Commercial, corporate and M&A in Belgium
Allen & Overy LLP
With a 'good combination of younger and more senior partners', Allen & Overy LLP's corporate transaction team is praised for its 'very commercial approach to M&A transactions' as well as for being 'fee-conscious'. Pierre-Olivier Mahieu heads the Brussels practice and led advice to Athora Holding on its €540m acquisition of Generali Belgium, which included the negotiating of an IP assignment and license agreement. Antwerp-based Wouter Van de Voorde led a team acting for the Belgian newspaper Mediahuis and private investors on the sale of a 50% stake in De Vijver Media to Telenet. The group also assisted the same client with the set up of a joint venture with SBS Belgium for a cross-media advertising platform. In another work highlight, managing partner and co-head of the firm's global corporate practice Dirk Meeus led advice to Realdolmen on the voluntary and conditional takeover bid by Gfi Informatique. Antwerp-based Hans Kets is a key name to note for both private and public M&A. The 'personable' Frederiek Adams is also highlighted as being 'very promising' and was recently promoted to the partnership.
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton
Highlighted for its 'quality and speed of advice and ability to deliver under stressed timelines', Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton's corporate practice has the 'ability to combine a unique international expertise together with a strong knowledge of local specificities'. Filip Moerman heads up the team of 'reliable and trustworthy experts' who 'translate their deep expertise in complex legal issues into simple clear messages to be understood by non-legal people'. In a recent transaction spanning several jurisdictions, Laurent Legein, alongside partners in London, led a team that assisted Anheuser-Busch InBev with the combination of its beer business in Russia and Ukraine with those of Turkish beverages group Anadolu Efes. The group also acted for General Motors on the sale of its Opel/Vauxhall subsidiary and GM Financial’s European operations to PSA Group. In another work highlight, Laurent Ruzette and 'hardworking and client-oriented' counsel Carlo Meert jointly led advice to 3M Company on the sale of its Belgian diamond and CBN precision-grinding tools business to Altifort France SAS. Senior counsel Jan Meyers is a key name to note for his extensive experience. Counsel Géraldine Bourguignon is also singled out.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer's corporate and M&A practice continues to be instructed in a range of transactions and advisory matters. With significant cross-border expertise, the group's client roster includes a range of domestic and multinational companies such as Elia and Anheuser-Busch InBev and HSBC. Managing partner Vincent Macq heads up the team and acted for Fluxys on its acquisition of an additional 35.76% stake in Dunkerque LNG from Total and EDF. Deborah Janssens recently led advice to Telenet on several strategic transactions, including the €400m acquisition of the cable and telephony business of SFR in Belgium and Luxembourg from the Altice Group; the acquisition of the remaining 50% shares in De Vijver Media from its founders and Mediahuis; and the acquisition of ICT and security solutions provider Nextel. In another work highlight, Geert Verhoeven and Janssens are leading advice to SFPI-FPIM and the Belgian State on the corporate aspects of Belfius Bank's IPO. The team was further bolstered by the additions of principal associate Koen Vanlaer from Allen & Overy LLP and counsel Nikolaas Van Robbroeck from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, who have particular expertise in corporate finance and tax advice, respectively.
'Efficient and business oriented', the corporate and M&A team at Linklaters (which recently merged with the firm's banking group) is made up of 'highly skilled professionals' with the ability to provide 'legal advice in a global and complex environment'. The group was instructed by Ablynx on the high-profile €3.9bn hostile takeover by Sanofi. It is also acting for PAI Partners on its €2.2bn non-binding proposal to acquire Ontex Group by way of a public takeover bid. In a private M&A transaction, the team acted for Generali Group on the sale of its stake in Generali Belgium to Athora. In another highlight, Jean-Pierre Blumberg and Arnaud Coibion led a team that assisted Belgian Post Group on its €820m acquisition of Radial Holdings and Radial III. Charles-Antoine Leunen heads the department, and has a broad practice handling a range of financing and M&A matters. Other key names to note include Eric Pottier and counsel Filip Lecoutre. Philippe Remels left the practice to join NautaDutilh and Paul Van Hooghten retired.
The 'very efficient and knowledgeable' corporate finance team at Baker McKenzie CVBA/SCRL has the ability to handle domestic and cross-border transactions, with particular experience in the biotech and financial services sectors. The group recently acted for Suspa Holding on its cross-border acquisition of the Suspa Group from Andlinger & Company. In another work highlight, a team led by Dominique Maes and Davinia Martens was instructed by Brussels Airlines on its acquisition of Thomas Cook's Belgian airline business. Roel Meers, alongside partners based in New York, advised Van Herk Investments as shareholder of Ablynx on the unsolicited tender offer for Ablynx by Novo Nordisk. Koen Vanhaerents heads the practice, which also includes Luc Meeus, who has considerable expertise acting for private equity firms. The department also counts Panasonic and Mondelēz International among its clients.
Clifford Chance's corporate team, which is jointly led by Niek De Pauw and Xavier Remy, was instructed by Royal Sporting Club Anderlecht on the sale of the club to Alychio following a competitive auction process. It also advised Gfi Informatique on its €196m voluntary public takeover bid of IT company Realdolmen. In another key transaction, De Pauw led a team that acted for Nikon Metrology on the sale of its coordinate measuring machines business across France, the UK, Germany, Italy and the US, to ASF Metrology. The department's client roster spans from large corporates such as Elia to start-up and scale-up companies including Deliverect, which Remy and 'truly exceptional' senior associate Patrice Viaene are advising on a financing round. Changes to the team include Philippe Hamer's retirement and the departure of Sylvain Cailleau to Allen & Overy Luxembourg.
The 'reactive' corporate practice at DLA Piper attracts praise for being 'very positive and seeking pragmatic solutions'. Recent highlights include advising Takeda Pharmaceutical Company on the cross-border public takeover bid of TiGenix in a matter led by Erwin Simons. A team led by Koen Selleslags also assisted Alychlo with its acquisition of a majority stake in Royal Sporting Club Anderlecht. The 'outstanding and acute lawyer' Caroline Daout heads the practice and was instructed by the UK-based Cushman & Wakefield International on its the acquisition of all shares in Admos SPRL and in Admos Lux.
The 'efficient' corporate and M&A practice at Eubelius is highlighted for its 'high availability and excellent legal and business advice'. The group was instructed by Ablynx on the €3.8bn public tender offer by Sanofi, it also acted for Elia on its acquisitions of shares in Eurogrid International. Marieke Wyckaert — who jointly heads the team alongside Lars Van Bever — and Filip Jenné led a team acting for Martin Braun-Gruppe (the baking division of the Oetker-Gruppe) on the acquisition of Diversi Foods. Frank Hellemans and Philippe Mulliez are key names to note and are based in the firm's Antwerp and Kortrijk offices respectively. Erwin Destuyver is singled out for his 'responsiveness, excellent case knowledge and eye for detail'. Jozef Lievens retired from the practice.
Liedekerke Wolters Waelbroeck Kirkpatrick's corporate and finance team is highlighted for its 'swift response and hands-on approach, that is straight to the point'. Practice head Christel Van den Eynden and counsel Wim Dedecker —who recently joined the firm from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton — led a team that acted for Proximus on its acquisition of IT company Codit, this included coordinating local counsel across France, the UK, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Malta and Portugal. In another work highlight, a team led by Damien Conem advised Sonaca on its negotiations for a joint venture with Sabena Aerospace Engineering, aimed at offering maintenance and update services to military aircraft. Jacques Meniuer joined the team from Fieldfisher and has particular expertise handling private equity and capital market transactions. Thierry Tilquin left the firm.
The 'business-minded' corporate and M&A practice group at Loyens & Loeff 'combines quality work' with 'a proactive and pragmatic' approach. In a transaction led by practice head Grégoire Jakhian, the team assisted Gener8 Maritime on its merger with Euronav. The department was also instructed by CTH on its acquisition of Ferrara Candy Company from L Catterton, including on the structure of the deal across Belgium, the US and Luxembourg. In another work highlight, a team including 'pragmatic' senior associate Robrecht Coppens, who attracts praise for his 'very solid technical background', advised General Electric Company on the Belgian aspects of the global restructuring of its oil and gas business. Peter Callens has considerable experience handling domestic and international transactions. The 'efficient, result-oriented' Wim Vande Velde and Godfried Ampe are also key names to note, particularly for real estate and energy sector matters respectively. Stefan Deckmyn left the firm for an in-house role.
The 'efficient' and 'well-experienced' corporate and M&A practice at NautaDutilh combines 'excellent knowledge with a very pragmatic way of working' and provides 'prompt and high-quality answers'. A team led by Elke Janssens — who attracts praise for being 'quick to react' and offering 'clear advice' — and Dirk Van Gerven advised Sanofi on the €3.9bn takeover of Ablynx. In another work highlight, the team acted for General Electric Aviation on its acquisition of GeonX through a share deal. Didier De Vliegher, Nicolas de Crombrugghe and Philippine De Wolf are other key names to note. Changes to the team include the arrival of Philippe Remels from Linklaters; he has particular expertise in the life sciences, healthcare, chemicals and energy sectors.
The 'very experienced' corporate and finance team at Stibbe attracts praise for its 'ability to handle any size transaction in Belgium in an efficient and cost-effective manner'. Jan Peeters led a team advising US-based company Spirit AeroSystems on its €540m acquisition of Asco. In another work highlight, the group assisted Punch Powertrain on its joint venture with PSA Groupe in France. Dries Hommez, who is 'an outstanding corporate partner with a strong business sense and the ability to direct all legal aspects of a M&A deal', led a team instructed by General Electric on the Benelux aspects of the sale of its water treatment business to Suez, and its industrial solutions business to ABB. Stefan Odeurs heads the practice, which also includes Pascal Vanden Borre and Jan Bogaert. Julien Bogaerts was recently promoted to the partnership.
The 'flexible' corporate and M&A department at ALTIUS fields a team of 'pragmatic business people'. In a matter led by Carine Van Regenmortel the team acted for SC Johnson & Son on its cross-border acquisition of People Against Dirty Holdings from Skagen Conscience Capital. The group also assisted Indufin Capital Partners on its strategic investment in IT specialist Cheops. Recently promoted partner Marie Brasseur attracts praise for her 'impressive knowledge' and led advice to Viasat on its acquisition of the France-based company Locster. Other key names to note are Tom Vantroyen and Jérôme Vermeylen, who jointly head the team alongside Van Regenmortel and Brasseur.
The corporate and M&A practice at CMS, headed up by Vincent Dirckx, has the capability to handle transactions for both domestic and international clients. It recently assisted MoneyGram International with the movement of operations to Belgium from the UK, as well as with opening new branches across the EU. The group is also instructed by Johnson & Johnson, which it advised on the divestment of several businesses through asset transactions. In another work highlight, the team advised Centrica on its acquisition of Restore.
The corporate team at Fieldfisher has 'excellent capabilities, both domestically and internationally' and the ability to 'provide high-quality advice on different kinds of transactions'. Louis-François du Castillon heads up the practice, which is highlighted for providing 'great value for the work done, and partner engagement'. It counts Cementir Holding, Emasphere and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton among its clients. The 'proactive, solution-driven and knowledgeable' Thomas Lenn is a key name to note; he 'combines a classic M&A and private equity practice with a capital markets practice'.
The corporate and M&A team at Jones Day is acknowledged for 'investing in understanding its clients' companies and providing tailored legal advice'. The team was instructed by UPL to lead on the European aspects of its subsidiary UPL Corporation's $4.2bn acquisition of Arysta LifeScience. Practice head Thomas De Muynck provides 'excellent legal support' and assisted Hexagon with its acquisition of Luciad, a provider of 5D visualisation and analysis solutions, from GIMV. The group also acts for HeidelbergCement, for which a team led by Matthieu Duplat advised both on the acquisition of the remaining shares of Beton Baguette Marcel and the sale of a ready-mixed concrete plant.
Deloitte Legal's corporate practice 'stands out' particularly for its team's 'availability and thorough knowledge'. David Roelens — who is highlighted for his ability to 'think outside of the box' — heads up the team and recently led advice to Dovesco on the leveraged buy-out of Afix Group. In another work highlight, Marc Van Tieghem led a team that assisted the Port of Ghent with its merger with Zeeland Seaports and the creation of North Sea Port. Other key names to note include Benoît Féron, Christoph Michiels and Tim Baart.
The corporate and finance department at Lydian handles a range of domestic and international transactions. The group assisted Novelis with the Belgian aspects of its $2.5bn acquisition of Aleris Corporation, which was structured as a reverse triangular merger, whereby a newly established Novelis subsidiary merged with Aleris Corporation forming the Belgian entity Aleris Aluminum Duffel. The department also acted for private equity fund Naxicap Partners on the Europe-wide restructuring of the House of HR group. Peter De Ryck jointly heads the team with Patrick della Faille.
The commercial, corporate and M&A team at Monard Law is instructed on a range of transactions for its impressive client roster, which includes Carrefour, Danone and Generali Belgium. The team assisted Simac Techniek with negotiating a purchase agreement for 70% of the shares of Wavetel, as well as with a subscription and shareholders agreement with the majority owner of shares. In another work highlight, Katrien Vorlat led a team advising Dekra Belgium on its acquisition of Allianz Belgium's insurance claims adjusting business. Natalie Ulburghs, Nicole Segers and Kristof Zadora are key names to note. Benoit Samyn and Pieter Van den Broeck were recently promoted to the partnership. Other changes to the team include Maxime Monard's promotion to associate partner.
The 'professional and dedicated' corporate and M&A practice at Simont Braun attracts praise for its 'industry expertise and for building long-term relationships with its clients'. It was recently instructed by the Urban Development Corporate of the Brussels-Capital Region (Société d'Aménagement Urbain) on the creation and implementation of the Contemporary and Modern Art Museum and Architecture Museum in Brussels, including advising on corporate aspects and negotiations relating to partnerships with Centre Pompidou in Paris. In another work highlight, a team led by Vanessa Marquette is assisting Vivaqua and Hydrobru with the proposed merger of the two main operators in the water sector, including successfully representing the companies in a judicial proceeding opposing the transaction. Sandrine Hirsch heads up the team, which also includes the well-regarded Paul Alain Foriers.
The 'friendly' corporate team at Strelia is 'extremely reactive and always to the point' in its advice and provides 'a personalised service'. The department is frequently instructed on domestic and cross-border corporate and M&A deals. Practice head Olivier Clevenbergh led a team that assisted Natixis with its public takeover of a controlling stake in Dalenys. The group is also acting for new client Burger Brands Belgium on its expansion in Belgium. Other key names to note include Gisèle Rosselle and Laurent Verhavert.
The 'very well-organised and highly-skilled' corporate and M&A practice at Van Bael & Bellis provides advice 'calibrated to the commercial risks' and frequently acts for a range of private equity and corporate clients on domestic and cross-border transactions. Practice head and 'great negotiator' Michel Bonne led a team acting for Intergamma on its €510m acquisition of its largest franchisee, Van Neerbos Groep. In another work highlight, the group also acted for Elicio on the merger of two offshore wind farms. The team has recently been bolstered by the arrival of counsel Amaury de Borchgrave from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton; he is praised for his 'commercial nous and deft negotiating' skills.
The corporate team at White & Case LLP benefits from the ability to leverage its global office network in complex cross-border instructions. Practice head Thierry Bosly led a team, including Muriel Alhadeff, which acted for Cobepa, and the other shareholders of Exclusive France Holding, on the €1.3bn sale of Exclusive Group to Permira. In other work highlights, the group advised Zetes Industries SA on the public takeover of Zetes Industries by Panasonic, and assisted Ogeda SA on the €800m sale of all shares to Astellas Pharma. Highlighted for its expertise in the biotech sector, the team was also instructed by the founders of Chromacure on the incorporation of the startup company.
Highlighted for being 'strong in M&A transactions', ARGO Law is known particularly for its representation of private equity firms, and is also instructed by large corporates, including Telenet and new client Spotify. A team, led by practice head Nico Goossens, acted for De Persgroep on its acquisition of a 50% stake in Medialaan from its co-shareholder Roularta Media Group as well as on the sale of its 50% stake in Mediafin to Roularta Media Group. Bert Van Ingelghem is another key name to note. Managing associate Emilie Ooms joined from Laurius.
The corporate and finance team at ASTREA spans the firm's Brussels and Antwerp offices and attracts praise for its ability to provide 'full-service' advice on complex transactions. Recent work highlights include assisting Spie with its acquisition of all shares in ICT company Systemat and advising Urveda on the sale of Invenso to Xpertdoc. 'Hands-on' lawyer Steven De Schrijver, who is based in Brussels, heads the practice alongside Antwerp-based Frédéric Verspreeuwen, who is 'a very good negotiator' and attracts praise for 'understanding and anticipating his client's needs'.
Cresco Advocaten 'has all the advantages of a young and dynamic firm' with 'a clear focus and expertise in a niche market' combined with 'swift replies and nearly 24/7 availability'. Its 'mind-boggling' turnaround times suit its client roster of entrepreneurs, emerging and growth companies, and investors. The Antwerp-based corporate and M&A team is praised for 'always having the big picture in mind' and was instructed by Telenet and Magnitude 9.5 Ventures on the structuring and financing of a joint venture in the virtual reality entertainment sector. The 'very knowledgeable' David Dessers heads the practice, which also includes managing partner and 'real out-of-the-box thinker' Filip De Schouwer and Pieter Capiau, who is particularly active in the technology sector. Recently promoted partner Yannick Verrycke is also noted.
Dechert LLP's corporate group stands out for its 'availability, knowledge and imagination' and handles a range of transactions for its clients, which span from corporates to high-net-worth individuals. It was instructed by Newpharma on the sale of its shares to a private equity consortium. In another work highlight, the practice assisted Shanghai Shenda with its cross-border joint venture with International Automotive Components. The 'fantastic' team is headed by Eric Deltour and includes senior associates Geoffroy Fink and Ysabelle Vuillard.
With 'an extraordinary personal touch at affordable prices', Laurius' corporate and M&A team is 'unique in its combination of pragmatism with a willingness to make the deal happen'. It was instructed by Michielsens on the sale of all assets to Aertssen. In another work highlight, the practice acted for Buysse & Partners on its acquisition of Serax. 'Outstanding lawyer' and 'top deal-maker' Dirk Wellens heads the practice and attracts praise for being 'classy and practical'. Other key names to note include David Ryckaert and Stefaan Wauman. Michaël Bollen joined the team from DLA Piper and is recommended for real estate sector transactions.
Boutique law firm Quinz has the capabilities to handle a range of domestic and cross-border transactions. Bart Lintermans led a team that coordinated Vinçotte International's divestment of several business lines and subsidiaries to French company Apave International across seven jurisdictions. The practice was also instructed by Cantel Medical Corp on its acquisition of a Belgian software manufacturer. Lintermans heads the team alongside Klaas Thibaut.
The corporate practice at Squire Patton Boggs is 'accessible, commercial and responsive with a wide range of expertise' and benefits from being able to leverage the firm's international network in significant cross-border transactions. In a recent work highlight, 'excellent lawyer' and practice head Bart Vanderstrete worked alongside colleagues in Tokyo in advising Toray Industries on its approximately $1.2bn acquisition of Royal Ten Cate’s advanced composites business.
Niche firm Van Olmen & Wynant counts large companies, investment funds and start-ups among its clients. The team acted for ING Private Equity and other selling shareholders on the management buy-out of AXI Group. It also coordinated the auction process of Duo-Med Group. Luc Wynant and Alexei Loubkine jointly head the practice and have particular expertise in transactional and contentious matters respectively.
The corporate practice at Ashurst LLP stands out for its involvement in private equity transactions as well as its representation of international associations on corporate government matters. The group counts American Securities and the European Petrochemical Association among its clients. David Du Pont heads the practice.
The corporate team at Bird & Bird, headed up by Paul Hermant, is known for handling a range of corporate matters and transactions, particularly in the life sciences, TMT and financial services sectors. The group assisted Ethias with the transfer of part of its life insurance business to the Irish Monument Re Group, which included advising on the regulatory and tax aspects of the sale. It also offers ongoing corporate advice to many of its well-known clients.
contrast is regularly instructed by a range of multinational companies and cooperative and not-for-profit organisations on corporate transactions, advice and disputes. Bart Bellen and Herlinde Burez jointly head the practice, which benefits from the return of senior associate Milena Varga, who rejoined the firm from an in-house counsel role.
The 'strong commercial and corporate team' at Crowell & Moring regularly handles a range of M&A transactions, corporate structuring and commercial instructions. The group assisted investment company Fortino with contract drafting and negotiations between Melita Link and Vodafone for the companies' intended merged operations in Malta. Emmanuel Plasschaert is recommended particularly for commercial and employment advice and heads the practice alongside 'corporate law and data protection law specialist' Frederik Van Remoortel, who attracts praise for providing 'timely and good quality advice'.
The practice at DALDEWOLF has capabilities across transactional, advisory and contentious corporate and commercial matters. Managing partner Patrick De Wolf led advice to Yinyi Real Estate Co on due diligence of its Belgian subsidiary, Punch Powertrain, as part of the company's reorganisation. Fabian Tchekemian and Patrick Van Leynseele are key names to note and head up the corporate and commercial teams.
EY Law (formerly HVG Advocaten-Avocats) has offices in Brussels, Ghent and Antwerp and leverages its team of legal, tax and financial advisors to offer a multi-disciplinary approach to corporate transactions and advice. In a recent work highlight, the 'solution-driven, knowledgeable and pro-active' group acted for E.On on its envisaged acquisition of three wind energy holding companies from Vortex Energy Group. Peter Suykens and Tom Swinnen are key names to note and head up the corporate and transactional practices respectively. Antwerp-based senior associate Lindsey Clare provides 'timely, knowledgeable and to-the-point' advice.
The 'young and dynamic' corporate team at intui 'provides the best of both worlds, as a boutique firm with global experience'. Anneleen Steeno and 'strategist' Robbie Tas (who both 'combine a lot of empathy with a high level of professionalism') jointly head the practice and focus particularly on transactions and directors' disputes respectively. The group is noted for its specific expertise in the elderly care and assisted-living sector.
K&L Gates GP
The corporate and tax team at KOAN Law Firm 'handles mandate requests quickly and reliably' and attracts praise for 'thinking outside the box'. Antoine Druetz combines knowledge both in corporate law and not-for-profit sector advice and heads the practice alongside Pierre Willemart. Emilie Willems left the practice to start judicial training.
Olislaegers & De Creus
The 'very knowledgable' business transactions practice at Osborne Clarke has a client base ranging from multinational companies to start-ups and scale-ups. Life sciences and technology are among the team's sector specialisms. In a recent work highlight, the group was instructed by TiGenix on the €520m public takeover bid by Takeda Pharmaceutical Company. David Haex and Hadrien Chef 'stand out', particularly for being 'hands-on and proactive'. Stefan Deswert heads the team alongside Haex.
Davy Gorselé and Maarten Van Staeyen head the corporate team at Quorum, which acts for Ellis Gourmet Burger, Accentis and Brussels Airport Company. The department was also instructed by investors on the €25m investment in Unified Post. The team benefits from the addition of Pieter Dierckx from Peeters Advocaten – Avocats. Other changes to the team include the departure of Ine Jordens to an in-house role.
The 'commercially-minded' corporate and commercial team at Racine stands out for its 'profound experience', 'excellent service' and for providing 'very good value for money'. The department was instructed by Grafton Group on the acquisition of Roussel's shares in the companies' joint venture YouBuild, including advising on ascertaining approval from the Belgian competition authority. The 'committed and solution-driven' Anthony Van der Hauwaert is highlighted as 'a shrewd and calm negotiator'. Stijn Claeys is also noted for his 'pragmatic, hands-on approach and profound legal knowledge'.
The three-partner commercial, corporate and M&A practice at Verhaegen Walravens handles domestic and cross border instructions with particular expertise in assisting innovative start-ups, entrepreneurs and venture capital firms. In a recently work highlight Philip Walravens acted for the owners of F4PE on the sale of the company to DPS Engineering. It also advised Avisa on its successful cross-border merger with companies CDP and Lexfo. Jacques Verhaegen and Paula Martins Costa are names to note.