Dispute resolution: Stock market litigation in France

Bredin Prat

Bredin Prat ’s practice needs little introduction. The firm defended its position as one of the most established firms in the market with its lead role in the Suez-Veolia headline stock market battle and its involvement in Covéa's failed bid on Scor. The practice is also a reference for high-level listed company governance issues and for stock market abuse investigations. It is currently defending many listed companies as well as companies’ directors and investment funds in investigations led by the French stock market regulator (AMF) concerning false information and insider trader accusations. The team unites top litigators Jean-Daniel Bretzner, Florian Bouaziz  and Ève Duminy with white-collar experts Eric Dezeuze and Guillaume Pellegrin.

Other key lawyers:

Jean-Daniel Bretzner; Florian Bouaziz; Eve Duminy; Eric Dezeuze; Guillaume Pellegrin

Key clients

Experimental Group

Lagardère

NJJ

Rothschild & Co

Suez

Work highlights

  • Defending Suez in connection with the public offer project launched by Veolia.
  • Advising NJJ press (a company controlled by Xavier Niel, founder of Free) in connection with issues concerning the composition of the share capital of Le Monde group.
  • Defended Lagardère in connection with joint demands made for seats to be made available on its supervisory board by Vivendi and activist fund Amber Capital.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton is one of the few firms to frequently act in stock market M&A battles, with its lead role in the Suez-Veolia M&A dispute a recent example. The team is also well versed in handling stock market abuse cases. Increasingly, the group assists clients facing investigations by the French securities agency (AMF) in relation to financial market communication issues. Leading investment funds and companies are clients. The practice is co-headed by the great Jean-Yves Garaud and Delphine Michot, who made partner in October 2021.

Practice head(s):

Jean-Yves Garaud; Delphine Michot

Key clients

Veolia Environnement

Rothschild

ArcelorMittal

Capgemini

Total

Soitec

Capital Group

Coface

Jump Trading

Stallergènes

Work highlights

  • Acting for Veolia Environnement in proceedings relating to its €12.9bn hostile bid for rival company Suez.
  • Acting for Rothschild as the advisory bank in connection with claims brought by SCOR against COVEA and the banks concerning Covea’s attempt to take over Scor.
  • Acting for multiple clients in several ongoing or recent investigations conducted by the AMF.

Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier

Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier is without a doubt one of the leading names in the field. The firm has an extensive track record of acting in the market’s most high-profile take-over battles, including in the landmark Suez-Veolia matter. The team is also well versed in advising high-profile listed French companies on governance issues and in shareholder activism matters. Additionally, the practice is sought after for high-profile short-seller cases and is experienced in defending companies and directors in a wide range of stock market abuse proceedings. The stellar team, led by Cyril Bonan, includes the prominent Jean-Michel Darrois, Emmanuel Brochier, Matthieu Brochier and Nicolas Mennesson.

Practice head(s):

Cyril Bonan

Other key lawyers:

Jean-Michel Darrois; Emmanuel Brochier; Matthieu Brochier; Nicolas Mennesson

Testimonials

‘Unrivalled track record and expertise in stock market litigation.’

‘Matthieu Brochier is one of the leading litigators of his generation.’

‘The firm’s depth of knowledge and experience in stock market litigation in France is simply unparalleled. Their relationships with the regulators and the courts are second to none.’

‘Founding partners Jean-Michel Darrois and Emmanuel Brochier are incomparable, as are Cyril Bonan, Nicolas Mennesson and Matthieu Brochier.’

Key clients

Europcar

Lagardère SA

LVMH

Suez

bioMérieux

BPCE

Bouygues

Capgemini

Crédit Agricole

Korian

Rubis

Safran

Unibail-Rodamco Westfield

Vivendi

XPO Logistics

Work highlights

  • Advised Suez on Veolia’s hostile takeover bid, notably on the aspects of stock market litigation.
  • Successfully advised Vivendi on the proceedings before the Paris Commercial Court which rejected the claims for compensation brought by numerous institutional investors.
  • Advised Lagardère SA on the negotiation of a settlement agreement with Amber Capital after several years of disputes.

Orrick Rambaud Martel

Orrick Rambaud Martel has outstanding credentials in the field. The firm has extensive experience in takeover disputes and has recently been retained by Veolia to assist with its hostile takeover bid on Suez, one of the market’s recent highlight stock market M&A battles. The team is also adept at assisting leading French companies with governance issues and investigations led by the AMF. The legendary Jean-Pierre Martel and Alexis Marraud des Grottes are excellent. Frédéric Lalance heads the litigation practice.

Practice head(s):

Frédéric Lalance

Other key lawyers:

Jean-Pierre Martel; Alexis Marraud des Grottes

Testimonials

‘High-performing team with a good knowledge of the AMF.’

‘Alexis Marraud des Grottes has a very good knowledge of AMF regulations (and of the stock market law environment). His intervention facilitates dialogue with the AMF. He is one of the best players in the market on these issues.’

Key clients

DNCA

Elliott Capital Advisors

Mercialys

Bastide Le Confort Medical

LVMH

Veolia

L’Oréal

Work highlights

  • Assisted Veolia with reaching a settlement with Suez after successfully challenging the validity of Suez’s takeover defence.
  • Advising Elliott Capital Advisors in ongoing litigation with XPO Logistics arising from the tender offer XPO launched in June 2015 on the French listed company Norbert Dentressangle.
  • Represented Elliott in challenging the tender offer of Capgemini on Altran with ADAM and other shareholders.

Simmons & Simmons

Simmons & SimmonsThierry Gontard acts for leading financial institutions in compliance regulatory audits and enforcement matters in addition to advising on stock market investigations led by the AMF. A highly seasoned expert, Gontard has recently been involved in most of the market’s high-profile cases, notably defending clients in relation to AMF’s investigations pertaining to recent public take over offers and market abuse investigations.

Practice head(s):

Thierry Gontard

Testimonials

‘Thierry Gontard is a very good professional.’

Key clients

Rothschild & Cie

Perella Weinberg

Moody’s US

Groupe Natixis – BPCE

Crédit du Nord

Deutsche Bank AG

Société Générale

Amber Capital UK LLP

Davidson Kempner

Viguié Schmidt & Associés

Viguié Schmidt & Associés is regularly retained for public takeover battles. The team, whose partners also handle listed M&A work, has been appointed in two of the market’s recent most prominent disputes. It is also involved in several stock market abuse investigations led by the AMF. The firm often acts for individuals, CEOs, board of directors and executives of listed companies. Nicolas Viguié and Yves Schmidt are excellent.

Practice head(s):

Yves Schmidt; Nicolas Viguié

Testimonials

‘Yves Schmidt is one of the exceptional lawyers in his field.’

‘Mobilised, available and great finesse of analysis.’

‘Yves Schmidt is a very skillful negotiator who gently makes his points heard, and skillfully convinces.’

Key clients

SUEZ

LAGARDÈRE

Work highlights

  • Assisting the board of directors of Suez SA in multiple legal proceedings initiated in the context of the hostile public takeover offer of Veolia.
  • Advising the board of directors of Lagardère SCA in the context of the renewal of the corporate mandate of Mr. Arnaud Lagardère as managing director and the proceeding launched by the two main shareholders of Lagardère, Vivendi and Amber Capital, in order to get an independent representative named to call a general meeting of the shareholders.

BDGS Associés

BDGS Associés has excellent knowledge of listed companies which earns the practice key mandates in public tender disputes, market abuse investigations and governance and shareholder conflicts. The team has recently acted in high-profile public takeover battles, including the recent Suez-Veolia headline case. While the group primarily assists companies, it was also chosen to defending a leading financial institution in a landmark case concerning sovereign bonds price manipulation sanctions. The excellent Kyum Lee leads the practice.

Practice head(s):

Kyum Lee

Testimonials

‘Kyum Lee is an excellent lawyer, accurate, calm, available, reliable. His team is at the same level.’

Key clients

Engie

Morgan Stanley

MBDA France

Société Générale

Crédit Agricole Assurances (Predica)

Cybergun

Diageo

Bourrelier Group

Work highlights

  • Assisting Engie before the Commercial Court in connection with multiple proceedings initiated by Suez against Engie and Veolia in the context of the sale of Engie’s interests in Suez to Veolia.
  • Assisting Morgan Stanley in appeal proceedings against the sanctions committee’s decision of the French Financial Market Authority (AMF) that imposed a fine of €20M on the client for alleged manipulation of the price of sovereign bonds.
  • Assisting Diageo in connection with a claim for dividend payment against LVMH, related to Diageo’s stake in Moët Hennessy and Moët Hennessy International, in the context of the Covid-19 crisis.

Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance acts for rating agency Standard & Poor’s in several AMF-led investigations. The firm's expertise in stock market abuse is sought after by companies and, in recent work, by a former banker for several insider trading cases. The team has also acted for the banks in the high-profile Suez-Veolia takeover battle. Thomas BaudessonDiego de Lammerville and Charles-Henri Boeringer co-head the practice.

Practice head(s):

Thomas Baudesson; Diego de Lammerville; Charles-Henri Boeringer

Key clients

Standard & Poor’s

Airbus

FXCM

Fortune Legend Ltd.

Work highlights

  • Representing the banks in the context of Veolia’s hostile tender offer on Suez.
  • Representing Fountain Legend Ltd in a litigation initiated by Consellior, a minority shareholder, in the context of the public tender offer initiated on the shares of Baccarat.

Cohen & Gresser LLP

Cohen & Gresser LLP is recommended for its extensive experience in defending individuals, including traders, facing AMF-led stock market abuse investigations, such as insider dealing accusations. The practice is also adept at cases involving both French and international regulators. Finally, the team assists companies with proceedings concerning fraud and other securities transactions pertaining to listed companies. Muriel Goldberg-Darmon and Loïc Henriot co-head the practice, which includes counsel Guillaume Guérin.

Practice head(s):

Muriel Goldberg-Darmon; Loïc Henriot

Other key lawyers:

Guillaume Guérin

Testimonials

‘An independent and international niche firm; ability to synthesise, analyse and argue matters.’

‘A dedicated team; very pragmatic lawyers; strong intuitu personae.’

Key clients

Alexis Kuperfis

Ackermans & van Haaren NV

Tordjmans family

Employee of Jefferies International

Gide Loyrette Nouel A.A.R.P.I.

Gide Loyrette Nouel A.A.R.P.I. is particularly visible as adviser to financial institutions and asset management firms in matters across the full range of AMF matters. The practice is one of the few combining an excellent ability to assist clients with AMF fund regulatory controls and disciplinary proceedings and expertise in defending clients facing stock market abuse investigations, defending companies and CEOs as well as financial institutions. The practice’s busy caseload includes several high-profile AMF investigations relating to financial communication and insider dealing issues. The practice is co-headed by Jean-Philippe Pons-Henry, who comes highly recommended,  Bruno Quentin and Stéphane Puel. Regulatory expert Benjamin Delaunay made partner in 2021. Jean-Guillaume de Tocqueville  left the firm in 2021.

Practice head(s):

Jean-Philippe Pons-Henry; Stéphane Puel; Bruno Quentin

Other key lawyers:

Benjamin Delaunay

Testimonials

‘Knowledge of AMF ‘s expectations; attentive to the needs of the client; good availability and ability to propose innovative solutions; quality of exchanges.’

‘Great communication within the team, excellent preparation of meetings with clients. They have an extensive network and knowledge of the environment.’

‘Excellent knowledge and skills; ability to challenge and be challenged; hard workers and committed to best standards. Respect deadlines, even very short ones and provides advice in the best interest of the client; very pleasant to work with.’

‘The team is made up of excellent lawyers with in-depth knowledge of financial regulations: they master both legal arguments and technical explanations of their clients’ businesses. Communication is fluid and efficient: everything is clear, rhythmic, with a well-thought-out strategy in the preparation of files.’

‘Jean-Philippe Pons-Henry is a very high level lawyers: he combines a great technical mastery and a real strategic sense. He has detailed knowledge of the workings of stock market litigation and understands very well the issues faced by his clients. His large work force allows him to get involved in the management of complex files within very short deadlines.’

‘Benjamin Delaunay and Stéphane Puel have unique experience in the regulated sector and related litigation. This is coupled with a real business-oriented approach which is very rare on the market in this sector.’

‘Very good knowledge of the practices and AMF inspectors. Very good advice on the strategy to be implemented in the event of an AMF control. Very good advice on the report to be drafted in response to the AMF.’

‘We mainly worked with Benjamin Delaunay who demonstrated a great capacity for listening, pedagogy and quality in the drafting of documents in response to the AMF.’

Key clients

Amundi

Natixis

Perial Asset Management

Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP

Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP‘s Arthur Dethomas, the head of the practice, has extensive experience in stock market abuse AMF proceedings. He is notably defending investment funds and companies in insider dealing and financial information investigations and sanctions proceedings. Julien Martinet left the practice in February 2022.

Practice head(s):

Arthur Dethomas

Testimonials

‘Excellent team; high-level writing skills and understanding of complex subjects.’

‘Practical sense; very good knowledge of the regulator; fine psychology transparency.’

‘Very strong availability; very good advice. Arthur Dethomas is remarkable.’

Key clients

High Co SA

ING Bank

Work highlights

  • Representing French listed company High Co in proceedings against an activist shareholder regarding confidential information issues.
  • Representing the French branch of ING Bank in regulatory sanction proceedings.

Jeantet

Jeantet’s Frank Martin Laprade has extensive experience in stock market litigation and AMF regulatory matters and acts forinvestment funds, companies and CEOs. He heads the practice, ably supported by associate Marie Robin.

Practice head(s):

Frank Martin Laprade

Other key lawyers:

Marie Robin

Testimonials

‘Perfect knowledge of regulations, doctrine and developments.’

‘Frank Martin Laprade is one of the best experts in financial market law. He is a tenacious defender who shows extreme creativity.’

‘Great ability to listen, great professionalism; enlightened advice, good support.’

Key clients

Prologue

Diana Holding

Madag

Consellior

Groupe Burrus

Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP

Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP regularly acts for banks and financial institutions in high-stakes regulatory audits and disciplinary investigations led by the AMF. The team is currently involved in a number of matters pertaining to stock market abuse allegations, for example involving false information dissemination, market price manipulation and activism issues. Hubert de Vauplane and Hugues Bouchetemble co-head the practice which welcomed Mathieu Françon, formerly of counsel at Bredin Prat, in November 2021.

Practice head(s):

Hubert de Vauplane; Hugues Bouchetemble

Testimonials

‘They were able to provide us with quality advice and service.’

‘The team is highly available, competent and finds practical solutions.’

Key clients

Muddy Waters

Acadian

Nestadio

Work highlights

  • Advising Muddy Waters in the context of an AMF price manipulation investigation of Casino.
  • Assisting Nestadio with proceedings before the AMF sanction commission.    
  • Assisting Acadian with proceedings before the AMF sanction commission.

Linklaters

Linklaters recently acted in a very high-profile stock abuse case in the field of derivatives in addition to defending a client who has been accused of releasing false financial information. Practice head Arnaud de La Cotardière and Jean-Charles Jaïs are the key contacts.

Practice head(s):

Arnaud de La Cotardière

Other key lawyers:

Jean-Charles Jaïs

Peltier Juvigny Marpeau & Associés

Peltier Juvigny Marpeau & Associés frequently acts alongside the Big 4 auditing firms in AMF-led investigations, notably in relation to financial communication issues. The practice is also defending several directors facing AMF stock market abuse investigations concerning insider dealing accusations. Practice head Frédéric Peltier has extensive experience in the field. Clément Wierre made partner at the end of 2021.

Practice head(s):

Frédéric Peltier

Other key lawyers:

Clément Wierre

Testimonials

‘Complementary and very competent team.’

‘Frédéric Peltier is always available and provides tailor-made advice.’

Key clients

Altamir

Jekiti Mar Capital

Cira

Perchet Rontchevsky & Associes

Corporate boutique Perchet Rontchevsky & Associes has in-depth knowledge of securities law and issues faced by publicly listed companies, making it a popular choice for leading listed companies and their CEOs, including as adviser on sensitive governance issues. The practice also assists companies and investment funds facing AMF stock market abuse investigations and is experienced in disputes involving public tenders. It was recently involved in the Suez-Veolia public takeover dispute alongside Meridiam. The strong lead trio consists of Christophe PerchetNicolas Rontchevsky and Jean-Christophe Devouge.

Practice head(s):

Christophe Perchet; Nicolas Rontchevsky; Jean-Christophe Devouge

Testimonials

‘The firm has very sound, wide and complete knowledge of the French market and legal environment. They anticipate the problems and set up a trustful relationship with clients and peers. They are collaborative and dedicate time and resources to make things happen and to create a good professional atmosphere.’

‘Christophe Perchet has huge experience and is capable to make problems seem easy that in other circumstances would be extremely difficult.’

‘Integrated team; responsive and in-depth work.’

‘Very sharp lawyers and strategists, dissect complex problems with a laser.’

‘Nothing is left to chance.’

‘Christophe Perchet is a remarkable technician with an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of post-sale and liability guarantees subjects. Available, efficient, concise, straight to the point, he knows how to take a stand and preciously helps on high-stakes cases.’

‘The team is made up of very experienced lawyers in governance matters.’

‘Independent and competent.’

Key clients

Meridiam

Board of Directors of Renault

Air Liquide

Work highlights

  • Advised Meridiam on its acquisition of ‘New Suez’ in the context of the takeover bid launched by Veolia against Suez.
  • Advised the board of directors of Renault on several proceedings against its former CEO Carlos Ghosn.

Rossi Bordes AARPI

Rossi Bordes AARPI ’s Eric Boillot is a well known expert in the field of securities law and AMF investigations, frequently chosen by CEOs and investment funds to defend them against stock market abuse investigations and sanction proceedings. Boillot is managing several significant cases dealing with price manipulation, insider dealing and financial information issues, and assists financial institutions with AMF regulatory and disciplinary investigations. Damages liability litigation pertaining to the selling of securities products are another area of strength.

Practice head(s):

Eric Boillot

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP's Didier Malka is defending several French blue-chip companies facing AMF stock market abuse investigations in relation to insider trading and financial communication accusations.

Practice head(s):

Didier Malka

Key clients

Lagardère SCA

Engie

Rallye

Casino

White & Case LLP

White & Case LLP‘s Diane Lamarche offers excellent knowledge of stock market and securities rules, earning her mandates for high-stakes governance and shareholder conflicts involving leading companies. Lamarche is also retained by investment funds to assist with market abuse investigations and public tender offer disputes. She is notably acting in high-profile price manipulation AMF sanction proceedings.

Practice head(s):

Diane Lamarche

Key clients

Amber Capital

Paul de Brancion & Co.

Davidson Kempner European Partners

Farallon Capital

Work highlights

  • Assisting Amber Capital with the management of its minority stakes in listed company Lagardère.
  • Representing four shareholders of the holding company EJ Barbier, a family-owned company holding a majority stake in the listed company EPC, in proceedings launched by the activist fund Candel & Partners.
  • Assisting Farallon Capital with the management of its minority stake in Suez SA, in connection with the hostile takeover process launched by Veolia in August 2020 on Suez.

Allen & Overy LLP

Allen & Overy LLP is particularly active for banks in relation to public tender offer disputes and AMF investigations. The team’s expertise also covers financial and securities regulation of financial institutions and acts in France’s first private enforcement proceedings launched following a condemnation by the AMF. Dan Benguigui is the key contact and co-heads the practice with Erwan Poisson.

Practice head(s):

Erwan Poisson; Dan Benguigui

Testimonials

‘Ability to mobilise large resources; very strong expertise in different areas.’

‘Denis Chemla and Dan Benguigui have a very in-depth knowledge of the challenges of the banking and financial sector, which greatly facilitates interactions and increases the efficiency of the handling of the litigation files entrusted to them.’

‘High availability, remarkable expertise in litigation.’

‘Erwan Poisson and Dan Benguigui provide excellent advice and have great listening skills.’

Key clients

BNP Paribas

Citigroup

Crédit Suisse

BCP (Banque Centrale Populaire)

Alcatel

BNP Paribas (BNP Paribas Jersey Trust Corporation Limited or BNPJ)

Ecobank and Banque Atlantique Côte d’Ivoire

Nomura International plc

Royal Bank of Canada

Natixis Investment Managers

Natixis

BNP Paribas securities services

Solutions 30

Work highlights

  • Representing Natixis in a class action initiated before French Courts by consumer association UFC-Que Choisir.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP has recognised expertise in assisting investment funds and banks with AMF regulatory controls and disciplinary proceedings as well as stock market abuse investigations. The practice also assists listed companies with proceedings arisen from public tender offers. Antoine Juaristi and Clément Dupoirier co-head the practice which includes Martin Le Touzé and corporate partner Hubert Segain.

Practice head(s):

Antoine Juaristi; Clément Dupoirier

Other key lawyers:

Martin Le Touzé; Hubert Segain

Testimonials

‘Practical approach, willing to take the extra step and up-to-date knowledge. Out of the box thinking.’

Key clients

TULLETT PREBON

Visconti & Grundler

At Visconti & GrundlerJulien Visconti frequently acts for hedge funds in public tender offer disputes and in shareholder activist matters concerning the governance of leading listed companies.

Practice head(s):

Julien Visconti

Testimonials

‘Julien Visconti is a valuable lawyer: beyond his competence in criminal business law, he has an immediate understanding of situations, is able to evaluate the balance of power and listens to the client to imagine, with his client, winning strategies.’

Key clients

CIAM

Financière de l’Echiquier

Wyser-Pratte Management

Matignon Finances

Work highlights

  • Advised CIAM (activist hedge fund) on the hostile bid project of Véolia on Suez.
  • Advising the client in relation to EEM activist campaign.
  • Advising two shareholders of Esso in challenging the governance of a French subsidiary of ExxonMobil.