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Private equity: LBO
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Latham & Watkins impresses clients through its ‘execution capabilities’, ‘great listening ability and international expertise’. The partners in the practice are ‘deal-makers and problem-solvers’, who show ‘great ability to deal with pressure’ and are supported by leading tax and finance expertise. The team recently assisted Ardian with the acquisition of Siaci Saint Honoré and acted for Bridgepoint on the €1bn sale of Infront. The practice is led by Thomas Forschbach and Gaëtan Gianasso, who has ‘great technical skill and is a fine negotiator’. Olivier du Mottay and Denis Criton are also names to note.
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP has ‘a leading market position’ and advises an impressive client base of high-end private equity funds and is constantly involved in the market’s largest transactions. Highlights included assisting 3i with the €1.2bn sale of Labco, and acting for Vedici and CVC on the buyout of Vitalia. Advent International, Apax Partners, Astorg, Montagu, Oaktree and Sagard are also clients. Practice head David Aknin is a market-leading figure. Jean Beauchataud is also recommended along with Alexandre Duguay, Emmanuelle Henry and Frédéric Cazals, who is ‘rapid and produces fine analysis’.
Ashurst LLP’s ‘efficient and proactive’ 15-lawyer team is praised for its ‘virtuosity in executing deals’. The practice, which can rely on leading finance expertise, regularly advises on large LBO transactions. Recent highlights include assisting Bridgepoint with the sale of Compagnie du Ponant and assisting Charterhouse with the acquisition of a majority stake in Comexposium. Chequers is also a client. The practice is led by Guy Benda, Bertrand Delaunay, Yann Gozal and the ‘brilliant’ Nicolas Barberis, who is ‘a real asset in negotiations’ and has ‘a bright future ahead’.
Clifford Chance advises various leading investment funds on large transactions and notably assisted Cinven with its agreement to acquire Labco, as well as advising Sagard and Ergon Capital on the sale of Corialis. Butler Capital, Permira, Perceva and Wendel are also clients. Fabrice Cohen, Gilles Lebreton, Thierry Schoen and Laurent Schoenstein are the key figures.
King & Wood Mallesons shows ‘creativity and great judgement’, as well as ‘a strong ability to think outside the box’. The firm is a leading player in the mid-cap and upper mid-cap market, while also being able to attract instructions on the largest transactions. Recent highlights include assisting Astorg Partners with the sale of Gras Savoye and acting for Lion Capital on the sale of a part of its stake in Picard. The firm has a complete range of expertise in the private equity sector, including top fund formation, tax and finance expertise. It advises a large client base of fund managers that includes Capzanine, Equistone, Eurazeo PME, Five Arrows, Nixen and Sagard. Maxence Bloch heads the private equity practice, which includes experienced partners Christophe Digoy, Jérôme Jouhanneaud, William Robert, Pierre-Louis Sévegrand-Lions and Thomas Maitrejean, ‘a real deal-maker who strongly protects the interests of his clients’. Pierre-Louis Périn leads the venture capital practice.
Linklaters LLP often advises on large LBO deals, such as assisting Apollo Management with the acquisition of Verallia and advising ICG on the buyout of Staci. BC Partners is also a client. Fabrice de La Morandière heads the practice, which notably includes Vincent Ponsonnaille, Marc Petitier and Alain Garnier.
Mayer Brown provides ‘high-end service’. The 20-lawyer team is conversant in the ‘latest LBO techniques’, shows ‘excellent judgement and knowledge of the market’ and forms ‘a comprehensive practice’, which can leverage complementary tax and finance expertise. The practice advises a large and prominent client base of leading fund managers such as Eurazeo, Activa Capital, Argos Soditic and Chequers. It is a leading player in the mid-cap market and also regularly picks up large-cap deal mandates. Recent highlights include assisting longstanding client LBO France with its €500m buyout of IKKS and the €500m sale of Worldwide Flight Services. The firm is also recognised for its strong management package expertise. The practice is led by Xavier Jaspar, Guillaume Kuperfils and tax expert Laurent Borey. Olivier Aubouin, Thomas Philippe, Emily Pennec and Alexandre Dejardin are also recommended. Serge Levine joined CVML.
Scotto & Associés is ‘able to provide great advice in record times on strategic projects’ and has ‘exceptional expertise’ in advising management teams during LBO transactions. Recent work includes advising on the market’s largest LBO transactions in 2015, including assisting the management during Verallia’s €2.94bn buyout by Apollo and acting on Compagnie du Ponant’s €520m acquisition by Artemis. The practice also advised various management teams on LBO exit deals via IPOs. Lionel Scotto le Massese heads the 19-lawyer team, in which Nicolas Menard-Durand, Claire Revol-Renié and Isabelle Cheradame are also recommended.