Tax in France
Bredin Prat is ‘unique due to its tax partners' outstanding technical skills and unconditional engagement’. The 21-lawyer team ‘listens to its clients, adapts itself to their constraints, finds practical solutions’ and provides ‘a very high level of expertise which is adapted to multinational companies’. The practice handles the full spectrum of tax work: it houses ‘high-level M&A tax professionals’, has ‘exceptional experience in tax audit’, is ‘very knowledgeable in litigation’ and ‘manages very complex matters mixing REIT tax regime corporate and real estate constraints’. The first-rate team advises on the largest listed and non-listed M&A transactions as well as on private equity deals. Recent highlights include assisting Axa with the acquisition of XL; Engie with the sale of its 70% interest in EPI; PSA with the acquisition of Opel/Vauxhall; and Direct Énergie with its purchase by Total. The practice is also representing leading US internet companies, as well as French companies and banks in major tax reassessment cases touching on permanent establishment, corporate tax income and financial scheme issues. It was successful before the Court of Appeal in the high-profile Wildenstein tax fraud case for the eponymous Guy Wildenstein. Practice head Yves Rutschmann ‘delivers exceptional and tailor-made services’. Sébastien de Monès provides 'clear advice’, has ‘an incomparable track record in the French REIT regime, covering all tax aspects of real estate complex transactions’. Pierre-Henri Durand, who is ‘a high level professional in M&A tax’, ‘is fully committed to his clients', who place 'a very high level of trust’ in him. Julien Gayral ‘is very smart, always provides good suggestions and adds a lot of value in discussions’. Anne Robert is also noted. Jean-Florent Mandelbaum was promoted to the partnership.
CMS houses one of the market's largest and most experienced tax teams with more than 200 lawyers involved. The firm handles all types of tax matters from mainstream to highly specialised tax issues and has a tax doctrine department supporting its practice. It advises leading French and international corporations, as well as insurers, banks and several public sector entities. The practice recently handled high-end litigation cases, where the highly regarded Stéphane Austry is the key name. The firm is also sought out to advise on tax restructuring, international tax issues and M&A transactions. Bruno Gibert and Edouard Milhac are key names for international tax issues. Elisabeth Ashworth, Pierre Carcelero, Patrick Danis, Christophe Frionnet, Stéphane Gelin, Frédéric Gerner, Anne Grousset, Lionel Lenczner, Anne-Sophie Rostaing, Jean-Christophe Sauzey and Philippe Tournès were recently involved in key matters.
Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
Sullivan & Cromwell LLP stands out for its combination of state-of-the art tax litigation and transactional expertise and has a compact team of six that runs a strong standalone tax offering in addition to providing support to the firm’s other practices. The group handles groundbreaking court cases that directly challenge the French regime's conformity with the EU legal framework. It recently obtained numerous positive outcomes, including a landmark judgment on behalf of 43 CAC 40 companies in the largest tax case in French history pertaining to the 3% tax on dividends that was ruled unconstitutional. It is also involved alongside Air Liquide in the précompte tax case which has been referred to the EUCJ. The team is also handling several other tax reassessment controversy cases for leading French companies where very large financial amounts are at stake. It was also successful in its appeal in a tax litigation case related to the recapitalisation and sale of Emporiki for Crédit Agricole. The group is also advising various leading French companies on their strategic tax structure reorganisations and in the transactional area. It assisted Goldman Sachs Infrastructure Partners with the sale of its shareholding in Eurotunnel. Gauthier Blanluet and Nicolas de Boynes are the names to note.
Independent tax boutique Arsene houses some 100 lawyers who have tax expertise in various tax areas. The firm stands out for its LBO tax expertise and is retained by leading private equity funds or the management to advise on LBO transactions. Highlights included assisting IK Investment Partners with the acquisition of a majority stake in Mademoiselle Desserts; Bridgepoint with the acquisition of a minority stake in Burger King; and managers with the sale of 40% of Sebia to Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Quebec. The team also has strong property tax expertise and notably advised Ardian Real Estate on the acquisition of Europe 1's former headquarters. The practice also handles challenging litigation cases and was recently active in matters pertaining to horizontal tax group issues as well as representing Steria in a dispute dealing with the 5% share of costs and expenses exemption. Sanofi, Naxicap Partners, LVMH, Kering, Pernod Ricard and Casino are other clients. Denis Andres heads the M&A and private equity tax practice; Marc Brocardi is head of customs; David Chaumontet is in charge of the energy and environment tax practice; Antoine Glaize leads the transfer pricing team; François Lugand oversees the property tax practice; Patrice Corbin de Granchamp heads the social contributions (URSSAF) practice; Laurent Partouche Sebban is the key name for individual tax issues; Roland Schneider heads the litigation and tax investigation practice; and Olivier Vergniolle is head of the corporate tax practice. Other names to note in the 22-partner team are co-founding partner Frédéric Donnedieu de Vabres, Mirouna Verban, Franck Chaminade, Alexandre Rocchi, Vincent Desoubries, Stéphanie Hamis and Benoit Bec.
Baker McKenzie has a sizeable team of 37 lawyers who stand out for their ‘huge involvement and availability’ and advise on a wide range of tax matters. The ‘high-quality partners’ represent a highly prominent base of French and international clients. The transfer pricing expertise is particular strong thanks to the presence of Caroline Silberztein, who ranks among the leading names in her field. The firm’s proficiency in handling high-profile tax audit and litigation work is also well known and it is notably managing cases dealing with 3% tax, permanent establishment and international tax issues. Leading names in the digital and retail sectors have entrusted the firm with some of their most sensitive cases. The team recently achieved positive results and notably obtained a success for TF1 before the Constitutional Court regarding tax on televised advertising. The firm also handles top corporate tax work, advising large companies and investment funds on tax restructuring and transactional tax matters. The team recently advised Casino on the creation of a joint venture with Dia, and Platinum Equity on the sale of Worldwide Flight Services. The practice also acted on major work in the hotel and tourism sectors. The corporate tax practice is led by Guillaume Le Camus and Veronique Millischer, whose ‘high quality work is very reassuring for clients’. Eric Meier and Régis Torlet, who are both ‘great listeners with broad knowledge’, are also highly regarded, as is Ariane Calloud.
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton has leading transactional tax expertise where it is able to draw on the firm's leading capabilities in the M&A and capital markets sectors in Paris. Headed by Anne-Sophie Coustel, the five-lawyer team advises on the market's most complex listed and cross-border M&A transactions, as well as equity and debt capital deals including IPO and tier one issuances. It assisted Essilor with its combination with Luxottica, Alstom with its combination with Siemens’ Mobility Business and Thales with its offer for Gemalto. The practice also advised the underwriters on Sanofi’s $2bn registered debt securities offering, and Crédit Agricole Assurances on the offering of €1bn subordinated resettable notes. The team also handled tax audits and litigation.
Clifford Chance’s ‘excellent’ eight-lawyer team stands out for its ‘high professionalism and availability’. The practice recently advised on high-profile infrastructure M&A transactions through its assistance to Engie with the $2bn sale of its upstream LNG business to Total. It also acted alongside PAI Partners on the €1.15bn LBO on Asmodée. The team also stands out for its ‘strong experience and knowledge of the real estate industry’ where it shows ‘great ability to execute a transaction and anticipate solutions’. It was recently involved in some of the market’s largest investment transactions and handled a number of matters for Primonial, which it notably assisted with its 50% equity investment in a German healthcare asset portfolio owned by Medical Properties Trust. The team is also a leading reference for pan-European real estate fund structuring and assisted Ardian France with the creation of its first real estate fund. Rexel, Axel Springer, Altarea Cogedim and AEW Ciloger are also clients. Co-heads Eric Davoudet and Alexandre Lagarrigue, who ‘combines technical proficiency, imagination and very good judgement’, rank among the best in their fields and counsel Jitka Susankova is also noted.
Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier is a leading name for high-profile M&A and property transactions. The seven-lawyer tax team regularly acts alongside the firm’s leading corporate practice to advise on many of France’s top matters. It recently assisted AccorHotels with the spin-off and subsequent sale of 57.8% of AccorInvest, and Kering with the proposed distribution of around 70% of Puma to its shareholders. The team is also retained by leading property investors to assist with their strategic office, logistics, hotel and industrial asset transactions. For key client Blackstone, the firm recently handled the French tax consequences of the sale of its logistics company (Logicor). The practice also acts for clients in complex litigation and tax audits. Vincent Agulhon ranks among the very best in the field. Loïc Védie and the experienced Alain Maillot are also noted.
De Pardieu Brocas Maffei has ‘in-depth understanding of its customers' business, is highly responsive, has the ability to provide a bird's eye view as well as dig into the details of a given issue, and is well connected with the tax authorities’. The 17-lawyer team is able to cover a large spectrum of tax issues. The group has leading expertise in the tax real estate space and regularly handles headline work in the market in this area. It notably assisted Covivio Hotels with the €976m acquisition of a luxury hotels portfolio in the UK, which consisted of 14 hotels; advised Henderson Park on the acquisition of Hotel Westin Paris-Vendôme; and acted for Foncière des Murs on the merger-absorption of FDM Management. ‘Trusted adviser’ Emmanuel Chauve has ‘strong technical expertise’ and is an expert in tax real estate. Alexandre Blestel, who is also highly regarded for real estate and corporate tax issues, ‘provides excellent tax advice and is very thorough’. The practice also handles the tax-related aspects of debt capital markets and banking, while litigation is another strength. It also has strong private equity and corporate tax expertise. It assisted InVivo Retail with the acquisition of Jardiland. Nadine Gelli joined Kirkland & Ellis LLP in 2019.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP has high-end transactional expertise and a track record advising on the tax structuring of high-profile M&A transactions. Recent work includes advising on the tax-related aspects of M&A transactions and greenfield and brownfield infrastructure projects. It was particularly active in high-profile energy transactions including assisting Total with its acquisition of Maersk Oil, Fluxys with its acquisition of a majority stake in Dunkerque LNG, and Neptune Energy with its acquisition of Engie E&P International. The team also advised leading financial institutions on Brexit-related tax planning, including assisting HSBC with the transfer of its EMEA global banking operations under HSBC France. The practice also has high-level expertise handling various sophisticated tax issues. It represented Sofina in high-stakes litigation challenging the validity of the French withholding tax in front of the Conseil d’Etat and the Court of Justice of the European Union. The practice is jointly headed by top adviser Vincent Daniel-Mayeur and the ‘brilliant’ Cyril Valentin, who ‘delivers very helpful advice on complex real estate and structuring matters’ and ‘is capable of instinctively answering very sharp questions’. Former counsel Ludovic Geneston joined Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP as partner.
Gide Loyrette Nouel A.A.R.P.I. has ‘an extremely responsive, innovative and committed’ team, which ‘provides high-level advice on sophisticated litigation and complex transactions’. The 16-lawyer practice can also rely on 'a good international network and is well connected with industry bodies, as well as governmental and regulatory agencies’. The team notably has ‘deep knowledge of the real estate sector’ and regularly advises on high-profile transactions in that area. It recently assisted Amundi Immobilier and Primonial with the set up of a joint venture for the off-plan acquisition of the Tour Hekla project. The team is also very strong in the banking and financial sector and recently assisted CNP Assurances with the issuance of €500m-worth of Tier 1 notes. Olivier Dauchez ‘demonstrates impressive capabilities to anticipate tax and litigation developments relying upon his broad experience’ and ‘provides strategic assistance with complex situations’. The ‘excellent’ Laurent Modave is ‘solution oriented’ and ‘highly recommended for his real estate fund expertise’. Bertrand Jouanneau is also noted. The arrival of Magali Buchert as partner, previously counsel at Bredin Prat, further strengthens the firm's M&A-related tax capabilities.
Latham & Watkins focuses on private equity, M&A, capital markets and finance-related transactional tax. The seven-lawyer team has high-end LBO tax expertise and assists the corporate team with the structuring of the market's largest LBO deals. The practice notably assisted PAI Partners with the projected acquisition of Albéa. The team also regularly advises on the tax-aspects of major M&A deals managed by the firm including recently advising Siemens on its merger with Alstom and Worldline on the acquisition of SIX Payment Services (SPS). The team also regularly assists banks with the structuring of major financing acquisition transactions including acting for Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs on a €6.1bn loan bridge facility financing Unibail-Rodamco’s acquisition of Westfield. Xavier Renard and Olivia Rauch-Ravisé are key names.
Pwc Société d'Avocats
Pwc Société d'Avocats has considerable resources - it is able to draw on more than 340 tax lawyers - and provides a wide range of expertise to a client base made up of corporates, banks and investment funds. The firm advises on the due diligence and structuring of top M&A, private equity and real estate transactions. It notably assisted Permira with the acquisition of Exclusive Group, and Antin Infrastructure with the purchase of Idex. The firm also handles tax audit and litigation and is currently involved in a sensitive dispute. Anne-Valérie Attias-Assouline is the firm's managing partner. Other key names among the 46-partner team include: Hélène Rives, Virginie Louvel, Jean-Philippe Brillet, Emmanuelle Veras and Olivier Dussarat. Jérôme Leroux, Marc-Olivier Roux and Bruno Lunghi also recently advised on the tax aspects of headline transactions, while Catherine Cassan and Loic Le Claire handle litigation.
Allen & Overy LLP
Allen & Overy LLP has a strong transactional tax team that advises on large M&A, private equity, financing and capital markets transactions. The firm is retained by many leading banks as well companies' management and investment funds. It notably assisted Dexia with the unwinding of its German banking operations, as well as Blackfin Capital Partners and the management team with the proposed sale of their 20% interest in Chevreux. The practice also advised Cacib and a bank syndicate on Artemis' issuance of non-dilutive exchangeable bonds for existing shares of Kering and acted for the joint lead managers on Scor’s inaugural $650m Tier 1 notes issuance. The eight-lawyer team is jointly headed by the ‘smart, responsive, and practical’ Mathieu Vignon, who has strong knowledge of the finance industry, and Guillaume Valois, who has experience in the tax-related aspects of private equity and M&A deals. Counsel Charles del Valle is also noted.
Dechert LLP stands out for ‘its ability to deal with highly complex technical issues thanks to its exceptional tax knowledge’. The ‘well-rounded expert’ team has ‘strong business acumen and combines great domestic knowledge with superb transnational expertise’. The ‘highly responsive and solutions-oriented’ seven-lawyer team has a strong private equity practice spanning LBO transactions, managers' carried-interest and the structuring of private investment fund work. Recent highlights include assisting Five Arrows Principal Investments with its investment in A2Mac1, as well as Astorg with the acquisition of a stake in Echosens SA. The team also has strong international tax, transfer pricing and wealth and estate planning tax expertise alongside strengths in tax restructuring, M&A-related tax matters and R&D tax issues. It advised Continental on the restructuring of its French activities and handled R&D tax credits matters for Baxter. Other areas of strength include tax audits, particularly transfer pricing tax audit matters. Other clients include 17 Capital, AG Real Estate and Blisce. The practice is jointly headed by Bruno Leroy, who has ‘great domestic and international knowledge’, ‘is very good at understanding his clients' expectations, and also very good at defending clients against the tax administration’, and Sabina Comis, who is ‘one of the few lawyers in Paris, who is able to handle heavy tax structuring and fund formation matters at the same time’ making her ‘a private equity industry leader’. Senior associate Damien Fenard is praised for his ability to ‘listen to clients' needs, his availability, and his great expertise and efficiency’.
DLA Piper now houses one of the leading teams in the market for tax-related private equity tax matters following the arrival of a group from the now defunct King & Wood Mallesons Paris, after a brief period at Reed Smith. The new team stands out for high-profile private equity fund structuring and is equally a strong name for LBO transactions, acting for many leading private equity houses. The ‘dedicated and reliable’ ten-lawyer team has ‘solid execution capabilities’, ‘outstanding out of the box thinking’ and 'a drive to find a solution when facing complex issues’. It recently advised on a number of transactions and on the market's largest fund creation work. The practice notably advised PAI Partners on the tax structuring of PAI VII, and Antin Infrastructure Partners on the structuring and the fundraising of their new fund. It also assisted Carlyle and Montefiore Investment with the sale of a minority stake in European Camping. The practice also assists clients with tax audits and handles some property tax work. Fanny Combourieu leads the team. Sylvie Vansteenkiste is a market leader in fund structuring work. Raphaël Béra is also highly regarded.
Franklin's ‘very professional and competent’ team is praised for its ‘impressive turn-around times’. The firm has a leading reputation for high-profile tax property matters due to the presence of Christine Daric and Olivier Mesmin, whose ‘advice is very thorough’ and who is commended for his negotiation skills in tax-related matters. The practice has a track record advising on standout, complex property transactions for leading French and international investors. It recently assisted EPI with the €600m sale of the Apple building on the Champs-Élysées. M&A and transactional tax matters are also part of the workload. The firm also houses a highly regarded wealth tax management practice, with Jérôme Barré the key name in this space.
Jones Day's tax practice stands out for its ‘excellent understanding of the banking area’. The practice regularly advises banks on the tax aspects of structured financings, derivatives, capital markets and also on private equity transactions. The practice recently assisted My Money Bank with the sale of its French auto loans activity to Financo, as well as Cacib with the sale by Vivendi of its stake in Ubisoft through innovative equity derivatives. The tax team also regularly advises on domestic and global M&A transactions and also handles property tax deals. It recently acted for CBRE Global Investors on the sale of a 12 asset logistics portfolio. Emmanuel de La Rochethulon leads the team. Nicolas André is singled out as 'an excellent associate'.
Lacourte Raquin Tatar handles high-end tax work in the real estate sector, spanning sophisticated M&A and property asset transactions. The practice notably assisted Unibail-Rodamco with its acquisition of Westfield and the ten-lawyer team also handled the tax aspects of several of the market's largest property asset transactions including assisting Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield with the sale of the Capital 8 building, as well as Invesco Real Estate and La Salle with the acquisition of the landmark RTL building, and Poste Immo with the sale of a building on rue de La Boétie to BNP Paribas Reim. The team also advised on tax aspects of the firm's M&A transactions conducted for blue-chip French clients. It assisted Ivanhoe Cambridge with the €473m sale of a 4.2% stake in Gecina. The highly regarded Jean-Yves Charriau, as well as Julien Souyeaux and David Sorel are experts in the tax space.
Linklaters has a strong transactional practice. The eight-lawyer team regularly advises on the market's largest LBO transactions and notably assisted Blackstone's private equity funds with the sale of Alliance Automotive, as well as BC Partners and PSP Investments with the acquisition of a majority stake in Keter. The team is also well versed in the tax of structuring large M&A and energy asset transactions. It advised L'Oréal on the disposal of The Body Shop International, and Ardian Infrastructure on the sale of a €1bn infrastructure and energy assets portfolio. Edouard Chapellier and Cyril Boussion lead a strong team.
Mayer Brown ‘is very knowledgeable, reactive and business minded’ in the private equity field. The 14-lawyer team provides ‘very analytical and solution-oriented advice, is eager to simplify issues, and is fun to work with’. The practice is entrusted by the market's most high-profile private equity houses to advise on the largest transactions. It recently assisted Oaktree Capital with the sale of Axilone, and Bridgepoint Development Capital with the sale of private clinics operator C2S. The firm also advises management teams and acts for private equity funds and other clients in tax audits and litigation. It also advises on financing and property tax matters. Other highlights include assisting Altice with the €3.6bn transfer of Altice France's Tower Businesses to a joint venture. Other clients include Eurazeo and LBO France. The five-partner team is jointly headed by the ‘extremely creative’ Laurent Borey and Benjamin Homo who ‘has a strong grasp of numbers’ and ‘is very clear and direct in his advice’. Olivier Parawan, Christopher Lalloz and Elodie Deschamps are also noted.
Orrick Rambaud Martel's six-lawyer tax transactional team regularly advises on high-profile listed M&A and large private equity transactions. The group notably assisted Advent International with its acquisition of Circet along with Omnes Capital and the company’s founders and management team. Other recent work includes advising on debt restructuring matters and property financing deals. The team also secured a major victory before the Paris Court of Appeal that confirmed the dismissal of tax fraud claims totalling €500m made against its clients Diane and Alec Wildenstein. Practice head Anne-Sophie Kerfant is highly regarded. Charles Briand is another key name.
Paul Hastings LLP
Paul Hastings LLP’s five-lawyer team is a perfect fit for leading private equity funds. The practice handles large-cap LBO transactions and recently advised on many of the market’s leading private equity deals, where it is frequently sought out by private equity funds as a preferred adviser. The firm also assists corporations with M&A deals and high-profile banks with banking and capital markets transactions. Allard de Waal leads the team and is supported by senior associate Thomas Pulcini.
Reed Smith has leading tax property expertise. Jean-Pierre Collet, Florence Bilger and David Colin regularly advise on high-end property tax transactions for leading international investors. The practice notably assisted with the tax aspects of the corporate restructuring of a hotel group and, separately, the acquisition of a building.
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP's compact team of two primarily advises on the tax aspects of high-profile M&A private and public transactions handled by the firm's corporate team. Headed by the highly regarded Thomas Perrot, the practice assists large French and international corporations. It recently assisted with several strategic deals in the real estate sector, notably advising ANF Immobilier on the acquisition by Icade of Eurazeo’s 50.48% block of shares in ANF Immobilier. The practice also assisted Eurazeo with the acquisition of a 30% stake in Rhône Capital in the US and UK. Westfield Corporation and Daimler are also clients.
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP houses a strong seven-lawyer team that regularly advises alongside the corporate practice on the market's largest M&A and LBO transactions. The practice notably assisted Sagard with the sale of Alvest, Fives and its management with a new buy-out transaction led by CDPQ and PSP, and acted for Sanofi on its sale of Zentiva. The team is also regularly involved in high-profile debt restructuring work and was recently active for CGG in that space. The practice is also sought out to handle litigation, with recent clients in this area including Rothschild & Cie Banque, Studialis and Gecina. Stéphane Chaouat and Edouard de Lamy are the practice heads.
White & Case LLP houses a strong transactional team of five lawyers. The practice regularly advises on major banking and finance and capital markets transactions handled by the firm, frequently acting for banks. It recently assisted Société Générale with a €9bn French residential mortgage loan securitisation and JPMorgan, as sole global coordinator, with the €2bn sale by Vivendi of its entire stake in Ubisoft. The team also regularly advises on M&A, private equity and property transactions. It assisted Ingenico Group with its €1.5bn acquisition of Bambora, and acted for Cardif, Diversipierre and Sogecap on the acquisition of a 6,800 unit French residential property portfolio, leased to EDF. Practice head Norbert Majerholc and Alexandre Ippolito are highly experienced.
Altitude Avocats is a private client tax boutique created in January 2017 by a team from Hoche Société d'Avocats; the group is ‘easily accessible, has high-level technical expertise and provides secured and creative advice’. The five-lawyer group acts for French and non-French residents, handling advisory and litigation work, notably concerning income tax, wealth tax, gift and inheritance tax issues, as well as Brexit-related matters. The practice also assisted managers during major LBO transactions. The highly regarded Eric Ginter, Eric Chartier and Julien Bellet jointly head the practice.
Andersen Tax & Legal
Andersen Tax & Legal, formerly STC Partners, is a popular choice for entrepreneurs and handles LBO transactions, private client tax issues, tax audits and litigation. The 20-lawyer practice also advises investment funds on tax structuring and due diligence work concerning growth capital and LBO transactions, and handles tax-related M&A matters. It recently acted for the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) on the French tax aspects of the acquisition of 40% of European Camping, and Ajinomoto on its acquisition of Labeyrie Traiteur Surgelés. RATP Développement, Delpharm and Nextage are among its other clients. Bertrand Araud, Pierre Bouley, Christian Couderc, Denis Fontaine-Besset, Hervé-Antoine Couderc and Nicole Goulard are the key names at partner level.
Archers A.A.R.P.I. acts for French and international companies as well as various major investment and property funds. The six-lawyer team notably advises on corporate and M&A tax issues. It also has solid property tax expertise and also handles litigation. Highlights included assisting 22 Real Estate with the sale of the Powerhouse 6,700 residential unit property portfolio leased to EDF; Trocadero Capital with the joint acquisition of Escalotel hotel; and Prisma Média with the sale of VSD magazine. Omnes Capital, Sodifram, Icade Santé and Mango are among its other clients. Arnaud Viard and Eric Labro jointly head the practice.
Following the loss of its team in 2017, Ashurst LLP hired Emmanuelle Pontnau-Faure, who joined as partner from Pwc Société d'Avocats to re-launch its practice. The newly established three-lawyer team advises on LBO transactions and financing, structured finance and property investment deals. It recently assisted the lenders with the financing of the acquisition of Compeed by HRA Pharma, as well as Partners Group & PSP Investments with the acquisition of Cerba.
Leading French corporate firm BDGS Associés hired Guillaume Jolly in 2015 from Gide Loyrette Nouel A.A.R.P.I. to complement its M&A expertise. Heading a three-lawyer team, Jolly is also developing a successful real estate and high-net-worth standalone tax practice. Together with the firm's M&A team, the practice assisted Carrefour with a five-year renewable partnership with Coopérative U Enseigne.
Cazals Manzo Pichot AARPI
Cazals Manzo Pichot AARPI is ‘a tax boutique that provides exceptional legal service’. The ‘experienced, talented and very reliable’ ten-lawyer practice has 'a highly personalised approach’ and provides ‘satisfying solutions that are successfully implemented’. The full-service team notably handles M&A, private equity and property tax transactions. It also advises private clients and handles litigation. Recent highlights include assisting GFG Alliance with the acquisition of Aluminium Dunkerque, as well as Omnes Capital with its mezzanine debt investment in Marquetis & Co. The team is also managing a contentious tax case in the telecoms sector. The practice is jointly headed by: Thomas Cazals, who has ‘good communication skills’; Maxence Manzo, ‘a solution provider and good technician’ who ‘foresees problems and finds the best solutions, and has wide knowledge of taxation, commercial law, finance and accounting aspects’; Romain Pichot, whose ‘very hands-on approach and personalised service’ is highly valued; and the ‘reliable’ Bertrand de Saint Quentin, who is ‘an exceptional and smart tax lawyer who combines great expertise and intellectual curiosity that he loves to apply to new and changing areas (such as crypto currencies)’. New arrivals include Virginie Aïdan, who joined from Hogan Lovells (Paris) LLP in 2018 and the highly regarded and experienced Pierre Ullmann, who joined from Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP at the beginning of 2019.
Cohen & Gresser LLP's Franck Le Mentec has deep knowledge of international tax and transfer pricing issues. The four-lawyer team advises companies and high-net worth individuals and families. It also handles litigation and the structuring of M&A deals. The team recently advised Famille Perrin wine producers on the tax elements of the establishment of a joint venture with US actor Brad Pitt for Miraval wine company. Other clients include Cameron France, Impala, Seiko and several Italian companies.
De Gaulle Fleurance & Associés' large team of 12 lawyers advise on a diverse range of matters including corporate, property and private client tax matters, as well as non-profit tax issues. The practice is a popular choice for handling complex cases including litigation concerning the 3% tax on dividends and criminal tax issues. It has also recently handled major work in the wine industry and advised on new issues including e-healthcare. The firm also assisted Meeschaert with the structuring of investment funds. French and international groups are other clients. The highly experienced Henri-Nicolas Fleurance, who ‘listens to his clients and addresses concerns’, jointly heads the practice alongside Vincent Schmitt. Also involved are senior counsel Frédéric Paquet and Pascale Farey Da Rin, who joined from Brown Rudnick LLP. Blaise Philippe Chaumont left to establish Aristide Law.
Delaby Dorison Avocats provides ‘extremely accurate and always business-oriented tax advice’. The nine-lawyer tax boutique combines strong transactional and private client tax law expertise. It ‘can handle negotiations in difficult environments’ and regularly advises the management on large LBO transactions, as well as assisting leading investment funds with the structuring and due diligence of LBO deals and distressed acquisitions. Recent highlights on the transactional side include assisting Rabobank with the tax elements of the sale of BPD Marignan. The firm, which has a considerable number of long-standing clients, also advises corporations, mutual insurers, CEOs and high-net-worth individuals and families. Other clients include Ardian, Crédit Mutuel, Eugene Perma and Trescal. Emmanuel Delaby is particularly noted for his 'strong technical analyses'. Sophie Dorison is a specialist in private client tax issues
Dentons ‘is available at short notice and adapts promptly to all kind of requests’. The large-12 lawyer team has ‘solid technical knowledge’ and stands out for its ‘exceptional communication, availability and strategy in dealing with complex issues’. It has a broad range of transactional and litigation expertise combined with in-depth knowledge of the property, luxury goods, pharmaceutical and insurance sectors. The practice recently assisted leading insurance companies as insurers of high-profile private equity transactions including assisting AIG as insurer with the mega buy-out of Saur. The team also advised Piquadro on the tax structuring of the acquisition of Lancel. In the property sector, the team acted for City Mall on the acquisition of the four-star Park Hotel in Nice. The practice also obtained a major victory for its client before the Conseil d'Etat. The practice is jointly headed by Sandra Hazan and Jean-Luc Calisti. Other key names in the practice are: the ‘highly skilled’ Jessie Gaston, who is ‘an exceptional team leader who thinks out of the box when needed and never seems to take no for an answer’, Julien Le Guyader and of counsel Jérôme Le Berre. The arrival of Siamak Mostafavi as senior counsel from Jones Day adds high-level banking and finance and derivatives expertise from a tax perspective. Vincent Lacombe left the firm.
Ernst & Young Société d'Avocats
Ernst & Young Société d'Avocats fields a team of more than 700 tax lawyers who provide a whole range of expertise and advise many leading French and international companies.
At Fairway A.A.R.P.I., the ‘knowledgeable, smart and practical’ Emmanuel Galifer, who makes ‘tax issues understandable’, manages the firm's three-lawyer practice which is recommended for real estate tax matters. Recent work include assisting Lillenium with the tax elements of the financing of the construction of a shopping centre in Lille, as well as Generali Real Estate with the sale of a logistics portfolio.
With more than 190 lawyers spread across 90 regional offices, FIDAL has a unique network and large resources. The firm ‘can handle various topics with a high degree of expertise’. Lawyers are ‘always available, show good business understanding’ and have ‘an excellent knowledge of French tax rules and practices’. The firm is retained by leading French corporations and also advises international clients and SMEs. The practice notably conducts due diligence on transactions, including advising Axa on the tax due diligence elements of the acquisition of XL Re. The firm also assists with the structuring of transfer pricing schemes and with the structuring of M&A, as well as property and energy asset transactions. Litigation is another area of strength and it recently handled a number of sensitive disputes in this space. Other clients include Euronext and Boralex. Didier Laforge and Thierry Nicolas supervise the tax practice. Other names to note are: Antoine Badinier and Delphine Mohier, who are acknowledged for their ‘very good interpersonal skills and team spirit’, Patrice Graillat, who is a specialist in tax litigation and corporate tax expertise, Laurent Leclercq, Mikael Maheust and Cédric Philibert.
Gibson Dunn's team advises high-profile domestic and international corporations and investment funds on major M&A and private equity transactions. The practice notably assisted Crédit Agricole with the acquisition of a 15% stake in Caceis, as well as Alliance Entreprendre with its LBO on Copac. The team also regularly advises on distressed M&A transactions including assisting Vivarte with the sale of several retail brands. The firm is also handling sensitive tax audits and tax disputes, and also handles the tax aspects of property deals. The practice is jointly headed by the highly regarded Jérôme Delaurière and Ariel Harroch, who stands out for his combined corporate and tax expertise.
Goodwin's practice grew further in 2018 through the hire of counsel Charles-Henri de Gouvion Saint-Cyr from Clifford Chance. Headed by the very able Marie-Laure Bruneel, the team of three has a strong focus on the tax elements of private equity transactions and fund structuring matters in line with the firm’s leading core focus in this space. Benefiting from a strong international platform, the Paris team also advises on significant, cross-border matters and also has strong real estate tax expertise, while also handling litigation and stand-alone work. The practice recently assisted Lion Capital with the refinancing of its credit facility debt, Cerba with the acquisition of Bio7, and Equistone with the purchase of Karavel-Promovacances and Fram. Other clients include Engie and Green Oak Real Estate.
Jeantet ‘combines in-depth knowledge of the French legal and tax environment with an international business approach’. The ‘responsive’ 12-lawyer team also stands out for its ability to provide integrated French, Swiss and Luxembourgish tax advice that earns the firm high-profile instructions from leading corporations, asset management companies, private banks and ultra-high-net-worth shareholders' families. The practice also extends to Eastern Europe jurisdictions through its network of offices. The range of expertise spans corporate tax, private client tax and the tax-related aspects of litigation. The practice notably assisted Inter Digital with the acquisition of Technicolor's patent licensing business, as well as LBO France with the joint acquisition of Piex. Other highlights include obtaining a major victory before the French courts, which overturned ten years of jurisprudence in a landmark case and providing high-end advice on Franco-Swiss issues. Air Liquide is also a client. The practice is jointly headed by Geneva-based Patrice Lefèvre-Péaron and the ‘highly responsive’ Jean-Guillaume Follorou, who ‘looks for practical solutions’.
Jeausserand Audouard houses ‘specialists in corporate French tax issues, who have in-depth theoretical and practical knowledge of matters’. The ‘quick and efficient’ 13-lawyer practice has a strong involvement advising management teams in private equity deals including top LBO transactions. It notably assisted Delachaux's previous managers with the group's attempted IPO and subsequent disposal to Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, as well as the management team during Ardian's takeover of DRT. Major corporations such as Accor are also clients. Jérémie Jeausserand and Tristan Audouard are key names for LBO tax advice, while the highly experienced Sarah Esapasa and Bernard Boutemy are especially well-known for their litigation expertise.
K&L Gates LLP
K&L Gates LLP's Bertrand Dussert advises major financial institutions and funds, international corporations and individuals on a variety of French and international tax matters. He regularly advises on M&A, private equity and financing transactions and notably assisted VTG Aktiengesellschaft with the purchase of CIT Rail Holdings (Europe) SAS and Nacco. Other work includes advising ABN Amro Investment Solutions on the transfer of its direct investment management business to Candriam and assisting clients during audits.
King & Spalding LLP’s Aurélia de Viry has strong property tax expertise and is also developing a tax fund structuring practice. The two-lawyer team also advises on other tax issues including on the new France-Luxembourg Double Tax Treaty, and handles tax controversy matters and litigation. Highlights included assisting Idec Invest with the sale of an office building in Paris.
Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP
Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP has strong property investment and fund structuring tax expertise. Headed by the ‘excellent and available’ Pierre Appremont, the practice advises on high-profile investment transactions where it acts for leading players. It recently assisted AG Real Estate with the sale of Hekla tower, as well as EDF with the sale of three asset portfolios. The team also advises on M&A transactions and handles private client work and litigation. Rémi Dhonneur left the firm to establish his own practice.
LPA-CGR avocats' 15-lawyer team assists French and international companies, investment funds, family offices, property investors, as well as entrepreneurs and individuals. The practice regularly advises on major tax property transactions and fund structuring work, with recent work in this space for German clients. ‘Excellent, efficient and available’ practice head Sandra Fernandes has ‘in-depth property tax expertise’. The team also handles litigation, recently managing cases concerning the 3% tax on dividends and also representing state entities. Jacques-Henry de Bourmont is highly regarded. Martine Blanck-Dap focuses on private clients and Bertrand Galvez advises on corporate tax.
Philippe Derouin 's two-lawyer tax boutique is singled out for its ‘invaluable in-depth knowledge’ which makes it a popular choice for complex and one-of-a-kind tax controversy cases before French and EU courts. The highly experienced Philippe Derouin was recently involved in several groundbreaking cases. Derouin was involved in the landmark 3% tax controversy case which led the French state to pay back a total of €10bn to companies affected. The National Pension Service of Korea also retained the firm to handle a high-profile case concerning non-discrimination and the free movement of capitals. Derouin also regularly provides an expert opinion before other jurisdictions and in international arbitration. Layher, Scor and Cerep Imprimerie among its other clients.
Racine has ‘high-level expertise and enjoys good relationships with the French authorities’. The ‘available and business-oriented’ nine-lawyer team advises major companies, as well as significant property investment funds on transactional tax issues. It recently assisted Mediawan with its acquisition of EuropaCorp’s French TV business, and Deka Immobilien with the acquisition of Engie’s former headquarters. The firm also handles litigation and advises individuals. Eurotunnel, Infrared and Tristan Capital Partners are among its other clients. Fabrice Rymarz and Xavier Rollet head the team in which counsels Rachel Dress and Aude Gary-Bally are also involved.
Scotto Partners is arguably the market's leading reference for legal and tax advice to top management teams in the context of leading LBO and private equity transactions. Working alongside the corporate team, the five-lawyer tax practice recently handled several of the market's leading transactions representing the management's interests. It notably assisted the top management of Imerys with the group’s acquisition by Lone Star, as well as the CEO and shareholding managers of Siaci St-Honoré with becoming majority shareholders of the company alongside Charterhouse. Jérôme Commerçon is the practice head.
The ‘available and always willing to help’ Vaslin Associés is one of France’s most experienced private client tax boutiques. The 12-lawyer firm has ‘strong technical knowledge and is geared towards finding practical solutions’. It advises family-owned companies with strategic issues including governance, as well as French resident and non-resident entrepreneurs and high-net-worth individuals. The firm, which has offices in London, Brussels and Geneva, recently advised on a broad range of matters including estate planning and reorganisation issues and tax litigation. It also assisted several clients with Brexit issues and with their return to France as residents. Marc Vaslin, Amandine Allix-Cieutat and Vincent Lazimi are highly regarded.
Headed by Yann Grolleaud, Villey Girard Grolleaud’s three-lawyer team handles sensitive tax audits and tax-related dispute and acts for several high-profile families and high-net-worth individuals. The tax elements of M&A and private equity transactions are another strength, with the team regularly assisting with the establishment of management incentive packages including recently for AB group managers. It also advised Edmond de Rothschild Heritage on the reorganisation of its tourism activities.
Special European counsel Philippe Grudé heads the practice at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP following the departure of Marie-Hélène Raffin to establish Deal Booster Avocats and Pierre Ullmann to Cazals Manzo Pichot AARPI. The group regularly handles the tax aspects of leading private equity and M&A transactions handled by the firm. It notably assisted Intermediate Capital Group with its acquisition of Etanco, and IK Investment with its contemplated acquisition of a stake in Questel.