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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In Europe, Middle East and Africa, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for seven consecutive years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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Germany > Private equity > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


Index of tables

  1. Private equity
  2. Private equity: fund formation
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1
    • Jan Balssen - Gleiss Lutz
    • Octávio de Sousa - Reed Smith LLP

Who Represents Who

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Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer once again snaps up a top position in the private equity sector thanks to the combination of its excellent client portfolio and remarkably high deal flow. The group is particularly in demand in an international context, as shown by advising Vectra, a portfolio company of Apollo Global Management, on the sale of the coating, catalyst and tyre business segment to The Jordan Company. Advising BC Partners on the sale of the SGB-SMIT Group to One Equity Partners and assisting EQT with the sale of dressing material manufacturer BSN medical to Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget are further examples of cross-border operations. In the world of buying, it advised clients such as Carlyle, Permira and TPG Capital. The group offers comprehensive advice by means of pooling corporate, finance and tax lawyers in the sector group Global Financial Investors. As one of the directors of this group, the Frankfurt-based Markus Paul is responsible for private equity. The Munich-based Kai Hasselbach and Ludwig Leyendecker are recommended. Nils Koffka announced his departure to Allen & Overy LLP’s Hamburg office in spring 2018.

With an excellent deal flow in the large- and mid-cap arena, Hengeler Mueller has long stood out; in fact, competitors recently considered the practice so ‘unbelievably successful’ that it is now a top tier firm in the private equity sector. It advised Lone Star on the acquisition of Xella International from PAI Partners and Goldman Sachs – a transaction which, according to media reports, had a volume of €2.2bn and was thus a highlight of 2016 in terms of volume. The group also assisted KKR with transactions worth billions, such as the sale of the WMF Group to Groupe SEB and the acquisition of the defence electronics business segment from Airbus. In addition to traditional buy-out business, it also frequently advises strategic investors. A number of partners are involved in private equity transactions, however, Hans-Jörg Ziegenhain, Maximilian Schiessl, Emanuel Strehle and Christof Jäckle stand out thanks to their many years of experience and regular involvement in transactions. Martin Ulbrich was made partner at the start of 2017.

Latham & Watkins LLP advises a high-calibre client base, which predominantly includes active funds such as CVC, HgCapital and Triton in the large-cap arena, as well as private equity firms such as Chequers Capital, Silverfleet, H.I.G. and Quadriga who concentrate on mid-sized transactions. The practice also consistently expanded its portfolio, for instance with Permira, and is appointed to new panels such as Partners Group’s panel. Oliver Felsenstein in particular had a successful year: he advised HgCapital, among others, on the €835m sale of P&I Personal & Informatik to Permira and also took the lead for CVC during the €1.5bn acquisition of a majority stake in Tipico, which was particularly challenging due to the highly regulated sports betting market and a concluded Warranty & Indemnity insurance policy. Rainer Traugott and Burc Hesse in Munich are highly recommended, as are Henning Schneider and Christian Edye in Hamburg. Nils Röver made partner in January 2017 and Leif Schrader in March 2017, however, when Dirk Oberbracht relocated to the new Frankfurt location of Gibson Dunn in July 2016 after ten years at the firm, a highly respected consultant was lost.

Clifford Chance most recently attracted attention with two lawyer moves at the partner level. Fund structuring expert Sonya Pauls joined in October 2016 from King & Wood Mallesons, while Christopher Kellett left the firm in May 2017 for Linklaters. The practice is recommended for advice in the regulated industries sector as well as in the infrastructure sector, in which it most recently acted for EQT Infrastructure and Morgan Stanley Infrastructure. Anselm Raddatz’ advice to Triton on the acquisition of the Fläkt Woods Group was one of the highlights of 2016. Kerstin Kopp took on a leading role advising 3i on a €120m investment in Lampenwelt, as well as advising Adiuva Capital on the sale of GBA Gesellschaft für Bioanalytik to Quadriga. Other clients include capiton, Cinven and Orlando Management. Thomas Krecek is also specialised in acting for financial services companies. He is recommended next to Frederik Mühl, who was made partner in May 2017, Joachim Hasselbach and Markus Muhs.

Gleiss Lutz’ private equity group ‘always has clients’ interests in mind’ and is ‘always fair in negotiations’. It often operates in the large-cap arena, as proven by the commission from GoDaddy regarding the €1.7bn acquisition of the Host Europe Group from Cinven and the representation of Blackstone and KKR in a number of bidding processes running into the billions. Advising KION on the $3.25bn acquisition of Dematic from AEA Investors and Ontario Teachers Private Capital was a widely published transaction. Examples of mid-cap deals are advising Armira Partners on the takeover of F24 and the assistance of DBAG with the acquisition of Dieter Braun from Seafort Advisors. The ‘focused’ Jan Bauer and Jan Balssen jointly lead the practice group, in which the ‘smart’ Christian Cascante and the ‘extremely competent’ Patrick Kaffiné are also recommended. In the Berlin office, Martin Viciano Gofferje made partner at the start of 2017.

Kirkland & Ellis International LLP’s ‘pragmatic’ group was recently reorganised: in May 2017, Christian Zuleger and Volker Kullmann left for Sidley Austin LLP, while Volkmar Bruckner joined from Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP. Benjamin Leyendecker joined the group in April 2016 from Hengeler Mueller. Jörg Kirchner now heads the five partner strong practice, which also includes Bernhard Guthy, who made partner in October 2016. With the new set-up, Cinven, Silverfleet Capital and Bregal were acquired as new clients; the firm is advising the latter client on the takeover of Onlineprinters from TA Associates. Another highlight, which was particularly large in volume, was assisting a bidding consortium made up by Bain Capital and Cinven regarding the €5.4bn acquisition of pharmaceuticals manufacturer Stada.

Linklaters impresses with a high-calibre client portfolio, which includes Apollo, DBAG, Macquarie, The Gores Group, Triton and Montagu Private Equity. The latter client most recently entrusted the firm with advice on the acquisition of Universal-Investment from Privatbank Berenberg and Bankhaus Lampe. It was also retained by Apax for a number of transactions, including the sale of the Unilabs Group and the acquisition of generics manufacturer neuraxpharm Arzneimittel. Ralph Drebes, Sebastian Daub and Florian Harder are worthy of particular mention as regular advisors in the private equity sector. The practice scored a success in September 2017 with the addition of the highly respected Christopher Kellett, who most recently worked for Clifford Chance. It is expected that his addition will once again transform the firm into a key player in the large-cap arena.

Mario Schmidt is the face of Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP’s private equity practice, whose impressive client portfolio includes names such as 3i, Ardian and EQT. The focus is on cross-border mid-cap transactions, which is evidenced by advising TA Associates on the acquisition of Onlineprinters from Bregal and assisting 3i with the sale of Amor to Gilde Buy Out Partners. In 2016, Ardian also retained the firm in connection with the acquisition of GANTNER, a specialist company for contactless electronic access control and time recording. Axel Wahl is also recommended at the five-partner-strong group.

At CMS, Christoph Lächler and Jochen Lux made partner at the start of 2017 in the group headed by Tobias Schneider and Oliver Wolfgramm. The practice is mainly active in the mid-cap arena and, according to clients, offers a ‘very high level of service’. The most recent beneficiaries of this were capiton regarding the acquisition of the Gemaco Group, Oakley Capital regarding the sale of a majority stake in Parship and Elitepartners to ProSiebenSat.1, as well as Seafort regarding the sale of the Dieter Braun Group to DBAG. The group demonstrated its international competence when advising DBAG on the sale of its shares in Broetje Automation to Shanghai Electric. Next to acting for investors, assisting medium-sized companies regarding the sale to private equity firms also plays a major role. An example from 2016 is advising shareholders of the Hamm-Reno-Group on the sale to capiton and shoe retailer Ziylan.

The ‘detail-oriented group’ of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP was once again involved in numerous high-calibre deals. A particular highlight was the advising of PAI Partners and Goldman Sachs on the €2.2bn sale of Xella International to Lone Star. Other examples are assisting Carlyle with the investment in hospital chain Schön Klinik and advising Advent International and the Kreke family on the sale of fashion chain AppelrathCüpper to OpCapita. The client base also includes H.I.G. Europe, Nordwind Capital and Triton. Norbert Rieger is also recommended for his expertise in tax matters and – like Peter Nussbaum – works from Munich. Steffen Oppenländer, who previously worked at Hengeler Mueller’s London office, joined the firm in September 2017. In Frankfurt, the private equity contact changed when Michael Bernhardt arrived at the end of 2016 from Allen & Overy LLP and Peter Memminger left the firm at the start of 2017 to found Memminger LLP.

P+P Pöllath + Partners is often recommended for its outstanding expertise in the areas of management advice, management shareholding programmes and fund structuring. In the area of management shareholding, it advised EQT in connection with the €2.74bn sale of BSN medical to Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget. The group led by Frank Thiäner and Jens Hörmann also frequently provides assistance in transactions, especially in the mid-cap arena, as proven by advising Equistone on the acquisition of a majority stake in the United Initiators Group from Vision Capital and Speyside Equity. Andrea von Drygalski played a leading role in this, while Philipp von Braunschweig assisted Brockhaus Private Equity with the acquisition of a shareholding in tourism software specialist Peakwork. Matthias Bruse and the ‘deal-maker with a good understanding of commerce’ Otto Haberstock are also considered highly regarded consultants. Fund structuring expert Patricia Volhard joined Debevoise & Plimpton LLP in March 2017.

The five partner-strong private equity group at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP sets itself apart from other competitors with its sound expertise in the restructuring sector. One example is advising Centerbridge Partners, Goldman Sachs and Caspian on the sale of the A.T.U group to Mobivia, which prevented its insolvency. However, the firm is also ‘superb’ when turnaround situations are not involved. It was also retained by Advent International and Bain Capital Private Equity regarding the acquisition of Concardis, and its client base includes Platinum Equity, TPG Capital, Lone Star and Bregal Unternehmerkapital. Managing Partner Gerhard Schmidt heads the practice group in which Christian Tappeiner is recommended. Volkmar Bruckner left for Kirkland & Ellis International LLP in May 2017.

At White & Case LLP, Hendrik Röhricht and Markus Stephanblome made partner at the start of 2017 in the group led by Stefan Koch and Andreas Stilcken. Tim Arndt, who also works in Frankfurt, is ‘very experienced, innovative and has a cool head’. The practice once again assisted with a number of transactions in the mid-cap arena, however, it also occasionally handles larger deals. Among the highlights are advising Ardian on the acquisition of a majority stake in SCHWIND eye-tech-solutions and assisting new client IK Investment Partners regarding the acquisition of ZytoService. Other clients include Allianz Capital Partners, Nordic Capital and Triton.

Allen & Overy LLP has outstanding specialist expertise in real estate transactions; however, in private equity deals without a connection to real estate – for example when advising 3i on the proposed acquisition of SLV Lighting from Cinven – the group offers an ‘exceptionally good service’. While the bidder was not successful in this case, the takeover of the FRIMO Group by DBAG through a management buy-out went through. The team advised the purchasers in this transaction and during the acquisition of Infinigate Holding from its main shareholders by H.I.G. Europe Capital Partners. Riverside most recently entrusted the team with two sales: the sale of haematology specialist Diatron to a subsidiary of STRATEC Biomedical and the sale of the shareholding in TRANSPOREON Group to TPG Capital. Michael Bernhardt left to join Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP in late 2016. Markus Käpplinger is recommended.

Gibson Dunn experienced growth in 2016 when Ferdinand Fromholzer joined the firm from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in June; it opened a Frankfurt office in August with the former Latham & Watkins LLP partners Dirk Oberbracht and Wilhelm Reinhardt. Clients acknowledge the new group’s ‘customer focus, commercial understanding and impressive speed’. This was demonstrated by the advice to One Equity Partners on the acquisition of power transformers manufacturer SGB-SMIT from BC Partners. Another highlight was assisting Odeon and UCI Cinemas as well as their parent company Terra Firma Capital Partners regarding the sale of the group to AMC Theatres. Lutz Englisch, who – like Fromholzer – works in Munich, led advice on the German side in this case.

Hogan Lovells International LLP impresses with a constant deal flow in the lower and mid-market segment. The practice recently repeatedly advised portfolio companies on acquisitions within the scope of their buy-and-build strategy. Matthias Jaletzke is particularly active in the private equity sector: he led advice to Odewald and Cobepa on the sale of D&B Audiotechnik to Ardian, with individual managers reinvesting, and assisted Terra Firma with the acquisition of the hotel chain Welcome Hotels from Warsteiner. Joachim Habetha, who is increasingly involved in management shareholdings, also operates in Frankfurt. Lars Benger, who most recently advised Invision Private Equity on the majority stake in TonerPartner, is a contact person for all private equity matters in Düsseldorf. In Munich, Peter Huber made partner at the start of 2017.

Jones Day has vast experience in public takeovers and most recently advised GfK on the public takeover bid by KKR followed by a squeeze-out and delisting with a transaction volume of €2bn. A corporate client was Total, which retained the group for the €3.2bn sale of speciality chemicals subsidiary Atotech to Carlyle, while in the world of funds, clients such as Blackstone, Findos Investor and real estate investor Signature Capital make up the portfolio. Property transactions form a second pillar of the practice, which assisted Pandox with the purchase of a €415m hotel portfolio from Invesco Real Estate. A very large group covers all areas related to private equity transactions – from acquisition financing to antitrust matters; Ivo Posluschny, Ansgar Rempp, Philipp Grzimek and Maximilian Krause, who made partner in December 2016, are highly regarded.

Noerr’s ‘proactive and service-oriented approach’ when acting on mid-cap transactions is particularly noteworthy. However, the practice has a broad foundation and includes growth instructions as well as high-volume private equity property transactions and fund structuring. Current highlights are advising VR Equitypartner on the acquisition of a shareholding in Grundig Business Systems with a reverse holding of the seller and management, as well as assisting Bridgepoint Development Capital with the acquisition of An example for an exit is advising AURELIUS Equity Opportunities on the €185m sale of the SECOP group to Nidec. The ‘excellent’ Georg Schneider, Hans Radau and Dominik Rompza are particularly recommended.

Ashurst LLP offers comprehensive services, including assistance with the financing of transactions, management shareholdings, acquisitions in distressed situations as well as property transactions. In the latter field, it advised Cerberus Capital Management on the sale of a portfolio of 39 wholesale markets leased to Metro to Aroundtown Property Holdings. The practice has an impressive client portfolio which includes names such as Apollo, Equistone, Macquarie Capital, Oakley Capital and Oaktree; and has now acquired DBAG and Emeram Capital as new clients. Jan Krekeler and Holger Ebersberger, who ‘processes complex issues in a structured and easily comprehensible manner’, are recommended within Benedikt von Schorlemer’s group.

Baker McKenzie promoted Ingo Strauss to the partnership in July 2016. Besides him, Peter Wand, Nikolaus Reinhuber and Heiko Gotsche regularly handle private equity matters. The latter led advice to Serendipity and its portfolio company Voff Science on the acquisition of the majority stake in Visionistas. Other highlights included advising the Hillhouse Capital Group on the acquisition of pet food manufacturer Gimborn from Penta Investments and assisting DBAG regarding the acquisition of a minority shareholding in R&M International. Shortly before the time of going to press, Berthold Hummel joined from Dechert.

Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek was once again involved in a number of mid-cap deals throughout Germany: working from Hamburg, Peter Christian Schmidt advised long-term client DPE Deutsche Private Equity on a number of transactions, such as the acquisition of FISCHER surface technologies, while Munich-based Boris Dürr assisted Actus and its portfolio company medaktiv with the acquisition of Therapiezentrum Winterberg. In Cologne, Pär Johansson regularly works for Odewald KMU, most recently in connection with the acquisition of the Betten-Duscher-Gruppe. In Stuttgart, Rainer Herschlein is particularly recommended.

Mayer Brown LLP has a constant deal flow in the mid-cap arena, for which its regular client Steadfast Capital is responsible, among other clients. The private equity company retained the group for the acquisition of the majority of shares in the Reutter/ITIB-Gruppe. Other concluded transactions include the acquisition of Blohm+Voss by Bremen-based Werft Lürssen from STAR Capital Partners as well as GFKL Lowell’s acquisition of Tesch Inkasso from Avedon Capital Partners, during which the sellers were advised. A number of offices and practice groups were kept busy advising The Jordan Company regarding the acquisition of the Borchers business segment from Vectra; while New York-based partners led advice in this case, practice head Julian Lemor led assistance on the German side. Other recommended consultants are the ‘pragmatic’ Markus Strelow and Birgit Hübscher-Alt.

Not least because of its ‘creative advice’ and ‘flair for clients and the other party’, McDermott Will & Emery Rechtsanwälte Steuerberater LLP is considered an established contact for small and medium-sized private equity transactions. It handled numerous deals in the healthcare sector, including advising Great Point Partners on the acquisition of Clinical Supplies Management and assisting long-standing client Apax Capital Partners with the acquisition of Neuraxpharm. Another highlight was advising SüdBG on the sale of its shares in DBW Advanced Fiber Technologies to DMB Dr. Dieter Murmann Beteiligungsgesellschaft. Former King & Wood Mallesons partner Michael Cziesla, who joined the group led by the ‘reliable’ Nikolaus von Jacobs at the start of 2017, led advice on this matter. Sebastian von Lossow and Jan Hückel are also recommended.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP mainly operates in the fields of technology and life sciences. Since joining at the end of 2015, Thomas Schmid led the private equity practice, which was again expanded at the start of 2017 with the addition of Christoph Brenner and two managing associates from King & Wood Mallesons. Together, they gained some new clients for the firm: the group advised Ardian on the sale of its shareholding in frostkrone to Emeram Capital Partners; DBAG retained the firm for the acquisition of two radiology practices and EQT counted on the group during its acquisition of the IT security solutions provider Utimaco.

At Taylor Wessing, ‘queries are handled promptly and efficiently’, and the ‘price/performance ratio is appropriate’. The firm manages a number of deals in the small- and mid-cap arena, where clients can now also count on a recently enhanced financing team. Its impressive portfolio includes Equistone, Triginta Capital and VR Equitypartner. The latter private equity company was advised on its shareholding in Ostertag Solutions. Another highlight was assisting Steadfast Capital with two management buy-outs: the shareholding in Guntermann & Drunck and the shareholding in Stanz- und LaserTechnik Jessen. The practice is headed by Walter Henle.

Watson Farley & Williams LLP predominantly operates in the mid-market segment. In 2016, it advised HQ Equita on the sale of Granite Holding to IK Investment Partners. A second pillar of the practice is comprehensive tax advice for private equity companies such as Equistone. The Munich-based Simon Preisenberger and Dirk Janssen are leaders of the practice, while the firm also has private equity expertise in Frankfurt and Hamburg.

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  • Hengeler Mueller advises hGears on refinancing

    hGears Holding GmbH has successfully concluded a group financing by way of a syndicated loan in replacement of existing facilities. Syndicate banks are HSH Nordbank AG and SEB AG.
    - Hengeler Mueller

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