Mergers and acquisitions in France
The 'outstanding team' at Bredin Prat is 'always committed to clients' needs' and stands out through its ability to 'gather legal competences in very specialised areas of M&A in a seamless team' and being 'supported by very strong practices to deliver M&A transactions in all their components'. It consistently attracts the biggest transactions in the market, covering a broad spectrum of sectors, and succeeds in fielding a strong domestic caseload in addition to 'being particularly well equipped to advise on cross-border transactions'. Recent highlights include advising Delfin, controlling shareholder of Luxottica, on the €47bn merger of Luxottica and Essilor, a matter jointly led by Sébastien Prat and Florence Haas. A recent domestic stand-out instruction saw Olivier Assant and Clémence Fallet advise Direct Énergie on the acquisition of 74.33% of shares by Total. Patrick Dziewolski demonstrates 'a very sharp appreciation of situations and negotiation dynamics'. Barthélémy Courteault, Benjamin Kanovitch, Didier Martin, Matthieu Pouchepadass and Kate Romain are also recommended. Other clients include Air Liquide, Orano, Danone and the Banque Fédérative du Crédit Mutuel.
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton impresses with 'great experience and knowledge of the relevant industry' as well as with 'the high quality of its service'. The team regularly handles matters with significant cross-border elements, leveraging its international office network, but also demonstrates strength in domestic transactions. The recent caseload includes a number of high-profile mandates, notably advising Essilor on its €47bn merger with Luxottica, a matter led by Pierre-Yves Chabert, and Alstom on its €15bn merger with Siemens' mobility business, a case led by Chabert and Charles Masson. The promotion to counsel of Jeanne Theuret further bolstered the practice's already deep bench; other key practitioners include Jean-Marie Ambrosi, John Brinitzer and Marie-Laurence Tibi. 'Thoughtful and attentive to his client's needs', Fabrice Baumgartner 'provides tailor-made advice'. 3M, Accor, Amundi and Thales also form part of the client roster.
Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier remains one of the key practices in the French market for high-profile transactions. Strong in domestic and international transactions alike, the team's core area of expertise is advising public companies, but it has built an impressive portfolio of work undertaken for private companies. Highlights included advising Unibail-Rodamco on its headline-grabbing acquisition of Westfield, led by Marcus Billam, Hugo Diener and newly promoted partner Laurent Gautier. It also assisted Vivendi with its €900m acquisition of Editis, a matter led jointly by Billam and Jean-Baptiste de Martigny. Forrest Alogna, Emmanuel Brochier, Benjamin Burman, Bertrand Cardi, Jean-Michel Darrois, Olivier Huyghues Despointes, Alain Maillot and Christophe Vinsonneau are also noted.
BDGS Associés advises clients from a variety of sectors, including retail, infrastructure, real estate and technology. Adept at assisting with domestic and cross-border transactions alike, the practice increasingly reaps the rewards of adding its tax and competition and regulation departments in 2014 and early 2016, respectively, as well as a restructuring department later in 2016. In a recent highlight requiring both corporate and antitrust expertise, Youssef Djehane led corporate advice for Carrefour on a five-year renewable partnership with Coopérative U Enseigne involving the creation of a joint venture with key suppliers of the two groups. Antoine Bonnasse and Thomas Meli advised Safran on its €7.7bn acquisition of Zodiac Aerospace. Lucile Gaillard, Marc Loy and Jean-Emmanuel Skovron are other key contacts. Bouygues Telecom, Bpifrance and CMA CGM also count among the team's clients.
The team of 'great professionals' at Clifford Chance 'combines deep experience, the ability to deliver fast under pressure, a pragmatic approach and the ability to find creative solutions'. Recent highlights include multiple cross-border cases, among them advising Engie on the $2.04bn sale of its liquefied natural gas business to Total, a matter led by the 'client-oriented and business-minded' Mathieu Rémy. Fabrice Cohen, who is 'very pragmatic, with a risk-oriented mindset', advised Europcar on its €1bn acquisition of Goldcar from Investindustrial. Domestically, Marianne Pezant assisted Carrefour with the creation of a common vehicle with Fnac Darty, creating a purchasing partnership for domestic appliances and consumer electronics in France. Other noteworthy practitioners include Gilles Lebreton, Laurent Schoenstein and counsel Olivier Jouffroy, 'a very good professional who is able to manage pressure very well'. Julien Brun made counsel. Benjamin de Blegiers joined Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP in 2019. Vacalians, Airbus, Axel Springer and Plastic Omnium all count among the team's clients.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP saw an uptick in cross-border instructions, particularly in Asian- and Canadian-inbound and US-outbound matters, but domestic large-cap and upper-mid-cap transactions continue to account for a significant portion of the caseload. Guy Benda took over as practice head from managing partner Hervé Pisani. Other key contacts include Alan Mason, who advised Neptune Energy Group on its $3.9bn acquisition of Engie E&P International, Florent Mazeron, who with Pisani advised EDF on acquiring a controlling stake in Framatome, and Olivier Rogivue, whose recent highlights include advising Ceconomy on the acquisition of a minority stake in Fnac Darty from Artémis. Solvay, Michelin and Caisse des dépôts et consignations are also clients.
Latham & Watkins demonstrates particular strength in cross-border transactions, acting for private and public-sector clients alike, and shoulders a busy caseload of high-profile transactions. Recent highlights include advising Worldline on its strategic partnership with SIX through which Wordline would acquire SIX Payment Services for €2.3m. Pierre-Louis Cléro and Patrick Laporte, jointly with Munich-based Rainer Traugott, assisted Siemens with its €15bn merger with Alstom. Other clients include Shandong Ruyi, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and PAI Partners. Olivier du Mottay and Thomas Forschbach, who is partly based in London, are also recommended. Bénédicte Bremond made counsel and Alexander Crosthwaite made partner. Practice head Gaëtan Gianasso splits his time between Paris and London.
Active in private and public transactions, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP primarily acts for industrial and financial groups, private equity sponsors and family-owned corporations. The team has extensive expertise in the restructuring of large listed companies, but excels in the entire range of M&A transactions, both domestic and international. Practice head Claude Serra and Yannick Piette jointly advised Atos on its $3.4bn acquisition of Syntel. A highlight from the life sciences sector saw Arthur de Baudry d’Asson and David Aknin assist Sanofi with the €1.9bn sale of Zentiva to Advent International. Agathe Soilleux is another key practitioner. Benjamin de Blegiers joined from Clifford Chance. CGG, JCDecaux and Casino also feature on the client list.
Allen & Overy LLP
Allen & Overy LLP specialises in high-value cross-border transactions, with a clear focus on the infrastructure, energy and finance sectors, but the group increasingly attracts high-profile real estate transactions as well. Recent emblematic highlights range from advising Société Générale on its acquisition of the worldwide equity markets and commodities activities of Commerzbank to assisting Total with the acquisition of Engie's liquefied natural gas portfolio. Key practitioners include practice head Frédéric Moreau, Alexandre Ancel, Marc Castagnède, Frédéric Jungels, Romy Richter and Jean-Claude Rivalland. The varied client list also features Colony NorthStar, Advent International and Orano.
Predestined for cross-border transactions, Baker McKenzie gained noticeably visibility in the market since the arrival of Matthieu Grollemund from Dechert LLP in 2017. Instructions mainly come from the TMT, consumer goods and retail, and healthcare and financial services sectors, but the team's track record displays even broader sector expertise. In a recent healthcare highlight, Stéphane Davin, who heads the practice alongside Grollemund, recently joined forces with the Chicago-based Mike DeFranco to assist Servier with its $2.4bn acquisition of Shire's global oncology business. Alyssa Auberger, Marie-Françoise Bréchignac and Alain Sauty de Chalon are also recommended. Aurélie Goville made partner and Antoine Caillard was promoted to senior counsel. Abbott Laboratories, Crédit Agricole and EDF are also clients.
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP attracted key instructions in the energy, chemical and real estate sectors, with a marked dominance of cross-border matters, but the team also impresses with domestic transactions. Practice head Jaques Naquet-Radiguet and Christophe Perchet form the heart of the group; the former advised Suez on its acquisition of GE Water from General Electric. He also assisted Solvay with the €1.6bn divestiture of its polyamide business to BASF, requiring a complex carve-out. Perchet's recent caseload includes advising Maersk on the sale of Maersk Oil to Total. Other clients include Millicom, Valeo and Canal+.
The 'efficient, organised' and 'approachable' team at De Pardieu Brocas Maffei specialises in financial services and real estate sector transactions, but fields a strong practice in several other sectors, ranging from agribusiness and energy to infrastructure and TMT. In addition to advising InVivo Retail on its acquisition of Jardiland from L-GAM, the group assisted Orano with its pre-sale reorganisation aimed at transferring a part of its assets to Framatome. Thierry Brocas, Patrick Jaïs, Jean-François Pourdieu and Guillaume Touttée are the names to note. With the promotions of Delphine Vidalenc to partner and Grégoire Balland to counsel, the practice further increased its footing in the market, despite the departure of counsel Alexandre Lecomte, who left for a role in-house at InVivo. Other clients include CNP Assurances, Batipart and La Banque Postale.
Dechert LLP impresses with 'strong technical skills', 'deep knowledge and experience' and the team is noted as 'exceptionally proactive'. Deeply rooted in the life sciences sector, the group has expanded to advise clients from a broad array of sectors, frequently French-listed companies or multinational players from the telecoms, technology, food and energy sectors. The 'astute' Ermine Bolot 'knows how to address the challenges of an international industrial group' and is noted for her 'ability to propose innovative angles in negotiations'. Joint practice heads Bolot and Alain Decombe, who provides 'a unique mix of legal expertise and in-depth understanding of a company's organisation and needs', advised Neovia's shareholders on negotiating an exclusive agreement for the sale of all of Neovia's shares to Archer Daniels Midland Company. Other clients include American Express, Eurovia and GlaxoSmithKline. Isabelle Marguet is another key contact. Laurent Faugerolas left the firm.
'Pragmatic and innovative', Dentons' 'analytical and creative' team is 'efficient, reliable' and 'goal-oriented'. Life sciences and energy transactions form the group's mainstay, but the recent caseload spans a range of sectors, from advising new client Amrest on its acquisition of SAS Sushi Shop Group from Naxicap Partners, to advising Rio Tinto on the sale of its Dunkirk plant to GFG Alliance, and assisting Dries van Noten with its strategic partnership with fragrance group Puig. The team, headed by Olivier Genevois, includes Olivia Guéguen, who possesses 'good commercial understanding', and key practitioner Jean-Marc Grosperrin. New clients Biogaran and BPCE as well as Blackstone, EDF and Pfizer form part of the client roster.
Gibson Dunn handles domestic and cross-border transactions alike, with expertise that covers the growth and mid-market segments as well as upper-mid-market matters. Led by the French and New York dual-qualified Bernard Grinspan, the team demonstrates particular strength in acting for US clients, such as Merck&Co or Lazard, but the client roster also features non-US clients, including French media giant Vivendi and French fashion player Vivarte. A recent highlight saw the practice advise a bank on the sale of two subsidiaries. Key practitioners include Ariel Harroch, Patrick Ledoux and Judith Raoul-Bardy. Bertrand Delaunay joined from Ashurst LLP.
Gide Loyrette Nouel A.A.R.P.I. continues to attract both large-cap and mid-cap transactions, making for an impressive list of recent domestic highlights in addition to several cross-border matters. On the domestic side, Didier Martin advised AccorHotels on the creation of a dedicated subsidiary for its €6.6bn HotelInvest operations. Internationally, Christophe Eck assisted Japanese electric motor manufacturer Nidec with the acquisition of Leroy-Somer's industrial alternators and drive systems division. SPIE, Amundi and Michelin are also clients. Other key contacts are Nadège Nguyen, Hugues Scalbert and Anne Tolila. Olivier Diaz and Charles de Reals joined from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.
Herbert Smith Freehills LLP
Herbert Smith Freehills LLP steadily increases its cross-border activity, building its track record in both in- and outbound transactions, but the group also fields a strong domestic practice. Instructions pertaining to investments in Africa are a particular strength. Practice head Hubert Segain advised EXFO on the off-market acquisition of shares representing 33% of Astellia's share capital, as well as on EXFO's tender offer for Astellia's shares. With the promotions of Laurence Vincent and Cyril Boulignat to of counsel, the practice continues its growth trajectory. Other key practitioners include Frédéric Bouvet, Christopher Theris and Edouard Thomas. New clients Alstom Transport and Lagardère as well as Farallon, Danone and Air France all instruct the team.
The 'very dedicated' team at Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP fields 'partners that make a deal happen', 'offering added value and pragmatic advice'. 'Very efficient in negotiations', the practice is particularly active in mid-market transactions, but the recent caseload shows an increase in larger mid-cap deals. In addition to advising Daimler on its acquisition of Chauffeur Privé, the team assisted NeoT Capital with the creation of electric mobility investment vehicle NeoT Green Mobility, in co-operation with EDF, Mitsubishi, Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations and Forsee Capital. Xavier Doumen 'is very hands-on, proactive and reliable', and 'very reassuring to have on a deal'; he heads the practice jointly with Jean-Marc Franceschi and Stéphane Huten. Florian Brechon made counsel. Europcar and Edenred are also clients. Counsel Arnaud Levasseur left to join Jeausserand Audouard.
Jones Day focuses on cross-border, mid-cap transactions, frequently at the upper end of the bracket. It possesses expertise in a range of sectors, with recent instructions coming from the life sciences, technology and financial services sectors. ABB received advice on the sale of Entrelec, a transaction spanning more than 20 countries, and My Money Bank on the sale of its French auto loans business to Financo. Other matters came from Sanofi, CBRE Global Investors and Euronext. Sophie Hagège heads the practice; other key contacts include Audrey Bontemps, Alexandre de Verdun and Gaël Saint Olive. Of counsel Anne Reffay left to join Ashurst LLP.
The 'very professional and reliable' team at Linklaters impresses with 'a good network of partners in foreign countries'. The group combines sector expertise in the banking, insurance, energy, healthcare, industrial and retail sectors with the firm's full-service offering, enabling it to handle complex domestic and cross-border transactions. Pierre Thomet, who 'goes beyond the questions clients ask, anticipates further concerns and proposes solutions', advised TDR Capital and its portfolio company Algeco on the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Touax Solutions Modulaires (TSM) as well as on TSM's takeover by Algeco Scotsman. Société Générale, Babilou and Ardian France also instructed the team. Other key practitioners are practice head Bruno Derieux, Alain Garnier, Fabrice de la Morandière and Marc Petitier. Vincent Ponsonnaille and Laurent-Victor Michel joined Kirkland & Ellis LLP.
Mayer Brown fields 'a very strong team of lawyers with excellent technical skills, business acumen and the strength to support large deals'. Active in both public and private M&A, the group's mainstay are mid-cap transactions, but the track record also features large-cap instructions. Recent highlights include advising IDI on the sale of Idinvest Partners to Eurazeo, led by the 'technically outstanding' Olivier Aubouin, who is a 'strong negotiator'. Other clients include Groupe Le Duff, La Banque Postale and LVMH. Apart from practice head Guillaume Kuperfils, Jean-François Louit, Arnaud Pérès, Thomas Philippe and Emily Pennec are also singled out. Caroline Lan made partner and Hadrien Schlumberger made counsel. Xavier Jaspar left to set up his own practice.
Paul Hastings LLP
Paul Hastings LLP fields a strong mid-cap practice, with a focus on the healthcare, financial services and technology sectors, among others. Practice head Guillaume Kellner advised Antin Infrastructure on its acquisition of a majority stake in Almaviva Santé from Gimv and UI Gestion. A recent telecoms highlight saw Edith Boucaya assist OneAccess and its shareholders with its sale to Ekinops. Olivier Deren and Alexis Terray are also noted. New clients Téléperformance and Groupe d'Aucy as well as NJJ Capital and Publicis feature on the client roster.
Shearman & Sterling LLP's expertise spans a wide range of sectors but the team has a marked focus on the financial services, healthcare and pharmaceutical, TMT and energy sectors. Practice head Guillaume Isautier and Nicolas Bombrun shoulder the majority of the work, with key support coming from of counsel Cyrille Niedzielski and counsels Barbara Le Chapellier and Marie Pouget. Recent highlights include advising Novartis on its $3.9bn acquisition of Advanced Accelerator Applications and assisting Japan Nuclear Fuel with its investment in Orano as part of Areva's €4.5bn global restructuring. Amundi, Jin Jiang and Société Générale also count among the team's clients.
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP fields an 'extremely powerful and effective team' composed of 'very skilled individuals.' Known for its track record in innovative transactions, both mid- and large-cap, the group is especially well suited for complex cross-border matters, but also excels in complex domestic instructions. Practice head Armand Grumberg is 'an exceptional attorney, extremely talented with incredible negotiation and strategic skills'. Pascal Bine and newly promoted partner Arash Attar-Rezvani are the other names to note. Olivier Diaz left to Gide Loyrette Nouel A.A.R.P.I.. Capgemini and Scor also count among the team's clients.
Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
Sullivan & Cromwell LLP specialises in cross-border transactions, with recent examples including Olivier de Vilmorin's advice to Elis on its cross-border takeover of British textile maintenance service provider Berendsen, a matter jointly led with the London office. Another highlight handled out of both locations was de Vilmorin's advice to Goldman Sachs Infrastructure Partners on the sale of its stake in Groupe Eurotunnel to Atlantia. Other clients include Altran Technologies, Euro Disney and Deutsche Bank. Patrick Bonvarlet retired from the partnership.
At White & Case LLP, the arrival of Saam Golshani, Alexis Hojabr and Guillaume Vitrich from Orrick Rambaud Martel significantly increased the group's footprint in the market. The team combines strong cross-border capabilities with a focus on the automotive, technology and financial services sectors, regularly acting in high-profile transactions. It advised Ingenico Group on its €1.5bn acquisition of Bambora from Nordic Capital, a cross-border matter involving France and Sweden, and assisted Faurecia with its strategic partnership and investment in Parrot Automotive. On the domestic side, stand-out matters included multiple instructions from Legris Industries, such as the sale of Savoye Logistics to Noblelift Equipment Joint Stock and the acquisition of Schiederwerk Germany. The client roster also features BNP Paribas, Eren Renewable Energy and Visteon. Key contacts include practice head Hugues Mathez and François Leloup. Jean Paszkudzki made counsel.
The 'very experienced and proactive' team at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP 'goes beyond of what is normally expected'. The group demonstrates broad sector coverage, with strength in both domestic and cross-border transactions. Practice head Eduardo Fernandez is noted for his 'outstanding ability to make complicated matters easier to understand'; he advised entertainment player Trace, one of Trace's co-founders and its management team on its acquisition by TPG Growth. CMA CGM, Thales and Bonduelle are also clients. Other key contacts include cross-border joint venture specialist Annette Péron, energy and infrastructure expert Gabriel Flandin, carve-out specialist Grégoire Finance and public M&A expert Daniel Hurstel.