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

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Mergers and acquisitions
  2. Other recommended firms
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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Who Represents Who

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Bredin Prat is ‘outstanding on all fronts’ and the sizeable and ‘responsive’ team is praised for its ‘strong involvement of partners in the transactions’. Its broad sector expertise and wide M&A experience makes the team a popular choice for high-profile transactions. Olivier Assant ‘embodies all the qualities one would hope to see in an M&A lawyer’; Patrick Dziewolski is ‘an excellent negotiator’ and Benjamin Kanovitch is ‘an excellent professional’. Kate Romain, Clémence Fallet and Sébastien Prat, senior partner Didier Martin, Sophie Cornette de Saint Cyr, Barthélémy Courteault and Emmanuel Masset are also key players. Recent work includes advising Delfin on the €47bn merger of Luxottica and Essilor and acting for Iliad on its acquisition of Hutchinson 3G Italy Investments from VimpelCom and CK Hutchinson Holdings. Other highlights include assisting Areva with the sale of Areva NP to EDF, and handling the same client’s global restructuring plan. Other clients include Carrefour and Danone. Adrien Simon made partner.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP has particular strength in cross-border transactions and acts for clients from sectors including banking, manufacturing, luxury retail and technology. Pierre-Yves Chabert is the key name, but Charles Masson and Jean-Marie Ambrosi are also noted. In cooperation with the firm’s Rome office, the team advised Essilor on its merger with Luxottica. General Motors instructed the department to handle the sale of its Vauxhall subsidiary to PSA Group. In another highlight, the group advised Crédit Agricole on a major reorganisation involving a transfer of cooperative investment certificates and cooperative associate certificates issued by various regional banks. Amundi and Safran also trusted the group with high-stakes strategic transactions.

Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier’s team has an excellent reputation for corporate transactions and is regularly involved in headline transactions. It has expertise in domestic and cross-border deals, and has a strong track handling transactions involving public companies but also advises on strategic transactions in the private sector, including acting for family shareholders. Key practitioners include name partner Jean-Michel Darrois, Alain Maillot, Emmanuel Brochier, Bertrand Cardi and Marcus Billam. Pierre Casanova, Benjamin Burman, Hugo Diener, Olivier Huyghues Despointes, Christophe Vinsonneau and of counsel Laurent Gautier are also noteworthy.

The ‘efficient’ team at BDGS Associés handles domestic and cross-border public and private M&A transactions. Antoine Bonnasse, Youssef Djehane, Marc Loy and public sector M&A specialist Jean-Emmanuel Skovron are key names, while Lucile Gaillard and Thomas Meli are also noted. The team handled Safran’s takeover of Zodiac Aerospace and assisted Crédit Agricole with Gecina’s acquisition of Eurosic. Other highlights include advising Crédit Agricole Assurances on its acquisition of a 12.5% stake in French real estate group Icade. Bouygues Telecom, Tikehau Capital and OpenGate Capital are also clients.

Clifford Chance’s team provides ‘excellent advice that is adapted to each individual situation’, and stands out for its partners’ ‘strong involvement in the cases’ and ‘ability to deliver important work in a short time’. The group handles domestic and cross-border transactions, with expertise spanning public and private M&A as well as joint ventures and corporate reorganisations. Fabrice Cohen, the ‘very experienced’ Mathieu Remy, who ‘combines technical expertise and editorial excellence with strong interpersonal skills, which is a major advantage in difficult negotiations’, the ‘intelligent and subtle’ Marianne Pezant, Gilles Lebreton, Thierry Schoen and Laurent Schoenstein are key names and are supported by recently promoted counsel Alexandre Merle. The group advised Europcar on the €1bn acquisition of Goldcar and acted for the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations and CDC Infrastructure on the sale of a 15% stake in Holding d’Infrastructures de Transports. The team also assisted Cerberus Capital Management with the disposal of MCS Group to BC Partners. Other clients include Airbus Group, EDF and L’Oréal.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP provides ‘a very good service level’ thanks to its ‘highly responsible, fast and reliable team’. It advises listed and non-listed companies, in particular in the finance, infrastructure and consumer goods sectors and is regularly involved in strategic transactions. The practice is noted for its ‘seamless cross-border advice’, and is ‘recommended for German-French cross-border transactions’, with additional expertise in international joint ventures. In one example of the team’s expertise in Franco-German transactions, it advised Airbus Defence and Space on the carve-out and subsequent sale of its defence electronics businesses to KKR. Other highlights include advising EDF on the acquisition of a majority stake in French nuclear multinational Areva NP and handling LafargeHolcim’s sale of Lafarge India, as part of the client’s strategic divestment programme. Hervé Pisani, who heads the corporate group, the ‘very engaged and proactive’ Alan Mason, ‘who quickly finds workable solutions in complex circumstances’, ‘smart drafter and negotiator’ Olivier Rogivue and Florent Mazeron are highly regarded. Nicolas Barberis, Yann Gozal and Guy Benda were new arrivals from Ashurst LLP. Solvay and Boehringer Ingelheim are other clients.

The ‘excellent’ Latham & Watkins provides ‘first-class advice’ and fields a strong transactional practice acting for private and public companies on matters ranging from joint ventures to disposals, mergers, acquisitions, and restructurings. In an example of the group’s ability to handle complex matters, it advised FMC Technologies on its €13bn merger with Technip, which involved assisting with EU cross-border merger regime issues. Other highlights include acting for the board of directors of Alcatel-Lucent on its strategic combination with Nokia, and advising Nissan on the acquisition of 34% of the share capital of Mitsubishi. Pomona, the Agence des Participations de l’Etat and Vinci Construction are new clients. Olivier du Mottay, Patrick Laporte and Pierre-Louis Cléro are the key names.

Linklaters’ ‘global presence is very useful for cross-border transactions’, which comprise over half of the Paris team’s busy workload. The group is able to provide a comprehensive M&A offering, from public to private transactions, to joint ventures, and is noted for forging ‘very comprehensive and efficient business relationships spanning across most legal fields’. Clients are largely drawn from the energy, healthcare, financial services and industrial sectors. Bruno Derieux, who has a strong African focus, leads the team which also includes the ‘extremely bright, business-oriented and down-to-earth’ Alain Garnier and Fabrice de la Morandière. Marc Petitier led advice to Engie on the strategic sale of its majority interest in Exploration & Production International. In another high-profile instruction, the team advised L’Oréal on the exclusive negotiations concerning the sale of The Body Shop International to Brazilian cosmetics manufacturer Natura Cosmeticos. Other clients include JCDecaux, Babilou and Eurazeo.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP specialises in advising listed companies on complex corporate transactions, with expertise in friendly and hostile takeovers, mergers and spin-offs as well as joint ventures and acquisitions, among other areas. The team also assists with related securities regulation issues. Practice head Claude Serra, Arthur de Baudry d’Asson, Yannick Piette and Agathe Soilleux are the key names. Recent work includes advising CGG on the corporate and capital markets aspects of its $2.6bn equity and debt restructuring; assisting JCDecaux with the acquisition of a 15.4% cash stake in Eurazeo from Crédit Agricole; and advising Sanofi on the sale of its subsidiary Merial to Boehringer Ingelheim, which was undertaken through an asset swap with a total value of €11.4bn. In another highlight, the team handled Caisse d’Epargne d’Alsace’s merger with Caisse d’Epargne Lorraine Champagne-Ardenne. Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, Orange and Vinci are also clients.

Allen & Overy LLP focuses on transactions in the financial services, energy and infrastructure sectors, with expertise in domestic and cross-border mandates. The team’s strength lies in upper mid-cap work, but, as evident in the work undertaken for Areva on the €3bn transfer of its fuel-cycle business and bond debts to one of its subsidiaries, the group is also active in the large-cap sector. Practice head Frédéric Moreau and Marc Castagnède are the key contacts, while Alexandre Ancel, Romy Richter and Jean-Claude Rivalland are also noted. The group acted for a consortium composed of Vinci Airports, the Caisse des Dépóts et Consignations and Predica on the acquisition of a majority shareholding in Aéroport de Lyon, in a matter that also involved the firm’s public law, IP and real estate departments. Carlyle, Crédit Agricole and Eurazeo are other clients.

The service provided at August Debouzy is ‘outstanding at every level’ and the team is ‘business-oriented and practical, while also having excellent technical expertise’. The group has notable sector strength in aeronautics, defence and energy, but is also active in mandates in the healthcare, IT and consumer credit and telecoms sectors. Name partner Gilles August heads the firm’s corporate practice and M&A specialist Julien Wagmann provides ‘good technical advice’. Pierre Descheemaeker and Julien Aucomte led advice to Covéa Corporations on its takeover bid for Eurosic sur Foncière de Paris. Other clients include Orange, Dassault Aviation and new client Quadran.

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP’s Paris team is mainly active in the upper-mid and large-cap sections of the market and excels in domestic and cross-border transactions; it is a popular choice for US clients. Jacques Naquet-Radiguet, Christophe Perchet and counsel Georges Terrier have considerable expertise in public and private M&A as well as in joint ventures. Recent work includes advising A.P. Moller – Maersk on the disposal of Maersk Oil to Total and assisting Suez with the acquisition of GE Water & Process Technologies from General Electric. The team also handled work for the Genuine Parts Company and Solvay.

At De Pardieu Brocas Maffei, the ‘reliable’ team is ‘client-oriented and proactive’ and provides ‘good response times’. The group acts for listed and non-listed companies on a broad range of matters, from mergers and acquisitions to joint ventures, reorganisations and disposals. Key sectors include financial services, real estate, energy, healthcare and TMT. The ‘pragmatic’ Patrick Jaïs is ‘a versatile and seasoned lawyer’, who is able to build ‘excellent client relationships’. Other key practitioners are Nicolas Favre, Guillaume Touttée, Cédric Chanas and Jean-François Pourdieu. Notable matters include advising Batipart Group as shareholders of Eurosic on Eurosic’s €3.3bn merger with Gecina, and acting for CNP Assurances on their acquisition of a 49.9% stake in Réseau de Transport d’Electricité. Axéréal, BFCM and Areva are also clients. Counsel Maxime Dequesne joined Lamartine Conseil.

Gibson Dunn has particular experience in handling cross-border transactions, but also counts complex domestic deals as a particular strength. Bernard Grinspan, Benoît Fleury, Jean-Philippe Robé and newly-promoted partner Judith Raoul-Bardy are key names for restructuring matters. Ariel Harroch specialises in transactions in regulated industries and Patrick Ledoux is another key contact. The group handled new client Allianz France’s takeover of Foncière de Paris by Eurosic. In another highlight, the team assisted HarperCollins with its acquisition of Hachette Livre’s 50% stake in Harlequin, a joint venture between the two companies. Other work included advising Merck, also a new client, on the early termination of its joint vaccination operation with Sanofi Pasteur in Europe. Other clients include Publicis, Bpifrance and Coty.

The ‘responsive’ ‘true professionals’ at Gide Loyrette Nouel A.A.R.P.I. have a ‘strong knowledge of stock exchange law’. It is particularly noted for handling public M&A transactions; recent highlights in this space include advising on AccorHotels’ €6.6bn restructuring of its property management business line Hotelinvest, and assisting Debiopharm, as a shareholder in Eurosic, with the €3.3bn acquisition of all Eurosic securities by Gecina in the context of the two companies’ friendly merger. The ‘client-oriented’ and ‘constructive’ Antoine Tézenas du Montcel is noted for his ‘very good knowledge of complex transactions’. Didier Martin, Jean-Gabriel Flandrois, Anne Tolila, Christophe Eck, Nadège Nguyen and Guillaume Rougier-Brierre are also noted. Antoine de la Gatinais relocated from the firm’s Shanghai office. Other clients include Naval Group, BNP Paribas and Total. Olivier Diaz was a new arrival in March 2018 from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.

The ‘excellent’ Herbert Smith Freehills LLP provides ‘a high service level’ and ‘effective to-the-point advice’ and is noted for its ‘strength-in-depth’. The firm’s ‘broad network allows for smooth and effective involvement of colleagues in different jurisdictions’ but the team is also active in domestic deals. Practice head Hubert Segain, Edouard Thomas, who ‘combines excellent technical knowledge and pragmatism’, Frédéric Bouvet and newly promoted partner Christopher Theris, who is ‘easy to work with’ and stands out for his ‘managerial capabilities, patience and calm’, are the key names. Highlights included advising UBS France on the acquisition of Banque Leonardo from Italian investment bank Banca Leonardo and acting for Gecina on its proposed public offer for Foncière de Paris. Danone, BNP Paribas and Publicis are also clients.

Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP acts for public and private companies from a range of sectors, including financial services, manufacturing, energy, TMT, life sciences and consumer and retail. The department is particularly strong in cross-border transactions, but also undertakes domestic mandates. Jean-Marc Franceschi, Xavier Doumen and Stéphane Huten are the practice heads; their combined expertise includes corporate governance, securities law and private equity as well as experience in joint ventures, spin-offs and recapitalisations. The team assisted Pertamina with its €1.4bn acquisition of Maurel & Prom, and advised EDF on the sale of its stake in its Hungarian subsidiary EDF Demasz Zrt to EKNSZ. Another highlight was advising HNA Partners on its acquisition of over 49.9% of Servair from Air France. Other clients include Airbus, Honeywell and AXA.

Jones Day specialises in M&A in the industrial, high-tech and biotech sectors, but also counts public M&A as a key expertise. Transactions with a strong cross-border element – largely involving other European countries and the USA – are a core strength. Sophie Hagège heads the Paris M&A group and also leads the firm’s EMEA M&A practice. Alexandre de Verdun and Audrey Bontemps are also key practitioners. Highlights included advising Total on the $3.2bn sale of Atotech and its 37 subsidiaries to the Carlyle Group, and assisting Wabtech with the acquisition of Faiveley Transports, where the team was able to leverage the firm’s expertise in antitrust and regulatory issues. Other clients include Safran, Sanofi and Calgon Carbon.

At boutique firm Lacourte Raquin Tatar, the ‘brilliant team’ acts mostly for clients in the infrastructure, transport, real estate and telecoms sectors. Practice head Serge Tatar, who ‘combines legal and financial knowledge’, Renaud Rossa, who has ‘a rigorous and creative’ approach, and Nicolas Jüllich handle acquisition and partnership deals, as well as corporate reorganisations. The group’s domestic practice is particularly strong, but it also advises on cross-border matters, often involving African jurisdictions. Recent highlights include assisting Orange with the merger between its partly publicly owned subsidiary Côte d‘Ivoire Télécom and its subsidiary Orange Côte d’Ivoire, and advising Vinci Immobilier on joint venture and partnership agreement negotiations with the Marzocco Group in the context of the construction and operation of the Testimonio II tower in Monaco. SNCF and Amundi Immobilier are also clients.

Orrick Rambaud Martel’s ‘excellent’ and sizeable team advises on large-cap and mid-cap transactions, both domestic and cross-border, for clients including investors, often from the technology, aerospace and defence, and energy and infrastructure sectors. Saam Golshani heads the practice which includes key practitioners Jean-Pierre Martel and Alexis Marraud des Grottes. Martel and Marraud des Grottes led advice to the supervisory board of Zodiac Aerospace on Safran’s proposed $8.2bn acquisition offer. The practice also acted for the Réseau de Transport d’Electricité on the sale of an equity stake to CNP Assurances, and advised the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile on the regulatory aspects, transaction approval requirements and sale of its stake in Formula 1 parent company Delta Topco, in the context of Liberty Media’s acquisition of Delta Topco. Assystem, British Telecom and Groupe Bertrand are also clients. Alexis Hojabr was recently promoted to the partnership.

Despite its compact team, Shearman & Sterling LLP is regularly involved in high-value transactions for French and international clients, frequently handling cross-border instructions. The ‘well-respected’ team is largely active in the energy, TMT and banking sectors, and acts for buyers and sellers on private and public M&A deals and joint ventures. ‘Excellent and business-oriented’ practice head Guillaume Isautier has ‘impeccable negotiation tactics and is instrumental in bridging the parties’ opposing interests’. Nicolas Bombrun regularly leads on headline deals, such as advising Jin Jiang International Hotels on its investment in Accor and acting for Bpifrance Participations, as part of a consortium, on the purchase of Morpho from Safran. Barbara Le Chapellier and Marie Pouget were promoted to counsel. Other clients include Vivendi, Amundi and Nokia.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP provides ‘excellent work’ and stands out from its competitors through its focus on highly complex cross-border transactions in which it often closely collaborates with the firm’s US offices. Armand W. Grumberg, whose Austrian roots position him particularly well for transactions involving German-speaking countries, heads the practice, which includes key adviser Pascal Bine. Grumberg led advice to Nokia on its high-profile €15.6bn acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent. In a rare high-value domestic matter, the team advised the Agence des Participations de l’État on the sale of its interest in Peugeot to Bpifrance. Other clients include Capgemini, Eurazeo and global reinsurance company Scor. Olivier Diaz joined Gide Loyrette Nouel A.A.R.P.I. in 2018.

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP has strength in domestic and cross-border transactions, mostly in the upper-mid-market and large-cap sections. Olivier de Vilmorin and senior counsel Patrick Bonvarlet are key names for private and public M&A matters. The pair advised French company Elis on its acquisition of Berendsen, assisted Euro Disney with The Walt Disney Company’s tender offer and squeeze out, and acted for Delta Air Lines on its agreement with Air France – KLM to acquire a 10% stake in Air France through a capital increase. The team also handled work for Rhône Capital, Goldman Sachs, and EDF Invest, among others.

Veil Jourde has a core focus on upper mid-market transactions, but also has experience of handling large-cap deals. Name partner Jean Veil, Pierre Deval, François de Navailles, Géraud Saint Guilhem and Laurent Jobert are the key figures. Highlights included advising Bpifrance, a shareholder of Technip, in the context of the latter’s merger with FMC Technologies, and assisting Publicis with the disposal of part of its stake in Médiavision. Other clients include IsCool and French investment company Perceva.

White & Case LLP stands out for its ‘excellent service‘, ‘always spot-on advice’ and ‘responsiveness’. The team has ‘great business acumen’ and regularly handles cross-border instructions involving several jurisdictions, but also excels in domestic matters. Hugues Mathez heads the department. which includes the ‘excellent’ François Leloup, who is noted for his ability to ‘pragmatically manage strategic matters’. Guillaume Vallat, Nathalie Nègre-Eveillard, Franck de Vita, Vincent Morin, Eric Laplante and Camille Note, who was recently made counsel, are also noted. Recent highlights include acting for Orange on the acquisition of a 65% stake in Grouporama Banque to form mobile banking service Orange Bank. In the automotive sector, the group handled several matters for Faurecia, including advising on the sale of its automotive exteriors business to Plastic Omnium and assisting with its strategic partnership with, and investment in, Parrot Automotive, which had a strong cross-border element involving jurisdictions across Europe, the US and China. Other clients include Solocal, Boussard & Gavaudan and Casino Groupe.

Cross-border transactions comprise a significant proportion of Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP’s workload, which includes public and private acquisitions, disposals and joint ventures. The group is active in a broad range of sectors, including retail, infrastructure and energy. The team advised the Azzurra consortium on the acquisition of a majority stake in Aéroports de la Côte d’Azur from the French state and the Département des Alpes-Maritimes. In a major cross-border transaction involving France and the USA, the group assisted CMA CGM with the sale of a 90% stake in APL to the EQT Infrastructure III Fund. Eduardo Fernandez, Daniel Hurstel and Annette Péron are the key advisers. Other noteworthy names are national partners Gabriel Flandin and Grégoire Finance. Airbus, Arkema and Bonduelle are also clients.

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