Capital markets: debt capital markets in France
Allen & Overy LLP
Allen & Overy LLP possesses expertise in French, US and English law, with cross-border US securities law being an area of particular strength. Hybrid capital securities are another key specialism in the group's wide-ranging portfolio of expertise, which also includes Rule 144A and Regulation S offerings, high-yield offerings and convertible bonds. In a recent emblematic highlight, Diana Billik, who took over as head of the international capital markets team from Hervé Ekué, now managing partner of the Paris office, jointly with London-based Philip Smith advised BNP Paribas, Citigroup Local Markets, Deutsche Bank, Natixis, Société Générale and Standard Chartered Bank on the issuance of $1bn 6.75% amortising notes due 2048 and €1bn amortising notes due 2028 by the Republic of Senegal. Another cross-border highlight saw Julien Sébastien and Hong Kong-based Agnes Tsang advise Air Liquide on its first issuance on the Chinese domestic market for an aggregate nominal amount of RMB2.2bn, executed in two series via a private placement to Chinese institutional investors. Dan Lauder is another key contact. Morgan Stanley, Essilor and National Bank of Greece are also clients.
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton attracted a busy caseload across the full spread of capital markets work and is especially active in investment grade and high-yield debt offerings, bank capital securities offerings, medium-term note programmes and liability management transactions. The US-qualified Andrew Bernstein advised the underwriters in Sanofi's registered $2bn offering of debt securities, including $1bn of 3.37% notes due 2023 and $1bn of 3.62% notes due 2028. Marie-Laurence Tibi assisted Soitec with its €150m bond offering, and Valérie Lemaitre and Bernstein advised Loxam on its €850m offering of high-yield notes, including €300m 3.50% senior secured notes due 2022 and an offering of €300m 4.25% senior secured notes due 2024 in addition to €250m 6.00% senior subordinated notes due 2025 pursuant to Rule 144A and Regulation S. John Brinitzer and Barthélemy Faye are also recommended. Jeanne Theuret made counsel. Other clients include Europcar, Tikehau and BNP Paribas.
Clifford Chance provides French, US and English law expertise, acting for French and international banks as well as for issuers, including corporates, financial institutions and public sector clients such as municipalities. Alex Bafi, Cédric Burford and Jonathan Lewis are the names to note, with counsel Auriane Bijon and newly promoted counsel Olivier Plessis providing key support. Recent highlights include advising the banks, including BNP Paribas, Société Générale and UniCredit Bank, on Sanofi's €8bn bond issuance, assisting Unibail-Rodamco with its €2bn dual tranche hybrid bond issuance and advising the government of the Sultanate of Oman on the English and US law issues regarding its potential Rule 144A offering of debt securities and simultaneous sukuk offering. Natixis instructed the group to assist with Foncière de Région's cash tender offer on existing bonds and new issue of bonds. Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, Morgan Stanley and Carrefour also count among the team's clients.
Gide Loyrette Nouel A.A.R.P.I.'s team 'has significant expertise in a wide range of debt capital market instruments'. 'The particularly reliable' practice 'provides high-quality advice' and 'is very close to its clients'. Able to assist with the entire gamut of debt capital market transactions, it regularly acts on the most high-profile mandates, including high-yield offerings. Recent stand-out instructions range from advising Europcar on a concurrent dual offering of high-yield bonds under Rule 144A, including an issuance of senior notes and senior secured notes with an aggregate value of €950m, to assisting Crédit Logement with the restructuring of its market debt through a liability management transaction and issuance of new hybrid notes. The 'really client-oriented' Arnaud Duhamel heads the practice alongside the 'pragmatic and open-minded' Hubert Merveilleux du Vignaux and Melinda Stege-Arsouze. Counsel Laurent Vincent 'is always able to provide technical as well as business-oriented advice on both debt and derivatives matters'. Société Générale, Gecina and Banque Palatine are also clients.
Linklaters fields a very international practice, which is able to assist with English, US and French law. The group advises issuers, arrangers and other underwriters and regularly works with the firm's other offices, for example when advising geosciences service provider CGG on the global of $2.9bn debt restructuring through the equitisation of the group's unsecured bond debt and the $810m refinancing of gross secured loan debt; the matter was led jointly by practice head Luis Roth in Paris and colleagues from the London, Amsterdam, New York and Hong Kong offices. Véronique Delaittre advised J.P. Morgan Securities and MUFG Securities EMEA as solicitation agents in Essilor International's proposed modification of its by-laws and partial asset transfer to a new entity prior to its merger with Luxottica. Other clients include Banque Ouest Africaine de Développement, AXA and BNP Paribas. Counsel Vincent Poilleux joined from a role in-house at Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank.
White & Case LLP is 'a leading firm for French debt capital markets work' and impresses with the 'depth of its bench'. The client roster includes investment banks, issuers and shareholders whom it assists with euro medium-term notes (EMTN) programmes, high-yield bonds, sovereign bonds and euro private placements as core elements of a wide-ranging portfolio of expertise. Séverin Robillard and the 'exceptional' Grégoire Karila advised AXA on its issue of €2bn fixed to floating rate ordinary subordinated notes due 2049, structured as Tier 2 capital under the Solvency II directive. The 'approachable' Cenzi Gargaro, who 'provides expert advice and always reverts very promptly', assisted BNP Paribas, Citi, Deutsche Bank and Société Générale as joint lead managers with the issuance of a dual series of €850m 5.25% amortising notes due 2030 and €850m 6.625% amortising notes due 2048 by the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, issued according to Rule 144A and Regulation S. Other names to note are practice head Philippe Herbelin, Thomas Le Vert and Colin Chang, who 'has good technical skills and is available to answer questions at any time'. Clients also include Barclays, Casino and Agence des participations de l'État. Max Turner made partner. Gilles Endréo retired.
The 'incredible' team at Bredin Prat offers expertise in hybrid securities, both domestic and international, private placements, including by accelerated book building, high-yield offerings, eurobond issues and commercial paper and medium-term note programmes. Samuel Pariente assisted Ingenico Group with its issue of €600m 1.63% bonds due 2024 and Karine Sultan advised Ubisoft on a €500m inaugural bond issue with an annual coupon of 1.29%, with the order book reaching an oversubscription of 4.4 times and totalling €2.2bn. Raphaële Courtier heads the practice. Other clients include Korian and Orpea.
The 'very professional team' at CMS is noted for its 'excellent legal skills', 'responsiveness' and 'business approach'. 'Instead of focusing on problems, the group always looks for pragmatic solutions' and 'is very good in negotiations'. EMTN programmes, euro private placements, covered bonds and liability management transactions account for a significant portion of the caseload, with bonds issued by public entities providing another significant source of mandates. Practice head Marc-Etienne Sébire advised Klépierre on a tender offer to purchase four bonds series for cash, two under French and two under Dutch law, as well as on the issue of €500m new bonds offering a 1.625% coupon due 2023 under its €7bn EMTN programme. Advice on French law-covered bonds from French Sociétés de Financement de l'Habitat form also part of the recent caseload. Other work came from Natixis, Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank and Caisse des dépôts et consignations, the French public sector financial institution.
De Pardieu Brocas Maffei impresses with an 'extremely efficient and proactive' team that 'provides excellent assistance'. The 'outstanding' Jeremy Grant, who is English-qualified, co-directs the practice with Corentin Coatalem, enabling the group to offer English and French law expertise. In recent work, Grant advised ALD on the issue of €500m unsecured floating rate notes under its €6bn EMTN programme and Coatalem assisted Bastide with a €25m euro private placement with a six-year tenor. Delphine Vidalenc made partner. Clients also include Société Générale, Bank of China and CNP Assurances.
Herbert Smith Freehills LLP
Herbert Smith Freehills LLP focuses on advising issuers, particularly on EMTN programmes, debt securities and euro private placements as well as on US private placements and Schuldschein matters. The group fields a strong domestic practice, but also demonstrates strength in cross-border instructions, with a particular focus on Luxembourg, the UK, the US and emerging countries. Practice head Louis de Longeaux advised Danone on the pioneer issue of €300m 1.00% social bonds. Airbus relied on de Longeaux to assist with the update of its €5bn EMTN programme. Other clients include Artemid, Groupe Atlantic and Safran.
Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP acts for issuers and financial institutions alike, with a focus on the insurance, automotive and transportation sectors and a geographical focus on African countries. It has a strong track record in innovative market transactions, including the first green bond issued by a company and the first 100-year century bond issue in sterling, and continues to act in high-profile transactions. Recent stand-out matters include advising Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank on its structured debt issuance programme, governed by French and English law and listed on the Luxembourg stock exchange, and assisting AXA Bank Belgium and AXA Bank Europe on the call option of three existing series of notes and the issue of two series of notes as part of AXA Bank Europe's EMTN programme. The key contacts are Sharon Lewis, Katia Merlini, Vincent Fidelle and Baptiste Gelpi. Laura Asbati joined from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP. EDF, Bred Banque Populaire and SNCF Mobilités also feature on the client list.
Latham & Watkins stands out through its track record advising on high-profile, high-yield transactions. With French, English and US law capabilities, it handles primarily cross-border mandates, but the team also fields a strong domestic practice. Practice head Thomas Margenet-Baudry advised Credit Suisse on Paprec Holding's offering of €575m 4% senior secured notes due 2025 and €225m senior secured floating rate notes due 2025, the largest high-yield green bond issued in France to date. Novafives, Morgan Stanley and Afflelou also count among the team's clients.