Banking and finance: transactional work in France
Allen & Overy LLP
Allen & Overy LLP has a broad-ranging practice, advising both borrowers and lenders on issues from asset and export finance to real estate finance, capital market financing instruments and trade and commodity finance. Leveraged finance is an area of particular strength for the firm. Adrian Mellor , who leads the team, recently advised Lloyds on the refinancing of a revolving facility agreement by Unibail-Rodamco through a new green covenant revolving facility agreement. Jean-Christophe David assisted The House of HR II on its leveraged term refinancing and build-up debt to enable a dividend recap and acquire Redmore Group. A recent highlight from the real estate sector was Julien Roux's work for Colony NorthStar on the financing of the acquisition of Continental Property Investments and the refinancing of its French office and light industrial property portfolio. Structured finance expert Fabrice Faure-Dauphin is also recommended. Other clients include BNP Paribas, PAI Partners and InfraVia.
At Clifford Chance, acquisition and leveraged finance are a core part of the firm's caseload, with infrastructure financing and refinancing other especially busy areas. Financings involving capital markets and securitisation are also part of the team's portfolio of expertise. The practice regularly leverages the firm's international footprint for cross-border work, such as advising JP Morgan Securities on the financing of AXA's €12.4bn acquisition of Groupe XL, a deal which saw Thierry Arachtingi work in tandem with his counterparts in New York. Daniel Zerbib, who leads the practice with Arachtingi and project finance specialist Nikolaï Eatwell, also advised BNP Paribas as lender on the €90m refinancing of InfraVia's acquisition of Swiss data centre business Green Datacenter. Crédit Agricole, Goldman Sachs and EDF also feature on the client list. Benjamin de Blegiers left for Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP in 2019.
Gide Loyrette Nouel A.A.R.P.I. is particularly active in leveraged finance, real estate finance and acquisition finance, but offers a wide-ranging portfolio of expertise that also covers capital markets and structured finance. The firm is also turning its attentions to newly emerging areas of finance with its innovation and fintech desk. A team led by Kamel Ben Salah recently advised BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, ING Bank and Natixis as arrangers on Amundi Immobilier's acquisition of the Coeur Défense office complex, while other major highlights include advising Europcar on the financing of its acquisition of Goldcar, led by Eric Cartier-Millon, and acting for BNP Paribas, CACIB, Natixis, PBB and La Banque Postale on a €480m development financing, led by Rémi Tabbagh. The team also advised ING Bank on the first green corporate loan made available to real estate investment trust Gecina. Laetitia Lemercier is also recommended, while Olivier Bernardi joined the partnership at the start of 2018. Bank of Ireland recently joined Société Générale, Lombard Odier Europe and Morgan Stanley on the firm's client roster.
Leveraged and acquisition finance are key strengths for Latham & Watkins, with real estate and asset finance also forming a significant part of the firm's practice. They key trio are practice head Michel Houdayer, Lionel Dechmann and Xavier Farde who shoulder an often international caseload. Recent highlights range from advising Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs on a €6.1bn term loan bridge facility for Unibail-Rodamco's acquisition of Westfield, led by Houdayer; assisting Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Banking, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley on the financing of Altran Group's €1.7bn acquisition of Aricent, led by Farde; and Dechmann's work for Bank of Ireland, BNP Paribas and SMBC on a €339m senior term loan and revolving credit facility for the acquisition of Trescal International by Talbot Participation. Carla-Sophie Imperadeiro was promoted to counsel in the team at the beginning of 2018. Caisse de Dépôt et de Placement du Québec, Astorg and Assystem Technologies are also among the firm's client roster.
Linklaters' 'commercial and pragmatic' team impresses with 'excellent technical skills' and 'always delivers on time'. The integrated French and English law group under the lead of practice head Bertrand Andriani fields a varied caseload, with recent standout instructions including acquisition, project and real estate financings. Kathryn Merryfield advised Bank of America Merrill Lynch International on a €4bn bridge facility to finance parts of the proposed amicable public offer by Safran to acquire Zodiac Aerospace. Together with counsel Rhéa Christophilopoulos, Merryfield assisted Och-Ziff, CarVal, Blue Mountain and Loomis, Sayles & Co as providers of a $375m high-yield financing related to the Toys 'R' Us bankruptcy, while a recent real estate highlight saw Cyril Abtan advise LaSalle Investment Management on a €291m financing for the acquisition of a Strasbourg shopping centre. Other work came from CGG, European Investment Bank and BNP Paribas.
The team at White & Case LLP is 'always on the spot to help the process and anticipate future issues', offering a 'high level of technicity combined with availability'. The group fields an especially strong practice in acquisition finance and refinancings, with recent highlights including an instruction from Société Générale Corporate & Investment Banking for the bridge financing of Thales' €4bn acquisition of Gemalto, a high-profile mandate which was led by practice head Raphaël Richard and Denise Diallo. On the refinancing side, Samir Berlat advised SPIE on the €1.8bn refinancing of its existing debt pursuant to a loan agreement. Richard and Brussels-based Thierry Bosly jointly led for Cobepa and the other shareholders of Exclusive France Holding on the sale of the holding to Permira. Clients also include BNP Paribas, Suez and Antin Infrastructure Partners.
Ashurst LLP impresses clients with an 'extremely hard-working team' composed of 'reputable and reliable' practitioners who are 'very client-oriented and always able to swiftly provide thorough advice'. Acquisition and real estate finance mandates form the core of the caseload, with recent highlights including an instruction from LGT European Capital for the unitranche financing of the acquisition of 5àSec Group by Bridgepoint. Other key clients include JP Morgan Securities and Nomura Bank International, EQT Real Estate and La Française Real Estate Partners. Pierre Roux joined from Linklaters and now directs the practice alongside Hubert Blanc-Jouvan and Hassan Javanshir, who is noted for his 'great commercial understanding and negotiation skills'. The 'excellent partners are surrounded by highly professional associates', and 'very accessible' senior associate Thomas Ehrecke is 'very dedicated to his clients', showing 'strong personal involvement and a good knowledge of the real estate finance market'.
The Bredin Prat team impresses with 'a solutions-oriented pragmatic approach' and 'takes into account client needs in negotiations'. 'Dedicated, thorough and available', the group is 'very well integrated with the firm's other practices, giving it an advantage when trying to solve complex issues'. The 'seamless integration with best friends firms' is a clear asset in cross-border mandates. Borrowers provide a strong flow of instructions, but the group also regularly acts for lenders, with a notable emphasis on acquisition finance, restructuring and financings involving capital markets aspects. The team, which is led by practice head Raphaële Courtier, includes the 'very hands-on' Samuel Pariente, whose 'large horizon of transactions allows for different types of approach' 'turned towards finding the optimal alternative for both parties in fast-track mode', and Karine Sultan, who 'has a lot of relevant experience to share'. One recent standout matter saw Courtier advise Groupe Arnault on a €9bn fundraising to finance the cash component of its public offer for a 26% stake in Christian Dior. Ramsay Générale de Santé, Iliad and Core Equity Holdings are also clients of the firm.
De Pardieu Brocas Maffei has particular strength in real estate finance, alongside longstanding experience in acquisition and leveraged finance, especially in the mid-cap leveraged buyout market, general lending and refinancings. Yannick Le Gall advised Tikehau Capital on a €115m facility agreement with Conforama Group aimed at financing development projects in France and abroad. Christophe Gaillard, who jointly directs the practice with Olivier Hubert, assisted BNP Paribas with the financing of senior debt for the acquisition of Quadran by Direct Energie. The firm also acted for BNP Paribas and Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank on the financing of LaSalle Investment Management's €100m acquisition of a Paris office building from RTL Group. Other key practitioners include capital market expert Jeremy Grant and structured finance specialist Corentin Coatalem, while the team has recently been bolstered by the promotions of Sébastien Bouiller de Branche and Katia Belhiteche to partner and Nicolas Bricaire to counsel. Société Générale, Deutsche Bank and La Banque Postale are among the practice's client roster.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP
The team at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP is 'excellent in delivering a well thought-out structure in a timely fashion' and 'leaves no stone unturned'. In combination with the group's 'ability to leverage in-house experts on many topics', the 'team guarantees efficiency, speed and seamless transactions'. The arrival of former Ashurst LLP practitioners Stéphanie Corbière and Laurent Mabilat, who 'thrives on complex files and highly structured transactions' and 'has a lot of drive to manage demanding, and sometimes irrational clients' while 'never losing sight of their actual target', as joint practice heads alongside Fabrice Grillo has noticeably bolstered the practice. Acquisition finance, restructuring finance and structured finance are at the heart of the team's work, with recent highlights including the representation of Saur on the financing aspects of the proposed acquisition of a significant stake in the share capital of Saur's Holding d'Infrastructures des Métiers de l'Environnement by EQT Infrastructure. Other clients include Michelin, Ardian and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. Guillemette Bourgala was recently promoted to the partnership and Gabriel Glover-Bondeau made counsel.
Herbert Smith Freehills LLP
Herbert Smith Freehills LLP demonstrates strength across a broad range of financing work, with particularly impressive credentials in acquisition finance. Real estate and project finance are other key areas, as well as structured trade, commodities and export finance. The group acts for borrowers and lenders alike and stands out through its geographical focus on North Africa, especially Francophone countries. A recent standout instruction was advising Société Générale and a pool of 23 banks on the refinancing of the acquisition of real estate assets from AccorHotels as part of the sale of a majority share of AccorInvest by AccorHotels. Practice head Louis de Longeaux assisted PSA Peugeot Citroën with the renegotiation of a €3bn syndicated credit facility agreement. Laure Bonin, Rachel Campbell, Eric Fiszelson and Régis Oréal are also noted. Other clients include BNP Paribas, Danone and Schneider Electric. Christelle Salmon-Lataste was promoted to of counsel.
Norton Rose Fulbright is especially strong in asset financing and boasts an impressive track record in receivables financing in connection with factoring, discount facilities, reverse factoring and supply chain finance. The key contacts are practice head Christine Ezcutari and Janet Butterworth, both of who focus on structured finance, project finance specialist Anne Lapierre, asset finance expert Marc Hamilton and George Paterson, whose specialism is export credit finance. Jean-Norbert Pontier, previously an of counsel with the firm, joined Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP as a partner in 2019.
Orrick Rambaud Martel acts for lenders and borrowers alike, including private banks and international financial institutions. The group has a strong focus on real estate, project and restructuring finance, but is also active in asset finance and general lending mandates. Amaury de Feydeau advised Eiffage Rail Express and Eiffage on the debt refinancing of the Bretagne-Pays de la Loire high-speed rail public private partnership, while Blue Mountain turned to Emmanuel Ringeval to assist with the second restructuring of creditor Vivarte. Hervé Touraine leads the European finance practice. Carine Mou Si Yan was promoted to partner at the beginning of 2018. Other clients include Société Générale, Bouygues and Airbus.
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP's key areas of expertise include a particular focus on buyouts and other acquisition financing and restructuring transactions. The caseload often includes add-on or build-up transaction financings, as well as instructions with a capital market component. The team acts for a diverse group of clients, ranging from sponsors and portfolio companies to investment banks and alternative lending debt providers. Jointly led by Olivier Jauffret and James Clarke, the practice regularly joins forces with the firm's Paris corporate team, for example when advising Montagu Private Equity and Astorg alongside portfolio company Sebia on refinancing facilities in the context of the Sebia sale to Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Téthys and CVC Capital Partners. Counsel Cassandra Porgès provides key support. Benjamin de Blegiers joined from Clifford Chance. Sanofi, Ardian and Natixis also feature on the client list.
Baker McKenzie combines strong cross-border capabilities and a focus on syndicated lending, project finance, trade and export finance, and acquisition finance. Practice head Michael Foundethakis advised a syndicate of international banks on loan facilities provided to Turkey's Yapi ve Kredit Bankasi with a combined value of more than $2.8bn, collaborating with colleagues from the firm's offices in Turkey, Germany, the UK and Paris. In cooperation with the Cairo office, Foundethakis advised Afreximbank on a $200m dual-currency guarantee facility granted to Egyptian construction player The Arab Contractors. BNP Paribas, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development are also clients.
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton has a varied practice, ranging from infrastructure finance to acquisition finance, often with a cross-border element. In a recent major highlight, Valérie Lemaitre advised Thales on the €4bn financing of its full cash offer for all issued and outstanding shares of Gemalto and the refinancing of Gemalto's existing indebtedness. Other stand-out instructions include several matters from sovereign clients, such as Barthélemy Faye's work for the Republic of Madagascar on its first commercial loan, arranged by Deutsche Bank and benefitting from a partial guarantee from the African Development Fund, as well as a $40m facility agreement, also arranged by Deutsche, to restructure Air Madagascar's indebtedness. Gecina, Tikehau Capital and Qualium Investissement are also clients of the firm.
The Dentons team stands out through its 'proactive and responsive attitude' and its 'ability to address its clients' needs and concerns'. 'Friendly and approachable', the group acts with the 'highest standards of integrity and ethics' and impresses with its 'excellent legal knowledge'. The team's 'in-depth expertise in fund financing' makes it a key player in this area, with project finance, public-private partnership (PPP) financing, structured finance and real estate finance as other core areas of strength. Following the arrival of Julien Bacus from Ashurst LLP, the practice is now led by a quartet which also includes Jean-Marc Allix, Pascal Jouannic and Philippe Max. Vinci Construction France, Mirova and SaarLB instructed the team to advise on the financing of a PPP for the construction and maintenance of three schools in France. BNP Paribas, RATP Development and Faurecia are also clients.
DLA Piper specialises in leveraged finance and real estate finance, but the group's broad portfolio of expertise also includes restructuring, project finance and general lending. Practice head Maud Manon advised Bridgepoint Development Capital on a series of matters relating to 5àSec Group, including the private equity investor's acquisition of the cleaning company, the refinancing of its debt and the financing of its capital expenditures. Erwan Lacheteau and real estate partner Antoine Mercier assisted Carlyle Europe Real Estate with a mortgage financing by HSBC for the aggregate acquisition of several logistics portfolios of assets located in France. Other clients include LBO France, Ardian and Harrison Street Real Estate Capital.
Goodwin impresses with its 'strong involvement on every hierarchical level' and a team that is 'keen to direct the decision-making through highly reliable advice from a legal standpoint, but also regarding market practice and risk considerations'. 'Straight to the point' and with a 'team in which information circulates smoothly', the practice focuses on acquisition and corporate finance, acting for borrowers and lenders alike. The 'always very dedicated' Arnaud Fromion co-directs the practice with Frédéric Guilloux, while counsel Adrien Paturaud provides key support. In addition to advising Averys Group and its shareholder Equistone Partners Europe on the refinancing of the group's existing leveraged buyout debt, the team also acted for several Capzanine funds on the financing of the proposed acquisition of gourmet hamburger franchise Goïko Grill by L-Catterton. Ares Management, Lion Capital and BNP Paribas are also on the client roster.
Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP has a combined finance and capital markets team with an international outlook, for which outbound financing - particularly involving African states - is an especially busy area. Recent highlights include advising Swissport Financing on a €660m refinancing which involved fourteen different jurisdictions and drew on a team of lawyers spread across the firm's Paris, London and New York offices. Another standout matter was the representation of senior lenders in the financing of LBO France's acquisition of Bexley France and Bexley Belgique. The core quartet of lawyers in the practice are Sabine Bironneau-Loy, Olivier Fille-Lambie, Alexander Premont and Michel Quéré. Clients also include Barclays, Société Générale and Chequers Capital.
Jones Day boasts particular strength in project finance and leveraged finance, but is also adept in the fields of real estate and and restructuring finance. Tikehau Capital turned to the firm for advice on its €1.3bn bank and bond financing, consisting of a €1bn unsecured syndicated credit facility and a €300m unsecured inaugural bond issue on Euronext Paris. A recent headline-grabbing matter saw the group assist Deutsche Pfandbriefbank with the financing of the restoration of the Hôtel de l'Artillerie by La Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques. Other work came from the French Ministry of Finance and the Caisse Française de Développement Industriel, as well as from Permira Credit Solutions II and Pandios. Sophie Chevallier, Frédéric Gros and Diane Sénéchal jointly lead the practice, while counsel Jessica Derocque joined from De Pardieu Brocas Maffei at the end of 2017.
Mayer Brown offers 'outstanding legal skills combined with a strong business sense' and impresses with its 'pragmatism and reactivity'. Leveraged and real estate finance, as well as restructuring finance, account for the majority of firm's instructions, with recent highlights including advising EMZ Partners on the financing of A2MICILE's delisting, assisting Société Générale and other lenders with the financing of the merger of Alstef and BA Robotic Systems Group under the control of B2A Technology, and acting for Maison du Whisky on the financing of the restructuring of the group's share capital in the context of the acquisition of a minority stake in the group by Raise. Practice heads Jean-Philippe Lambert, Patrick Teboul and François-Régis Gonon receive crucial support from 'very hands-on' junior partner Alban Dorin, who is 'very knowledgeable' and 'familiar with Francophone Africa laws and regulations', and Maud Bischoff - who joined the partnership at the beginning of 2019 - who 'provides pragmatic and efficient advice' and is 'reassuring even in urgent situations'. Clients also include Factofrance and Elis.
Paul Hastings LLP
Paul Hastings LLP has particular strength in equity bridge financing as part of a broad practice that also includes other leveraged finance, fund and structured finance. Clients are often alternative lenders, such as Capzanine, but the client list also includes financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs. Practice head Olivier Vermeulen advised Tikehau and Ares Management on their provision of a significant debt package to support Apax Partners' acquisition of Marlink Group. Vermeulen also acted for Salins du Midi on the refinancing of its existing debt. Of counsel Marc Zerah is also recommended.
Shearman & Sterling LLP concentrates on acquisition, asset and energy finance as well as refinancings. Real estate finance and debt restructuring are other key specialisms. A recent highlight saw practice head Pierre-Nicolas Ferrand cooperate with London partner Peter Hayes to advise Nomura as lead arranger on a €1bn-equivalent financing to back Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec's acquisition of a minority stake in Sebia from Astorg and Montagu. Another standout instruction came from Deutsche Pfandbriefbank, which the firm assisted with the financing of the acquisition of a Parisian office and retail building by GH Group. BNP Paribas, Nokia and Barclays Capital are also clients. Philippe Wolanski left for Watson Farley & Williams LLP, while counsel Lachlan Poustie joined from Allen & Overy LLP.
Watson Farley & Williams LLP
Watson Farley & Williams LLP concentrates on project finance, real estate finance, acquisition and export credit finance as well as corporate finance. Clients primarily come from the transport, energy, infrastructure and real estate sectors, but the firm also has a focus on the trade and commodities sector. Practice head Laurence Martinez-Bellet recently advised AMP Capital on the subscription of green bonds for a total of €245m to finance a global renewable energy portfolio developed by Neoen. Alexia Russell and Charles Viggers are also noted. Philippe Wolanski joined from Shearman & Sterling LLP while Guillaume Ansaloni left for FIDAL. Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, Sequoia Economic Infrastructure Income Fund and Crédit Industriel et Commercial are also on the client roster.
Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP's practice, which is led by Paris acquisition and corporate finance head Paul Lombard, has particular strength in structured finance, restructuring finance and acquisition finance. A recent standout matter saw Lombard join forces with corporate partner Eduardo Fernandez to advise IK Investment Partners on the financing of its contemplated acquisition of a majority stake in Mademoiselle Desserts from its current shareholders Equistone Partners Europe, Céréa Partenaire, Azulis Capital and the management team. IK Investment also turned to Lombard for a €44m unitranche financing of its acquisition of Acadomia, provided by Tikehau. Eurazeo, Ardian Private Debt and Weinberg Capital Partners are also clients. Igor Kukhta was promoted to special European counsel.