shipping asset finance. It also excels in project finance and also routinely handles general banking and regulatory work. It recently assisted Société Générale with a $150m revolving credit facility made available to Socar Trading. Christine Ezcutari heads the practice. Other key names include George Paterson, Marc Hamilton, Anne Lapierre, Janet Butterworth, of counsel Jean-Norbert Pontier and associate Alexandre Roth, who is ‘always available and business-minded’.

Orrick Rambaud Martel strongly boosted its capabilities by hiring a team from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, which included new practice head Hervé Touraine, Emmanuel Ringeval and Olivier Bernard. The firm now has more than 20 lawyers in the practice to advise sponsors and banks on a wide range of needs. Highlights included assisting Natixis with a €124m pan-European facility refinancing of a portfolio of 14 logistics properties and advising the lenders on the financing of the Ports of Calais and Boulogne-sur-Mer. Also recommended are: Hervé Kensicher, Amaury de Feydeau, Jean-Jacques Essombè and Arnauld Achard. Diane de Moüy joined Holman Fenwick Willan France LLP.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP advises on the financing of the largest LBO transactions, often alongside sponsors. The team notably assisted TowerBrook with a €410m facility for the acquisition of InfoPro. James Clarke and practice head Olivier Jauffret are recommended.

Baker & McKenzie SCP is praised for its ‘quality of work, turnaround time and business approach to transactions’. The 13-lawyer team is a top choice for complex trade, commodity and loan financings in emerging markets, including ECA-backed transactions. It notably assisted Commerzbank and 34 international banks with a dual-tranche loan facility of €406m and $458m made available to African Export-Import Bank. BNP Paribas and Société Générale are clients. Practice head Michael Foundethakis is ‘brilliant, always on call when needed and always ensures that strict timelines are respected’.

Bredin Prat has ‘great experience on the borrower side and in corporate lending transactions’. The ‘intellectually flexible and responsive’ team advises many leading corporations as well as some investment funds with the negotiation of large corporate facilities and acquisition finance. It recently assisted Korian with obtaining a €1.3bn credit facility and advised Rothschild & Co on a €110m facility in connection with its acquisition of Banque Martin Maurel. The practice is led by Raphaële Courtier, Samuel Pariente, and the ‘very experiencedKarine Sultan, who is ‘a good guide in determining an acceptable position for all parties to a transaction’.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP is retained by leading French corporations to advise on the negotiation of large credit facilities. The practice assisted Edenred with four Schuldschein loan agreements and also represented Qualium Investissement and Poult with the financing of the acquisition of Banketgroep. Valérie Lemaitre and Fabrice Baumgartner are the key contacts; Amélie Champsaur advises on regulatory matters.

DLA Piper’s ‘very responsive team provides high-quality advice based on solid industry knowledge and business acumen’. The practice is particularly strong advising lenders, arrangers and borrowers on unitranche and bond financings. It assisted Montefiore with the senior financing of its acquisition of IM Development. Practice head Maud Manon is highly experienced. Erwan Lacheteau advises banks and investors on property finance.

Proactive business partnerDentons provides ‘an excellent level of service’ and has ‘in-depth knowledge of its clients’ industries’. The seven-lawyer team advises lenders and borrowers and has been in high demand for bridge-financing advice. It recently assisted Solucom for the financing of the acquisition of Kurt Salmon’s entities in Europe. Securitisation, factoring and project finance are also dealt with. CACEIS, CACIB and Faurecia are clients. The team is led by Jean-Marc Allix along with Philippe Max, who is praised for his ‘unflinching support and excellent interpersonal skills’, and Pascal Jouannic, who is ‘dedicated to his clients, involved and has good negotiations skills’.

New entrant Goodwin hired a seven-lawyer team from Shearman & Sterling LLP led by the ‘hands on, business-oriented and focused’ Arnaud Fromion. The team has ‘an exceptionally refined knowledge of the LBO market’ and is recommended for complex financing matters. The firm advises leading banks and mezzanine lenders. It acted for Capzanine on the financing of Pixel Holding’s proposed takeover bid for Tessi and assisted Iliad with a €200m credit facility.

Jones Day advises on a broad range of transactions, including asset and project finance, acquisition finance and corporate finance. The practice advised Hayfin and Bank of Ireland on the financing of the acquisition of HRA Pharma by Astorg Partners and Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking Division. Frédéric Gros heads the department, which is also managing a large toxic loans litigation caseload and recently obtained several major wins. Diane Sénéchal, Sophie Chevallier and of counsel Isabelle Maury are other key names; the ‘technical and efficientPhilippe Goutay, who was recently promoted to partner, handles regulatory work.

Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP is on the panel of many leading banks, including BNP Paribas and Crédit Agricole. The 16-lawyer team provides a whole range of expertise, including acquisition and corporate finance, as well as asset and project finance know-how. The firm recently assisted Société Générale and Crédit Lyonnais with the financing of the acquisition by Jacquet Metal Service of certain steel distribution activities. The practice also acts for some borrowers and notably advised HNA on a €1.5bn debt finance fundraising in conjunction with its acquisition of Swissport. Richard Jadot heads the practice, which includes the recommended Sabine Bironneau-Loy, Olivier Fille-Lambie, Michel Quéré and Alexander Premont, who combines French and UK law expertise, are the key names. Richard Jadot joined Holman Fenwick Willan in March 2017.

Mayer Brown excels in LBO finance and real estate finance, where it produces ‘an outstanding quality of work – the client feels protected to have the team on its side of the table’. Recent LBO work includes assisting Alpha with financing the acquisition of Feu Vert. The practice also handles structured finance and securitisation work and assisted Bank of America Merrill Lynch with a €145m CMBS securitisation. Jean-Philippe Lambert heads the practice. Matthieu de Varax, François-Régis Gonon and Patrick Teboul are recommended along with ‘skilful negotiator’ Privat Vigand, who ‘always keeps his clients’ interests in mind’.

Watson Farley & Williams LLP ranks among the market’s best firms for asset finance. The practice, which often advises lenders, is particularly strong in the aviation and maritime fields. It assisted CACIB, SACE and the banking syndicate with the financing of cruise ship Seven Seas Explorer. Laurence Martinez-Bellet heads the team, of which Charles Viggers, Guillaume Ansaloni and Alexia Russell are other key members.

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP produces ‘exemplary work’ and ‘protects its clients’ interests while being business-oriented and a dealmaker’. The team is usually retained by sponsors to advise on the negotiation of loan facilities, acquisition finance and project finance. It recently advised Eurazeo on financing the acquisition of Swiss hotel management schools. Amir Jahanguiri and Paul Lombard head the practice. Also recommended is Brice Pommiès, whose ‘high professionalism and mastery of M&A, projects and finance’ make him a great adviser to industrial corporations.

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