Firm Profile > Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP > Paris, France

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP
75008 PARIS

Administrative and public law Tier 1

At Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, the ‘service is fast, very efficient and enjoyable’. The six-lawyer team comes recommended for its ability to deal with ‘the most important and complex public contracts issues where huge amounts are at stake’ and ‘reach smart deals between its clients and its financial partners’; it is also ‘clearly the best on the market at developing a victorious strategy’ when dealing with litigation and post-contract performance issues. The firm has an impressive track record advising lenders and sponsors on France's largest infrastructure projects, and is regularly instructed to handle very complex contract performance issues, including leading negotiations with the French state and dealing with high-profile contract annulment situations. The practice recently advised on several landmark transport and road infrastructure projects, including assisting the lenders to a consortium led by Keolis with the consortium's bid to operate the CDG Express airport link project; the lenders to Vinci and Eiffage's motorway tunnel concessionaire SMTPC with the new urban motorway Schloesing Tunnel project in Marseille; and the lenders to Vinci Concessions with the RCEA motorway project. The practice is also advising on highly sensitive contract performance and litigation issues pertaining to some of France's top infrastructure projects. Finally, the team also advises on infrastructure projects abroad. Practice head Thierry Laloum has ‘an extraordinary and deep knowledge of this field and perfectly masters the art of negotiations: he is cautious, anticipates issues and is also very creative’, and comes up with ‘long-term tailored strategies that lead clients to win their cases’. Special European counsel Charles-Antoine Erignac is also a key contact, while associate Anne-Laure Barel is ‘strongly recommended’. Another name to note is complementary project finance partner Amir Jahanguiri, who is ‘an astonishing and incredible lawyer’.

Insolvency Tier 1

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP has ‘an outstanding reputation’ thanks to a team that consists of ‘excellent restructuring experts with great technical skills and huge cumulated experience’ who demonstrate ‘strong engagement’. The team, which is ‘very well connected’, regularly advises on the market's most complex matters including cross-border cases. The practice often represents shareholders, investment funds and other types of investors, and also manages several debtors and banking lenders' instructions. The firm recently assisted clients with several high-profile asset and company take-over bids, and managed several cases in the oil and gas, and publishing sectors. Highlights included advising Schmolz + Bickenbach on its successful bid for Asco Industries under bankruptcy proceedings; assisting the high-yield bond holders' steering committee with CGG's financial restructuring, which consisted of an equity swap of its $1.6bn unsecured debt; and acting for Hachette Livre on the restructuring of France Loisirs. The practice is jointly headed by the ‘extremely dedicated’ and ‘very good negotiator’  Alexandra Bigot and Lionel Spizzichino.

Project finance Tier 1

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP's team is made up of ‘deal makers who have an impressive ability to find solutions that fit both sponsors' and lenders' goals and concerns’. The firm combines leading public law and project finance expertise that earns it instructions on France's largest infrastructure projects and high-profile projects abroad. The team assists sponsors, as well as lenders where its stands out for its ‘ability to remarkably address lenders' concerns and to select only the most important points to be negotiated with the sponsors’. Recent highlights include advising on leading transport and road infrastructure projects in France. It notably assisted the institutional investors with the first project refinancing in France through the new project bonds format issued by Arcour for the A19 motorway refinancing, and advised Oc’via on the refinancing of the Nîmes-Montpellier high-speed railway bypass. In other work, the team advises on large-scale health campus projects in Turkey, as well as on several port and airport projects in other jurisdictions. The practice also handled several energy projects in France and assisted the Republic of Djibouti with a 750km gas pipeline project. Practice head Amir Jahanguiri is ‘an astonishing and incredible lawyer’ and Michaël Armandou ‘finds adequate solutions for both lenders and sponsors’. Public law specialist Thierry Laloum is also noted.

Dispute resolution: commercial litigation Tier 2

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP's caseload features complex commercial, corporate, insolvency and transnational matters. The firm is instructed by many leading French corporations, as well as high-profile investors and international companies. It is representing Air France as the plaintiff in a case following the ransacking of its headquarters and the assault of two directors by union members in 2015, and successfully acted for Agence Française de Développement in a dispute. It is also representing Transdev, as a former shareholder of SNCM, in a much-disputed case concerning SNCM’s partnership with Stef. The team is also handling high-profile criminal and international corruption cases, as well as major ICC arbitration and enforcement and annulment of award proceedings. Dominique Mondoloni is highly regarded. Grégoire Bertrou is also recommended.

EU, competition and distribution Tier 2

The 'outstanding and highly technical team' at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP 'is very attentive to clients' needs and perfectly understands their strategic goals'. Following the departure of Jacques-Philippe Gunther to Latham & Watkins, the practice is headed by the 'truly meticulous, sharp and technically on-pointFaustine Viala, who 'embodies all of the practice's strengths'. In recent highlights, the team acted for PAI Partners on the antitrust aspects of its acquisition of World Freight Company International alongside Baring Private Equity Asia, and La Martinière Groupe appointed the team to advise on its merger with Média Participations. On the contentious front, Viala is representing the Naval Group before the administrative courts in an appeal by one of its competitors against the regulator's decision to clear the client's joint venture with Piriou; she is also advising on a follow-on claim on behalf of Casino against Reckitt Benckiser following the FCA's sanctioning of the latter for anticompetitive practices in the personal care sector.

Private equity: Fund formation Tier 2

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP specialises in advising on buyout and credit funds in addition to funds in the energy, real estate, software and reinsurance sectors. Latour Capital is one of several new client wins, while Astorg Partners, Abénex Capital and Apax Partners are also among its clients. Practice head Nathalie Duguay advised PAI Partners on the creation of its seventh pan-European fund for which French limited partnerships were used alongside a Luxembourg limited partnership and a total of €5bn was raised. Duguay also led in advising BlackFin Capital Partners on the fundraising for BlackFin Tech Fund 1, dedicated to European fintech, insurtech and regtech companies.

Private equity: LBO Tier 2

The 'outstanding' and 'very flexible' team at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP has strength across all market segments, with a high proportion of cross-border matters in addition to a strong domestic practice. Eduardo FernandezChristophe Garaud and Cédric Hajage are the core names, with key support coming from Gabriel Flandin. Hajage's recent highlights include advising CVC Capital Partners Strategic Opportunities on its acquisition, alongside Téthys Invest, of a controlling stake in Sebia from Astorg and Montagu Private Equity, in a matter that spanned France and Finland. Garaud assisted PAI Partners with the €1.5bn sale of Kiloutou to HLDI and HLD Europe and, in a stand-out domestic highlight, Fernandez acted for IK Investment Partners on its contemplated acquisition of a majority stake in Mademoiselle Desserts from its current shareholders. Other clients include Qualium Investissement, Carlyle Group and Weinberg Capital Partners.

Shipping finance Tier 2

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP focuses on acting for liners and shipyards, and handles a wide variety of mandates including debt financings, sale and leaseback issues, high-yield financing work and restructuring matters. Brice Pommiès heads up the practice and advised CMA CGM on a $205m revolving credit facility to strengthen the group's liquidity. Chantiers de l'Atlantique and Neptune Orient Lines are also clients.

Banking and finance: transactional work Tier 3

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP's practice, which is led by Paris acquisition and corporate finance head Paul Lombard, has particular strength in structured finance, restructuring finance and acquisition finance. A recent standout matter saw Lombard join forces with corporate partner Eduardo Fernandez to advise IK Investment Partners on the financing of its contemplated acquisition of a majority stake in Mademoiselle Desserts from its current shareholders Equistone Partners Europe, Céréa Partenaire, Azulis Capital and the management team. IK Investment also turned to Lombard for a €44m unitranche financing of its acquisition of Acadomia, provided by Tikehau. Eurazeo, Ardian Private Debt and Weinberg Capital Partners are also clients. Igor Kukhta was promoted to special European counsel.

Dispute resolution: White-collar crime Tier 3

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP represents a high-profile client base made up of leading French companies, high-profile executives and public officials, as well as some major international clients. The firm is dealing with several notable cases, including representing companies subject to sensitive anti-corruption investigations led by French and UK, US and other international authorities. The practice advises on compliance and international sanctions issues. The team also represented International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde before the French Court of Justice of the Republic in the long-running Tapie case, and is acting as co-counsel in the defence of former CEO Bruno Lafont in the high-profile Lafarge case. The firm is also handling fraud cases. Dominique Mondoloni and Grégoire Bertrou are highly recommended.

Mergers and acquisitions Tier 3

The 'very experienced and proactive' team at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP 'goes beyond of what is normally expected'. The group demonstrates broad sector coverage, with strength in both domestic and cross-border transactions. Practice head Eduardo Fernandez is noted for his 'outstanding ability to make complicated matters easier to understand'; he advised entertainment player Trace, one of Trace's co-founders and its management team on its acquisition by TPG Growth. CMA CGM, Thales and Bonduelle are also clients. Other key contacts include cross-border joint venture specialist Annette Péron, energy and infrastructure expert Gabriel Flandin, carve-out specialist Grégoire Finance and public M&A expert Daniel Hurstel.

Tax Tier 4

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.

Department Name Email Telephone
Partner, Corporate & Financial Services Eduardo J. Fernandez +33 1 53 43 45 30
Partner, Corporate & Financial Services Christophe Garaud +33 1 53 43 45 13
Photo Name Position Profile
Mr Michael Armandou  photo Mr Michael Armandou
 Grégoire Bertrou  photo Grégoire Bertrou
Ms Alexandra Bigot  photo Ms Alexandra Bigot
Mr Thomas Binet  photo Mr Thomas Binet
 Nathalie Duguay  photo Nathalie Duguay
 Charles-Antoine Erignac  photo Charles-Antoine Erignac
Mr Eduardo Fernandez  photo Mr Eduardo Fernandez
Mr Grégoire Finance  photo Mr Grégoire Finance
Mr Gabriel Flandin  photo Mr Gabriel Flandin
Mr Jeffrey Fouts  photo Mr Jeffrey Fouts
Mr Christophe Garaud  photo Mr Christophe Garaud
Mr Philippe Grudé  photo Mr Philippe Grudé
Mr Cédric Hajage  photo Mr Cédric Hajage
Mr Daniel Hurstel  photo Mr Daniel Hurstel
Mr Amir Jahanguiri  photo Mr Amir Jahanguiri
 Gil Kiener  photo Gil Kiener
 Igor Kukhta  photo Igor Kukhta
Mr Thierry Laloum  photo Mr Thierry Laloum
 David Lambert  photo David Lambert
Ms Sophie-Jeanne Laroche  photo Ms Sophie-Jeanne Laroche
Mr Paul Lombard  photo Mr Paul Lombard
Mr Dominique Mondoloni  photo Mr Dominique Mondoloni
 Audrey Nelson  photo Audrey Nelson
Ms Annette Péron  photo Ms Annette Péron
Mr Brice Pommiès  photo Mr Brice Pommiès
Mr Lionel Spizzichino  photo Mr Lionel Spizzichino
Ms Faustine Viala  photo Ms Faustine Viala
Mr Grégory de Saxcé  photo Mr Grégory de Saxcé
Total number of lawyers : Approx. 700