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France > Private equity > LBO > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Private equity: LBO
  2. Other recommended firms
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1
    • Sébastien Crépy - Paul Hastings LLP
    • Laurent Victor-Michel - Linklaters

Who Represents Who

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Latham & Watkins advises on LBO transactions of private and public companies, with particular strength in competitive auction and carve-out matters, but the team also has experience in joint ventures, exclusive transactions and club deal mandates. Practice head Gaëtan Gianasso, who along with Thomas Forschbach is qualified in England and Wales, Olivier du Mottay and Denis Criton are the key names; Forschbach is also admitted to the German bar. The department acts for fund sponsors, investors, banks and sellers and has recently been active in a number of high-profile matters, such as ICG’s €2.5bn majority investment in the DomusVi Group involving a pre-emptive offer. Other highlights include advising the Canadian Public Sector Pension Investment Board on the €1.9bn acquisition of Cerba HealthCare from PAI Partners, and assisting Ardian with its 60% investment in the global products solutions division of Assystem, in a complex cross-jurisdictional carve-out matter. Advent International, Blackstone, Bridgepoint and the Carlyle Group are other clients.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP stands out through its ‘industry knowledge, quick answers and very strong advice’. The team undertakes domestic and cross-border work and handles transactions ranging from small-cap to large-cap matters. David Aknin heads the department, with Jean Beauchataud, Emmanuelle Henry, Frédéric Cazals and Alexandre Duguay also key practitioners. Recent highlights including advising PAI Partners on the sale of Cerba HealthCare to the Canadian Public Sector Pension Investment Board and assisting Advent International with its over €2.4bn acquisition of identity and security solution player Morpho from Safran. The group also acted for Advent International on two other mandates, the acquisition of IPH from PAI Partners and the sale of Corialis to CVC Capital Partners. Other work includes advising Vinci Concessions on the sale of a 24.6% stake in Indigo to Ardian and Crédit Agricole Assurances. Other clients include Montagu Private Equity, Antin Infrastructure Partners and Oaktree.

Clifford Chance acts for private equity funds, banks and infrastructure funds on mid-cap to large-cap transactions, with expertise in numerous sectors including healthcare, telecoms, infrastructure and financial services. The team is a key name for complex cross-border transactions, but also handles domestic matters. Fabrice Cohen, Marianne Pezant, Gilles Lebetron and Laurent Schoenstein are the key names. In one example of the department’s cross-border strength and experience in auction processes, the team advised KKR Infrastructure on its agreement to purchase Q-Park NV from a group of institutional investors in a cross-office matter involving the firm’s Amsterdam, London and Luxembourg offices. Other highlights include advising Temasek Holdings on its minority stake investment in Axéréal Malt Holdings, in a matter that involved high-stakes joint venture negotiations to secure the liquidity and sustainability of the investment, and assisting private equity investment firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice with its purchase of France’s largest furniture retailer But, an acquisition in consortium with WM Holding, an investment vehicle of an Austrian furniture retailer. Other major instructions came from Carlyle and Triton. Blackstone, Apax Partners and Ardian Private Debt are other clients.

DLA Piper’s practice has a core focus on private equity funds and financial investors, and is particularly active for portfolio companies. Key sector strengths include technology, retail, leisure, manufacturing, aeronautics and defence. The team’s strong point is mid-market to upper mid-market transactions, though it is also handling an increasing number of large-cap transactions. The practice is kept busy handling domestic mandates, but profits from the firm’s network to advise on multijurisdictional matters. Practice head Xavier Norlain recently advised Ardian on its €675m acquisition of Unither by way of a pre-emptive offer. Michel Frieh recently assisted Abenex with its minority investment in real estate development group LP Promotion, which included a reorganisation of the share capital. In an example of its work in the domestic space, the team handled Cobalt Capital’s sale of the TCS Group. Bridgepoint, Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners and Montefiore Investment are other clients.

Largely active in mid- and upper mid-market transactions, De Pardieu Brocas Maffei acts for private equity funds and banks on equity and mezzanine transactions, with the set-up of senior debt a particular strength. The team handles buy-side and sell-side mandates and regularly acts for management teams. Jean-François Pourdieu is the key name, with Cédric Chanas also noted. The group handles a large volume of headline domestic transactions. The group advised 21 Centrale Partners and Digital Virgo and its management on the restructuring of Digital Virgo and the entry of Sofival and BNP Paribas Développement into Digital Virgo, and assisted Siparex, Unigrains, Raise Investisseurs, Etoile IF and EMZ Partners, as investors, on the acquisition of a minority share in Carso Group. In another highlight, it assisted Five Arrows Managers as co-investment partner on the l@D LBO. Examples of recent LBO financing work include advising a banking pool on the financing of the senior debt of Europe Snacks Group concerning the acquisition of Kolak Snack Foods, and assisting LCL and CM-CIC Private Debt with the financing of the senior debt for the acquisition of Ecotel Chomette Favor from Naxicap Partners. Other clients include Sphere Group, Natixis and Camaïeu.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP is ‘one of the best practice groups in France’, and combines ‘excellent negotiation skills’ with ‘strong technical expertise’. The team works in close cooperation with the firm’s finance department. Stéphanie Corbière, Laurent Mabilat, who has ‘very strong expertise’, Yann Gozal, Guy Benda and the ‘commercially savvy’ ‘solution-provider’ Nicolas Barberis were new arrivals from Ashurst LLP. Barberis and Alan Mason jointly head the practice. Florent Mazeron is another notable practitioner. Complex cross-border matters are a particular strength, as evident in the team’s advice to the Carlyle Group on its $3.2bn acquisition of Atotech from Total, which involved over 40 countries, and assistance to Warburg Pincus with the acquisition of Accelya, to create a global player in the technology-enabled solutions sector for the travel and transport industry. Domestic highlights include acting for Ardian on the acquisition of a 44% stake in the Société du Pipeline Méditerranée Rhône held by Total and Esso. Nordic Capital, Bpifrance and Charterhouse Capital Partners are other clients.

Goodwin advises clients from a range of sectors and has expertise across the full life-cycle of private equity investments, acting on the buy and sell sides. Mid- to upper mid-market transactions are core focus areas, though the team also has experience in advising on large-cap deals. Practice head Maxence Bloch and Thomas Maitrejean are key names in a team that also includes Christophe Digoy and Pierre-Louis Sévegrand. Recent examples of its ability to handle high-profile work include advising PAI Partners and the management of Cerba on the sale of Cerba HealthCare to a consortium led by Partners Group and the Public Sector Pension Investment Board. Other highlights include assisting IK Investment Partners with an exclusive agreement with the management team to acquire a majority stake in Pinard Emballages Group and an exclusive agreement with Eurazeo PME and the management team regarding the purchase of a majority stake in elderly care provider Colisée. The group also handled Azulis Capital’s acquisition of Grain d’Or Gel. Equistone Partners Europe, Astorg Partners and Ardian are other clients.

Linklaters is known for its ‘industry knowledge, quick answers and very strong advice’ and specialises in advising private equity houses. The group has experience in a broad array of transactions, including primary buyouts, secondary buyouts and infrastructure buyouts. Vincent Ponsonnaille led advice to Partners Group and the Public Sector Pension Investment Board on the acquisition of Cerba HealthCare and, alongside Laurent Victor-Michel, assisted Apax Partners Midmarket with its acquisition of Ciprés Assurances from US firm TA Associates. Other work for the team included assisting Goldman Sachs with the proposed acquisition of mortgage comparison and mortgage insurance broker Meilleurtaux.com, and acting for OVH Partners on investments made by funds KKR and TowerBrooks. Bridgepoint, Carlyle and Equistone are other clients. Practice head Fabrice de la Morandière, Alain Garnier, Marc Petitier and David Swinburne are other names to note.

Mayer Brown is acclaimed for its ‘excellent quality of advice and availability of the team’. The group acts for investment funds and management teams on mainly mid-cap operations, but also has strength in large-cap matters. Recent highlights include advising LBO France on its acquisition of RG Safety from Abénex Capital, assisting Chequers Capital with the acquisition of recycling and waste management company ECT, and acting for Eurazeo on the sale of Colisée. Other work includes handling Sagard’s acquisition of Ipackchem from Céréa Partenaire and Bpifrance, and advising Oaktree Capital on the acquisition of a majority stake in a special purpose vehicle owning two office towers. Primonial and IPH are new clients. Practice head Guillaume Kuperfils, ‘artful’ and ‘astute negotiator’ Jean-François Louit, Olivier Aubouin, Xavier Jaspar, Emilie Pennec and Thomas Philippe are the main practitioners. Recently promoted partner Caroline Lan is ‘precise and clear’ with ‘a sense for detail’.

At Paul Hastings LLP, the ‘very responsive’ team of ‘hard workers’ have ‘very strong technical and execution skills’ combined with ‘business-oriented advice’. The practice handles a large volume of mid-market deals, but is also able to assist with large-cap transactions. Olivier Deren, who is also the chair of the Paris office, heads the department, which includes the ‘constructive’ Alexis Terray, ‘who is very involved in the deal and on top of what is happening’ and ‘steps into negotiations when necessary’, and Sébastien Crépy, who ‘works day and night to meet deadlines’. The group recently advised the management of Safran Identity & Security on the contemplated LBO of the company and assisted Astorg with its bid in the auction process for the LBO of Swiss industrial software group AutoForm, in a cross-border matter involving Switzerland and Luxembourg. In a further example of its cross-border capability, the team advised Astorg on the sale of portfolio company Saverglass to the Carlyle Group, including Saverglass’ facilities in France and the United Arab Emirates. Equistone, Capzanine and Qualium Investissement are also clients.

Boutique firm Scotto & Associés specialises in advising managers on the legal and tax issues concerning private equity transactions. The team has an excellent reputation for its management packages work in domestic and cross-border transactions, and undertakes work in the low-cap to mid-market segment, but also has a strong track record in upper mid-market and large-cap mandates. Practice head Lionel Scotto Le Massese, Nicolas Menard-Durand, Isabelle Chéradame and Claire Revol-Renié are the key names. Highlights included advising the management on Brétèche Industrie’s acquisition by IK Investment Partners from Equistone and advice to Kerneos’ top management on the company’s takeover by Imerys. The team also advised the management of Staci on the company’s fourth LBO with Copeba as the buyer and ICG as the seller, and assisted Tessi and its management with the company’s takeover by a consortium led by HLD. Amatsigroup, Baccarat and Atotech are other clients.

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP mainly handles mid- to upper mid-market transactions, both domestic and cross-border, but also advises on large-cap deals. A major highlight was advising PAI Partners on the sale of a majority stake in DomusVi, the leading French retirement and nursing home provider, to Intermediate Capital Group and Sagesse Retraite Santé, a transaction that had cross-border elements involving Spain. The group also assisted PAI Partners with the sale of IPH to Advent International, a cross-border matter that allowed the team to leverage the firm’s European network. On the domestic side, the team assisted the founder of the Mériguet Group, Antoine Courtois, and the group’s management team with Raise Investissement and IDI’s investment in the company. Ekkio Partners, Qualium, and Palamon are also clients. Edouardo Fernandez, Christophe Garaud and Cédric Hajage are the key names.

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