Transactions in Germany
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer continues to be one of the most sought-after firms among financial investors for private equity transactions, add-on acquisitions and investments, which is reflected in its impressive track record. One of the most striking features of the group’s advice is the cross-location and cross-practice cooperation, which was useful when acting for Advent International: the Berlin-based Stephanie Hundertmark advised the client, together with colleagues from Hamburg, Paris and London, on negotiations for the acquisition of the European Zentiva generic drugs business from French pharmaceutical company Sanofi by means of a combined asset and share deal, which required carve-outs in 13 European jurisdictions. In other highlights, the group assisted a consortium led by BC Partners with the acquisition of the CeramTec group from Cinven in a competitive bidding process, and advised Blackstone on the acquisition of Schenck Process from IK Investment Partners. It also acted for funds advised by EQT Partners and their portfolio company Sivantos on the merger between Sivantos and the Danish hearing aid manufacturer Widex. Markus Paul leads the team, which includes Arend von Riegen in Frankfurt and Kai Hasselbach and Ludwig Leyendecker in Munich. Nils Koffka moved to Allen & Overy LLP in January 2018.
Hengeler Mueller has a substantial portfolio of large and mid-cap transactions covering a wide range of instructions for private equity houses and strategists, including both buy- and sell-side support. Annika Clauss and Peter Weyland acted for Oaktree Capital Management on the acquisition of nursing home operator Vitanas from the Burkhart family and the Andreas Franke group; Hans-Jörg Ziegenhain acted as counsel for EQT Partners on the agreement to acquire a 20% stake in Otto Bock HealthCare. On the sale side, the group acted for Trius Holdings on the sale of its majority stake in the energy service provider ista Luxembourg to Lamarillo; while advising Hensoldt Holding Germany on the acquisition of EuroAvionics from Equistone, and assisting Axel Springer with the sale of the publisher’s new building in Berlin, which is still under construction, to Norwegian sovereign wealth fund Norges Bank Real Estate Management are among the investor-side highlights. Goldman Sachs is also a client. Maximilian Schiessl, Emanuel Strehle and Christof Jäckle are the key names. Sebastian Schneider was made up to partner in November 2017.
Latham & Watkins LLP covers the entire range of private equity work and utilises its extensive expertise, particularly in large-cap deals, to handle cross-border transactions within Europe and with a US focus. Clients in this area include IK Partners, CVC Capital Partners and Triton, among others, while the firm also has a strong mid-cap practice: Chequers Capital, Silverfleet Capital and Dbag are part of the client portfolio. The group advised new client Alpha Private Equity on the acquisition of the Europart group from two investment companies, Triton and Paragon. Other highlights include advising CVC Capital Partners – led by Leif Schrader and practice head Oliver Felsenstein – on the acquisition of an 80% stake in Swiss watchmaker Breitling, and assisting Triton with the acquisition of SGL Gruppe’s cathodes, blast furnace lining and carbon electrodes business. The group also assisted the latter client with the acquisition of Rocore Holdings from Keystone Capital, and the sale of Compo Consumer to listed company Kingenta Ecological Engineering. Rainer Traugott, Burc Hesse and Hans-Jürgen Lütt are also part of the core team.
Clifford Chance has strength advising global private equity firms on transactions in regulated industries and cross-border leveraged buyouts. In addition, the group is experienced in the infrastructure sector, especially in the energy and telecoms space. Markus Muhs and practice head Anselm Raddatz advised CK Infrastructure on a joint venture with CK Asset and on the joint venture’s acquisition of ista International from CVC Capital Partners Fund V with an enterprise value of €5.8bn. In other notable instructions, Joachim Hasselbach and Frederik Mühl advised Cinven on the sale of CeramTec, a manufacturer of high-performance ceramics, to a consortium of investors led by BC Partners; together with colleagues from the London office, the duo assisted private equity investor 3i and funds managed by 3i on the sale of their stake in Scandlines for a total of €1.7bn. Markus Stephanblome joined the team from White & Case LLP in December 2017. Counsel Robert John left for Mayer Brown LLP in November 2018.
Gleiss Lutz’s ‘very fast and reliable’ team has ‘very good industry knowledge’, does ‘thorough work’ and ‘gets to the point’. It focuses on the large and mid-cap sector. Work examples include advising US-based private equity house Lindsay Goldberg on the sale of its shares in VDM Metals to Aperam with an enterprise value of €596m, and assisting family-owned investment holding Porterhouse Group with the acquisition of the insolvent hospital group Paracelsus as part of insolvency plan proceedings. Patrick Kaffiné, who is known for his expertise in insolvency law, led the advice on the latter instruction. In other work, Jan Balssen successfully advised private equity investor General Atlantic on the bidding process for a minority interest in the digital division of the ProSiebenSat.1 group. Following the departure of renowned private equity specialist Jan Bauer to Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in October 2018, Balssen now heads the practice together with Christian Cascante.
Kirkland & Ellis International LLP’s private equity practice is based in Munich and focuses on advising sponsors, an area that relies on the close cooperation with colleagues from the restructuring, finance, tax and capital markets practices. Attila Oldag, who joined the team in summer 2017 from Gütt Olk Feldhaus, and Benjamin Leyendecker assisted Oakley Capital Private Equity III with the acquisition of Career Partner Group from Apollo Education Group; while Volkmar Bruckner advised Oaktree Capital Management on the acquisition of a stake in NL-Holding. In other work, Bernhard Guthy and practice head Jörg Kirchner acted for Silverfleet Capital on the sale of the Competence Call Centre Group (CCC) to French mid-cap private equity investor Ardian. Bain Capital, Bregal Unternehmerkapital and Vestigo Capital are also part of the client base. Finance expert Christine Kaniak joined Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP as a salary partner in July 2018.
Linklaters’ ‘reliable and technically savvy’ private equity team provides ‘excellent service’ with ‘short turnaround times’, and clients appreciate its ‘very good understanding of commercial aspects’. The firm achieved several new client wins during the research period, inliuding investor Sino-CEEF Europe, which it advised on the planned acquisition of the United Grinding Group, and Dutch investment company Waterland Private Equity, which it assisted with the acquisition of debt collection service provider coeo Inkasso. Other highlights include practice head Ralph Drebes assisting Macquarie with the sale of Techem and with the acquisition of real estate fund manager GLL Real Estate Partners and Florian Harder advising mid-cap fund IK Investment Partners on an acquisition. ‘Client-oriented and reliable’ Sebastian Daub, who offers ‘innovative solutions’ and is ‘eloquent in his speech’ is another central figure in the team. He recently advised Marlin Equity Partners on the acquisition of Abit Europe from Findos Investor. Blackstone and Apollo Global Management are also clients.
Milbank provides comprehensive advice on private equity matters and acts for sponsors in domestic and foreign investments, regularly assisting clients in a cross-practice manner. Norbert Rieger led assistance to Carlyle with the sale of nursing home group Alloheim Senioren-Residenzen to Nordic Capital, including advice on corporate and tax aspects. Peter Nussbaum advised Partners Group on its co-investment in the takeover of listed company Stada Arzneimittel by a consortium led by Bain Capital and Cinven, and assisted international private equity fund L-GAM with the sale of Faist ChemTec to Sika. In other work, Michael Bernhardt advised Swiss investment company Capvis Equity Partners on the acquisition of a stake in the ProXES group, and assisted Deutsche Beteiligungs AG with the sale of its stake in ZGS Verwaltungs GmbH to Oakley Capital Private Equity. Steffen Oppenländer is also a member of the core team.
Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP is ‘strong in mid-cap transactions’ and often works in close cooperation with its financing practice. Based on this cross-practice cooperation, it assisted Gantner Electronic Austria with the acquisition of Syx Automations. The private equity team is headed by Dr Maximilian Schwab, who is one of the key contacts, along with Georg Linde and Dr Axel Wahl. Mario Schmidt sadly died in October 2018.
CMS’ private equity practice is particularly strong in the mid-cap segment, but is also increasingly active in large-cap deals, mainly on the seller’s side. For example, it advised IVG on the sale of its stake in Triuva Kapitalverwaltungsgesellschaft to investment manager Patrizia, and assisted Alpha Industrial Holding with the sale of a logistics property portfolio to Frasers Property Investments with a volume of €600m. In the mid-cap segment, the company acts for numerous private equity houses and strategic investors including Mayfair Equity Partners and Bottega InvestCo. Together with the banking and finance team, the group advised the latter on the €220m acquisition of the Getronics group of companies from Aurelius. In other work, Tobias Schneider assisted Seafort Advisors with the acquisition of a majority stake in J&S Automotive Technology from Brockhaus Private Equity III and on the sale of 75% of shares held in Avedo to Ströer. In addition to Schneider, Oliver Wolfgramm is the central contact.
P+P Pöllath + Partners
P+P Pöllath + Partners is regarded as a top firm particularly in the areas of management consulting, management participation programmes and fund structuring, and is experienced in handling mid-cap transactions. A team led by Benedikt Hohaus advised the management of the NuCom Group on the sale of a minority stake in private equity investor General Atlantic, and Ralf Bergjan assisted funds advised by Equistone Partners Europe with the sale of a majority stake in Oase Gruppe to US private equity investor Argand Partners. Jens Hörmann advised German investment company Odewald & Compagnie on the sale of its entire stake in Klinikverbund Oberberggruppe to Trilantic Europe, and assisted Charleston, portfolio company of EQT Infrastructure, with the acquisition of the Christophorus group. Other key names include Andreas Rodin, Amos Veith, Uwe Bärenz and Matthias Bruse. Bruse advised Findos Investor on the acquisition of Cellular. Christian Tönies is ‘extremely experienced, pragmatic and solution-oriented’. Tarek Mardini was made up to partner in January 2018.
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP provides comprehensive advice to private equity houses, which instruct the team to handle LBO transactions, secondary and tertiary buyouts and add-on acquisitions. The group is also experienced in advising sponsors and portfolio companies as well as senior and mezzanine lenders on restructuring situations. It frequently acts in cooperation with the London office, for example when assisting financial investor Novalpina Capital with the public takeover offer for the Olympic Entertainment Group, which is listed on the Tallinn Stock Exchange. Practice head and managing partner Gerhard Schmidt led advice on this transaction, while, in a separate matter, the London office led assistance to financial investors Advent and Bain Capital as well as their portfolio company Concardis Payment Group with the merger of Nets with Concardis to form a leading European payment service provider; the merger took place as part of a share swap. Kamyar Abrar acted for EQT Expansion Capital II on the sale of the Roeser group to Sana Kliniken and, together with Christian Tappeiner, advised Inven Capital on its investment in Dresden-based Cloud&Heat Technologies.
White & Case LLP’s private equity group advises its clients primarily on mid-cap transactions, while also handling large-cap deals and bidding procedures. Stefan Koch advised Nordic Capital on the acquisition of the Ober Scharrer group from tprivate equity firm Palamon Capital Partner, and assisted private equity firm Duke Street with the acquisition of A-Rosa Flussschiff from independent private equity investment company Waterland. Together with colleagues from New York, Gernot Wagner acted for Triton on the acquisition of WernerCo, a Swiss-based manufacturer and distributor of ladders, storage systems and construction equipment. The portfolio company was subsequently advised by Wagner and Hendrik Röhricht on the acquisition of the Zarges group, which previously belonged to a consortium of financial investors. Matthias Kiesewetter joined the partnership in January 2018.
Allen & Overy LLP
In 2018, Allen & Overy LLP expanded its practice by hiring Nils Koffka from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer to take over as practice lead, and also welcomed Dominik Stühler and counsel Kai Terstiege from DLA Piper. The group offers ‘an excellent level of service’: it is ‘always available and quick to answer questions’. In addition, it ‘stands out through team spirit, motivation and an eye for detail, without losing sight of the big picture’. It advises on buy-outs of various sizes and has particular industry expertise in real estate, infrastructure, retail, healthcare and manufacturing. In recent highlights, Michiel Huizinga advised Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund 5 and Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking on the acquisition of HES International from Riverstone and the Carlyle Group; while the ‘responsive’ Markus Käpplinger, who is also distinguished by his ‘strong expertise and interdisciplinary capabilities’ and ‘an entrepreneurial spirit’, advised the International Campus Group on the acquisition of a controlling interest in the company by a real estate fund managed by Brookfield Asset Management.
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
Gibson Dunn focuses on large and mid-cap transactions, which it regularly handles in cooperation with its finance practice. Dirk Oberbracht and Wilhelm Reinhardt advised long-term client One Equity Partners on the acquisition of SGB-Smit from BC Partners, while the group handled new client JM Beteiligungsgesellschaft’s investment in 21sportsgroup. The ‘very good’ team also includes Lutz Englisch, Markus Nauheim and Ferdinand Fromholzer, who according to clients is ‘an excellent and very experienced adviser’ and ‘in addition to his specialist knowledge, also has the ability to argue constructively, objectively and in a result-oriented manner in difficult negotiation situations, thereby making a significant contribution to the success of the respective transaction’. He recently advised a consortium consisting of Baird Capital, VR Equitypartner and Zarges’ management on the sale of the Zarges group to WernerCo, a portfolio company of the Triton IV fund.
Hogan Lovells International LLP’s client portfolio includes financial and strategic investors as well as portfolio companies, which primarily instruct the team on mid-cap transactions. Hanns Jörg Herwig, who made partner in January 2018, and practice head Matthias Jaletzke advised investment company Bregal Unternehmerkapital on the sale of its majority stake in ProAlpha to British investment company Intermediate Capital Group (ICG), and assisted Canadian asset manager Brookfield with the acquisition of Lampe Equity Management from Bankhaus Lampe. Dusseldorf-based Lars Benger acted for Invision on its investment in the Laboratorium Dr. Deppe group. Joachim Habetha is one of the central figures in the Frankfurt office. Woodward and Castik Capital are also clients.
Noerr focuses on advising sponsors in the mid-cap segment, although the group is also increasingly positioning itself in the large-cap segment. This focus was further developed in August 2018 when Holger Ebersberger joined from Ashurst LLP. He joined the Munich office, which also includes the ‘very committed’ Georg Schneider, who advised DPE Deutsche Private Equity on the acquisition of a majority stake in the Air Alliance group and who assisted Bridgepoint and its portfolio company WiggleCRC with the acquisition of Bike24 from private equity fund Riverside. Together with associated partner Tobias Koppmann, who moved to McDermott Will & Emery Rechtsanwälte Steuerberater LLP in June 2018, Schneider also advised Silverfleet Capital on the acquisition of the 7days group from investment company Odewald KMU and the founders Marc Staperfeld and Ulrich Dölken; the two founders continue to be involved in the company through a return investment. Schneider, who is valued for his ‘very good industry and specialist knowledge’ and ‘comprehensive advice’, heads the practice together with Berlin-based Christian Pleister. Volker Land is also recommended: he is ‘a strategic thinker’, works ‘thoroughly and efficiently’ and has ‘business acumen’.
Ashurst LLP provides comprehensive advice on buy-outs and buy-ins as well as management participation programmes, and regularly uses its financial law expertise for transaction support. The group advised new client Deutsche Beteiligungs AG (DBAG) on the investment and acquisition financing of Sjolund, and assisted DPE Deutsche Private Equity with the acquisition and financing of Euro-Druckservice (EDS). Practice head Benedikt von Schorlemer advised Equistone Partners, including portfolio company Vivonio Furniture, on the acquisition and financing of fm Büromöbel Franz Meyer. CapVest Partners and Dutch Infrastructure Fund (DIF) are also clients. Holger Ebersberger joined Noerr in August 2018.
Baker McKenzie acts for financial investors, private equity funds, strategic investors and family offices in national and cross-border transactions. It significantly expanded its practice with the addition of Berthold Hummel, counsel Katja Heuterkes and counsel Julia Braun, who were previously at Dechert LLP. Highlights included advising Avedon Capital Partners on the acquisition of the Altendorf group (led by practice head Ingo Strauss and M&A lawyer Heiko Gotsche), and assisting Deutsche Beteiligungs AG and its DBAG Fund VII with an investment in duagon (for which the group cooperated with the Zurich office). Gerald Schumann joined DLA Piper in September 2018.
BMH Bräutigam & Partner
BMH Bräutigam & Partner is popular choice in the mid-sized market. It frequently acts for long-term client capiton, including advising on various transactions, such as the recent takeover of all shares in Swiss cyber security service provider Ispin. The team has notable expertise in the technology, software and online business sector, as well as in the the biotech space. Andrea Reichert-Clauß led advice on the matter and also assisted Signa Retail with the acquisition of all limited partnership shares and the business operations of Publikat Verlags- und Handels GmbH & Co. KG. Jan-Peter Heyer and Patrick Auerbach-Hohl are other key contacts. ArchiMed is another client.
DLA Piper’s team is headed by Nils Krause in Hamburg and Andreas Füchsel in Frankfurt. The latter advised Active Ownership Capital on the voluntary takeover offer for all shares in Luxembourg technology holding exceet Group, which is listed in Germany; on the sale of a minority stake in Stada Arzneimittel to the private equity funds Cinven and Bain Capital; and on the acquisition of Pintsch Bubenzer. Krause assisted Arsenal Capital Partners and its portfolio company IGM Resins with the acquisition of BASF’s photoinitiators business. Personnel changes include the departures in 2018 of Dominik Stühler and counsel Kai Terstiege to Allen & Overy LLP and Florian Hirschmann to Reed Smith, as well as the September 2018 arrival of Gerald Schumann from Baker McKenzie
Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek
At Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek, ‘the service level is top’ for private equity work: ‘the team thinks for themselves and not just through the eyes of a lawyer’. Hermann Ali Hinderer has ‘extremely broad and profound knowledge’, ‘works very efficiently’ and ‘has an answer for every question and every problem’; he is also ‘pleasant to deal with’, ‘thinks of all pitfalls in transactions and points them out at an early stage’. He recently advised CGS IV, an investment fund managed by CGS Management, on acquiring a majority stake in Stürtz Maschinenbau. He is part of Peter Christian Schmidt’s team, which also includes Boris Dürr. The latter advised Auctus Capital Partners on the acquisition of GS Star and Gorgeous Smiling Hotels, while the former advised DPE Deutsche Private Equity on the acquisition of the Erdo group. In addition to private equity houses in the mid-cap sector, the group also increasingly advises family offices.
Jones Day is experienced advising on medium and large-volume transactions as well as public takeovers, which also led to the group being instructed by market research group GfK on the voluntary public takeover bid of the holding company KKR. The advice was led by Ansgar Rempp, who, along with Ivo Posluschny and Philipp Grzimek, is one of the central figures in the team. Posluschny assisted EagleTree Capital with the acquisition of a majority stake in the German Airtech Group, a printing technology specialist headquartered in Werneck; while it also advised the financial investor, including its portfolio company Corsair, on the acquisition of Elgato Systems’ gaming business. An example of the increasing number of Asia-related instructions is assisting private equity investor PAG Asia Capital with its co-investment in Takata’s airbag business by the Key Safety Systems (KSS) group.
McDermott Will & Emery Rechtsanwälte Steuerberater LLP ‘works thoroughly’ and stands out for its ‘quick response to enquiries’ and ‘intensive and reliable client service’; furthermore, the private equity group has ‘a very good business sense and a very good sense for the client and the other side’, which is applied when acting on mid-cap transactions. Its healthcare industry expertise was demonstrated when advising Apax Partners on acquisitions in the laboratory sector, including that of Alpha Medical. The group is also well versed in the real estate sector and other industries. ‘Very experienced and efficient’ practice head Nikolaus von Jacobs, who ‘always finds the right solution for both parties in negotiations’, advised Belgian private equity fund GIMV NV on the sale of the Mackevision group to Accenture. Thee group was strengthened by the arrival of Tobias Koppmann in June 2018 from Noerr, and former Dechert LLP partner Rüdiger Herrmann in April 2018
Taylor Wessing has a constant deal flow in small-cap and mid-cap transactions and is particularly experienced in the regulated industries and technology sector. Clients appreciate the ‘very good service level’ and single out practice head Walter Henle and ‘strong negotiator and very structured’ Ernst-Albrecht Beauvais, who ‘always keeps an eye on the client’s economic interests’. He advised NRW.Bank.Spezialfonds on the €10m investment in furniture chain Butler and on the sale of almost 40% of the German commercial vehicle manufacturer Langendorf to Wielton. In the healthcare sector, it advised Trilantic Capital Partners on the acquisition of Oberberggruppe from Odewald & Compagnie. Afinum Management is another client.