Private equity in Belgium
Allen & Overy LLP
Based across its Brussels and Antwerp offices, Allen & Overy LLP's corporate team, which is made up of 'highly technical and skilled lawyers' with 'strong transactional expertise', is frequently instructed on private equity matters. The full-service firm attracts praise for its 'integrated offering' which utilises its 'full coverage of the legal spectrum' and 'excellent international network' for instructions with cross-border and multidisciplinary elements. In a recent transaction, led by Dirk Meeus and Frederiek Adams, the team advised Goodman on the sale of a portfolio of 24 real estate logistics assets located in Germany, France and Poland to an arm of Blackstone. Antwerp-based Wouter Van de Voorde counts CVC Capital Partners and Bencis Capital Partners on his client roster, and heads up the practice, which includes 'well-known partner' Pierre-Olivier Mahieu, who attracts praise for his 'good business sense'.
‘A&O is a real international law firm, working with teams built up across regions. They are able to mobilize a workforce in a short period of time to conduct big deals.‘
‘The A&O team is good for straight forward Belgian private equity deals. They have the size, ability and strength to work on larger deals in Belgium.‘
‘They have a market-leading position in Belgium.‘
‘Best in Belgium. They are on top of the latest changes, have broad and flexible teams and availability, play a good role in negotiations and are good at rationalizing and avoiding overcomplexity.‘
‘The team has extreme focus on client satisfaction and seamlessly works in the background without much need for direction. They truly take our interest to heart and work for our backs.‘
‘Full coverage of the legal spectrum in a cross functional way. Integrated in an excellent international network.‘
‘Being a full service firm, they can accommodate all legal topics with excellent people‘
‘Pierre-Olivier Mahieu’s leadership is palpable within the organisation and it’s a pleasure working with him.‘
‘Down to earth, hardworking, smart, creative, problem solvers. Stand out individuals are Dirk Meeus and senior associate Juno Hautekiet.‘
‘Senior associate Juno Hautekiet is an extremely dedicated and skilled lawyer, whom you can trust blindly to manage your deals.‘
‘Dirk Meeus is very involved himself, and makes very relevant contributions in the end-game of a deal.‘
‘They are exceptionally strong in finding creative solutions to unlock a blocked situation.‘
‘Wouter Van de Voorde is a very good all-rounder.‘
‘Hans Kets is an accessible, very commercial and straightforward lawyer.‘
Waterland Private Equity
Bencis Capital Partners
Nordic Capital CV1 Limited
Ergon Capital Partners
Gilde Buy Out Partners
CVC Capital Partners
IK investment Partners
The Riverside Company
Domo Investment Group
- Advised Waterland Private Equity on the disposal of the Combell Group, a major portfolio company in the technology sector.
- Acted for Goodman on the sale of a portfolio of logistics assets to an arm of Blackstone.
- Acted for Continental Foods Belgium, a CVC portfolio company, on its acquisition of the Mrs Cheng’s brand from Orkla Foods.
The private equity practice group at Baker McKenzie CVBA/SCRL sits in the firm's corporate finance team and has a breadth of experience across transactions and fund formation work. Practice head Koen Vanhaerents and Luc Meeus, who handles the corporate and tax aspects of transactional work and fund structurings, advised M80 Partners on the structuring of its new M80 Capital private equity fund marketed to institutional investors. Other names to note include Dominique Maes, who handles corporate and M&A transactions in the private equity sector.
M80 Partners NV/SA
KeBeK Private Equity
- Advised M80 Partners on the legal and tax aspects of the structuring of its new M80 Capital private equity fund marketed to institutional investors.
- Assisted KeBeK Services with the tax and legal aspects of the structuring of its new KeBeK III private equity fund.
- Advised TA Associates and the other shareholders of PhysIOL Group on its sale to BVI (backed by TPG Capital).
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
Clifford Chance's private equity practice, which includes corporate, tax and finance experts, is instructed by a combination of local and international private equity funds including IK Investment Partners, Gilde Buy Out Partners, KKR and EQT. Practice head Niek De Pauw handles corporate and M&A transactions, with a particular focus on acting for private equity clients. Corporate and energy expert Xavier Remy is also a key name to note, and advised a consortium of funds on its €2bn acquisition of Macquarie's stake in Brussels Airport.
IK Investment Partners
Gilde Buy Out Partners
- Advised a consortium, which included Dutch pension fund APG, Australian investor QIC and insurer Swiss Life, on its successful €2bn acquisition of Macquarie’s stake in Brussels Airport.
- Assisted a consortium on its acquisition of Euroports, one of the largest port terminal operators.
- Advised a private equity house, which was one of three final bidders, on its potential acquisition of Combell.
Linklaters' private equity team benefits from 'top-notch lawyers in an international organisation, but with a clear foot in the local market'. The group advises its clients, which include GIMV, Cobepa, The Carlyle group and PAI Partners, on the full range of issues including transactions, acquisition finance work, fund formations and structuring mandates. The 'tremendous' Charles-Antoine Leunen (who 'offers a very broad set of expertise, combining technical skills with a pragmatic approach and a great personality') heads up the team. Other names to note include Arnaud Coibion and 'very diligent' counsel An-Sofie Van Hootegem, who recently joined from Allen & Overy LLP.
‘Linklaters is certainly the best ‘value for money’ offer in Belgium. They are top-notch lawyers evolving in an international organisation but with a clear foot in the local market.‘
‘A very knowledgeable team who have a clear view on what is market practice and what is moving in the private equity sphere. The team is able to provide hands on advice, seeking solutions rather than flagging issues.‘
‘Charles-Antoine Leunen is a bright, hard worker and fully dedicated to his clients. His business sense is impressive, such as the ability he has to conduct difficult negotiations and help parties to find an agreement.‘
‘Charles-Antoine Leunen’s personal network is huge, such as his experience in finance, M&A, corporate and private equity. He is also very discrete, which is worth mentioning in a world full of ego-centric persons.‘
‘Anne-Sophie Vankemmelbeke assisted with a bond issuance, she knows the subject inside out and is pleasure to work with.‘
‘Caroline Borgers advised on tax issues and is extremely intelligent and talented, great to work with.‘
‘All members, including An-Sofie Van Houteghem, are extremely hands-on, and sense what the client wants/needs. They provide accurate advice and in that respect are more a business enabler than purely a legal advisor.‘
The Carlyle group
Gilde Buy Out Partners
Gilde Equity Management
BIP Capital Partners
- Advised PAI Partners on its proposed €2.3bn acquisition of Ontex Group by way of a public takeover bid.
- Assisted Groupe Bruxelles Lambert with its acquisition of a majority stake in the Webhelp group.
- Advised Gimv and Cube Infrastructure on the sale of the Hansea group to a fund managed by DWS.
The private equity team at Loyens & Loeff handles a range of M&A and corporate transactions, as well as fund formations and the regulatory aspects of deals. It is frequently instructed on cross-border matters and receives referrals from international law firms; in a recent transaction, led by practice head Grégoire Jakhian, the group acted for UK-based private equity company Equistone Partners Europe on its sale of France-based manufacturer Averys to Blackstone Group. Other names to note include Wim Vande Velde, who has particular experience in the real estate and private equity sectors, and newly promoted partner Robrecht Coppens, who leads the start-up and venture capital team.
Marlin Equity Partners
Open Gate Capital
Antin Infrastructure Partners
Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan
H.I.G. Capital Partners
Sunrock Investments BV
- Assisted Towerbrook Capital Partners with the sale of Metallo Group.
- Advised CVC Capital Partners on its acquisition of a majority interest in Teneo, a global CEO advisory firm, through a series of mergers.
- Assisted Equistone Partners Europe with its sale of Averys — a France-based manufacturer of steel products for the industrial and retail industry — to Blackstone Group.
The corporate finance team at Stibbe is particularly active in advising Belgian, Dutch and French funds on private equity transactions. The department counts Gimv and Sofindev on its client roster; in a matter led by Jan Bogaert, the group also assisted new client CapitalG with its €90m investment in Collibra. Other names to note include practice head Stefan Odeurs and Dries Hommez, who attract praise for being 'clearly focused on getting the deal done' and 'coming up with solutions, not problems'.
‘Very solution oriented. Clear and convincing argumentation and advice towards clients and counterparties. Close involvement of senior people.‘
‘Stefan Odeurs and Dries Hommez manage to build relations of confidence with the clients. Great fun to work with.‘
‘Assocaite Margaux Beyer always delivers output of the highest quality, even under difficult circumstances.‘
Beaver Visitec International
Gilde Equity Management
- Assisted Beaver Visitec International with its acquisition of PhysIOL.
- Advised the shareholders of the Trustteam group on its sale process through an auction organised by Kumulus Partners.
- Assisted CapitalG with its €90m investment in Collibra.
With 'broad expertise of the private equity ecosystem', White & Case LLP advises its roster of Belgian private equity, venture capital and family office clients on a range of transactions. The group was recently instructed by Cobepa on its acquisition of BALX Holdings and its strategic agreement with the shareholders of Enoplastic. Thierry Bosly, who attracts praise for 'always striving towards a well-balanced deal', heads up the practice, which includes Muriel Alhadeff and counsel Thomas Glauden; Glauden is dual qualified in Brussels and Luxembourg and has experience handling the corporate administration of private equity funds. Tom Matthijs moved in-house at Cobepa.
‘The multi-disciplinary capabilities of W&C are pretty unique.‘
‘When this firm decides to tackle any activity, their focus to deliver the very best and excellence is not a good sign for their competition.‘
‘Thierry Bosly’s creativity allows his clients to feel respected and listened to.‘
‘Thierry and his team undoubtedly demonstrate in depth knowledge of the very details and technicalities.‘
Guardiola Invest SA
- Assisted Cobepa with its strategic agreement with the shareholders of Enoplastic, that Cobepa will support Enoplastic in its next phase of growth in Italy and worldwide.
- Advised Cobepa on its acquisition of BALX Holdings, which operates in the healthcare industry, focusing on the biotechnology business.
- Assisted French group Financière Colisée with the acquisition of Armonea Group.
The private equity team at ALTIUS acts for private equity funds and management teams on buyouts, recapitalisations and exits. It is particularly active in the life sciences and technology sectors, and recently advised Illionix/Egeria on the sale of QNH Software Solutions to Belgian IT consultancy company Cegeka. Corporate practitioners Tom Vantroyen and Marie Brasseur jointly lead the team, which includes Carine Van Regenmortel, who has experience in private equity-related investments and buyouts.
Acces Capital Partners Group
Indufin Capital Partners
- Advised the management of Access Capital Partners Group on the sale of a strategic stake to Alantra.
- Assisted Blackstone with the sale of one of its hotels to the leading ecological hotel chain QBIC.
- Advised Illionix/Egeria on the sale of QNH Software Solutions to Belgian IT consultancy company Cegeka.
Antwerp-based corporate boutique ARGO Law benefits from a 'to-the-point, pragmatic and professional team with a deep understanding of M&A', which provides 'efficient and pro-active' advice on private equity transactions. In recent work, the group acted for listed private equity fund Gimv on its majority investment in Alro Group, and its acquisition of Impact from Bencis Capital Partners. Key names to note include practice head Kris Verdoodt and Bert Van Ingelghem, who both combine private equity knowledge with corporate real estate expertise. In addition to handling M&A transactions in the private equity sector, the team also leverages the firm's corporate tax practice, which includes Philippe Rens, to provide fund formation advice. Since publication, Filip Meire (who had made partner in January 2020) departed to set up corporate boutique law firm Ace Law.
‘Argo has assisted us with various investment fund related matters in Belgium. The team is very knowledgeable and pragmatic and has a good overview of relevant legal developments in Belgium.’
‘They are not only good lawyers, but also nice people. And if you spent that much time working together on a transaction, personalities matter.‘
‘Down to earth, practical problem solving approach.‘
‘Very much on top of things, detail-oriented dealmakers.‘
‘Philippe Rens is very knowledgeable and calm professional.‘
‘Associate Silke Chantrain is very responsive and pragmatic.‘
‘Bert van Ingelghem is a strong lawyer who does take a clear view/position rather than just listing pros and cons.‘
‘Filip Meire and Bert Van Ingelghem are both very oriented towards making the deal while getting the best possible outcome for us.‘
Waterland Private Equity
We Are Jane
- Acted for Gimv on several transactions including its acquisition of a majority investment in Alro Group from the founding Thys family, and its acquisition of a stake in Impact from Bencis Capital Partners.
- Assisted Integra Capital Partners with the legal, tax and regulatory elements of its structuring, incorporation and closing of the first and second capital rounds of Integra Fund and its feeder entity, Integra Fund Privak.
- Advised Sofindev and the management of the House of Talents group on the sale of a majority stake in the company to Baltisse.
The corporate team at DLA Piper provides ‘local presence and pragmatic execution combined with deep domain expertise, sector knowledge and a global network, making it very suitable for cross-border M&A in a private equity context’. Caroline Daout has particular expertise in the medtech and biotech industries in Belgium, and frequently advises on private equity matters in Africa, particularly in the mining and energy sectors. Daout heads up the team alongside Erwin Simons in Brussels and Antwerp-based partners Koen Selleslags and Michaël Heene; Heene recently joined from Linklaters and handles a range of private equity and venture capital transactions.
‘High-quality work, a reputable organisation headed by deeply-trained M&A professionals that are well-connected in the Belgian mid-market landscape.‘
‘Their approach resonates well with entrepreneurs, corporates as well as classic and hands-on investors where I expect most M&A activity to come from in the next couple of years.‘
‘The DLA Piper team provided quality in a pragmatic way. Super happy about their work.‘
‘Michaël Heene is an outstanding lawyer that operates with a rare deal-making attitude. He represents his clients well and with his can-do mentality he quickly gains the trust of all parties involved.‘
‘Michaël Heene is a young and dynamic partner with ability to deliver this approach to private equity clients.‘
Airbus Defence and Space GmbH
Global Health Investment Fund
Highlander Partners, L.P.
Oakley Capital Ltd
Picsolve International Limited
Waterland Private Equity
- Advised the management of Theuma on their re-investment following the acquisition of Theuma by PE fund M80 Partners.
- Assisted Highlander Partners, and its portfolio company Biamp, on the acquisition by Biamp of Audioprof.
- Assisted Showpad with its €42m capital round.
'With extensive knowledge of all matters related to private equity', Eubelius' practice, which sits as part of the firm's corporate and M&A team, is 'always able to provide hands-on advice'. The group acts for private equity houses and venture capital funds including BNP Paribas Private Equity, Bain Capital and KeBek II, as well as investment targets and management teams. The team is jointly led by Matthias Wauters, Erwin Destuyver and Filip Jenné in the Brussels offices, and includes Kortrijk-based 'rising star' Felix Dobbelaere.
‘The Eubelius team has a unique practice thanks to its in-house academic relations. In the field of company law and private equity the Eubelius team is therefore a top team in Belgium.‘
‘Eubelius is extremely constructive and is always thinking of solutions instead of simply identifying the issue. As such, they can be construed as business enablers.‘
‘Felix Dobbelaere is a very down-to-earth and humble negotiator with a lot of pragmatic knowledge.‘
‘Marieke Wyckaert and Philippe Mulliez are highly recommended.‘
‘Erwin Destuyver is extremely knowledgeable about all matters related to private equity and corporate law, and is always available to give innovative solutions to issues.‘
BNP Paribas Private Equity
Damier Group / Vision Healthcare
Agro Investment Fund
- Advised the shareholders of the 4PET Group on the sale of a majority stake to Færch Plast.
- Assisted the shareholders of De Groote Gaston with the sale of shares in De Groote Gaston group to, amongst others, private equity firm Sufina and De Groote Deinze.
- Acted for Graftys on its capital increase, with €4.1m investment from three Belgian funds and one French fund.
The private equity team at Monard Law has 'excellent market knowledge' of the venture capital space and attracts praise for providing 'hands-on and top-quality advice for SME clients'. The team is spread across three offices and is jointly led by Brussels-based Katrien Vorlat, who is frequently instructed by venture capital investors; Natalie Ulburghs and Nicole Segers in the Hasselt office, and Antwerp-based Pieter Van den Broeck, who regularly advises private equity funds. Hasselt-based Maxime Monard is another name to note, particularly for companies seeking investments by venture capital funds.
‘They share communication efficiently within the company to find the right partner with the right knowledge to help you. They go even beyond their in house network.‘
‘Excellent market knowledge. Availability of partners Youri Steverlynck and Pieter Van Den Broek is exceptional.‘
‘Very much on top of things, they are deal makers (not breakers) and are very well prepared compared to other law firms.‘
‘Our experience with Monard Law proved they have an efficient team and they work at reasonable fees. Exercise pro activity and simplicity in their approach.‘
‘They work over the weekend and are available for a phone call whenever you need them. Customers really comes first.‘
‘Pieter van den Broeck is very pleasant to deal with, makes the deal.‘
‘Pieter Van den Broeck offers pragmatic, high quality on SME tariffs.‘
Dobco Medical Systems NV
Down 2 Earth
- Advised Dawn Capital as lead investor on a $70m equity round of Showpad.
- Assisted Green Swan with its acquisition of MaxiToys and subsequent acquisition of Bart Smit Belgium.
- Acted for the shareholders on the sale of Intuo to private equity fund Unit 4 Business Software Holding.
NautaDutilh's private equity team assists its client roster of private equity and venture capital investors, which includes Bain Capital, Black Rock and Apollo Global Management, with a range of transactions including buyouts, public-to-private transactions, exits via IPOs or trade sales and fund structuring matters. The group also assists the management of investment targets, and recently advised Imcyse and its shareholders on a series B financing round. Elke Janssens, who acted for FNG on its acquisition of Ellos Group from Nordic Capital, leads the team, which was strengthened by the arrival of Philippe Remels from Linklaters in late 2018.
Apollo Global Management
Bain Capital Private Equity
Bencis Capital Partners
Bay Grove Capital
- Assisted FNG with its acquisition of Ellos Group from Nordic Capital.
- Advised Imcyse and its shareholders on its series B financing round.
- Assisted Fund+ with its investment in EyeD Pharma.
The private equity practice group at Strelia is particularly active in the biotech sector, and counts life sciences investment funds including Vesalius Biocapital and Newton Biocapital, and biotech companies including EPICS Therapeutics and Promethera Biosciences, among its clients. Beyond the biotech sector, the group was also recently instructed by Thomas Cook Group on the sale of its luxury tour operator business, Pegase, to private equity fund BV Capital Partners. Gisèle Rosselle, who is singled out for 'her ability to think outside the box in a pragmatic way to move transactions forward', heads up the practice, which includes Laurent Verhavert.
‘Profound legal knowledge combined with hands-on can-do attitude supporting the transaction. Endurance to solve new challenges in an efficient and timely fashion. Incredible availability in supporting the client until the end of the transaction. Great understanding and empathy to more complex structures of international organizations.‘
‘Gisele Rosselle’s strong people skills help to support any transaction in a very dynamic way. Her natural strong understanding of the strengths (but also weaknesses) of the client help in negotiation and deal closing phase.‘
Newton Biocapital Fund
Thomas Cook Group
Vesalius Biocapital Fund
Advent France Biotechnology
- Assisted the Thomas Cook Group with the sale of its luxury tour operator business, Pegase, to private equity fund BV Capital Partners.
- Advised Komax Group on its acquisition of the Exmore Group technology from Creafund.
- Acted for Promethera Biosciences on its €50m fundraising raised from various Asia-based professional investors.