Firms in the Spotlight Insolvency
CBR & Associés
Established in 1994, CBR & Associés is an independent corporate law firm made up of lawyers who enjoy excellent reputations in their various fields based on their technical expertise, the added value they bring, their ability to provide tailor-made services, their deep involvement in strategic and complex matters and their outstanding responsiveness.View Profile...
Insolvency in France
Bredin Prat fields a team of ‘exceptionally competent and imaginative lawyers who are also straight-forward and down to earth, loyal and transparent’. The ‘fully dedicated’, ‘high-profile professionals’ have ‘strong business acumen and strive to find viable solutions’. The firm stands out for its ability to handle highly specialised situations thanks to its capability to put together state-of-the-art insolvency, corporate and financing expertise. The team was recently involved in prominent matters spanning LBO and listed companies restructurings alongside different stakeholders. The practice is notably representing Areva in its one-of-its-kind conciliation proceedings. It also advised Fraikin’s senior lenders on the restructuring of the company’s LBO debt and acted for Jaccar Holding in the Bourbon case. The core nine-lawyer team is led by the experienced Nicolas Laurent and ‘incredible lawyer’ Olivier Puech, who ‘combines creativity and toughness in negotiations’ and whose ‘extensive experience and networking are key to hit the right milestones in difficult conciliation procedures’.
Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier has ‘excellent technical skills' and ‘deep understanding of business situations and of clients' expectations and objectives’. The team, which is ‘available at any hour of the day’, is sought out to handle restructuring, insolvency and related litigation cases, frequently acting for shareholders, bondholders and companies. The practice notably represented the French State (APE) in the outstanding case of Areva's restructuring. It is also acting for the creditors’ representative in Toys R' Us insolvency proceedings. The firm also has strong litigation expertise and represented Sealynx’s liquidator before the Versailles Court of Appeal in obtaining a damages payment of €18m to be paid by Renault to Sealynx. Practice head François Kopf and associate Mathieu Della Vittoria are ‘outstanding, very fast, very accurate and serve their clients with strong proficiency’. Leading M&A and litigation partner Emmanuel Brochier also acts in some high-profile cases.
The ‘highly capable’ De Pardieu Brocas Maffei is regarded as a go-to-firm for banks involved in restructuring and insolvency cases in France. The ‘very hardworking and diligent’ core insolvency team is also increasingly retained by debtors and shareholders and is able to draw on the firm's leading corporate and finance expertise. The practice is involved in many of the country’s largest restructuring and insolvency cases every year and is also advising on multi-jurisdictional matters. It recently assisted the senior secured lenders’ ad hoc committee with CGG’s restructuring, and is acting for Toys “R” Us’ French subsidiaries in bankruptcy proceedings in France and in the US. The team has also been busy handling several other large-scale cases. Philippe Dubois and Joanna Gumpelson are highly regarded and Ségolène Coiffet is another name to note. Experienced finance and property expert Paul Talbourdet is also active. Matthieu Barthélemy joined De Gaulle Fleurance & Associés.
Gibson Dunn handles all types of restructuring and insolvency cases and has a track record handling matters pertaining to distressed listed companies as well as litigation. The group has the capacity to act for all kinds of stakeholders and also represents judicial administrators in highly challenging cases. The team has an impressive track record and has been involved in many of France's top cases. Siemens, Vivarte, CGG and Solocal are clients. Practice head Jean-Pierre Farges is highly regarded in the market. Jean-Philippe Robé, Benoît Fleury, Pierre-Emmanuel Fender, Bertrand Delaunay and banking and finance expert Amanda Bevan-de Bernède are other key names.
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP has an impressive track record in the space and is able to handle all types of situations, acting on any side of the table. The practice has been involved in many of the market's landmark domestic and cross-border (France-US) cases encompassing LBO debt restructuring, insolvency and bankruptcy situations, as well as asset take-over deals and litigation. Highlights included representing Sequana in its safeguard proceedings; acting for Fraikin in negotiations with its LBO debt financial creditors; and advising a major creditors’ pool on Frans Bonhomme's financial debt restructuring. The firm also assisted Fnac Darty with purchasing several of Ludendo’s assets. The practice is jointly headed by Jean-Dominique Daudier de Cassini and Philippe Druon, who are experts in their field. Fabienne Beuzit joined Jones Day.
Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP has ‘an outstanding reputation’ thanks to a team that consists of ‘excellent restructuring experts with great technical skills and huge cumulated experience’ who demonstrate ‘strong engagement’. The team, which is ‘very well connected’, regularly advises on the market's most complex matters including cross-border cases. The practice often represents shareholders, investment funds and other types of investors, and also manages several debtors and banking lenders' instructions. The firm recently assisted clients with several high-profile asset and company take-over bids, and managed several cases in the oil and gas, and publishing sectors. Highlights included advising Schmolz + Bickenbach on its successful bid for Asco Industries under bankruptcy proceedings; assisting the high-yield bond holders' steering committee with CGG's financial restructuring, which consisted of an equity swap of its $1.6bn unsecured debt; and acting for Hachette Livre on the restructuring of France Loisirs. The practice is jointly headed by the ‘extremely dedicated’ and ‘very good negotiator’ Alexandra Bigot and Lionel Spizzichino.
Altana stands out for its involvement in litigation, where it ‘provides innovative ideas and regular follow ups’. The highly experienced nine-lawyer team is also valued for its ‘ability to stick to its position and focus on what is needed to protect its clients' interests’. The practice, which primarily acts for debtors and shareholders, regularly advises on key matters and recently handled highlight work in the retail, press and IT sectors. The team assisted D’Aucy with the takeover of William Saurin's ready-made meal division together with LBO France, which led to the opening of France's first Stage III antitrust merger control proceedings. It also advised Cecab as both shareholder and supplier on Duc's restructuring and subsequent sale to Plukon Food. The practice also stands out for its involvement in restructuring cases involving foundations, mutual insurance groups and public procurement contracts. Practice co-heads Michel Jockey and Pierre-Gilles Wogue are key contacts. Julien Balensi is also noted.
BDGS Associés has a track record handling high-profile restructuring cases and stands out in particular for its ability to handle matters involving listed companies or the French state. It notably acted for the French state as lender to leading newspaper distributor Presstalis on the latter's restructuring. The team primarily acts for debtors, shareholders and investors. It assisted Metalcorp with its take over bid for Ascoval, as well as Necotrans with matters pertaining to the opening of eleven receivership proceedings over its French entities. Anne-Sophie Noury is the key name and the firm's co-founder Antoine Bonnasse is also noted.
Bremond & Associés
Leading restructuring and insolvency boutique Bremond & Associés has a strong track record and regularly plays a key role in top cases. The 16-lawyer practice recently advised on several high-profile asset takeover deals over insolvent and distressed companies. It notably assisted Jinjiang Industries with purchasing Arche-SAM Technologies, and Ascometal with the transfer of its assets via a bidding process. Practice head Guilhem Bremond is an expert in the field and Delphine Caramalli and Virginie Verfaillie are other key names. Timothée Gagnepain joined McDermott Will & Emery AARPI.
FTPA is appreciated for its ‘winning’ approach and for the ‘full attention given to its clients’. The team, which demonstrates ‘great capability to negotiate with a full range of stakeholders’, is able to deal with a complete range of situations including distressed M&A, restructuring and insolvency cases. The team recently handled high-profile work, especially in the transport, retail, press and hotel sectors. Highlights included representing Maranatha and its administrator in insolvency proceedings; advising Hersant Media as majority shareholder of insolvent company Antilles Guyane Media; and acting for Monplaisir on its restructuring in Guadeloupe. The group represented BAT as creditor in obtaining a landmark decision from the Versailles Appeal Court in opposing the adoption of Sequana’s safeguard proceedings agreement. Key names include Serge-Antoine Tchekhoff, Bruno Robin, who is a leading name for acting as a trustee (fiduciaire) in insolvency and distressed situations, and Edouard Fabre. Sandra Esquiva-Hesse is now with Simmons & Simmons.
Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP
Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP recently handled various industrial and financial restructurings. The firm was particularly involved in key restructuring matters in the automotive and retail sectors. It frequently acts for creditors and banking pools and advised BNY Mellon as trustee in CGG’s high-profile debt restructuring in France and in the US, as well as a pool of 12 banks during Ludendo and La Grande Récré’s insolvency proceedings. Large industrial groups including Volkswagen and Honeywell also instruct the firm when their suppliers are experiencing distressed situations. Practice head Cécile Dupoux is noted. Romain de Ménonville, formerly a counsel with the firm, joined Bird & Bird as a partner in October 2019.
Linklaters is regularly instructed by creditors including shareholders, while also handling work for debtors. The team was recently involved in high-profile and cross-border restructuring cases, and also handled insolvency-related litigation. It notably represented CGG in its financial restructuring in France and the US. The team also acted for CFF in the recovery of its mortgaged claims following Reunionese real estate operator Apavou’s difficulties. Practice head Aymar de Mauléon de Bruyères has considerable experience in high-profile cases. Counsel Carole Nerguararian is also noted.
Racine has a strong practice and is regularly instructed by key stakeholders and debtors to handle major industrial and LBO restructuring cases. The team recently acted for leading newspaper and magazine distributor Presstalis in high-stake conciliation proceedings and advised LBO France on the sale of its majority stake in Karavel-Promovacances and Fram. The practice also assisted investors with asset takeover offers. The six-lawyer team, which can also draw from the firm’s banking and employment practices, is headed by highly regarded duo Antoine Diesbecq and Laurent Jourdan. Emmanuel Laverrière is also a key name in the team.
Santoni & Associés
Boutique firm Santoni & Associés frequently represents bondholders, shareholders and debtors in landmark cases. The firm recently acted in the Maranatha case. Marc Santoni is a well-known figure in the market and Bérangère Rivals and Lionel Lamoure are also highly regarded. The firm works in close collaboration with Allen & Overy LLP.
White & Case LLP's team was boosted by the arrival of restructuring and corporate partner Saam Golshani, who joined from Orrick Rambaud Martel in December 2018 along with Alexis Hojabr. The new additions strengthen the firm's existing practice, which is now able to handle all types of situations, from complex domestic cases to cross-border matters, acting for all kind of stakeholders, from hedge and private equity funds to banks and debtors. The team is involved in some of the market's most high-profile cases, notably in the retail sector. Céline Domenget-Morin is another key name; she recently handled a high-profile case in the oil sector. The practice also benefits from leading complementary capital markets and banking and finance expertise.
Archers A.A.R.P.I.'s Fabrice Patrizio is a strong name in his field and is regularly appointed by debtors and shareholders to handle major restructuring or insolvency cases. The team recently advised on several key matters including playing a major part in several leading cases in the retail, automotive and hotel sectors.
After the loss of several team members to Gibson Dunn, Ashurst LLP welcomed the well-regarded Noam Ankri from DLA Piper. Ankri, both an insolvency and LBO expert, has a strong reputation among London-based hedge funds and is usually retained to advise on complex matters. The team recently assisted Sun Capital Partners with the distressed sale of Durafiber's Mexican and French subsidiaries; acted for Ford Models Paris and its US-based shareholder in the insolvency proceedings and business restructuring of their French activities; and advised Financière Lucia and its subsidiary Agram on the restructuring of its LBO debt and related litigation. Senior associate Cyrine Abdelmoula is another key name in the seven-lawyer team.
Headed by Laurent Cotret, August Debouzy’s practice recently advised several debtor companies on negotiating pre-pack asset disposals and on dealing with distressed M&A and debt refinancing work in various sectors, including industrial, publishing and retail. The team notably assisted Lorraine Tubes with a pre-pack asset sale, as well as Riccobono Presse Investissements with the adoption of a restructuring plan and a projected sale of its shares. The practice also assisted several investors with asset takeover bids. Counsels Mylène Boché Robinet and Véronique Dobelle, who had briefly joined from Clifford Chance, left to set up Drai, Forget, Boché, Dobelle.
Brown Rudnick LLP strongly enhanced its capabilities by hiring a highly regarded team from DLA Piper led by Pierre-Alain Bouhenic and David Chijner in November 2018. They joined an existing practice led by Didier Bruère-Dawson, who often handles cross-border cases and notably represented financial development institutions in dealing with complex international buy-in or buy-out investments, notably in Africa and Europe. The practice is also handling French-based work; it notably assisted an insurance company with the acquisitions of distressed assets and represented debtors in several matters.
Clifford Chance stands out for its ability to handle complex cases including cross-border disputes and fiducie aspects. The six-lawyer team regularly acts for insolvency administrators and also represents debtors and creditors. It recently acted for the trustee in CGG's safeguard proceedings and assisted Agripole's bondholders with the restructuring of Agripole and William Saurin. Practice head Reinhard Dammann has extensive experience and academic knowledge of his field. Counsel Gilles Podeur is another key name.
Peltier Juvigny Marpeau & Associés hired Nicolas Partouche from Jeantet to launch its insolvency and restructuring practice. The practice, which provides ‘very solution-oriented and reliable advice’, is regularly appointed by the judiciary representatives of debtors or creditors' to act in insolvency cases or related liability and asset recovery litigation. The five-lawyer team is also retained by debtors and other stake-holders. It is notably acting for the judicial liquidators of insolvent company Agripole, and assisted Polycor with acquiring certain assets of Rocamat.
Drai, Forget, Boché, Dobelle
Insolvency boutique Drai, Forget, Boché, Dobelle was founded at the beginning of 2019 by two former Advocacy 4's partners in Pierre Forget and the ‘smart, efficient and very pugnacious’ Emmanuel Drai, together with two former August Debouzy's counsels, namely Mylène Boché-Robinet and Véronique Dobelle. The ‘highly responsive and available’ team is praised for its ‘excellent ability to deal with tense and complex situations in a short amount of time’. The practice also has ‘excellent legal and market knowledge’. Lawyers are ‘deal-makers, hardworkers and make themselves totally available’. The firm acts for debtors as well as shareholders and other types of creditors including banks. It successfully advised KBC bank as senior lender on TBI's LBO's difficulties, which concluded with a judicial asset sale and the saving of 250 jobs. The practice also assisted Cofrad with its sale two days before it was due to file for bankruptcy and is also managing insolvency and liability-related litigation.
Gide Loyrette Nouel A.A.R.P.I. represents debtors, lenders and other creditors. The firm has experience handling major cases. Caroline Texier notably acted for Cale Street as main creditor of insolvent company Maranatha during the latter's insolvency, and Spartoo on the takeover of André. Structured finance expert Eric Cartier-Millon is another key name; he assisted CDC and Natixis acting as a trustee of the lenders with Areva’s restructuring.
Lantourne & Associés
Insolvency and litigation boutique Lantourne & Associés is regularly appointed to handle complex disputes. The practice, which regularly acts for debtors, recently handled cases in the hotel, real estate and retail sectors. Maurice Lantourne is highly regarded in the market. Kristell Cattani and Flavie Hannoun are also noted. Samuel Scherman joined Towery Avocats.
McDermott Will & Emery AARPI recently launched its restructuring and insolvency practice after hiring a highly regarded team from Bremond & Associés led by Timothée Gagnepain and including associates Lucille Madariaga and Théophile Jomier . The three-lawyer team has extensive experience representing debtors and shareholders, as well as investors, in major debt restructuring and insolvency cases. The team notably acted for Rougier in Rougier SA's safeguard proceedings and Rougier Afrique International's rehabilitation proceedings. It also advised 4A Industrie, as majority shareholder of Fonderie du Poitou Fonte, and Matpart on their contemplated acquisition of Peugeot Japy's assets. Bpifrance Financement is also a client.
Boutique firm PLM Avocats is highly regarded for its strong expertise and ability to handle complex cases. The team regularly represents debtors and shareholders involved in mid-sized cases but is also instructed in high-profile matters. It acted for the family shareholder during Necotrans' bankruptcy and advised Cofigeo on its winning bid for William Saurin's assets. Patricia Lemarchand is highly regarded. Fabienne Goubault is also noted.
Poulain & Associés is led by the highly experienced Jean-Paul Poulain. The team frequently acts for debtors and has recently been sought out to assist with asset takeover offers for insolvent companies. Highlights included advising Spartooon on the takeover of French shoe retailer André from Vivarte.
Simon Associés has long-standing experience acting for debtors, often SME companies, facing restructuring and insolvency proceedings. The practice was recently involved in a high-profile matter alongside the insolvency practitioner who the team assisted with the sale of Necotrans. The firm also advised various prospective buyers of insolvent companies. The seven-lawyer team includes experienced partners Jean-Charles Simon and Stéphane Cavet.
Insolvency boutique Barbier Legal ‘always finds good and helpful solutions to problems’ and is particularly recommended for handling ‘complex situations involving SMEs’. The ‘very efficient, rigorous and available’ team frequently acts for debtors, as well as investment funds and shareholders. It acted for Asi Maintenance in insolvency proceedings. Jérôme Barbier, who divides his time between France and Switzerland, has ‘excellent mastery of difficult negotiations’.
Bersay & Associés regularly acts for SME clients facing difficulties. The firm notably assisted Acco SAS and Acco Semiconductor with the insolvency of the French subsidiary and subsequent takeover by investors. It also acted for Nantaise des Eaux Ingénierie in safeguard proceedings. Dimitri-André Sonier is noted. The firm also advises investors on takeover bids for distressed assets.
Bird & Bird has particular expertise advising on fiducie schemes and acting for corporate trustees in the context of restructuring and safeguard proceedings in France. The practice notably assisted Equitis acting as corporate trustee (fiduciaire) and Rive Defense with the sale of the underlying property asset during Rive Défense's safeguard proceedings. The practice is also handling a high amount of insolvency litigation. Practice head Nicolas Morelli and counsel Céline Nézet are the key names. Romain de Ménonville was a new arrival from Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP in October 2019.
BMH AVOCATS has ‘deep knowledge of the German and French legal systems and cultures’. The firm regularly acts for international clients, including foreign banks, insurers and judicial administrators, and is regularly involved in cross-border cases. It is notably representing the Austrian receiver in the Aristophil insolvency case as well as the UK liquidator in the opening of secondary insolvency proceedings under EU regulations for UK logistics company Alan Franklin Transport. Practice head Anja Droege Gagnier is ‘extremely professional, fast and responsive and wonderfully tenacious when it comes to acting for for her clients’.
Insolvency boutique Cahn Wilson handles mid-sized insolvency cases, often acting for distressed companies, as well as commercial partners and potential investors. Headed by Michael Cahn, the practice recently handled matters involving the restaurant and entertainment sectors. It notably defended La Maison du Caviar in safeguard proceedings and avoided the sale of its assets. The team is also handling related litigation including criminal proceedings. It notably defended SDW's CEO as first shareholder of distressed restaurant brand Chez Clement.
CBR & Associés is praised for its ‘ability to accurately assess situations its and agility in leading negotiations’. Headed by Olivier Debeine, the team provides ‘excellent work’ that ‘mitigates potential risks’. It acts for debtors, investors and judicial administrators. The practice regularly assists Ophiliam with its asset takeover offers and advised SA Polyclinique Saint-Jean and SAS Clinique Saint-Jean l’Ermitage on their restructuring. Litigation is another area of expertise.
De Gaulle Fleurance & Associés' team was strengthened by the arrival of Matthieu Barthélemy from De Pardieu Brocas Maffei to assist colleagues Anker Sorensen and Julien de Michele. The firm advises investment funds and companies and has recently gained US and French banks as clients. It handles restructuring, distressed investment and litigation work. The practice recently handled cases concerning the media sector. It also assisted Monaco Resources with its takeover offer for Necotrans' Asian and African assets.
Headed by Valery Diaz Martinat, Degroux Brugère's ‘flexible, available and able’ team ‘responds quickly’. The firm regularly acts for international investors, including German funds, on their distressed asset takeover bids and partnership offerings and in liability litigation. The practice recently assisted a company with its acquisition of a distressed asset manufacturing plant in France. The firm also represents shareholders and debtors.
Dentons has ‘excellent legal and market knowledge’. The ‘proactive and very responsive’ four-lawyer team has ‘very good communication abilities’. The firm represents creditors and some debtors. It assisted Italian bank Credito Valtelinese as main creditor of View Star Roquebrune and acted for Financière de l’Avenir and its four subsidiaries in conciliation and reorganisation proceedings. The practice is jointly headed by Nicolas Theys and counsel Audrey Molina, who demonstrate ‘excellent skills and involvement and whose contribution is a key factor to successful matter completion’.
DS Avocats regularly acts for investors, including Chinese groups, on bidding for insolvent or distressed companies. The practice notably assisted LDC and Plouray with Doux’s acquisition, as well as PMC with the takeover of Isochem. Practice head Martine Zervudacki-Farnier has long-standing experience. Thomas Objatek, Jean-Charles Gancia, newly promoted partner Christian Pascoët and of counsel Jean-Yves Marquet are also noted.
FIDAL assists debtors, shareholders, and sometimes also acts for banks, creditors and investors. The large team, which consists of lawyers spread across its regional network of offices, handles a high volume of cases. The firm is regularly involved in distressed cases for SMEs while also sometimes handling larger cases. It recently acted for the judicial administrator in handling Exosun's insolvency proceedings in France and abroad. It also successfully represented Messageries Lyonnaises de Presse in a litigation case indirectly connected to Presstalis' restructuring. Bertrand Biette and Patrick Espaignet jointly head the practice. Laïd Laurent is also noted.
Fieldfisher is praised for its ‘very strong commitment, knowledge, speed and availability’. The practice often advises leading investment funds on handling difficulties faced by their portfolio companies. The team also advises debtors and regularly acts for investors putting forward takeover bids for insolvent companies. It notably assisted Parts Holding Europe with the takeover of Oscaro. 123 Venture, TCR Capital and Chequers are other clients. Bruno Paccioni is highly regarded.
Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP
Latham & Watkins' ‘in-depth knowledge and practical know-how means the team can help its clients strategise options, not just recite legal facts’. The team regularly acts for sponsors and lenders on financial restructuring matters. It assisted Crédit Suisse as agent with the restructuring of CGG. Practice head Hervé Diogo Amengual ‘is a pit-bull who can fight multiple parties in a litigation scenario’.
Nabarro & Hinge's Pierre Chatelain ‘has very strong experience advising on restructuring and particularly on preventive cases’ and is able to draw on his past experience working for a French judicial administrator firm. Chatelain, who is 'a great asset for his clients’, ‘always proposes creative solutions, is always calm and knows how to build confidence in negotiations’ and stands out for ‘his deep knowledge of both the real estate industry and insolvency matters’. Benefitting from the firm's solid banking and finance expertise, Chatelain represents banks, as well as debtors, and recently handled several significant matters in addition to advising on smaller cases.
Sekri Valentin Zerrouk
Sekri Valentin Zerrouk's Sylvain Paillotin acts for distressed SMEs, as well as shareholders and bondholders' creditors. He successfully represented Crédit Agricole's subsidiary IDIA Participations in GYMA's safeguard proceedings and subsequent exit of its client. In other work, Paillotin is also involved in a major litigation case.
Shearman & Sterling LLP recently advised on debt restructuring and refinancing transactions for banks, investors and debtors. The firm notably assisted Japan Nuclear Fuel with the restructuring of Areva’s debt including a capital increase. Banque Themis is also a client. Finance practice head Pierre-Nicolas Ferrand also leads the restructuring and insolvency group. Philippe Wolanski, formerly a counsel with the firm, joined Watson Farley & Williams LLP.