Competition: EU and global in Belgium
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton is widely regarded as the pre-eminent firm for EU and global competition. On the transactional side, it has an outstanding track record in big-ticket, multijurisdictional merger reviews, as was evidenced when Christopher Cook and counsel Richard Pepper were part of the cross-office team that acted as global antitrust counsel to The Dow Chemical Company on its $130bn merger of equals with DuPont in 2017. In addition, in 2018, Robbert Snelders and Pepper assisted ArcelorMittal with obtaining clearance from the European Commission (EC) - following a phase two investigation - of its €4.2bn acquisition of the assets of Italian steelmaking group Ilva. In another highlight, François-Charles Laprévote, Daniel Culley and senior counsel Mario Siragusa acted as global and EU counsel to Essilor on its €46bn merger with Luxottica. In the behavioural sphere, the firms is at the forefront of worldwide cartel investigations and matters involving alleged abuses of dominance; Snelders, Cook and Patrick Bock have advised numerous automotive parts suppliers on global cartel investigations. Also notable is that Thomas Graf, Snelders and Maurits Dolmans are representing Google in an appeal at the EU General Court, which has arisen from the EC investigation into the client's alleged abuse of a dominant position in online search. The firm also represented the same client in the EC's investigation into its Android platform. Elsewhere, follow-on damages litigation and state aid cases are among other areas of strength. Laprévote is 'particularly sensitive to the pragmatic concerns and strategies of clients'. Other notable individuals in the team, which 'certainly ranks among the leading in the world', are Wolfgang Deselaers, Francisco Enrique González-Díaz, Antoine Winckler, Nicholas Levy and Romano Subiotto QC. Counsel Niklas Maydell is also recommended.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
According to its clients, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer's competition team in Brussels is 'the best there is'; 'the combination of extremely high quality expertise, its deep connections with the European Commission and elegant way of interacting with authorities and parties is unique'. Led by Brussels antitrust group head Andreas von Bonin, the team operates at the top end of the market in the competition arena. Rafique Bachour and Frank Montag are acting as global antitrust counsel to BASF on its €7.6bn acquisition of significant parts of Bayer's seeds and crop protection businesses and assets. In addition, Montag and Sascha Schubert are acting as global antitrust counsel to Siemens on the combination of Siemens’ and Alstom’s mobility businesses; a phase two investigation was recently opened by the EC. Further, Laurent Garzaniti and counsel Angélique de Brousse are assisting Solvay with the global antitrust aspects of the sale of its polyamide business to BASF for €1.6bn. Thomas Janssens, who is the head of the global antitrust practice, is defending Anheuser-Busch InBev in the EC's investigation into an alleged abuse of dominance by the client in the European beer market. Clients such as Comcast, CK Hutchison and Liberty Global also instruct the firm on competition matters. Thomas Wessely is 'pragmatic, quick, clear in his advice and well connected'. Senior associate Tone Oeyen is another notable individual in the team. Alicia Van Cauwelaert and Angeline Woods made counsel.
Allen & Overy LLP
Allen & Overy LLP's competition group is a first port of call for many clients in transformational mergers, high-stakes investigations into cartels and other anti-competitive conduct, and follow-on damages litigation, among other areas. The 'knowledgeable and responsive' team is led by Dirk Arts, who has more than 25 years of EU competition law experience, and is active in various sectors, such as chemicals, media, energy and retail. Arts and senior associate Francesca Miotto are representing Scania in an EU General Court appeal arising from the decision of the EC to fine the client for its alleged involvement in a price-fixing cartel with five other truck manufacturers. In another headline matter, Jürgen Schindler (who was recently appointed as a co-head of the global antitrust group) and of counsel Frances Dethmers (she has 'a very commercial approach to a complex area') are representing Google in an EC investigation into an alleged abuse of dominance concerning the client's Android platform. On the transactional side, Antonio Bavasso and Dominic Long (who both split their time between London and Brussels) assisted 21st Century Fox with obtaining unconditional EC merger clearance of its £24.5bn takeover bid for Sky in 2017, and are now handling a UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) review for the client related to the transaction. Bavasso and Long are also assisting the same client with the non-US competition filings associated with its proposed takeover by The Walt Disney Company. In further evidence of the firm's strong profile in the TMT sector, the group also acts for clients including Veon, Naspers and Activision Blizzard. Elsewhere, the firm is becoming increasingly known for its work in the renewable energy industry; counsel Karel Bourgeois was the lead adviser to Otary RS, Eneco Wind Belgium and Electrabel (Engie) on the EU merger notification of their joint venture SeaMade. The firm is also developing a growing reputation in state aid cases; Bourgeois is a contact in this area. Vanessa Turner - who covers mergers, cartels and other matters - is another key figure in the team.
Baker McKenzie CVBA/SCRL's team has an excellent record of negotiating clearances of big-ticket mergers. It also has a strong track record securing favourable outcomes for clients in antitrust investigations and litigation. The firm's EU state aid practice, which is led by of counsel Nina Niejahr, is also a major area of activity. The firm has strengthened its offering by hiring associate Bram Hoorelbeke from Stibbe. Another notable individual in the group is Werner Berg, who led a team that assisted Sappi with the merger control aspects of its acquisition of Cham Paper's entire paper business. Recently promoted partner Joost Haans and others are acting for Archer Daniels Midland in its $1.8bn acquisition of French animal nutrition business Neovia, and also its first investment in Africa via a joint venture with Cargill. In recent developments, Bill Batchelor moved to Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. Fiona Carlin is the global head of the practice. The highly regarded team also includes Gavin Bushell, Kurt Haegeman, Anahita Thoms and of counsel Paul Johnson.
Clifford Chance's high-calibre team stands out in cases that raise novel legal issues; global antitrust head Thomas Vinje, Dieter Paemen and counsel Ashwin Van Rooijen are acting for FairSearch as an intervener in an appeal brought by Google over the EC's decision to impose a fine for Google's allegedly abusive practices in online search. In addition, the same team is representing FairSearch in the EC's investigation into Google's practices in relation to the Android operating system. Also notable is that Brussels antitrust practice head Tony Reeves, Anastasios Tomtsis, Vinje, of counsel Michel Petite (who divides time between Brussels and Paris) and others are representing General Electric (GE) in an EC investigation into allegedly incorrect/misleading information provided by the client during the EC's review of the client's planned acquisition of LM Wind in 2017. The firm also acts for GE in global merger control matters, and assisted the client with the competition aspects of the sale of GE Industrial Solutions to ABB. Counsel Jim Back advises on competition issues in sectors such as energy, telecoms and life sciences. Of counsel Pierre-Andre Dubois joined in January 2019 from Booking.com. Sébastien Ryelandt is now with Strelia.
Covington & Burling LLP
Covington & Burling LLP fields a sizeable bench of dedicated competition lawyers in Brussels, who are qualified to advise on matters specific to jurisdictions across Europe, including England and Wales, Italy, France and Germany. In addition, the firm houses a competition litigation team in London and has a highly regarded antitrust practice in the US, making it well-positioned to cover every type of large and complex, cross-border matter. In the merger control space, the firm has a well-established reputation in the life sciences and technology industries, but it is also strong in matters involving other sectors; a recent highlight involved Miranda Cole working with a cross-office team to advise Bacardi on the competition aspects of its acquisition of Patrón Spirits International and its Patrón brand. Cole also led on the merger control advice to Mexichem concerning its circa $1.9bn strategic acquisition of Netafim. In addition, a group including of counsel Andrea Zulli, EU competition group head Johan Ysewyn and Peter Camesasca acted as antitrust counsel to Bombardier on its strategic partnership with Airbus. Outside of merger control, EU and global cartel investigations, abuses of dominance and EU state aid are other cornerstones of the practice. Kevin Coates is knowledgeable about competition issues impacting clients in sectors such as electronics, software and e-commerce. Senior associate Melissa Van Schoorisse is another active practitioner.
Peter Alexiadis and David Wood co-head Gibson Dunn's team, which combines competition expertise with sectoral knowledge; its client roster includes entities from a wide range of industries, such as energy, shipping, hospitality and leisure, gaming/betting, real estate and financial services. The group includes partner Lena Sandberg, who is highly active in state aid and public procurement matters. Jens-Olrik Murach, who divides time between the Brussels and Frankfurt offices, is experienced in global merger control investigations, cartel and abuse of dominance investigations, and antitrust litigation. Murach represents clients before the European Commission, German Federal Cartel Office, and before the German and EU courts. Associate attorney Attila Borsos is also recommended.
Operating as part of a larger global platform, Hogan Lovells International LLP's Brussels team demonstrates particularly strong capabilities in behavioural and transactional antitrust matters involving industries such as TMT, consumer and luxury goods, shipping, and aerospace and government. One key figure is Salomé Cisnal De Ugarte, whose arrival from Crowell & Moring in 2017 was 'a real coup' for the firm', and who is leading the advice to Amway on competition issues related to physical and digital distribution, and horizontal agreements. De Ugarte is 'an extremely valuable addition to any antitrust team'. The group, which is led by 'highly knowledgeable expert' Christopher Thomas is experienced in representing clients in international cartel and abuse of dominance investigations, as well as merger reviews; it has 'a high level of dedication and responsiveness'. Thomas, in particular, is praised for having 'an outstanding ability to understand complex business processes and technical implications'. A cross-office team, including Thomas and senior associate May Lyn Yuen, represented Wallenius Wilhelmsen Lines and Eukor in the long-running global maritime car carrier cartel investigations; this matter has been subject to over a dozen concluded or ongoing investigations worldwide. The team also acts for complainants and intervenors in behavioural matters; Thomas is working with associate David Dauchez to represent Lithuanian oil refinery Orlen Lietuva at the General Court of the EU as the intervening party in an appeal by Lithuanian state-run railway company Lietuvos gelezinkeliai of the decision by the European Commission to fine it for removing a railway track between the refinery and the Latvian border. In evidence of the firm's strengths in the defence sector, Falk Schöning and others assisted Orbital ATK with obtaining phase one clearance in the EU for its $9.2bn sale to Northrop Grumman. Counsel Gianni De Stefano is also a notable practitioner.
Jones Day fields 'a very practical team' that 'looks around the corner to anticipate issues'. The group, which is jointly led by Bernard Amory and Alexandre Verheyden, is well placed to handle the complex EU and global competition issues of international clients in merger control matters, litigation, cartel and abuse of dominance investigations, and state aid cases. Its breadth and depth of antitrust expertise is complemented by cross-practice support in areas such as corporate and M&A, regulatory and litigation. In addition, it is also able to leverage the knowledge and experience of competition experts throughout the global network. In the TMT sector, Amory, Verheyden, Philipp Werner and recently promoted partner Laurent De Muyter are acting for Deutsche Telekom/T-Mobile in an EC investigation into mobile telephone network sharing agreements, and, separately, are handling its challenge before the EC of an EU member state's auction of spectrum on allegedly discriminatory terms in favour of an incumbent operator. The firm also assists Procter & Gamble with its worldwide acquisitions and divestitures; recent work includes Serge Clerckx and others acting as antitrust counsel to the client on the acquisition of Merck's worldwide consumer health business for $4.2bn, and also the dissolution of its healthcare partnership with Teva. Mario Todino, Charlotte Breuvart, Yvan Desmedt and recently promoted partner Charles de Navacelle are also recommended. Kaarli Eichhorn joined from General Electric in April 2018.
Latham & Watkins LLP's Brussels office serves as a hub for the European competition practice, and its team is a regular fixture in industry-shaping mergers, as well as reputationally-sensitive antitrust investigations and litigation. In 2017, Sven Völcker, Michael Esser and others assisted Lufthansa with obtaining EU clearance of its acquisition of a substantial part of Air Berlin’s business. In addition, Joshua Holian and Luca Crocco were part of the international group that acted for Broadcom on the global merger control aspects of its acquisition of Brocade Communications Systems for $5.9bn. On the behavioural side, in a matter involving the interface between EU competition law and digital goods/online platforms, Lars Kjølbye is leading the advice to Valve Software on the EC's investigation into alleged geo-blocking practices by video games publishers. Matteo Bay and Javier Ruiz Calzado are also recommended. Adrien Giraud joined from Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP.
Linklaters' practice is 'very globally oriented', and clients particularly note that the firm has 'a large amount of resources in Brussels'. The team brings 'absolutely unique knowledge and experience to competition cases'. It attracts a strong flow of work from blue-chip, multinational clients in relation to merger investigations, cartels and other conduct investigations, headline state aid cases and litigation. Bernd Meyring is co-leading a cross-office team - which also includes counsels Erik Venot, Francesca Crotti and Nikolaos Peristerakis - in the advice to Linde on the global antitrust aspects of its proposed all-share merger of equals with Praxair. In another standout deal, global competition practice head Jonas Koponen, managing associate Isabel Rooms and others are assisting Scripps with the merger control and media regulatory proceedings in Europe associated with its sale to Discovery Communications for $14.6bn. Koponen 'combines excellent legal knowledge, legal and business experience, and the understanding of the functioning of DG Competition to become a real trusted adviser to executive management of large companies'. Another individual who leads on many of the firm's key matters is Annamaria Mangiaracina, whose competition work spans sectors such as healthcare, financial services, IT and telecoms. Mangiaracina was one of the advisers to Novartis on its acquisition of radiopharmaceutical company Advanced Accelerator Applications. Bernard van de Walle de Ghelcke is another experienced practitioner. In recent developments, Xavier Taton was promoted to partner, while Pierre Bichet and Liliane Gam were made managing associates. Counsel Sibel Yilmaz is another name to note.
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is particularly well-known as a powerhouse in the merger control space, where its competition team in Brussels stands out for multijurisdictional, big-ticket M&A transactions that are high-value and involve complex regulatory issues. It leads on EC merger notifications and reviews, and also those involving the regulatory authorities of EU member states. In addition, it is the forefront of the advice to clients on merger control matters involving other jurisdictions worldwide. Bill Batchelor, who has 20 years of UK and EU competition law experience, joined from Baker McKenzie CVBA/SCRL in August 2018. Other key figures include Ingrid Vandenborre, Frederic Depoortere and counsel Stephane Dionnet, all of whom acted for ABB Asea Brown Boveri on the antitrust aspects of its acquisition of General Electric's industrial solutions business. Depoortere was also the lead adviser to Beckton, Dickinson & Co on its $24bn acquisition of CR Bard in 2017. Beyond merger control work, the competition practice is rounded out by the group's involvement in behavioural investigations, state aid cases and follow-on litigation. Vandenborre and others are representing Aspen Pharmacare Holdings and its subsidiaries in an Article 102 investigation by the EC into allegedly excessive pricing practices used by the client; this is the EC's first excessive pricing case in the pharmaceutical sector. Counsel Thorsten Goetz splits his practice between the Brussels and Frankfurt offices. Giorgio Motta and associates Andreas Kafetzopoulos and Niels Baeten are also recommended. Simon Baxter has retired from private practice.
Slaughter and May
Slaughter and May's team is highly rated by clients and peer firms alike, with individuals such as Philippe Chappatte ('a legend of the antitrust bar, and a real pleasure to work with'), and Jordan Ellison and Anna Lyle-Smythe (both of whom 'bring keen insight, are exceptionally practical and very efficient') being singled out for praise. Office head John Boyce, who has been based in Brussels since 1996, is another well-known name. The firm has an enviable reputation in the market, owing to its excellent coverage of high-profile matters across the full spread of competition law. Ellison and Lyle-Smythe are working with the London office to advise Google on the EC's Article 102 investigation into its AdSense for Search advertising services. Market investigations, sector inquiries and state aid cases are other cornerstones of the practice. In the merger control space, Boyce was among the advisers to Tata Steel on the competition law aspects of its proposed 50/50 joint venture with thyssenkrupp. In the telecoms sector, Kerry O’Connell and others are assisting Vodafone with the merger control aspects of its proposed acquisition of Liberty Global’s telecoms business in Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania. Senior associate Alexander Chadd is also recommended.
Van Bael & Bellis' longstanding track-record in headline behavioural and transactional competition mandates ensures that it consistently attracts high-end work from blue-chip clients, such as AstraZeneca, Bloomberg, Coca-Cola European Partners and Halliburton. Praised for its 'in-depth analysis' of matters across the entire competition law spectrum, the group includes Porter Elliott, who is currently advising Quaker Chemical on the EC's review of its proposed acquisition of Houghton International for $1.4bn. Jean-François Bellis and Tim Kasten recently represented Viscas in a General Court appeal of the European Commission's decision to fine the client for its alleged involvement in a global market/customer allocation cartel in the power cables sector. In 2017, Andrzej Kmiecik, who heads the practice, was the lead adviser to Toyoda Gosei on the EC's investigation into an alleged cartel among car safety equipment suppliers over the supply of occupant safety systems to Japanese car manufacturers. The 'highly attentive' Andreas Reindl, who recently made partner, 'can quickly grasp the main issue, even when limited information is provided'. Another newly-promoted partner is Gabriele Coppo. In the air freight sector, Johan Van Acker, who is praised for his 'excellent relationship management', and Kris Van Hove are acting as coordinating counsel to Japan Airlines in eight follow-on damages actions across various European jurisdictions. David Hull, senior counsel Michael Clancy and Markus Wellinger are also names to note.
White & Case LLP has 'an outstanding team for all antitrust matters'; it 'can be real fighters when the case warrants it'. In addition, it 'can count on an extensive and strong worldwide network'. Led by Mark Powell, the group is particularly well-known for its work in high-stakes (and often landmark) antitrust litigation, conduct investigations and cross-border M&A (involving particularly challenging clearance issues). One of the team's areas of sector expertise is in the telecoms industry, where Powell, Alexandra Rogers and others are acting for Deutsche Telekom in a proposed 'four-to-three' merger in the Dutch mobile telecoms sector between Tele2 Netherlands and Deutsche Telekom’s subsidiary T-Mobile Netherlands, which is currently the subject of an EC phase two investigation. On the behavioural side, the firm has a particularly standout reputation in the pharmaceutical sector where it handles matters that are of critical significance to the industry. The firm has been on the front line in cases involving patent settlement agreements; James Killick ('a leading expert on all aspects of EU competition law within the life sciences sector, including pricing matters, parallel trade, retail and wholesale strategy') and Jérémie Jourdan are representing Servier at the General Court in an appeal of the EC's decision to impose a €331m fine on the client for entering into pay-for-delay agreements with generic drugs manufacturers in order to delay the market entry of generic versions of cardiovascular drug Perindropil. In another matter, Killick and Assimakis Komninos acted as co-counsel to Pfizer in its appeal of the CMA's decision on excessive pricing before the Competition Appeal Tribunal. In the financial services arena, Powell and Jourdan are part of a cross-office team which is advising Crédit Agricole on multiple worldwide investigations into the setting of Euribor and Libor indexes. The firm also has a strong reputation in matters involving the energy and technology sectors. Elsewhere, 'the firm's combination of state aid expertise and sectoral knowledge sets it apart from a number of other law firms active in the area'. Powell's team also includes Jacquelyn MacLennan, Kai Struckmann and Strati Sakellariou-Witt. Genevra Forwood and Katarzyna Czapracka recently made partner.
Arnold & Porter's Brussels team works closely with members of the London and Frankfurt offices on EU competition matters. In addition, the firm has an antitrust practice in the US, giving the firm a strong profile in all types of transactional and behavioural matters with a global dimension. In a deal that is significant to the titanium dioxide market, Brussels office head Luc Gyselen and associate Tiiu Iverson are acting for Cristal in the EC's review of its proposed acquisition by competitor Tronox. Axel Gutermuth worked with practitioners in the US to assist Monsanto with the global merger filings connected with its $66bn merger with Bayer. The other notable individual in Brussels is Niels Ersbøll, whose areas of sector expertise spans life sciences, telecoms, energy and transports/logistics. Ersbøll is 'excellent in his advice; he thinks with the client in mind, and suggests viable alternatives when feasible'. Ersbøll and others are assisting AT&T with obtaining clearances in the EU, and further afield internationally, for its $86.4bn acquisition of Time Warner. Pfizer, Cisco Systems, GE and Boston Scientific are among its other clients.
Herbert Smith Freehills LLP
Herbert Smith Freehills LLP has a strong track record assisting international companies with the competition aspects of M&A deals, behavioural investigations and litigation. State aid work - both contentious and non-contentious - is another pillar of the practice. Complementing its team's core competition expertise is its knowledge about related international trade and sector-specific regulatory issues; Brussels managing partner and team head Craig Pouncey is particularly knowledgeable about matters specific to the financial services sector, while Kyriakos Fountoukakos is an expert on the TMT and pharmaceutical industries, and Lode Van Den Hende is a go-to for advice on the energy sector. Consultants Bo Vesterdorf and Eric White are also key individuals. In 2017, Fountoukakos, and senior associates Camille Puech-Baron and Peter Rowland, worked with members of the London office to advise Sky on the merger control and regulatory aspects of its £22.1bn acquisition by Comcast, and also the merger control, media plurality and broadcasting standards aspects of Twenty-First Century Fox's £18.5bn bid. The same team is also acting as antitrust counsel to Sky on Disney's proposed acquisition of Fox. Also notable is that Fountoukakos was part of the cross-office team that acted as antitrust counsel to Uber on the combination of its ridesharing business in Russia and neighbouring CIS countries with Yandex Taxi. Furukawa Electric, Gazprom Neft and SoftBank Group are among other clients. Of counsel Adrian Brown and senior associate Peter Rowland are other names to note.
Mayer Brown's competition team excels in large and complex merger control work, where it assists clients with carrying out risk analyses, multijurisdictional merger notifications and proceedings. In 2017, Jens Peter Schmidt, who co-heads the European antitrust and competition practice with London-based David Harrison, worked with the Washington DC office to assist Nestlé with the global merger notifications connected with its $2.3bn acquisition of global nutritional health products manufacturer Atrium; Schmidt was the lead adviser on merger filings in Germany and Austria. Another highlight saw Julian Ellison, Schmidt and associate Déborah Faure handle the global merger control filings for Kuraray concerning its $1.3bn acquisition of Calgon Carbon. The firm also undertakes a significant amount of work pertaining to cartel investigations brought by European and national competition authorities; recent work has spanned areas such as Libor, Tibor and steel abrasives. Abuse of dominance investigations, state aid cases, antitrust litigation and compliance reviews are other mainstays of the practice. Benteler International, Global Houghton, LG and Unilever are key clients.
WilmerHale's high-quality group is co-led by John Ratliff, Christian Duvernoy and Frédéric Louis, whose private practice experience in Brussels collectively adds up to more than 86 years. Also highly regarded is Claus-Dieter Ehlermann, who has previously held several high-ranking positions at the European Commission, one of which involved serving as a former Director-General of the Directorate-General for Competition. Special counsel Anne Vallery has a wealth of experience in major transatlantic cartel investigations, including those connected with soda ash, cement, vitamins and flat glass. Vallery's other work includes abuse of dominance investigations, follow-on damages litigation and state aid litigation. Cormac O’Daly is another key figure in the team, whose clients include Baker Hughes, Schaeffler, Guardian Industries and Lufthansa.
Ashurst LLP's team is 'always keen to understand the situation of the client', and is praised for its 'constructiveness, creativity and availability'. It is a strong choice for competition litigation; in 2017, practice head Denis Fosselard (an expert in EU and Italian competition matters) successfully represented Alfa Acciai and Ferriera Valsabbia at the EU Court of Justice in an appeal of the EC's decision to fine the parties for their alleged involvement in a price-fixing cartel with other Italian rebar producers in the steel sector, and the judgment of the General Court, which confirmed the decision. In addition, Denis Waelbroeck and others are acting for the Luxembourg government in litigation with the European Commission over the compatibility with state aid rules of tax rulings taken by the Luxembourg Authority. Waelbroeck and counsel Irene Antypas have 'a very thorough sense of legal details, yet are also business oriented'. Another key contact is Alexandre Vandencasteele, who is leading a cross-office team in the advice to a packaging company on an abuse of dominance investigation by the Chilean Fiscalía Nacional Económica. Outside of behavioural investigations and litigation, the firm undertakes a significant amount of merger control work. Annick Vroninks is another experienced practitioner in the group, whose 'good coordination ensures progress of the dossier or question'.
Baker Botts L.L.P.
Baker Botts L.L.P. is 'very in tune with clients' needs', with it being particularly well known for its work in the energy and natural resources sector, and also in TMT, although its team's competition-related experience also spans various other industries. In 2017, Brussels office head Catriona Hatton (who is a co-chair of the global antitrust group) and special counsel David Cardwell assisted power company AES with obtaining EC merger clearance for its joint venture with Siemens to form global energy storage technology and services company Fluence. Other clients of the practice include International Air Transport Association, Ryanair and Ethos Energy. The group also includes Paul Lugard, who is 'transparent on where things stand'. 'Very mature' senior associate Adam Dawson handles a mix of merger control (before the EC and national competition authorities), abuse of dominance complaints and investigations; clients note that he is 'hardworking, efficient and very good at keeping the client updated'.
Bird & Bird is 'the ideal legal partner for a business', with clients highlighting 'the level of expertise' at the firm and 'unique personal service'. Its credentials in cross-border competition matters are reflected by the fact that its Brussels team includes practitioners from nine different European countries. Under the leadership of José Rivas, the practice is gaining momentum; Takeshige Sugimoto and counsel Akihiro Kawashima have recently joined from Gibson Dunn, and senior counsel Lawrence Freeman is a notable arrival from Tesla. Clients also benefit from the expertise of Hein Hobbelen, who moved from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in 2017. Illustrative of the quality of its mandates, Anne Federle and Rivas are leading a team acting for Rubycon in its appeal before the General Court of the EU against the EC's decision to fine the client for its alleged involvement in a cartel with other capacitor manufacturers. In addition, Federle, Hobbelen and Scott McInnes provide competition and payments sector regulatory advice to Mastercard on a range of issues. The firm's broader work for clients also includes merger control, state aid proceedings, abuse of dominance investigations and public procurement.
Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP
Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP resulted from the combination in April 2018 between Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP and US-headquartered firm Bryan Cave LLP. Its competition practice in Brussels is led by 'very responsive and smart' David Anderson, who has more than 20 years of experience assisting corporates from across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas with a wide range of matters; he is 'extremely client oriented' and 'always makes time for you'. Anderson's legal expertise is complemented by his extensive experience of working with competition authorities and governments worldwide on antitrust legal and policy issues. He is one of the longest-serving private lawyers to advise the European Commission on the work of the International Competition Network (ICN) and, in 2018, was appointed to serve on the ICN's merger and cartel working groups. Recent highlights for the firm include Anderson, associate Paul Culliford and members of the London office assisting MSV Group with obtaining unconditional phase one clearance from the UK CMA for its acquisition of the Donington Park racing circuit business in the UK. Anderson and Culliford also advised Moneygram on the EU antitrust aspects of a $940m takeover bid by Euronet.
Crowell & Moring has a well-established reputation assisting US and Europe-headquartered clients with their most significant, cross-border competition issues. Although its team is particularly well-known for its work in the TMT and life sciences sectors, the practice generates mandates from clients in other industries, such as automotive, food and drink, and gaming. Group head Thomas De Meese and associate Evi Mattioli are advising Liberty Global on obtaining EC clearance of its acquisition of sole control of De Vijver Media and the set-up of an ad-sales joint venture with Mediahuis. In another matter, following the EC's decision to fine European truck manufacturers for their alleged involvement in a price-fixing cartel, De Meese, Sean-Paul Brankin and others are gathering together a group of claimants (by way of a special purpose vehicle known as Stichting Truck Cartel Recovery) to pursue litigation in the Netherlands against the members of the alleged cartel that was investigated by the EC, as well as other truck manufacturers. Unibet, DuPont/Chemours, Bloomberg and Nestlé are among other clients. Senior counsel Jules Stuyck, who joined from Liedekerke Wolters Waelbroeck Kirkpatrick in 2017, is also recommended. Counsel Karl Stas is a recent hire from Jones Day.
Dechert LLP, which offers 'very good coordination between various offices across Europe', has seen its competition practice in Brussels go from strength to strength, following the arrivals of Alec Burnside and other practitioners from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP in 2017. Burnside, in particular, is 'in tune with the workings and priorities of the Commission, such that he is able to direct effort to maximum effect'. The expanded Brussels group 'is hardworking, conscientious and diligent' and 'thinks of each and every aspect of the file to protect the client's interests'. advises clients on a standalone basis on a wide range of matters, and is also able to leverage the expertise of practitioners in Frankfurt and Paris, and also those in the US. In addition to acting for existing clients, the firm has won new instructions from names such as Sun Capital, Airbus and Fresenius Medical Care. Its recent work has included Burnside, recently promoted partner Clemens Graf York von Wartenburg and Hans Jürgen Meyer-Lindemann acting for longstanding client Crown Holdings in the European Commission’s investigation into anti-competitive practices in the metal packaging sector, in violation of Article 101 TFEU. In addition, Burnside and senior associate Marjolein De Backer are acting for various third-party complainants (including Yelp and Getty Images) in the EC's investigations into Google's practices pertaining to online search and its Android platform. In 2017, von Wartenburg represented FMC in representations before the EC concerning an asset swap with DuPont, in the context of the remedies required by the EC in the $145bn Dow Chemical-DuPont merger. Anne MacGregor departed for The Capitol Forum.
DLA Piper's 'impressively engaged and agile' group undertakes competition work for industry-leading corporates across a wide range of industries, with a notable focus on transport, energy, technology and life sciences. It provides 'an in-depth analysis of the issues raised and really tries to get a good understanding of the commercial issues by speaking with business stakeholders'. The firm's global footprint makes it well placed to advise clients located worldwide on the competition aspects of cross-border M&A, distribution law issues, state aid matters and conduct investigations. Practice head Bertold Bär-Bouyssière is representing longstanding client Merck in various contentious matters, including appeals arising from the landmark UK CMA and EC investigations into reverse payment settlements. Bär-Bouyssière provides 'to-the-point advice and has a good sense of humour'. Other names to note are Daniel Colgan, Bob Martens and associate Daniel Wojtczak. Trade and government affairs partner Jeroen Jansen also supports the competition team.
Garrigues has built up a strong profile in pan-European and global competition law matters, enabling it to generate work from large multinational clients. The firm has become particularly well-known in EU competition litigation, with state aid cases, cartel appeals and abuse of dominance cases representing notable areas of activity. The practice in Brussels is led by José Luis Buendía, who has appeared in more than 150 court proceedings. Recently promoted partner Alfonso Lamadrid has handled more than 60 cases before the EU courts. In the pharmaceutical sector, the firm's competition practice has a longstanding reputation for its work in landmark parallel trade matters; Ángel Givaja Sanz, in particular, has made a name for himself in this space. Showcasing the firm's strengths in this area, Sanz and Madrid-based Marcos Araujo Boyd (who is the firm's head of EU and competition law) and others acted for the European Association of Euro Pharmaceutical Companies in its application for annulment of the EC’s decision to discontinue its competition investigation into GlaxoSmithKline’s dual-pricing scheme, which restricted parallel trade of medicines in Spain. The firm also undertakes a significant amount of work for technology-sector companies; one standout mandate has seen it act for Google in an appeal against the EC's imposition of a €4.3bn fine in the Android investigation. Luis Ortiz Blanco divides his time between the Brussels and Madrid offices.
Gide Loyrette Nouel A.A.R.P.I's team is 'well connected, experienced and versatile when it comes to advising on a broad range of EU competition law issues'. It is involved in a number of matters that are at the top of the European agenda, as is illustrated by the fact that Laurent Godfroid and counsel Ségolène Pelsy acted for Twenga as a complainant in the EC's investigation into Google's alleged abuse of dominance in general internet search by giving an illegal advantage to its comparison shopping service. Also notable is that Benoît Le Bret, Stéphane Hautbourg and associate Corinne Rydzynski are representing Engie at the General Court in an appeal of the EC's decision that Luxembourg's tax treatment of GDF Suez (now Engie) gave it an unfair advantage over other companies, in breach of EU state aid rules. Olivier Prost is another key figure in the group, which also counts Uber, Avril Group, KKR and Total as key clients.
In January 2018, Norton Rose Fulbright's London-based partner Peter Scott succeeded Martin Coleman as the firm's global antitrust practice head, following the latter's move to the UK CMA to become a non-executive director. Jay Modrall heads up the Brussels team, which covers the full spread of competition work for clients in industries such as energy, life sciences and healthcare, transport, and technology and innovation. It has a first-rate reputation in multijurisdictional merger control matters, and is also highly regarded for antitrust litigation, conduct investigations and general advisory work. Michael Jürgen Werner has more than 30 years of competition experience. Christian Filippitsch, of counsel Max Seuster and senior associate Violetta Bourt are other notable individuals in the group.
O'Melveny & Myers LLP
At O'Melveny & Myers LLP, EU and national competition law is one of the firm's main areas of focus in Brussels. Office managing partner Christian Riis-Madsen and practice chair Riccardo Celli are the main partners in the team, which also includes counsels Stéphane Frank, Philippe Nogues and Christian Peeters. The group handles a broad cross-section of mandates for clients, including those involving merger control, abuses of dominance, cartel investigations and matters involving an interplay between intellectual property and antitrust. Honeywell International, Samsung Electronics and Coller Capital are among the clients of the firm.
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP's team, which underwent significant expansion in 2017, has a particularly strong profile in some of the largest and most high-profile EC conduct investigations and litigation, and also in contentious matters before national competition authorities. The firm undertakes a significant amount of work for Qualcomm; Miguel Rato, Brussels managing partner Trevor Soames and senior associate Marixenia Davilla are representing the client in the EC's Article 102 investigation into alleged predatory pricing, and also an investigation into alleged exclusivity arrangements. On the transactional front, the team is also acting as antitrust counsel to the same client on its $47bn merger with NXP. Beyond Qualcomm work, Soames is representing Air Canada in the EU General Court appeal arising from the EC's decision to fine air cargo carriers for allegedly engaging in a price-fixing cartel. Other clients include Sony Electronics, Booking.com and Technicolor. Nadine Herrmann is particularly strong in matters involving an interplay between intellectual property and antitrust. Stephen Mavroghenis and associate Mark English are among other key figures.
Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP
Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP's wide-ranging practice includes cases that have both an EU competition law and an intellectual property component, and give rise to issues such as abuse of dominance, standard-setting and FRAND commitments; Oliver Heinisch is a name to note in this area, and he also has expertise in cartel and abuse of dominance investigations. Elsewhere, the firm has a standout capability in the state aid sphere; counsel Dimitris Vallindas advised Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund on the state aid issues connected with aid to support the restructuring of the Greek railway sector. Further reflective of the firm's broad spread of work, Robert Klotz and associate Michael Hofmann are advisers to 1&1 Drillisch (as a third party) on the merger control issues associated with the proposed merger between its rivals Vodafone and Unitymedia in Germany. Klotz and Hofmann are also acting for ÖBB AG in an ongoing EU investigation into potential anti-competitive practices in the Austrian rail passenger transport market. Jacques Derenne leads the team, which also includes Isabelle Rahman, counsel Yaniss Aiche and associate Marie Lagrue. It is highly rated by clients for its 'clear and analytical approach to a given case/problem', 'proactive communication' and for being 'up to date with the latest case law and legal developments'. Wim Vandenberghe has moved to Laga.
Squire Patton Boggs' team serves as 'true business partners in what is a highly technical area', delivering 'personal and constructive advice' on cartel investigations and related litigation; its work has spanned areas such as optical disc drives, refrigeration compressors, LCD screens and graphite electrodes. Praised for its 'in-depth knowledge and experience', the group 'can react to urgent matters'. Team head and managing partner Brian Hartnett ('a hugely experienced litigator'), Oliver Geiss and Will Sparks represented Chilean airline Latam in a successful appeal of the EC's finding of a global cartel in the air freight sector. Also notable is the firm's excellent credentials in state aid cases, as was illustrated when Hartnett and Geiss successfully represented Frucona Košice in a landmark appeal at the European Court of Justice. On the transactional front, the team acted as antitrust counsel to SK Global Chemicals concerning its acquisition of two business units from Dow for $370m. Lubrizol, Kuraray and Quanta Storage Inc are among other clients. Associate Tatiana Siakka, whose practice is split between London and Brussels, joined from K&L Gates LLP.
Steptoe & Johnson LLP
Steptoe & Johnson LLP's team is 'technically excellent, and equally (or more importantly), very pragmatic and commercial'. Of counsel Paul Hughes is 'hands on and attuned to client dynamics, such that they can sort through ambiguities to provide actionable advice'. The group demonstrates excellent competencies in all aspects of EU competition law, and its wide-ranging areas of sector expertise include air transport, chemicals, financial services and TMT, among many others. London-based Angus Rodger is representing LG Chem in follow-on damages litigation filed by Microsoft at the High Court of Justice in London, which has arisen from EC and Department of Justice investigations into an alleged conspiracy to fix prices of Li-ion batteries. In addition, Hughes advised Illinois Tool Works (ITW) on a UK CMA investigation into vertical price fixing in relation to online sales of ITW’s Foster commercial fridges. Other clients include Japan Airlines, Inmarsat and Schunk. Yves Botteman, who previously headed the global antitrust practice, and Jean-Nicolas Maillard joined Dentons along with two associates in 2019.
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
Although Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati saw its former practice head Michael Rosenthaland Götz Drauz move to Sullivan & Cromwell in 2017, the firm continues to handle high-quality mandates under the leadership of Paul McGeown and recent hire Gorka Navea, who joined from DG Comp. It is particularly well-known for its strengths in the merger control sphere, most notably in the technology, transport and basic industries. It also provides the full scope of support in international cartel investigations, abuse of dominance complaints and state aid cases. In addition to acting for clients in matters handled at EC level, the team provides advice on competition issues that are subject to regulatory scrutiny in the UK, Germany and France. It also works closely with practitioners in the US on transatlantic matters. Notable work includes advising Air France-KLM on European merger control issues connected with its acquisition of a 31% controlling stake in Virgin Atlantic. Associates Schweta Batohi and Mélanie Perez (who was hired from Hogan Lovells International LLP) are also key figures in the team. Other clients include Glencore, Seagate and Coherent.
Bredin Prat's Pierre Honoré, who is the head of the Brussels office, represents clients in matters before the French and European courts and competition authorities. The firm is highly active in transactional competition work, and also demonstrates strong capabilities in abuse of dominance and cartel investigations, as well as private damages actions. In 2018, Honoré, counsel Valérie Landes and others assisted AXA with the EC merger filing associated with its €12.4bn acquisition of XL Group. Another highlight saw Honoré and Landes act for Italian shipbuilding company Fincantieri on the competition aspects of its €59.7m acquisition of STX France.
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP's transatlantic presence has enabled it to become a go-to for high-stakes multijurisdictional cartel investigations and related litigation, with a particular strength in the financial services sector. Its team also has experience of other types of matters (including those involving other industries), such as merger reviews, state aid litigation and antitrust counselling. Team head Vincent Brophy and special counsel Tom Bainbridge split their time between Brussels and London. Deutsche Bank, Mastercard, Goldman Sachs and Georgia Pacific are among a number of key clients.
contrast's 'solution-oriented' lawyers are strong performers in the EU and global competition arena, which is borne out by the positive feedback they garner from clients; 'they are quick thinkers and efficient in whatever they do' and 'our work with them has been a fantastic experience'. The group, which is co-led by Filip Tuytschaever and 'outstanding figure' Frank Wijckmans ('his deep insight into any case and pragmatic and honest approach is remarkable'), acts for private companies and public authorities in a wide range of settings, including before the European courts, the EC, national courts and national competition authorities. The scope of its work is wide ranging; senior associate Sébastien Engelen specialises in state aid matters, while counsel Maaike Visser has a strong track record in cartel investigations and is also highly active in private enforcement. Herlinde Burez is experienced in handling the antitrust aspects of multijurisdictional mergers. Elsewhere, the team, which also includes senior associate Emmelie Wijckmans (a recent hire from Crowell & Moring) and counsel Sofie De Keer, advises clients on distribution law issues and competition law compliance. Wijckmans, De Keer and Engelen are representing Orde van Vlaamse Balles as an intervening party at the General Court of the EU in proceedings brought by Alcodis and Alcogroup against the EC over suspected procedural irregularities during dawn raids carried out at the claimants' premises in 2014 and 2015. Panini, Electrolux and Perrigo are among other active clients.
Dentons' Brussels practice is at the heart of the firm's wider international competition practice, which spans the EU and jurisdictions further afield, including Russia and former CIS territories. It is entrusted to handle competition matters of the utmost complexity and strategic significance for clients in sectors such as energy, steel, chemicals, construction and transport. The team includes James Venit and senior counsel Mark Clough QC, who collectively have more than 60 years of competition law experience. Other names to note are Edward Borovikov and senior counsel David O’Keeffe, who both acted for Steel Invest & Finance at the General Court of the EU in proceedings concerning the alleged grant of state aid by the Belgian state to certain steel companies. Other key figures in the team are Bogdan Evtimov, Jörg Karenfort and counsel Josef Hainz. Yves Botteman and Jean-Nicolas Maillard were new arrivals from Steptoe & Johnson LLP in 2019 along with two associates.
Euclid Law's merger with EDGE Legal in February 2017 sees the combined entity offer clients competition law expertise in both Brussels and London, with the work including cross-jurisdictional cartel investigations, high-profile competition litigation, mergers and state aid cases. The partners in the Brussels team are Damien Geradin and recent hire Philip Lux (who joined from German firm Kapellmann und Partner). Geradin and Lux are among the advisers to Polish oil company PKN Orlen on the EU merger control aspects of its acquisition of Lotos. In another notable mandate, Geradin is representing O2 in the EC's investigation into network sharing agreements between O2/Cetin and T-Mobile in the Czech Republic. Elsewhere, the firm is acting for a number of complainants in the EC's Google investigations. Counsel Mathieu Relange is a recent arrival from Bird & Bird.
Gleiss Lutz has had a longstanding presence in the Brussels market since it opened an office in 1962. Led by 'very knowledgeable and pragmatic adviser', Ulrich Soltész, its competition practice coordinates global merger reviews, international cartel investigations, global damages actions and various other matters; the firm is well connected with many other top law firms worldwide, putting it on a strong footing to undertake a wide range of cross-border engagements. It also undertakes its own standalone work for clients, attracting praise for its 'good instinct for future trends', as well as its 'very clear and understandable advice'. Recent work includes Soltesz and Christian von Köckritz assisting 'bad bank' Heta Resolution with the EU regulatory and state aid aspects of the liquidation and restructuring of the former Hypo Alpe Adria Bank. In addition, Soltész is representing Commerzbank in court proceedings in the Netherlands over the provision of guarantees that were allegedly in violation of state aid law. Deutsche Telekom, Globalfoundries and HeidelbergCement also instruct the firm on competition matters.
At Hengeler Mueller, Hans-Jörg Niemeyer and Markus Röhrig, who are the main contacts in Brussels, act for a broad base of German, European and non-European clients. Working closely with colleagues based in Germany, the duo excel in defending clients' interests in cartel investigations brought by the German Federal Cartel Office, the EC and foreign antitrust authorities. Elsewhere, the team assists clients with parallel US and European merger reviews, and also plays a key role in other global mergers. The firm has been acting for MAN SE in various follow-on actions arising from the EC's truck cartel investigation. Tata Steel, Knorr-Bremse and Carl Zeiss Vision are also active clients.
McDermott Will & Emery Belgium LLP leverages its international platform in cross-border competition matters, with the Brussels team working closely with practitioners across the firm's network in Europe and the US. Group head Jacques Buhart, whose practice is split between Brussels and Paris, undertakes a mix of merger control work, and EU/French conduct investigations and litigation. In Brussels, Buhart works alongside Philip Bentley QC, who has nearly four decades of competition experience, and also Andrea Hamilton and Wilko van Weert. In a notable mandate, Buhart and van Weert were among the advisers to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries on the competition aspects of its investment in Framatome (formerly known as New NP), as part of a reorganisation of the French nuclear industry. Another highlight saw Buhart and others act for Nidec on its joint venture agreement with Groupe PSA.
Morrison & Foerster LLP
Morrison & Foerster LLP's team is a regular fixture in challenging, multijurisdictional headline M&A deals and conduct investigations, as well as proceedings involving national competition authorities in Europe and further afield worldwide. It acts for a number of blue-chip companies in industries that are the subject of regulatory scrutiny, and is particularly active in the technology sector. In 2017, global antitrust practice co-chair Rony Gerrits (whose practice is split between Brussels and Tokyo) was part of a cross-office group, which advised Toshiba on the $18bn sale of its memory business to a consortium led by Bain Capital; the Brussels team handled the EU merger filing for the client. Gerrits also acted as antitrust counsel to Toshiba and Innovation Network Corporation on the $2.4bn divestiture of Landis+Gyr. Tom McQuail worked with members of the Washington DC office to assist Intel with obtaining clearances across multiple jurisdictions of its acquisition of Mobileye for $15.3bn. Beyond transactional antitrust work, the firm has been involved in many of the leading global cartel investigations of the past ten years, such as those involving automotive parts, optical disc drives, cathode ray tubes and rechargeable batteries.
Shearman & Sterling LLP covers the full range of competition work for clients across many industries, including automotive, biotechnology, telecoms and consumer goods. Its ability to resource matters across offices makes it well placed to handle cross-border mandates. Global practice head Matthew Readings is part of the cross-office team that is advising Paper Excellence on the global antitrust aspects of its $4.7bn acquisition of Brazilian pulp-maker Eldorado Brasil Celulose. Also highly regarded are Geert Goeteyn and Elvira Aliende Rodriguez, who are working with members of the London office to represent Cargolux Airlines in an appeal of the EC's re-adopted decision in the air freight investigation, as well as related UK follow-on damages proceedings. James Webber, who splits his practice between the Brussels and London offices, is leading the advice to five oil and gas companies (Royal Dutch Shell, Engie, OMV, Wintershall and Uniper) on the competition issues related to the financing and gas transportation arrangements for the high-profile Nord Stream Two gas pipeline. In addition, Webber is assisting ArcelorMittal with the competition issues associated with its joint bid with Nippon Steel to acquire Essar Steel. Other clients of the practice include McGraw Hill, Bunge and Coesia.
Stibbe marries a first-rate Belgian competition law offering with strengths in EU-level matters, such as state aid complaints, cartel investigations and public procurement matters. Team head Peter Wytinck is particularly experienced in representing EU institutions in court litigation before the Court of Justice. Wytinck also excels in representing private companies, and is leading a cross-departmental team that is acting for the Port of Antwerp in court proceedings arising from the EC's investigation into aid allegedly being illegally granted to two container terminal operators. Other clients include Thomas Cook, MAN and Infrax. Senior associate Delphine Gillet is also recommended. Hendrik Viaene joined Laga in September 2018.