Venture capital in Germany
CMS covers the entire range of venture capital advice and has particular expertise in the life sciences and software sectors. Markus Häuser advised WapoVentures and Sponsoo on their respective ICOs and the sales of tokens, while Stefan-Ulrich Müller assisted Immatics Biotechnologies with a series F financing round and advised the Munich-based start-up VisionHealth on seed financing and crowdfunding issues. Jörg Zätzsch acted for Berlin-based start-up uberall on a series B financing round. In addition to ICOs and financing rounds, the group also handled some exits: it assisted the shareholders of medical technology company invendo medical with the sale of the Nasdaq-listed Ambu, and advised LSP Life Sciences Partner on the sale of Luxendo – a spin-off of European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) – to Bruker. Corporate venture capital advice includes acting for Chinese electric car start-up Jiangxi Aiways Entity on a joint venture with sports car manufacturer Roland Gumpert, while work in the venture capital debt space includes advising eGym on the granting of European Investment Bank loans amounting to over €25m.
Osborne Clarke handles the entire growth financing cycle, including fund structuring, debt financing and regulatory issues, which are regularly handled on a cross-practice basis. The group advises investors and start-ups and acts for well-known clients, particularly in the corporate VC sector. Highly regarded practice head Nicolas Gabrysch advised Deutsche Bahn Digital Ventures on acquiring a participation in global address system provider what3words, and assisted steel and metal trading company Klöckner with acquiring a stake in Berlin tech start-up BigRep. The team is also very knowledgeable in digitisation and payment matters, as demonstrated by advising Berlin-based FinTech N26 on the series C financing round of over $160m; new investors include Allianz X, Chinese digital company Tencent and Greyhound Capital. Benjamin Monheim is also noted and Robin Eyben, previously a senior associate at Morrison & Foerster LLP, joined as a partner in February 2018.
Vogel Heerma Waitz
‘Very good’ venture capital boutique Vogel Heerma Waitz is, according to clients, ‘highly commendable’: investors and start-ups benefit from the firm’s broad range of services, which includes advice on IP and data protection issues. The group was recently strengthened by the addition of a number of new associates, and the number of partners grew with the promotion of Sabine Röth at the beginning of 2018. She advised Almotive on a series C financing round led by B Capital Group and Prime Ventures. Together with the ‘very pragmatic’ Clemens Waitz, Röth also assisted Cherry Ventures with InFarm’s €20m series A financing round led by Balderton Capital. In other work, ‘extremely experienced and strong negotiator’ Frank Vogel assisted Axel Springer Plug and Play with a $160m financing of mobile bank N26, and advised Earlybird Venture Capital on the financing of Xain. Creandum is another client.
At Hogan Lovells International LLP, clients ‘are in very good hands’: the group ‘delivers brilliant work’ with ‘very good turnaround times’ and has ‘excellent industry expertise’. It acts for founders, start-ups and, in particular, investors who also instruct the team to deal with regulatory issues. The recommended Nikolas Zirngibl advised Daimler on its investment in aviation start-up Volocopter, and assisted Rostock-based diagnostics company Centogene with a series A financing round of over €25m. He also advised Experteer’s shareholders on the sale of the online job exchange of the same name to publishing group Medien Union. The online cruise ship travel agency Dreamlines instructed the group for a financing round and Volker Geyrhalter led advice to Personio on a series A financing round after the team had already advised the client on the seed financing in 2016. Peter Huber is ‘always available and supports his clients with creative, pragmatic solutions’.
Noerr focuses on advising companies and investors on corporate VC issues, financing rounds, exits and IPOs. Felix Blobel acts for a number of portfolio companies and financial investors, which he advises on investments in various start-up companies. Sascha Leske recently handled a series A financing round: he advised Caterwings on a financing in which Rocket Internet, Rocket Internet Capital Partners and Holtzbrinck Ventures acted as investors, and was also involved in a series A financing round for Digital Services. In other work, Leske assisted Emerging Markets Taxi with the sale and transfer of the Easy Taxi Group’s key assets to its Spanish-South American competitor Cabify. Munich-based Georg Schneider and Hans Radau in Berlin are also key figures.
P+P Pöllath + Partners
P+P Pöllath + Partners’ client base includes VC companies and funds, institutional and strategic investors as well as start-ups, which it frequently advises on financing rounds, exit transactions and tax planning. The ‘extremely experienced, pragmatic and solution-oriented’ Christian Tönies advised Berlin-based banking platform solarisBank on a financing round of over €56.6m and Michael Inhester assisted CommerzVentures with a participation in mobile payment services provider Payworks as part of a series B financing round. The client participated in the company for the first time as a main investor, in addition to financial services company Visa, and, in a separate matter, also retained the group for advice on the participation, by way of a series B financing round, in PropTech company realbest. On the start-up side, the group assisted Blacklane with a series D financing round. Senior associate Sebastian Gerlinger is ‘extremely professional, attentive and modest’. Growth fund HPE Growth Capital and venture capital company Wellington Partners are also clients.
The private equity group at Raue PartmbB is ‘very competent, committed and responsive’ and provides ‘an outstanding level of service’: clients particularly emphasise the ‘very fast turnaround times’, ‘very good insight into the start-up sector’ and ‘excellent communication’. The lawyers ‘cover a wide range of topics’, leading to a diverse client portfolio including numerous start-ups and investors. Andreas Nelle, who frequently but not exclusively acts on the investor side, advised Earlybird Venture Capital on a $160m series C financing round of Berlin-based fintech start-up N26, and assisted Big Rep with technology group Körber’s participation in the company in a series B financing round. The ‘always available, solution-oriented and efficient’ Jörg Jaecks has ‘very good knowledge of the start-up scene’ and is therefore regularly instructed by start-ups; he advised Lofelt on a series A financing round of over $5.4m. His ‘experience in acting on closings’ is perceived by clients as ‘extremely valuable’: he is ‘like a Swiss army knife combining many skills in one person’ and ‘manages to differentiate the essential from the non-essential’. In addition, he can ‘explain difficult topics in an understandable way’ and shows ‘entrepreneurial understanding’.
In close cooperation with the IT and IP teams, Taylor Wessing’s practice advises on the entire spectrum of venture capital transactions and is particularly experienced in the areas of healthcare, technology and fintech. The group focuses on investors such as Mutschler Ventures and Piton Capital, which were advised by practice head Jens Wolf – who divides his time between the Hamburg and Berlin offices – on the secondary sale and new investment of SoftBank Vision Fund in Berlin pre-owned vehicle platform Auto1 Group; the investment totalled €460m, of which €110m came from the client. Berlin-based Norman Röchert assisted General Catalyst with the series C financing in Contentful; together with existing investors Benchmark, Balderton Capital and Point Nine Capital, approximately $28m was invested. He also acted for another investor on BioNTech’s $270m series A financing round. In Düsseldorf, Maria Weiers is one of the central figures: she advised innovation platform and subsidiary of Duisburger Hafen Startport on the parent company’s corporate venture activities.
BMH Bräutigam & Partner
Venture capital clients feel ‘in good hands’ with BMH Bräutigam & Partner and appreciate the ‘very entrepreneurial and practical approach’, which leads to ‘good advice with regard to risks and costs’. The team is also ‘unconditionally recommended’ due to its ‘excellent service level’, ‘pragmatic negotiation’, ‘precise contract wording’ and ‘excellent market knowledge’. It concentrates on advising start-ups including Berlin-based blockchain and AI start-up company Xain, which instructed the group for its seed financing round totalling €6m; Bastian Reinschmidt and the ‘very straightforward’ Patrick Auerbach-Hohl, who is ‘extremely pleasant to work with’ and ‘provides prompt, high-quality advice’, led the advice. Investors including Floodgate are also part of the client base: the group advised the Silicon Valley investor the investment in Berlin start-up Jodel. Alexander Wulff, who made salary partner at the beginning of 2018, is another central figure in the team.
LACORE Rechtsanwälte LLP
André Eggert and Natalie Vahsen are the main contact persons at Lacore Rechtsanwälte LLP, which is well established in the Berlin start-up scene and regularly acts on financing rounds. Recent work includes assisting German aviation start-up Lilium Aviation with a series B financing round with a volume of $90m, in which Chinese internet group Tencent and private bank LGT participated, among others.
The ‘very prompt, precise and service-oriented’ venture capital team at Lambsdorff Rechtsanwälte is ‘always available’ and is appreciated for ‘the mixture of enthusiastic dedication, a very high level of experience and knowledge, and low hierarchies’. The client base has traditionally consisted of start-ups, but increasingly includes investors. The group advised Berlin start-ups Asana Rebel, Blinks Labs and DaWanda on respective financing rounds and on general corporate and commercial law matters as well as on intellectual property protection, while US start-up AppDynamics instructed the group to assist with its market entry in Germany. On the investor side, the group acted for London-based venture debt provider Norgine Ventures on various investments in German growth companies. Konstantin Graf Lambsdorff is ‘a very confident deal strategist’ and Pablo Rüdiger De Erice is regarded as ‘absolutely confident in the VC business’.
Lutz Abel Rechtsanwalts PartG mbB
Lutz Abel Rechtsanwalts PartG mbB has ‘a reliable, prompt and uncomplicated’ venture capital practice, which stands out in the market for its ‘expedient communication’ and ‘good price-performance ratio’. The key figures in the Munich office are the ‘objective, sympathetic, solution-oriented and very competent’ Bernhard Noreisch, the ‘prompt and reliable’ Marco Eickmann and Björn Weidehaas. Highlights included advising MIG on BioNTech’s series A financing round with a volume of $270m, and assisting BayBG Bayerische Beteiligungsgesellschaft with the exit from Impeo Software. In Hamburg, the ‘very precise, prompt and practical’ Lorenz Jellinghaus is the central contact; according to clients, he is ‘very good at communicating with other parties’ and ‘thereby contributes to a client’s successful business development’. He assisted Hamburg start-up Dreamlines with negotiations with financing partners.
Reed Smith ‘meets even very tight deadlines in difficult cases and advises not only from a purely legal perspective, but also takes into account the economic impact’. The comprehensive range of advisory services includes financing rounds, exit transactions, portfolio sales and fund structuring matters; the client base is equally broad, consisting of domestic and foreign venture and growth capital funds and other financial institutions as well as private investors and portfolio companies. The practice is headed by Justus Binder, who ‘does an excellent job and can explain extremely complex issues very well and make them comprehensible’.
Schnittker Möllmann Partners
Schnittker Möllmann Partners was launched in summer 2017 as a spin-off from Flick Gocke Schaumburg and, despite its short existence, already has a considerable volume of venture capital instructions, particularly in the context of financing rounds. The advice is based on close interaction between the funds and transactions groups, which is an attractive combination for investors in particular; however, the group also acts for start-ups. The highly regarded Peter Möllmann advised investment group Battery Ventures on travel booking portal GetYourGuide’s $75m financing round, and acted for Greyhound Capital on fintech company N26’s $130m financing round and senior associate Ansgar Frank assisted venture capital firm Creandum with fintech start-up Billie’s series A financing round. On the company side, the group acted for Swiss luxury watch start-up Chronext in a series D financing round. Helder Schnittker is another central figure in the team.
Baker McKenzie was able to significantly expand its consulting capacities by adding several former Dechert LLP lawyers: Berthold Hummel and counsel Katja Heuterkes joined in autumn 2017 and counsel Julia Braun was a new arrival in January 2018. The core business includes advising financial and strategic investors on investments in start-ups, although Michael Bartosch also assists start-ups with financing rounds: he recently advised Cleverciti Systems on a €13m growth financing, and assisted Munich-based start-up Reactive Robots with its second financing round, in which Dr. Doll Holding and MTIP MedTech Innovation Partners participated, among others. Other work included advising Forbion Capital Partners on CatalYm’s €10m series A financing round.
Dechert LLP stands out for offering ‘the highest level of professionalism and reliability’. While mainly acting for investors, the group also advises start-ups on financing rounds and portfolio transactions. The ‘excellent’ Giovanni Russo is recommended. Berthold Hummel and Katja Heuterkes joined Baker McKenzie in autumn 2017; the latter is a counsel at the new firm, as is Julia Braun, who joined the same firm in January 2018.
With a focus on corporate venture capital, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP specialises in advising investors, but also counts start-ups among its clients. The instruction lead is regularly shared with colleagues from the London and US offices; together with a London-based team, Munich-based Thomas Schmid assisted Vitruvian Partners with its investment in German online loans comparison platform Smava as part of a series D financing round. In another highlight, he advised, together with Jörg Ritter, Atomico on an investment in aviation start-up Lilium through a $90m series B financing round.