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Editorial

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  1. EU, competition and distribution
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Highly regarded for its competition advice at both French and EU levels, Bredin Prat attracts a continous flow of high-profile instructions: in recent highlights, a team around Olivier Billard advised Areva on state aid clearance issues pertaining to its restructuring programme and also continues to assist with merger control aspects of the sale of its subsidiary New NP to EDF. On the contentious front, Robert Saint-Esteben and Marie-Cécile Rameau are representing Unilever and Reckitt Benckiser in their appeal against the FCA’s decision to fine them on the grounds of anticompetitive practices in the home and personal care sector, and Hugues Calvet acted for Orange and its subsidiary in two private damages claims against competitors in the telecoms sector following the FCA’s finding of various abuse of dominant position infractions. Other notable clients include Danone, Europcar and LVMH.

Anne Wachsmann co-heads Linklaters’s antitrust and competition team in Paris and regularly acts for heavyweight clients in the pharmaceutical, transport and manufacturing sectors; recent work saw her advising Groupe PSA on merger clearance aspects of its widely-publicised acquisition of Opel’s core automobile and adjacent banking business from GE. In the energy sector, co-head Pierre Zelenko is advising Engie on two abuse of dominant position allegations filed before the FCA by competitor Direct Energie, while in the pharmaceutical space Sanofi instructed the group to oversee the swap of its animal health business with Boehringer Ingelheim’s consumer health care business. In other recent highlights, a cross-departmental and cross-border team is advising Société Générale on the landmark cartel investigation into the manipulation of EURIBOR and LIBOR by a group of major banks. Co-head Thomas Elkins is another name to note.

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP provides ‘straight-to-the-point and practical advice’ on competition matters. In recent highlights, the group acted for Orange in a range of competition matters related to the extension of its procurement joint venture agreement with Deutsche Telekom, its defence against a complaint filed by competitor Bouygues on the grounds of the client’s roaming agreement with Free Mobile, and its proposed acquisition of Bouygues. Other work included representing Kuehne + Nagel in its appeal against the FCA’s decision to fine on the grounds of cartel behaviour, and the recommended Faustine Viala recently teamed up with the corporate and financial services team to advise Flex-N-Gate on its acquisition of seven Plastic Omnium plants in Europe as part of the latter’s mandatory divestment demanded by the European Commission. Other key clients include L’Oréal and Engie. David Tayar left the firm to join Clifford Chance. European practice head Jacques-Philippe Gunther is also highly regarded.

Allen & Overy LLP’s EU law and competition team members ‘are all dedicated, loyal and business-oriented with excellent expertise in their field’, and practice head Florence Ninane is noted for her ‘deep understanding of French antitrust law and developed network in the field’. The team has developed a particular presence in the financial services, energy and consumer goods sectors, as recently demonstrated by Ninane’s advice to Samsung on allegations of anticompetitive behaviour regarding the distribution of white goods. Procter & Gamble instructed the group to represent it in an FCA investigation into the home and personal care market, and corporate partner Michel Struys – who divides his time between Paris and Brussels – led the advice to Morgan Advanced Materials in connection with a private enforcement litigation matter filed by SNCF in the Paris Commercial Court. Senior associate Agnès Poggi is another key contact.

BDGS Associés’ ‘dedicated’ team, whose ‘technical skills are undeniable’, provides ‘high quality work, both in terms of availability and expertise’. In recent highlights, clients such as Safron, Fnac and Ecofolio instructed the group to advise on merger clearance and regulatory issues, and practice co-heads Maria Trabucchi and Antoine Gosset-Grainville, who ‘immediately identifies the most important stakes in his cases’, assisted Commerce and Distribution Federation with its politically sensitive antitrust enquiry into the French agricultural sector. Another key contact is the recommended and Brussels-based Christina Renner who is working alongside the Paris team to advise BPCE on two separate proceedings pertaining to the application of exemption of exposures to the public sector as per recently implemented regulations. Mathilde Damon is noted for her ‘excellent technical skills and constructive approach’.

Trusted by clients such as Airbus, Valeo, Altice and Total, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP’s competition department ‘has the ability to develop high-level arguments in complex matters’ and ‘masters all procedures in the field’. Antoine Winckler, whom clients recommend for ‘high-profile complex matters’, and of counsel Frédéric de Bure are representing Google in abuse of dominant position proceedings filed by Gibmedia, and François-Charles Laprévote is advising Essilor on its proposed merger with Luxottica. On the European level, Winckler collaborated with the Brussels team to assist Volvo and Renault with their response to the European Commission’s investigation into alleged cartel practices in the truck sector and the group also handled state aid mandates for clients such as JCDecaux. François Brunet joined Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP.

Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier has a reputation as one of the key merger control players in the French and European markets. The team is led by the highly regarded Didier Théophile and recently advised Bouygues, which is a majority shareholder of Alstom, on the merger of Alstom and Siemens’ mobility businesses. In other work, Igor Simic assisted AccorHotels with antitrust aspects of the separation of its HotelInvest business into a standalone entity.

Clients describe De Pardieu Brocas Maffei’s Philippe Guibert and Laure Givry as ‘a great team which provides pragmatic advice’; the duo is supported by Emmanuel Durand, who has strong experience in sports and media law, Barbara Levy, who is the key contact for competition matters related to intellectual property, distribution and business law, and senior associate Pauline Patat. The practice’s recent caseload features a longstanding cross-border litigation on behalf of Booking.com before the Commercial Court of Paris filed by the Ministry of Economy as a result of a French Competition Authority investigation in the online travel agency sector, and Durand’s advice to the Gascogne group regarding its claim for compensation from the EU for excessively lengthy proceedings in the context of the European Commission’s decision to fine Gascogne’s subsidiary for cartel behaviour in 2005. On the merger control front, Guibert is advising Eurosic on its merger with Gecina.

Considered as ‘one of the great competition firms’, Dethomas Peltier Juvigny & Associés recently bolstered its offering with the hire of counsel Ning-Ly Seng from Bredin Prat. In 2017 highlight work, the team handled several high-profile merger clearances, such as Bolloré’s acquisition of Vivendi and Worldline’s takeover of Equens. On the contentious front, the group represented Servier and its subsidiary Biogaran in three high-profile cases pertaining to incomplete declarations during a sectorial investigation, pricing methods for medicine in France, and European proceedings on patent settlements under doctrinal controversies in the US, and Novandie – one of the dairy product manufacturers fined for cartel behaviour – saw its fine reduced through the firm’s successful advice. The names to note are Olivier de Juvigny and ‘rising star’ Thibault Reynault.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP’s competition, trade and regulation department ‘is always readily available and has a great expertise in the field of merger control’; the team frequently handles numerous high-profile matters such as the advice to Volkswagen on criminal, civil and competition regulatory matters arising from its alleged deceptive programming of certain diesel engines. In recent highlights, practice head Jérôme Philippe, who ‘is able to anticipate the main points of contention’, advised EDF on merger clearance aspects of its acquisition of a 75% stake in Areva’s rector business. And SGL Carbon instructed the group to oversee a follow-on damages claim brought against the client and other companies previously found guilty of cartel behaviour in the carbon and graphite products sector by SNCF before the Paris Administrative Court. Senior associate François Gordon ‘has an outstanding knowledge of the commercial stakes involved in every case’ and ‘a very agreeable disposition’.

The competition department at Gide Loyrette Nouel A.A.R.P.I. works closely with its colleagues in Brussels and recently successfully defended Drouot in antitrust litigation proceedings before the FCA against abuse of dominant position and cartel allegations filed by Figaro. In other work, Antoine Choffel and counsel Laura Castex represented Pernod Ricard in an investigation pertaining to its distribution of consumer goods in French overseas territories, and Joëlle Salzmann and Choffel advised SNCF on the FCA inquiry into the French railway freight market following a complaint by a Deutsche Bahn subsidiary. Other key contacts include Dimitri Dimitrov, who is defending Guerbet before the Brazilian competition authority in connection with its 2015 acquisition of Mallinkrodt, and Emmanuel Reille who assisted Ferrero with competition aspects of its acquisition of a branch of United Biscuits. Franck Audran was promoted to counsel.

Jones Day’s team ‘is excellent in terms of professionalism, business knowledge and response times’ and acts for clients such as Orange, Total and the National Rugby League. On the contentious front, the team is representing Deutsche Post before the FCA in a case arising from allegations of exchange of information between leading European post offices, and of counsel Eric Morgan de Rivery, who jointly heads the practice with Eric Barbier de la Serre, is representing Elf Aquitaine and Total in several longstanding cartel cases in the chemical sector. Working closely with its Brussels counterpart, the Paris group also acted for Wabtec in its acquisition of Faiveley Transport and is currently assisting Apax with its acquisition of Vodafone Malta as well as its merger with Melita. Associate Eileen Lagathu is another name to note.

Under the leadership of Louis Vogel and Joseph Vogel, Vogel & Vogel is fully dedicated to competition, distribution and consumer law. Among the group’s recent work highlights feature a number of cartel matters, European Commission investigations and a vertical restrictive practice case in which the team is defending Chevrolet against allegations of failing its contractual obligations as part of a distribution agreement. Also noteworthy is the ongoing state aid case for the Doux group in which a team including non-equity partner Juliette Blouet is seeking damages from the EU, and advising TF1 on the European Commission’s enquiry into geoblocking practices between EU member states as part of its desired move towards a unified market; non-equity partner Fernanda de Abreu was part of the team advising on this matter. Cécile Assémat made partner and Xavier Henry left to found his own practice.

Altana has visibly broadened its economic and competition law offering with the arrival of Marie Hindré from DLA Piper, Frédéric Manin from De Gaulle Fleurance & Associés and counsel Sylvie Grando from DLA Piper. The group’s recent caseload includes advising UGI on competition aspects of its acquisition of Totalgaz, and acting for Eurapharma in its takeover of Sanofi’s Moroccan subsidiary, Maphar. On the contentious side, the firm is acting for Ecocem in its complaint to the European Commission regarding anticompetitive practices set up by cement companies and professional associations; the proceedings are currently in appeal stage. In terms of distribution work, Grando led the advice to Carte Blanche in connection with the renewal of its optician network. Jean-Philippe Thibault co-heads the practice with Hindré and Manin.

Ashurst LLP’s competition and distribution law team provides ‘extremely responsive and effective service’ and a ‘strong sense of business priorities’. Practice head Christophe Lemaire is representing Engie in abuse of dominant position proceedings in the gas electricity sectors before the FCA filed by competitor Direct Energie, and counsel Simon Naudin is assisting him with his advice to SNCF and OUIBUS on the FCA investigation into the coach transport market following a complaint and request by Transdev. On the merger control front, Petit Forestier engaged the group to oversee its takeover of Fraikin. Associate Sarah Chikh is also a key contact and ‘good technician’ Michaël Cousin is experienced in antitrust litigation, state aid and regulatory matters.

Baker McKenzie ‘has acquired a very fine understanding of the antitrust field both at the national and EU levels’ and practice head Léna Sersiron, ‘aside from her outstanding expertise in contentious matters, stands out through her tenacious, dynamic and pragmatic approach’. The team worked alongside the public sector department to assist broadcasting network operator TDF with its appeal against a fine imposed by the FCA on the grounds of abuse of dominant position, and Sersiron is leading the advice to the French Dairy Industry Federation with regards to a European Commission investigation into alleged anticompetitive behaviour as requested by the German Diary Industry Association. Senior associate Thomas Guérin regularly supports Sersiron on the competition front and Alex Dowding is currently defending Univar against a follow-on damages claim related to an FCA decision in favour of the client. Senior associate Romain Travade impresses with ‘considered, objective and rigorous reflections’.

Clifford Chance managed to balance the departure of former practice head Patrick Hubert and three of his associates to Orrick Rambaud Martel with the arrival of the ‘exceptional’ David Tayar, who ‘stands well above the rest of the pack’ and joined from Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP; additionally, Katrin Schallenberg was promoted to the partnership. Along with numerous high-value merger control cases in the pharmaceutical and car rental sectors, the group is representing clients such as Teva, Ingram Micro and Volkswagen in antitrust investigations. Of counsel Michel Petite successfully obtained clearance with remedies in phase two proceedings before the European Commission on behalf of Airbus Safran Launchers with regards to its acquisition of Arianespace and Marie Pacaux is also a key contact.

Dechert LLP’s antitrust and EU competition practice consists of Mélanie Thill-Tayara, whom one client describes as ‘the point of reference for French and EU competition matters, especially in the pharmaceutical sector’, and senior associates Romain Maulin and Marion Provost. The group’s recent caseload includes advising WhiteWave Foods on global competition issues arising from its merger with Danone, and representing Deutsche Bahn in two litigation cases arising from allegations of cartel behaviour. The group has a particular strength in the life sciences space, where household names such as Roche can rely on Thill-Tayara and her associates for day-to-day counsel and specific advice pertaining to anticompetitive behaviour claims and the competition issues arising from the ‘off label’ use of Roche’s drug Avastin.

Franklin’s team is headed by Julie Catala-Marty, who represents clients in highly regulated sectors such as telecoms, energy and natural resources, and financial services, and cooperates closely with the firm’s regulatory and public law departments. In recent highlights, Catala-Marty advised on numerous investigations arising from cartel allegations and ‘gun-jumping’ practices, and assisted a longstanding client in the telecoms sectors with competition issues related to its acquisition of a foreign company and its call centre subsidiaries. The team is also present in the aviation space and recently assisted a French airline operator with the implementation of code-sharing agreements and grouped purchases with a competitor.

Fréget – Tasso de Panafieu’s competition offering is especially strong in contentious proceedings before European and national authorities. Co-founders Olivier Fréget and Charlotte Tasso-de Panafieu represent clients such as Canal+, Direct Energie and Free, and recently acted for a client in its denunciation of an established cartel. In other recent highlights, a client from the hygiene and cosmetics sector, who was previously fined by the FCA, instructed the firm to oversee its challenge to the decision in the Court of Appeals.

Grall & Associés is especially noted for its distribution law work but recently also advised on significant antitrust mandates: notably, Charles-Henri Calla represented Lactalis in an appeal proceeding against the FCA’s decision to fine the country’s top yoghurt producers. The team’s recent caseload also includes merger control mandates including a contested joint venture proposal in the retail sector. Jean-Christophe Grall and Thomas Lamy, who has experience advising clients on dawn raids and regulatory investigations, co-head the department with Calla.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP impresses with ‘great knowledge’, ‘timely advice, client loyalty and great value for money’. On the antitrust front, competition, regulation and trade practice head Sergio Sorinas and senior associate Marie Louvet advised Up group on the FCA investigation into alleged cartel behaviour within the meal vouchers market reported by new entrant Octoplus; and the pair is also advising Crédit Mutuel on FCA proceedings related to alleged anticompetitive practices, as well as on merger control issues arising from a number of acquisitions. The team was also instructed by a European government to advise on state aid matters related to the funding of an infrastructure project.

Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP’s competition and distribution team recently doubled in size with the arrival of François Brunet and associates Céline Verney and Victor Levy from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP. The team, which is jointly headed by Brunet and Eric Paroche, acted for telecoms player Altice in a gun-jumping investigation by the European Commission, and successfully obtained the termination of a European cartel investigation on behalf of Faurecia. On the transactional front, Paroche led the advice to HNA and its subsidiary Gategroup with regards to its acquisition of Servair; he was supported by senior associate Jean-Sébastien Duprey, who also assisted Pertamina with competition aspects of its €1.3bn public offer over oil company Maurel & Prom.

Jeantet has particularly strong contentious capabilities as recently demonstrated by its successful appeal against the FCA’s decision to fine dairy producers on the grounds of anticompetitive practices on behalf of Lactalis. In other work, practice head Loraine Donnedieu de Vabres-Tranié teamed up with Thomas Picot to represent several entities belonging to the Elite group – including Elite Model Management – in FCA proceedings arising from allegations of concerted pricing practices, while Florent Prunet is acting for Fnac in a follow-on damages claim related to a competitor’s alleged anticompetitive behaviour and assisting the National Rugby League with home grown players regulations and salary cap issues arising from a complaint filed before the European Commission by a French club. Latham & Watkins attracts praise for its ‘international capacity, strong teams and relevant experience in a wide array of sectors’. The antitrust and competition offering is headed by ‘excellent team leader’ Frédéric Pradelles, who impresses with ‘great style and open disposition’, and Hugues Vallette Viallard, who splits his time between Paris and Brussels and has strong experience in cartel investigations and merger clearance work. Vania and SCA appointed the group to represent it in an appeal against the FCA’s decision to fine thirteen cosmetics and hygiene companies for cartel behaviour, and Pradelles successfully represented American Airlines in litigation proceedings against online travel agent Viaticum regarding the unauthorised redistribution of its data and the subsequent suspension of data flow. Other noteworthy work highlights include merger clearance work for clients such as Nissan and Accor. Edenred, Dachser and Labeyrie Fine Foods also feature in the group’s client roster.

Orrick Rambaud Martel welcomed the recommended Patrick Hubert and a team including of counsel Marie-Laure Combet and senior associate Malik Idri from Clifford Chance: particularly active in private enforcement and foreign investment deals, the newly established antitrust and competition practice is representing SFR in abuse of dominance proceedings against Orange and in a related private damages claim. Additionally, the group frequently handles merger control and regulatory issues arising from M&A and corporate deals for clients such as Randstad, Europcar and Plastic Omnium. Of counsel Lise Damelet has strong experience in merger clearance and state aid matters, especially related to major corporate restructurings. Of counsel Michel Roseau is another name to note.

The competition and distribution team at Osborne Clarke advises on the full gamut of competition issues and was recently involved in several of the market’s most prominent cartel cases. Alexandre Glatz heads the Paris offering and assisted a major technology company with its selective distribution network and vertical restraints; he also advised several clients on their response to FCA investigations into the e-commerce sector and regarding the use of personal data in the online advertisement space. Clients also instruct the team to oversee merger control mandates.

Viguié Schmidt & Associés’ antitrust and competition practice is comprised of two partners and two associates and recently advised a coach transport company on an abuse of dominance claim filed by Transdev against the SNCF; additionally, Iñaki Saint-Esteben and Virginie Viallard were active in several cartel proceedings, such as the yoghurt cartel and a case involving a number of household personal care product manufacturers such as Johnson & Johnson. Also notable is the group’s merger control work in the financial services, manufacturing and telecoms sectors.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP has a proven track record in advising both buyers and sellers on merger control issues: in recent highlight work, practice head Romain Ferla assisted Elsan with its acquisition of competitor Medipôle Partenaires, and advised Ardian on the sale of its disinfectant business to US competitor Ecolab. Ferla’s team also oversees high-stakes antitrust litigation cases: Axereal instructed the group to represent it in the flour cartel case, and the French Professional Football League saw its abuse of dominant position dispute with Numericable successfully settled.

White & Case LLP’s competition, EU law and economic regulation team kept busy in 2017: counsel Orion Berg advised Eurazeo on merger control issues arising from its acquisition of a portion of Mondelez’s confectionary business portfolio, and senior associate Estelle Jégou was part of the team that successfully defended Hertz in proceedings filed by the FCA on the grounds of alleged anticompetitive practices. In the financial services sector, practice head Yann Utzschneider is advsing Crédit Agricole on an investigation by several antitrust authorities regarding the alleged manipulation of LIBOR and EURIBOR indexes. Mickaël Rivollier was promoted to counsel.

Wilhelm & Associés’s Pascal Wilhelm and newly promoted counsel Emilie Dumur ‘are always available and provide appropriate and operational advice in a time-efficient way’. The competition and antitrust group’s client roster includes household names such as Fnac whom Wilhelm and senior associate Juliette Geneau de Lamarlière recently advised on its acquisition of the Darty group, and Canal+ who instructed the practice to review the remedies accepted by the French competition authority related to the client’s merger with D8 and Direct Star. On the European level, the team is also representing Canal+ in its challenge against the European Commission’s decision pertaining to the cross-border territorial protection granted by cinema studios to TV operators.

The competition and distribution offering at Almain ‘is made up of highly experienced and skilled lawyers with a strong background in the field’. In recent highlights, the group represented Dutch manufacturer Bugaboo in a litigation against its former French distributor with regards to the sudden breaking of established commercial relations, and practice co-head Rita Eid, who ‘stands out through her availability, understanding of commercial stakes and ability to put clients at ease’, advised a new client on the implementation of internal contractual procedures to optimise payment terms for suppliers. The team also recently handled issues arising from selective distribution agreements, cartel investigations and dawn raids, as well as the restructuring of domestic and international distribution networks. Practice co-head Thomas Fleinert-Jensen is ‘particularly good at advising foreign clients on French competition issues’.

Aramis ‘has the advantage of a team that has both the experience of seasoned lawyers and the dynamic of a rather modern firm’. The competition and distribution practice is jointly headed by the ‘highly regarded’ Aurélien Condomines and distribution specialist Mireille Dany and recently handled several high-profile antitrust litigation matters, such as representing XPO Logistics before the Court of Appeal with regards to cartel allegations in the transport industry. In merger clearance work, the group assisted Sodiaal with its application to the Authority for the operation of a joint venture in the agribusiness sector, and advised Gamm Vert, a subsidiary of InVivo, on its proposed acquisition of one hundred retail sites. Other work included assisting Condomines with an investigation by the FCA.

Frédéric Fuchs heads AyacheSalama’s competition and distribution practice and is supported by counsel Sébastien Dominguez who has strong experience in merger control and anticompetitive practice procedures both at the national and European levels. Axéréal, a French agricultural cooperative, instructed the practice to advise on competition aspects of its acquisition of Agri-Négoce, and the team defended modelling agency Dynamite before the FCA in proceedings arising from allegations of anticompetitive practices including price fixing. The firm’s recent caseload also includes assisting clients with distribution agreements and contractual issues. SFR, La Dépêche du Midi and Teleperformance are other notable clients.

At Borrel Avocats, the competition and distribution unit is led by ‘remarkable negotiator’ and ‘very accessible practitioner’ Laurence Borrel-Prat, whose ‘experience, network and precision make her a precious asset in contentious instances’. Her team has a strong focus and strength in the contentious space, where it handles litigation pertaining to cartel, abuse of dominant position and private damages claims at both the national and EU level. Recent highlights include representing Alsace Lait in its appeal against the FCA’s decision to fine major dairy product companies on the grounds of anticompetitive behaviour as well as advising a client on a breach of contract claim.

Cornet Vincent Ségurel’s nine-partner competition and distribution practice is particularly active for domestic and international distributors: Lille-based Thomas Deschryver recently handled issues arising from a sudden breaking off of established commercial relations and oversaw the creation of regulatory databases as part of the expansion of distribution networks abroad. Amélie Poulain in Lille, who is equally experienced in contentious and non-contentious matters, Arthur Pierret in Nantes and commercial litigation specialist Sébastien Harel in Rennes are other names to note.

Coutrelis & Associés recently handled several high-profile litigation such as representing the European Commission in the EURIBOR cartel case; other notable work included contentious matters related to state aid in the aerial freight sector, damages claims and abuse of dominant position allegations. Notably, Nicole Coutrelis successfully represented the European Commission in an antitrust claim against Thales Group. André Coutrelis is another name to note for French and European competition issues.

DLA Piper’s ‘outstanding’ competition offering is headed by Edouard Sarrazin, who sets himself apart by his ‘availability, efficiency, sympathy and expertise’; he is particularly noted for his strength in contentious antitrust matters, but also handles state aid issues and merger clearance work. Ecolab appointed the group to oversee the merger filing in connection with its acquisition of hygienic care company Anios, and the team also advised Worldline on its proposed acquisition of Equens and its subsidiary PaySquare, which created a European payment service provider.

The competition and distribution offering at DS Avocats is headed by a team of four partners including Michel Dubroux ‘who can customise his services to suit the needs of the client’ and newly promoted partner Romain Bourgade. Advising a client roster that spreads across a vast range of industry sectors and includes industry heavyweights such as SNCF, EDF and Eiffage, the team is particularly active in deregulated industries and complements its competition and distribution expertise with strong knowledge in public law. Additionally to various distribution mandates, the team was recently involved in some of the French market’s most significant cartel proceedings and state aid matters. Sandra Dorizon, Xavier Lacaze and of counsel Jean-Louis Lesquins are other names to note.

Emmanuelle van den Broucke leads Dentons’s Paris competition and distribution team and is currently representing a household luxury name in antitrust litigation before the FCA with regards to alleged resale price maintenance practices and internet restrictions, as well as assisting the same client with the review of its selective distribution structure. The team collaborated with its Brussels counterpart to advise a major multinational steel company on a state aid investigation, and is assisting a Canadian company with its master franchise agreements in France. Clients such as General Motors also engaged the group to handle a number of merger control filings pertaining to joint ventures and corporate transactions.

Among Fidal’s recent successes feature the representation of Groupe Gascogne in its claim against the European Union for the use of excessive delay by the General Court during the client’s initial trial, and Rennes-based Nicolas Gransard’s representation of Solvadis before the Paris Court of Appeals with regards to a cartel decision. In Orléans, Pierre de Gouville assisted clients with regulatory compliance programs while the Lille-based Laurent François-Martin guided companies such as MACIF through their merger control filings. Other key names include the Bordeaux-based Philippe Vanni and Brussels partner Frédéric Puel. Adidas, Carrefour and Nespresso are also key clients.

Fieldfisher is ‘a real partner’, who posseses a ‘fighting spirit and rare mastery of regulatory frameworks’. The team is advising the National Chambers of Judicial Auctioneers on compliance with and its response to the implementation of the Macron law which heavily impacts the profession of its members, and guided Autodistribution through the merger control aspects of its acquisition of Doyen Auto. Other work included representing clients in the clothing and retail industry in antitrust litigation arising from allegations of industrial espionage and abuse of dominant position. Franck Veisse heads the firm’s distribution and contracts law department and Anne-Laure-Hélène des Ylouses impresses with ‘judicial precision combined with precious responsiveness’.

Gouache Avocats ‘enjoys an excellent reputation for its expertise in franchise work’ under the leadership of the ‘responsive and pragmatic’ Jean-Baptiste Gouache. While especially capable in the drafting and negotiation of distribution agreements, the group also advises clients on competition law issues including contentious mandates arising from restrictive or parasitic practices. Clients in the infrastructure, retail and food and drink sectors instructed the group to handle issues pertaining to the terms and conditions of online sales, the creation of a multilevel direct sale network and the sudden breaking off of established commercial relationships. Other names to note include taxation specialist Agnès Fernagut and Martine Behar Touchais, who has particular expertise in contentious distribution matters in the food industry.

Noëlle Lenoir and Marco Plankensteiner jointly lead Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP’s EU competition and trade department which advises on issues such as state aid and subsidies, consumer protection and e-commerce, as well as antitrust investigations with a particular strength in the contentious space. On the litigation front, counsel Eric David defended Roullier before the European Commission against damages claims brought by its customers related to the animal feed phosphates cartel. And in terms of counsel work, Lenoir acted for the French Federation of Maritime Pilots in negotiations with the European Commission pertaining to the proposed liberalisation of port services, and Plankensteiner assisted Sunglass Hut, a subsidiary of Luxottica, with its French e-commerce website and direct distribution network of brick and mortar stores.

Lext Avocats is ‘a high quality firm with a very responsive team’ which ‘provides advice expected from the best international firms with the flexibility of a boutique’. The group has a strong track record in handling disputes arising from the abrupt termination of commercial relationships and other issues surrounding distribution contracts. The ‘outstanding’ Sylvain Beaumont, who recently joined from LMBE, is especially noted for the ‘finesse of his analyses’. Anne Bourdu is also a key contact in the Paris office.

Magenta’s client roster includes several well-known names in the telecoms sector where the team has a proven track record in domestic and cross-border antitrust litigation. The names to note are Sylvain Justier, who has significant experience in advising clients on dawn raids, indemnities-based claims and private enforcement cases, and Vincent Jaunet, who has developed a strong expertise in the energy space.

The international team at Mayer Brown ‘is always available and gives fast, operational and appropriate help’. European and French federations in the retail sector appointed the group to advise on the ongoing European e-commerce sectorial investigation, which may have a significant impact on the selective distribution model. The team is also representing Leroy Merlin in a resale price maintenance case before the FCA. In terms of concentration control work, practice head Nathalie Jalabert-Doury assisted Bridgepoint with notification aspects of its merger with a competitor, and in another matter, teamed up with the corporate and intellectual property practices to set up an international joint venture and supply cooperation agreement on behalf of a multinational consortium of national lotteries.

Norton Rose Fulbright’s Marta Giner Asins impresses with ‘strong expertise and availability’ in the antitrust and competition field and has substantial experience representing clients in contentious mandates. Recent highlight work includes defending HSBC in the EURIBOR cartel pertaining to the manipulation of the European benchmark used when pricing bank lending and of counsel Arnaud Sanz is currently working alongside Giner Asins to assist Pfizer with potential competition law issues arising from its commercial policies and an FCA investigation into alleged anticompetitive behaviour. On the non-contentious side, the group advised a major player in the electric power industry on competition aspects of a proposed joint venture, and assisted a household name in the luxury sector with the implementation of its regulatory compliance programme.

Headed by the ‘extremely nice’ Pierre Kirch, Paul Hastings LLP’s ‘responsive’ competition team recently advised a number of household name clients on multijurisdictional merger control matters. Other notable work highlights included challenging a cartel decision by the European Commission on behalf of a major US company, and acting for a UK-based NGO in various state aid and dominant position issues. Also noteworthy is the group’s work in the private equity and telecoms space, where it oversaw numerous filings with European and national competition authorities with regards to joint ventures and acquisitions.

Racine’s competition and distribution department ‘offers on-point services’. Practice head Valérie Ledoux and Bastien Thomas, who ’is highly responsive, meticulous, demanding and technical in the field of merger control’, recently advised French special purpose acquisition company Mediawan on competition aspects of its acquisition of AB Group, and Bruno Néouze represented Perle du Nord and the main endive producers in their appeal against the FCA’s €4m fine for participating in anticompetitive practices. In the energy space, Caisse des Dépôts and Engie engaged the group to oversee their common acquisition of photovoltaic power plants in France. Distribution law expert Frédérique Chaput has substantial experience in setting up networks in the fashion, retail and luxury sectors.

The ‘easy to deal with’ lawyers at Reed Smith have a ‘good understanding of business needs’ and act for clients such as Expedia, Brenntag and Disneyland Paris. The competition team is jointly led by Marc Lévy and Natasha Tardif, who are both ‘very skilled and easy to work with’ and joined the firm after the closure of King & Wood Mallesons’s Paris office. In recent highlights, the group successfully defended Sixt in cartel investigations arising from dawn raids in 2008, and advised food and beverages company Sill on its response to an FCA cartel investigation into several leading yoghurt producers. In a recent distribution matter, Lévy represented a cosmetics company in a dispute with a wholesale retailer regarding the termination of their commercial contracts.

Boutique offering Cabinet Renaudier consists of three partners and five associates entirely dedicated to distribution and competition law. Richard Renaudier, Karine Turbeaux and Muriel Perrier advised Système U on its attempted merger with Aucan, which generated significant issues pertaining to distribution law, and represented Castorama in a widely-publicised litigation case regarding alleged anticompetitive practices pertaining to the opening of its stores on Sundays. Clients also approach the group to oversee the setting-up, restructuring and termination of distribution and franchise networks in France.

Simmons & Simmons LLP’s Ombline Ancelin has a strong track record in the pharmaceutical and life sciences sector and recently initiated three separate proceedings on behalf of Centrale des Opticiens against a network of opticians with regards to anticompetitive practices, breaches of French commercial law and a private damages claim. She also advised Plukon on the merger clearance aspects of its acquisition of DUC, guided clients through FCA investigations and acted for laboratories and pharmaceutical companies in anticompetitive practices claims, including exchange of information and abuse of dominant position.

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  • The new French regulation applying to national insurance contributions for managers and shareholders

    French insurance contributions on executive and shareholder remuneration (pay + dividends) have been substantially increased by the National Insurance Funding for 2013 Act, No. 2012-1404, of 17th December 2012. Until 31st December 2012, all dividends were subject to national insurance contributions on unearned income but henceforth, under Article L136-3 of the National Insurance Code, amended by Act No. 2012-1404, certain dividends   are considered as pay received by executives and shareholders and are therefore subject to the national insurance contributions on pay. The Act also abolished the ceiling on health insurance contributions payable by the self-employed and all this means that businesses must rethink the way that they have been structured until now.
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  • Prime de Partage des Profits

    Le dispositif L’article 1er de la loi de financement rectificative de la Sécurité sociale pour 2011 oblige les sociétés commerciales de 50 salariés et plus, dont les dividendes par part sociale ou par action sont en augmentation par rapport à la moyenne des deux années précédentes, à verser une prime à l’ensemble de leurs salariés
  • BULGARIA MARKET OVERVIEW

    Types of investors The private equity (PE) funds that are active in Bulgaria are not raised or registered in the country. Some Bulgarian PE funds were raised recently, but there are no statistics as to the sources of their funding, their number, the funds that were accumulated, etc.
  • RECENT DEVELOPMENTS REGARDING COMMITMENTS

    THE PROCEDURE IS CLARIFIED, BUT MAY COMMITMENTS APPLY WITHOUT LIMIT?
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  • 2012 supplementary budget

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