State aid in Germany
Gleiss Lutz’s broad practice group is one of the top addresses for German and European state aid law and is praised by clients for its ‘excellent expertise and fast response times as well as pragmatic advice and practical relevance’. The team of six partners represents private companies and public sector institutions, and is increasingly active internationally. Brussels-based practice head Ulrich Soltész is ‘talented and creative in finding solutions’, and acts for clients on European antitrust and state aid law as well as in court proceedings. Together with Burghard Hildebrandt in Düsseldorf and Andreas Neun in Berlin, he recently successfully assisted a group of technology companies (including Bosch, Infineon Technologies and Zeiss) with registering a cooperation project of common European interest (IPCEI) with the European Commission. Commerzbank, Deutsche Bundesbank and a Bavarian state ministry are also part of the client portfolio. Harald Weiß is ‘an outstanding expert on state aid and competition law’; Christian von Köckritz joined the partnership in January 2017.
The state aid team at Hengeler Mueller frequently acts on matters touching upon public procurement and antitrust law. Jan Bonhage heads the practice group in Berlin, while Hans-Jörg Niemeyer handles state aid matters from the Brussels office. The nine-strong team’s expertise includes advising aid recipients and donors on matters relating to state aid and subsidies, and representing them before national authorities, the European Commission and European and German courts. It is particularly active in the energy and transport sectors (local public transport, road, rail and air transport). Recent highlights include representing an EU energy utility in arbitration proceedings with various municipal utilities regarding gas supply contracts. In addition, the group acted for an EU member state in an EU Commission state aid case concerning a nuclear power project. Komnexx, National Express and the Hungarian Government are also part of the client portfolio. Ralf Willer made counsel in January 2018.
Redeker Sellner Dahs
Andreas Rosenfeld’s group at Redeker Sellner Dahs is both active on the part of the recipients and donors of state aid and is particularly noted for its expertise in European state aid law. It is instructed by national and international companies and in particular by the public sector and is also experienced in German state aid law and litigation. In a recent highlight, counsel Simone Lünenbürger led assistance to the Baden-Württemberg Ministry for Rural Areas and Consumer Protection regarding the relevance of state aid for financing measures for forestry services. Berlin-based Ulrich Karpenstein advised the State Ministry of Economics and Digitisation on the design and pre-registration of a funding guideline for the expansion of a gigabit broadband network, and also assisted a well-known research centre with the design of research infrastructure. The client base also includes Warnow Wasser- und Abwasserverband and the Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
Müller-Wrede & Partner Rechtsanwälte
European state aid law is one of Müller-Wrede & Partner Rechtsanwälte’s most important practice areas. The team advises companies as well as public authorities and the EU Commission. In addition to advisory work, representation in litigation before German and EU courts is another core competence. Gabriele Quardt is the central contact.
The state aid practice at WilmerHale is involved in national and cross-border state aid instructions and ‘has a broad spectrum of knowledge and a solution-oriented approach’. Practice head Hans-Georg Kamann ‘has extensive experience in acting for public sector institutions’ and was in charge of representing the Federal Republic of Germany and the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy in litigation brought by the airline Germania against the €150m bridge loan granted to the insolvent Air Berlin. In addition, it advised the Hessian Ministry of Finance on state aid and foreign trade law matters relating to the planned sale of the State of Hesse’s shares in the company operating the regional airport Frankfurt Hahn. In addition to the main areas of transport and aviation, the group is also particularly active in the banking and financial services sectors. Special counsel Peter Gey is another key figure.
Baker McKenzie’s three-partner strong state aid team is led by Marc Gabriel and advises on state aid, grants and subsidies. It adopts a cross-practice approach and often handles matters touching upon both procurement and real estate law, compliance and IT. Recent highlights include advising an international technology group on all subsidy law issues relating to its German location, and representing a leading operator of internet distribution portals for music, films and software in nullity proceedings against a state aid decision of the European Commission.
Chatham Partners LLP
Hamburg-based firm Chatham Partners LLP focuses on the energy, infrastructure and real estate sectors, and advises on the state aid aspects of transactions, financings and litigation. In a recent highlight, it successfully represented the Hanseatic City of Lübeck in various state aid proceedings concerning alleged subsidies for Lübeck Airport, which was led by practice head Marco Núñez. The group also represented Neubrandenburger Wohnungsgesellschaft before the European Commission, the European Court of Justice and German courts in proceedings relating to real estate transactions which are dominated by state aid law. Landesgesellschaft Sachsen-Anhalt, Lübecker Hafengesellschaft and German Railway Industry Association (VDB) are also part of the client portfolio.
Heinz-Joachim Freud in Frankfurt and Michael Bauer in Brussels are the two core figures in CMS’ state aid practice. Recent highlights include advising a ministry and a banking association of an Eastern European member state on the government-sponsored merger of economic sector parts. The group is also representing a major German city before the EU Commission in a procedure to design an infrastructure project in cooperation with a leading German sports association.
The highly respected Philipp Werner leads Jones Day’s state aid team, which operates at both national and cross-border levels. In a recent domestic highlight, it advised Saxon energy agency Saena on reviewing current financing in light of EU state aid regulation. The group also assisted a clinic with cross-border research and development cooperation in the healthcare sector.
Kapellmann und Partner
Robin van der Hout heads the state aid practice at Kapellmann und Partner, which is active in both preventive and forensic cases. It focuses on European state aid law and advises grantors and beneficiaries on state aid issues, such as the design of support measures and financing concepts, the registration of projects requiring approval from the European Commission and review procedures. The six-member team recently assisted the state of Rhineland-Palatinate with the privatisation of Frankfurt-Hahn airport and in appeal proceedings. In other work, it acted for Germania in a complaint to the European Commission and the Berlin Court of Appeal regarding aid for Air Berlin. In addition to the aviation sector, the firm is also active in the energy sector. Christian Wagner was made up to associate partner in January 2018.
Graf von Westphalen
The practice group at Graf von Westphalen acts for recipients and donors of state aid and is particularly visible in the forensic area. Led by Gerd Schwendinger, the team is active in the fields of research, real estate, infrastructure and increasingly also in the air traffic sector; Ulrich Hösch advised a regional airport operator on the recovery of ERDF funds. In another instruction, the group successfully represented the state forest and timber office of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Ministry of the Environment in litigation against the Klausner timber group, which concerned timber supply contracts and related state aid issues. In the research area, the group assisted a German university with issues including state aid and subsidy law. Other clients include HafenCity Hamburg, the University Hospital Düsseldorf and a German federal state. Lothar Harings is another key figure.
Luther Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH
The team of three partners at Luther Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH is primarily instructed by public authorities and large companies to deal with issues relating to state aid law. Helmut Janssen splits his time between Brussels and Düsseldorf, while Ulf-Dieter Pape leads the team from Hanover. Among the 2018 highlights is the representation of steel groups (including AcelorMittal, Deutsche Edelstahlwerke and Saint-Gobain) in litigation against the European Commission’s final decision against the EEG 2012 law, as well as advising a municipal company on the state aid aspects of the financing of a stake in an energy supply company and the purchase of the water supply network. Uniper, Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe and the City of Dresden are also part of the client base.