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Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Mergers and acquisitions
  2. Other recommended firms
  3. Leading individuals

Leading individuals

  1. 1

The ‘incredibleBredin Prat is ‘always there when there is a high-profile deal’. The ‘highly stable’ 50-lawyer practice is especially recommended for handling complex and public M&A transactions in France and overseas. Recent highlights include advising Lafarge’s main shareholder Bruxelles Lambert on Lafarge’s merger with Holcim and acting for Klépierre in its friendly takeover bid for Corio. Other clients include General Electric, Peugeot and Carrefour. Didier Martin, Patrick Dziewolski, Sébastien Prat rank among France’s best corporate advisers, as do Olivier Assant and the ‘particularly talentedBenjamin Kanovitch, who ‘combines perfect technical skills and business acumen with added value advice on complex situations’. Alexander Blackburn, Sophie Cornette de Saint Cyr, Barthélémy Courteault, José Maria Perez, Matthieu Pouchepadass and Kate Romain recently played key roles in deals. Florence Haas was promoted to partner.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP stands out for its superb public and private M&A practice. The firm is retained by leading French and international groups to advise them on the most strategic French and cross-border transactions. Recent highlights include advising Lavazza on the acquisition of Carte Noire, and acting for Lafarge on the €6.5bn sale of certain assets to CRH. Pierre-Yves Chabert is widely regarded as one of France’s top corporate lawyers. Busy practitioners Jean-Marie Ambrosi, Valérie Lemaitre, Amélie Champsaur and Charles Masson are also recommended.

Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier is routinely retained to play a strategic role in complex, large and public M&A transactions involving leading French corporations in France and also handles some deals overseas. The 27-lawyer team has an impressive track record and performed extremely well in 2015. Recent highlights include assisting XPO Logistics with its €3.2bn acquisition of Norbert Dentressangle and acting for Holcim on the renegotiation of its 2014 merger with Lafarge. Other clients include Casino, Colony Capital, Vivendi, Publicis and Bouygues. The team includes some of the market’s most highly regarded advisers in Jean-Michel Darrois, Alain Maillot, Emmanuel Brochier, Bertrand Cardi and Marcus Billam, who re-joined the firm from Allen & Overy LLP in March 2015. Pierre Casanova, Ben Burman, Hugo Diener, Olivier Huyghues Despointes and Christophe Vinsonneau are also recommended. Jean-Baptiste de Martigny became partner in 2016.

Allen & Overy LLP is regularly entrusted to advise leading French and international corporations on large transactions in France and overseas. Recent highlights include assisting Vivendi with the €7.4bn sale of its Brazilian subsidiary GVT and advising Airbus on its €1.6bn sale of a 17.5% stake in Dassault Aviation. CDC and Unibail Rodamco are also clients. Frédéric Moreau heads the practice, which also notably includes Alexandre Ancel, Marc Castagnède, Frédéric Jungels and Jean-Claude Rivalland. Marcus Billam joined Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier.

BDGS Associés is a strong firm for conducting complex deals featuring the French state or privatisation issues. Recent highlights include advising Safran on Airbus Safran Launchers’ purchase of a 33% stake in Arianespace and acting for Société d’Édition de Canal Plus in regard to Vivendi’s public tender offer for its capital. Clients include state-owned companies, the French state and leading French groups, among them SNCF, La Banque Postale, Crédit Agricole Assurances, BPCE and Bpifrance. Antoine Bonnasse, Youssef Djehane, Jean-Emmanuel Skovron and Marc Loy are among the most experienced partners in the market. Max Baird-Smith and Thomas Meli are also recommended.

Clifford Chance’s ‘high-level lawyers’ are ‘very expert, responsive and easy to work with’; the 40-lawyer team provides an ‘outstanding service’. It is especially recommended for handling ‘complex M&A transactions in France and abroad’ and has particular expertise in the defence, healthcare, banking and energy areas. Recent work includes handling many strategic public and private M&A transactions, such as advising Airbus on its joint venture with Safran and assisting Jacobs Douwe Egberts with the sale of Carte Noire. Clients include Société Générale, Rexel and Numericable. Mathieu Remy ‘combines perfect technical legal skills and business acumen with added value advice on complex situations’. Fabrice Cohen, Gilles Lebreton, Thierry Schoen and Laurent Schoenstein are also particularly recommended, and Catherine Astor-Veyres, Aline Cardin, Dessislava Savova and Yves Wehrli are other key figures.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP’s ‘overall level of service is excellent’. The firm is routinely called upon to advise clients on the most strategic transactions in the domestic market, including assisting EDF with its acquisition of Areva NP. The practice also has strong international experience of handling mega transactions and is advising Holcim on its divestment of assets. Other clients include Engie, CDC and Total. Leading corporate lawyer Hervé Pisani heads the 20-lawyer team, in which Alan Mason is ‘very energetic, hands-on and gets things done for the client’, Olivier Rogivue is ‘patient, effective and provides subtle solutions to some very difficult issues’, and Patrick Tardivy has ‘excellent business acumen to match in-depth legal experience’.

Latham & Watkins’ ‘excellent and dedicated professionals’ are supported by the firm’s ‘formidable international platform’. The team regularly attracts instructions on sophisticated public M&A deals involving CAC 40 companies. The practice recently advised Alcatel-Lucent’s board of directors on Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent’s proposed combination. Air France-KLM, JCDecaux and Lagardère are also clients. Key figures in the 38-lawyer team include Patrick Laporte, Pierre-Louis Cléro, Charles-Antoine Guelluy, Alexander Benedetti, François Mary and Olivier du Mottay, who impresses clients with his ‘high technical and negotiating skills, and provides a strategic vision and solutions in difficult situations’.

Linklaters LLP’s 48-lawyer practice regularly assists leading French and international groups such as Air France, GDF Suez, Nestlé and Neoen. The firm successfully advised CGG in its defence against Technip’s unsolicited offer and assisted Peugeot with the sale of its scooter business and joint venture with Mahindra. Fabrice de la Morandière heads the practice. Bruno Derieux, Alain Garnier, Pierre Tourres and Marc Petitier are highly experienced partners.

Orrick Rambaud Martel provides an ‘excellent level of services’, which is ‘at the level of the world’s leading firms’. The firm advises many of France’s largest companies and is regularly involved in high-end transactions. Highlights included assisting Elliott with its €190m investment in Norbert Dentressangle. Other clients include Alstom’s board of directors, Club Mediterranée and Elior. Jean-Pierre Martel is one of France’s leading corporate advisers and Alexis Marraud des Grottes is also highly regarded, being praised for ‘his industry knowledge and skills in transactions involving listed companies’. Practice head Saam Golshani and Etienne Boursican are also recommended.

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP has extensive experience in high-end complex and cross-border M&A transactions. The practice notably advised Alcatel-Lucent on its combination with Nokia and acted for an international consortium on its acquisition of TDF’s business in France. Other clients include Euro Disney, Allianz and Total. Olivier de Vilmorin and senior counsel Patrick Bonvarlet jointly head the practice, in which William Torchiana is a leading name for strategic M&A in the insurance sector.

The ‘highly trustworthyWeil, Gotshal & Manges LLP has a strong track record of advising clients – particularly leading French and US corporations – on strategic M&A and public M&A transactions. Clients include Engie, Casino, Vinci, Sanofi, Total and Safran. The firm recently advised GE on the €2.4bn sale of its European fleet business and acted for Atos in its €620m public tender offer on Bull. Practice head Claude Serra is a leading figure in the market. Arthur de Baudry d’Asson, Yannick Piette and Agathe Soilleux are also recommended.

Baker McKenzie SCP delivers ‘highly professional, accurate and fast’ services. The 46-lawyer team has ‘strong expertise in the retail area’, as well as in the aviation and pharmaceuticals industries. The firm often advises leading French companies on deals overseas, especially in the US, and acts for large US clients regarding their deals in France and Europe. The practice recently advised Indian conglomerate Mahindra & Mahindra on the acquisition of a 51% stake in Peugeot Motocycles. Abbott, Baxter and Veolia are also clients. Practice head Stéphane Davinperfectly answers clients’ needs’ and is ‘always available’. Raphaële François-Poncet, Alyssa Gallot Auberger and Alain Sauty de Chalon are also recommended along with Eric Lasry, who is ‘a great professional, who shows acute strategic sense’, as well as the ‘efficient and rapidLaurent Barbara and Marie-Françoise Bréchignac, who both bring their ‘experience to international corporations’.

A top boutique in France’, Brandford Griffith provides ‘an excellent level of service’. The seven-lawyer team is recommended for ‘highly complex French M&A and capital markets deals’. It handles a limited number of deals but is regularly retained to advise clients on key matters, especially public M&A transactions and complex corporate reorganisations. Founding partner Henri Brandford-Griffith is ‘an all-round business lawyer with an extremely proactive approach, a great network and a very high sense of the business rationales’. Jérôme Brosset is another name to note.

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP advises various large French corporations, such as LVMH, Solvay and Thales, which it assists with complex deals in France or the US. The firm recently assisted Starwood Capital with its €1.3bn sale of Groupe du Louvre. The 13-lawyer team also stands out for its ability to deal with highly sensitive M&A-related litigation issues. The practice is led by the outstanding Georges Terrier, Jacques Naquet-Radiguet and Christophe Perchet. Arnaud Pérès joined Mayer Brown in 2015.

De Pardieu Brocas Maffei regularly handles the most high-profile deals in the insurance, banking and property areas in France, as well as a number internationally. The firm recently assisted CNP Assurances in a very complex deal involving the negotiation a new model of bank-insurance agreements with BPCE. The 30-lawyer team also acts for clients such as Altice Media, Natixis Global Asset Management and Immochan. Thierry Brocas, Patrick Jaïs, Guillaume Touttée and Jean-François Pourdieu lead the practice, in which Thomas Bréart de Boisanger, Cédric Chanas, Nicolas Favre and Eric Muller are also names to note. Frédéric Keller was promoted to partner.

Franklin’s team is ‘very attentive, shows great knowledge’ and is ‘result-oriented’. It is a leading player in the mid-cap market but is highly capable of handling large and cross-border transactions, and regularly acts for private equity funds. Altice is the firm’s flagship client, which the team notably assisted with the €7bn acquisition of Portugal Telecom. The practice is led by ‘great technicianYam Atallah, whose ‘support is highly appreciated during tough negotiations’, and the ‘very skilled and always availableMark Richardson. Céline Maironi-Persin is also recommended along with recently promoted partners Christian Sauer, Kai Völpel and Magali Masson, who is ‘excellent and very responsive’. Co-founder Alexandre Marque left the firm to join Altice as new general counsel in 2015.

Gibson Dunn assists large French and international corporations with their strategic transactions in France and overseas. The firm notably advised Vivendi on the sale of shares in Activision Blizzard and advised Coty on its offer for Bourjois. Other clients include Allianz France and Publicis. Bernard Grinspan, Ariel Harroch, Benoît Fleury, Patrick Ledoux and Jean-Philippe Robé are highly regarded.

Gide Loyrette Nouel A.A.R.P.I.’s large practice provides ‘an excellent level of service’ to large French and international corporations, assisting with their deals in France and overseas, particularly in the banking, insurance, retail and energy sectors. Highlights included representing Solairedirect in the sale of 95% of its share capital to Engie and advising Lactalis on the acquisition of an 80% stake in Turkish dairy Ak Gida. BNP Paribas, Total and Crédit Agricole are also clients. Christophe Eck and Didier Martin are standout names, with the following partners also being recommended: Hugues Scalbert, Guillaume Rougier-Brierre, Nadège Nguyen, Antoine Lelong, Jean-Gabriel Flandrois, Axelle Toulemonde and Antoine Tézenas du Montcel.

Ginestié Magellan Paley-Vincent provides ‘very sound advice and creative solutions’. The 12-lawyer team advises a longstanding client base of famous French family-owned groups, as well as entrepreneurs and start-ups. The practice is able to handle complex deals and also advises on strategic governance issues. Hermès is a client. Practice head Philippe Ginestié is highly recommended. Francois Devedjian and recently promoted partner François Lefort are also names to note.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP provides ‘an outstanding quality of service’. The team, which is ‘good both at the partner and associate levels’, ‘really understands its clients’ businesses and needs’, and brings ‘strong added value work on complex transactions’. The firm recently handled major work in the property, finance and telecoms areas, and is also well suited to manage cross-border transactions. It assisted Omer Telecom with its offer for Virgin Mobile France. Danone, Gecina and Icade are also clients. Practice head Hubert Segain is ‘a good negotiator, technically very capable, who plays a good mediating role in challenging circumstances’. Frédéric Bouvet combines ‘technical skills and a business-oriented approach’, and Edouard Thomas is ‘a rising star and very hard worker who has a sharp legal and business mind’. Frédéric Grillier joined Villey Girard Grolleaud A.A.R.P.I..

Jones Day is retained by many large French corporations, as well as some US and international clients. Recent highlights include assisting Wabtec with its $1.8bn offer for Faiveley Transport and acting for Safran on the creation of the Airbus Safran Launchers joint venture. Alcatel-Lucent, Total and XPO Logistics are also clients, and the firm regularly handles deals in the energy and life sciences sector. Sophie Hagège heads the 35-lawyer practice, which also notably includes Renaud Bonnet, Charles Gavoty, Alexandre de Verdun, Hervé Castelnau and Philippe Li. Since publication, *Hervé Castelnau has moved to *Latournerie Wolfrom & Associés and Philippe Li has moved to Kim & Chang in Seoul.

Lacourte Raquin Tatar combines ‘very high professionalism, efficiency and unmatched responsiveness’. The 12-lawyer team stands out for its in-depth knowledge of regulated sectors, where it routinely handles high-value work. The practice has ‘high-level expertise in the transport sector’ and recently assisted longstanding client SNCF Mobilités in the context of the restructuring of Eurostar. Orange is also a key client. Practice head Serge Tatar is highly regarded. The ‘extremely brilliant’ Renaud Rossa is the other key name in the practice; Nicolas Jüllich and Cyrille Bailly are also names to note.

Paul Hastings LLP’s experienced 20-lawyer team is able to handle highly complex as well as large transactions in France and overseas. It recently assisted Nexter on the signing of a strategic joint venture with Krauss-Maffei Wegmann in the defence industry. Crédit Agricole, Bull, Iliad, PSA Peugeot Citroën and Publicis are also clients. Practice head Guillaume Kellner is ‘highly skilled, easygoing and straightforward, hardworking, and able to handle complex M&A and litigation aspects’. Edith Boucaya, Olivier Deren, Pascal de Moidrey and Aline Poncelet are also highly experienced.

Shearman & Sterling LLP is often involved in large cross-border transactions. The firm advises investment funds and foreign sovereign investment companies such as the Algerian Fonds National d’Investissement. Recent highlights include assisting Jin Jiang with the acquisition of Groupe du Louvre. Société Générale is another key client. Nicolas Bombrun and Guillaume Isautier head the practice, in which of counsel Cyrille Niedzielski is also recommended.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP provides ‘an excellent level of service’. The 16-lawyer team is made up of ‘highly competent and knowledgeable advisers with very good business sense’. The practice is retained by the largest French and international groups, including US and Chinese clients, to managing strategic deals in France, across Europe and in the US. The firm is advising Nokia on its proposed combination with Alcatel-Lucent. Armand Grumberg heads the practice, which also includes Pascal Bine and Olivier Diaz, who shows ‘perfect mastery of deals, especially in an international environment’; all three are leading figures in the market.

White & Case LLP’s ‘very good, technical and proactive practice’ has ‘very long experience’ in large cross-border deals on behalf of leading French and international companies and investment funds. The practice is assisting Arval with the signing of an agreement with GE Capital to potentially acquire its European fleet management activity. Other clients include Bpifrance, Natixis and Publicis. Practice head Hugues Mathez is ‘highly available’, ‘understands corporations very well’ and has ‘perfect technical skills’. Vincent Morin, François Leloup, Franck De Vita, Nathalie Nègre-Eveillard and Guillaume Vallat are also recommended.

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP acts for some large French corporations, as well as private equity funds and international groups. The team recently represented Arkema in its €1.74bn acquisition of Bostik. Other clients include Elior, Airbus, Technip, Swissport and CMA CGM. Key figures in the team include Eduardo Fernandez, Daniel Hurstel and Annette Péron. Cédric Hajage, Grégoire Finance and Brice Pommiès are other names to note.

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Legal Developments in France for Mergers and acquisitions

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    - EMMANUEL JACQUES Avocats – Law Firm

Legal Developments in France

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to
  • 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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Press Releases worldwide

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