France 2018 – GC Powerlist

France 2018

  • Industries

  • Powerlist

Agnès Bardel

Head of legal | idverde

Commercial and professional services

As head of legal for idverde – a European leader in landscape construction projects and grounds maintenance services based in the UK and France – Agnès Bardel regularly proves her...

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Alexander Lunshof

Group chief legal officer | Essilor Group

Healthcare

CAC-listed eye care solutions provider Essilor Group is a historic French company that occupies an enviable position as a world leader in the field of ophthalmic lenses and optical equipment....

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Alexandre De Tourtier

Group general counsel | SoLocal Group

Sports and media

Having joined SoLocal Group, a leader in digital communication, in 2005, Alexandre De Tourtier has gained thorough experience of the company’s operations whilst also building his reputation as a highly...

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Alexandre Menais

Executive vice president, group head of M&A and corporate development and group general counsel | Atos

Information technology

Atos is a world-leading international information technology company, providing digital transformation services to clients all over the world across a wide variety of market sectors, and is listed in the...

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Anne-Sophie Le Lay

Executive vice president corporate secretary | Air-France- KLM

Transport and infrastructure

A major global air transport player, Air France-KLM is a Franco-Dutch airline holding company incorporated under French law. In February 2018, the organisation recruited the highly regarded in-house lawyer Anne-Sophie...

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Antoine Genevois

General counsel | Framatome

Energy and utilities

Antoine Genevois began his legal career in 2000 at Thales Group, where he provided support to set up the company’s compliance program and the litigation associated with the sale of...

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Antoine Vignial

Secretary general | Saint-Gobain

Materials and mining

The provision of legal advice to historic multinational Saint-Gobain is provided by a number of different in-house lawyers with a range of specialties. Among them is secretary general Antoine Vignial,...

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Arminé Ekmektchian

Head of legal | Aigle Azur

Transport and infrastructure

Arminé Ekmektchian has achieved a great deal in a relatively short space of time, making her among the brightest rising stars currently operating in the French in-house legal community. Discovering...

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Arnaud Flandé

Group general counsel | ALTEN

Commercial and professional services

Arnaud Flandé joined Alten in 2012 as the group general counsel. As part of a fast growing engineering technology consulting firm, with €1.98bn of revenues and 28,000 employees, he has...

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Arnauld Van Eeckhout

General counsel | Bouygues Telecom

Telecommunication services

One of France’s largest telecommunications companies, Bouygues Telecom offers a diverse variety of products and services including fibre boxes, televisions, internet networks, and recharge packages, as well as recycling services....

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Aurélien Hamelle

General counsel | Total

Energy and utilities

Taking up the general counsel role at energy giant Total in January 2017, Aurélien Hamelle brought a wealth of high-level experience upon his appointment, having accrued private practice experience in...

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Béatrix Laurent-Moulin

Chief legal officer | ManpowerGroup France

Commercial and professional services

Highly regarded by peers throughout the French legal market, it was reported by the industry press that Béatrix Laurent-Moulin was hired by ManpowerGroup France in 2011 as a response to...

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Bénédicte Bahier

Group general counsel | Legrand

Industrials and real estate

CAC-listed Legrand is a French industrials group that is perhaps best known for its provision of switches and sockets where it has a large share of the global market; in...

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Benoit Balmary

Group general counsel | Michelin

Consumer products

Benoit Balmary joined the French tyre manufacturer Michelin in 2014. Reporting directly to the company’s executive president, Balmary presides over a department of more than 200 people spread across 20...

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Benoit Ternon

General counsel | Philip Morris France

Food, beverages and tobacco

Reflecting on his career thus far, Benoit Ternon is pleased to have been able to operate in diverse roles at a number of different organisations, and places this as both...

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Bernard Kuhn

Legal director | LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton

Consumer products

Bernard Kuhn initiated his legal career in 1979 after attaining his Doctor in Law qualification. Following the completion of internships at law firm Clifford Chance and at the Bank of...

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Bertrand Austruy

Executive vice president for human resources and general secretary | Danone

Food, beverages and tobacco

Bertrand Austruy’s career progression at Danone, has been nothing short of dynamic and impressive. Today, Danone has over 100,000 employees behind products that reach nine million consumers worldwide. As part...

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Boubakar Dione

Group general counsel | Bpifrance

Financials

Boubakar Dione is a legal specialist well-versed in the in-house legal sector having provided legal advice within the business world since 1991. Dione complements his deep knowledge of all relevant...

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Carlos Pedreira Freire

Legal and tax director | Auchan Retail International

Consumer products

Earning over €50bn in annual revenues and with over 300,000 employees, French company Auchan Retail ranks among the largest food retailers in the world. Legal and tax director Carlos Pedreira...

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Caroline Burtin

General counsel for Africa, Middle East, Southern Europe, Belgium and Luxembourg | JCDecaux

Sports and media

Operating with a transnational remit that includes the varied regions of Africa, the Middle East, Southern Europe, Belgium and Luxembourg, Caroline Burtin is the legal director for advertising juggernaut JCDecaux....

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Cécile Gilliet

Deputy general counsel for M&A | Eurazeo

Financials

A leading global investment company with a diversified portfolio of approximately €15bn in assets under management, Eurazeo stepped up its investment momentum in 2017 by acquiring interests in a number...

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Cécile Russeil

Chief legal officer | Ubisoft

Information technology

Cécile Russeil has had an incredibly long and successful time with Ubisoft, having spent over 27 years with the company which has taken up the entirety of her career. Now...

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Céline Bourjolay

General counsel EMEA | Murex

Information technology

Having already gained substantial IP and international experience in Asia and Africa, Céline Bourjolay made her move in-house in 2012, joining the leading software vendor Murex as a deputy general...

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Céline Fronval

Group general counsel | Publicis Groupe

Sports and media

Since its establishment in 1926, Publicis Groupe has developed into the third largest communications group in the world. Held in high esteem among her peers, Publicis Groupe’s general counsel Céline...

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Céline Haye-Kiousis

Group general counsel and secretary of the advisory board | Groupe BPCE

Financials

France’s second largest banking institution, Groupe BPCE has a multitude of branches, employees and customers requiring timely and accurate legal counsel in order to manage the huge range of banking...

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Christine Maury-Panis

Executive vice president, general counsel and security | Viaccess-Orca (Orange Group)

Telecommunication services

Executive vice president and general counsel for Viaccess-Orca – a world leader in content protection, OTT technologies and data analytics, with an annual turnover of more than €78m – Christine...

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Coralie Bouscasse

Group general counsel | Safran

Industrials and real estate

In the position of group general counsel at major aerospace, defence and technology powerhouse Safran since June 2016, Coralie Bouscasse’s career began in earnest in 1985, when she became deputy...

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David Zeitoun

Group general counsel and managing director | Unibail-Rodamco

Industrials and real estate

‘Be creative and think out of the box, remain rigorous and business oriented without being too risk adverse, rely on your team which is your best asset in any case...

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Didier Moutard

Legal director | Groupe Duval

Industrials and real estate

Didier Moutard’s private practice career prior to moving in-house was highly successful, and saw him amass a wealth of technical legal expertise in the offices of Clifford Chance for 15...

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Dominique Bourrinet

Group general counsel | Société Générale

Financials

Founded over 150 years ago Société Générale is one of Europe’s biggest financial services companies. After twenty years of impressing the firm through a wide range of legal contributions, Dominique...

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Éric Boré

Legal director | GEODIS (SNCF Group)

Transport and infrastructure

Éric Boré is an established corporate counsel who currently leads the legal team at GEODIS, a supply chain operator ranking among the top companies in its field in Europe. Having...

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Eric Haza

Chief legal officer | Veolia Environnement

Energy and utilities

Best known under its brand name Veolia, Veolia Environnement is a historic multinational French service and utility provider in the areas of water management, waste management, transport and energy services....

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Eric Sandrin

Legal director | Kering

Consumer products

Kering’s legal department is comprised of 90 individuals across the globe, each of whom provide legal support to the corporate operations and the 20 luxury, sport and lifestyle brands that...

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Eric Thomas

General counsel | Lagardère Group

Sports and media

Lagardère Group‘s Eric Thomas is a formidable corporate leader with substantial experience of managing legal processes at some of the largest organisations in France. He started his professional career in...

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Eric-Antoine Fredette

Group general counsel and secretary | Valeo

Consumer products

The multinational French automotive products supplier Valeo is a constituent of the CAC 40 Index and conducts its operations through four distinct divisions that service the automotive and aftercare markets:...

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Florence Guéry

Head of legal | Neoen

Energy and utilities

Florence M. Guéry leads the legal function at the Paris headquartered renewable energy company Neoen, and commands an impressive CV with years of experience practicing both in law firms and...

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Franck Raimbault

Senior vice president human resources legal | Air France

Transport and infrastructure

Franck Raimbault’s labour law expertise has manifested itself both academically and professionally at the highest levels. Academically, he has gained a PhD focusing specifically on labour law and has operated...

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Franck Tassan

Group general counsel | Carrefour

Consumer products

With 22 years of experience at the second largest retailer in the world and the largest in Europe, Carrefour, Franck Tassan is an accomplished counsel who occupies a prominent and...

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François Graux

General counsel | ENGIE

Energy and utilities

François Graux joined world energy giant Engie in 2013 as general counsel, leading a legal team which employs 490 lawyers across more than 40 countries. Managing about 60 lawyers at...

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Frédéric Crépin

Group general counsel and secretary | Vivendi

Sports and media

A constituent of the CAC 40 Index, Vivendi is a leading multinational mass media conglomerate with activities spanning music, television, film, video games, telecommunications, tickets and video hosting. Having joined...

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Gadi Oron

Director general | CISAC (International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers)

A fantastic example of an in-house lawyer showcasing commercial acumen to rise through the ranks of their business, Gadi Oron has progressed from the general counsel role of CISAC to...

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Gaëlle Boriosi

Group chief general counsel | CMA CGM

Transport and infrastructure

CMA CGM is a leading worldwide shipping group with 445 vessels that connects with 420 ports around the world. The group employs 29,000 people worldwide and with a presence in...

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Georges Dirani

Group general counsel | BNP Paribas

Financials

Founded in 1848, BNP Paribas has grown into a leading bank in the Eurozone and a prominent international banking institution earning over €43bn in annual revenues. Georges Dirani is BNP...

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Géraldine Hivert-de Grandi

Group general counsel | Séché Environnement

Energy and utilities

Geraldine Hivert-de Grandi was appointed general counsel of Séché Environnement, a newly created position, in early 2016. Her role has been to set up and implement a business orientated legal...

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Harald Peter Knöbl

General secretary | Neptune Energy

Energy and utilities

An energy law specialist, Harald Knoebl held a series of senior in-house legal positions with ENGIE group companies (formerly GDF Suez) going back to 2002 when he worked for Gaz...

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Helen Browne

Group general counsel | AXA

Financials

Since 2001, Helen Browne has been gaining an in-depth understanding of the operations of AXA, the French holding company of the AXA Group, a global insurance leader. After nine years...

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Hélène Daniel

Legal director | Christian Dior

Consumer products

One of the world’s top fashion houses and an iconic French designer brand, since 1925 Christian Dior has a track record of consistently leading the global fashion industry. With an...

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Hervé Bouchet

General counsel | Groupe Lactalis

Food, beverages and tobacco

Lactalis is the number one cheese producer in the world, and though its brands Président cheese and butter and Galbani mozzarella amongst others, cements its place as a global leader...

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Hicham Khellafi

General counsel EMEA | Honeywell International - industrial safety division

Industrials and real estate

Hicham Khellafi has enjoyed an exceptional career at Fortune 100-ranked Honeywell since joining a little over a decade ago in 2007. During this time, he has progressed from the rank...

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Ian FitzSimons

Senior executive director for corporate legal affairs and secretary of the board general counsel | Pernod Ricard

Ian FitzSimons has been the general counsel of Pernod Ricard for 16 years and is responsible for creating the legal department of the group as it stands today. In this...

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Isabelle Simon

Group secretary and general counsel | Thales

Industrials and real estate

A global technology leader in the aerospace, transportation, defence and security markets, Thales earned close to €15bn in 2016. Heading the legal function at this highly successful French business is...

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Jean-Benoit Devauges

Deputy general counsel | Renault

Consumer products

Handling corporate matters, projects and transactions at the French automobile multinational Renault, deputy general counsel Jean-Benoit Devauges continues to impress peers both within Groupe Renault and among France’s wider in-house...

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Jean-Philippe Laligand

Group general counsel | AKKA Technologies

Industrials and real estate

Jean-Philippe Laligand has been the group general counsel for AKKA Technologies since 2008. He started his career as an engineer in the field of artificial intelligence. During his career he...

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Jean-Yves Haagen

Group general counsel | Groupe Casino

Consumer products

Saint-Étienne headquartered Groupe Casino is a multinational mass retail company operating under a number of different subsidiaries, employing almost 350,000 people and commanding annual revenues close to €50bn. Jean-Yves Haagen...

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Jérôme Gandon

Group general counsel | Arkema

Materials and mining

Assuming the position of group general counsel at Arkema, a global leader in the specialty chemicals industry, has enabled Jérôme Gandon to implement his own vision for the management of...

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Joel Corcessin

Group general counsel | Arc Holdings

Consumer products

Admitted to the Paris Bar in 2000, Joel Corcessin has subsequently built an outstanding legal career that has seen him practice in high profile law firms in London and Paris...

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Joëlle Simon

Deputy director general legal, ethics and corporate governance | Mouvement des Entreprises de France (MEDEF)

Administrative bodies

Joëlle Simon started her professional career in 1991 as a lawyer and deputy to the general economic affairs manager at the largest employment federation in France, Conseil National du Patronat...

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Johan Harrysson

Group general counsel | Lacoste

Consumer products

Since 2002 Swedish national Johan Harrysson has served Maus Frères International Services (MFIS), the holding company of popular clothing brands such as Lacoste, Gant, Aigle and Tecnifibre steadily progressing through...

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Johan Huizing

Associate general counsel for EMEA | Itron

Information technology

Johan Huizing continues to impress peers for his work at Itron, a world-leading US technology and services company dedicated to the resourceful use of energy and water. Covering the entire...

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John Harrison

Group general counsel | Airbus

Industrials and real estate

Well-known and prominent among the French in-house legal community, John Harrison is an individual fully merits recognition. He has been general counsel for Airbus and member of the Group Executive...

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Joséphine Deege-Mansour

Executive legal director | United Technologies Corporation (UTC) - Global Fire and Security Field Operations

Industrials and real estate

Formerly an associate at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, then in-house legal director for logistics operator Carrier Transicold, Joséphine Deege-Mansour took on her wide-ranging position as...

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Julie Duvivier

General counsel | SCAPRIM

Industrials and real estate

Real estate services provider SCAPRIM offers a range of products to its customers that span institutional clients, investment funds, international and French family offices, tenants and real estate owners. Ensuring...

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Julien Vandenbussche

General counsel | Tikehau Investment Management

Financials

Julien Vandenbussche joined asset management and investment group, Tikehau Investment Management in in January 2016 and has been central to creating the legal department and assisting the company in its...

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Karen Linehan

Executive vice president, legal affairs and general counsel | Sanofi

Healthcare

Headquartered in Paris, Sanofi is a major player in the global pharmaceutical market with annual revenues exceeding €35bn in 2017. Having been at the company for almost 30 years, executive...

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Khalid El Hanbali

Legal director | Vestas France

Energy and utilities

In 2007 Khalid El Hanbali joined Vestas Wind Systems, the Danish wind energy giant, to foster, support and facilitate the fast-path growth of the industry of renewables for the French...

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Laurence Ballone Burini

General counsel | Eiffage

Industrials and real estate

Since 2012 Laurence Ballone Burrini has been the legal director at Eiffage Construction, a French civil engineering construction company and the third largest business of its type in France, and...

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Laurent Blamoutier

General counsel | Air Liquide

Materials and mining

Present in 80 countries with approximately 65,000 employees, Air Liquide is a world leader in gases, technologies and services and one of France’s largest conglomerates. Having been the company’s general...

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Laurent Pitet

Legal director and compliance officer | Bayer HealthCare

Healthcare

Laurent Pitet lists moving to an in-house role – he previously worked in private practice during the 1980s – as among his fondest memories, indicating his enthusiasm for work as...

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Marc Bergmann

Senior vice president, general counsel M&A | Gemalto

Information technology

Marc Bergmann is adept at working on major international transactions with partners all over the world, something which has helped him develop good negotiation techniques that have been recognised and...

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Maria Pernas

Executive vice president and group general counsel | Capgemini

Information technology

Innovative French professional services firm Capgemini is a global leader in consulting, technology services and digital transformation with annual revenues of around €13bn and 200,000 employees worldwide. Executive vice-president and...

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Mark Rollinger

Group chief legal officer | Groupe PSA

Consumer products

Mark Rollinger joined Groupe PSA – the owners of the Peugeot, Citroën and Vauxhall brands – as group chief legal officer in October 2013, and currently oversees the legal aspects...

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Mathilde Mason

Legal director | Japan Tobacco International France

Food, beverages and tobacco

Mathilde Mason has built the legal function at Japan Tobacco International (JTI) France from scratch since joining in 2011: ‘When I started there was no legal function at all, and...

#GCPowerlist France 2018

Matthieu Peron

Chief legal counsel: France operations | Schneider Electric

Industrials and real estate

Matthieu Peron has been at Schneider Electric, the European multinational corporation, since 2010. Now as chief legal counsel for French operations managing a team of in-house lawyers, Peron provides support...

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Nicola Bonucci

Director of legal affairs | OECD

Nicola Bonucci’s journey with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) began in 1993, but his experience with intergovernmental organisations goes back further than that, as he previously worked...

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Nicolas Guérin

Secretary-general and secretary of the board of directors | Orange

Telecommunication services

Nicolas Guerin is an exceptional France-based in-house counsel with formidable expertise in managing legal processes for one of the country’s leading telecommunication businesses. He has been executive vice president of...

#GCPowerlist France 2018

Odile Descamps

Vice president legal corporate | Plastic Omnium

Industrials and real estate

Since joining the multinational plastic manufacturer Plastic Omnium in 2011, Odile Descamps has been in charge of the legal side of M&A transactions, accompanying the growth and dynamics of the...

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Olivier Catherine

Senior vice president, general counsel, risk and compliance officer | Bureau Veritas

Commercial and professional services

A successful private practice lawyer with Sullivan & Cromwell, Olivier Catherine had a successful opening chapter of his in-house legal career with the E&P division Gaz de France (now Engie)...

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Olivier Fauqueux

Group general counsel | EDF

Energy and utilities

Described by peers as ‘one of the best group legal chiefs in France’ Olivier Fauqueux is a highly praised group general counsel in the country with a ‘real sense of...

#GCPowerlist France 2018

Olivier Kodjo

Head of legal | Solairedirect

Energy and utilities

Part of the Engie Group since 2015, Solairedirect is France’s foremost renewable energy company, providing solar and other green energy solutions to a domestic and international market; India, South Africa...

#GCPowerlist France 2018

Patrick Larchevêque

Real estate legal director | Foncière des Régions

Financials

“Patrick Larchevêque started his career in 1988 as an in-house specialist corporate lawyer for a real estate company, something he claims brought him the ‘rigor’ that prepared him for the...

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Patrick Noonan

Secretary general, general counsel and senior corporate vice president | Nexans

Industrials and real estate

Established in 2000 as a business unit of telecommunications firm Alcatel, Nexans has grown into the world’s second largest manufacturer of cables, boasting a presence in around 40 countries, and...

#GCPowerlist France 2018

Patrick Remot

Legal and compliance director | Clear Channel France

Sports and media

During his five-year tenure as a legal director and chief compliance officer at Clear Channel – one of the world’s largest outdoor advertising companies. Patrick Remot has successfully transformed the...

#GCPowerlist France 2018

Patrick Richard

General counsel | VINCI

Industrials and real estate

Serving for the last 17 years as the general counsel for VINCI, a global player in concessions and construction which earned over €40bn in revenue over 2017, Patrick Richard has...

#GCPowerlist France 2018

Patrizia Marraghini

Head of international legal department | Keolis

Transport and infrastructure

Patrizia Marraghini describes the department she heads as a ‘multi-national team of different personalities’ representing the interests of major transportation company Keolis, with ten individuals based in Paris and ten...

#GCPowerlist France 2018

Philippe Andrau

Group general counsel | Suez Environnement

Energy and utilities

Philippe Andrau was appointed as group general counsel at water treatment and water management business Suez Environnement in 2013, where he currently oversees some 200 lawyers worldwide, including over fifty...

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Philippe Chavasse

General counsel | Fives

Industrials and real estate

Philippe Chavasse’s journey within Fives, a French company specialised in the export of equipment, plants and turnkey projects, has been extremely noteworthy and impressive. He started his career as a...

#GCPowerlist France 2018

Philippe Clerc

Chief compliance and ethics officer | Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES)

Industrials and real estate

Boasting 25 years of experience serving in different public and private organisations, Philippe Clerc is widely recognised as one of the strongest legal professionals in the French aviation sector. Having...

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Philippe Jutard

General counsel and company secretary | Compagnie des Alpes

Hotels

Philippe Jutard relates an interesting story from his formative years as an in-house lawyer at ELF UK (now Total), which gives insight into his outlook and approach. ‘The first contract...

#GCPowerlist France 2018

Pierre Minor

Chief legal and compliance officer | Crédit Agricole

Financials

In July 2011 Pierre Minor was appointed chief legal officer and compliance officer at Crédit Agricole, the prominent mutual and cooperative group of banks and number one lender to the...

#GCPowerlist France 2018

Remi Dujon

General counsel and executive vice president legal and regulatory | Orange Business Services

Telecommunication services

Rémi Dujon has been a feature of Orange’s internal corporate legal scene for over 20 years, holding prominent and senior positions throughout. He has seen the company develop and progress...

#GCPowerlist France 2018

Sébastien Thierry

Group general counsel | Rexel

Industrials and real estate

Founded in 1967, Rexel is a French Group which specialises in the distribution of electrical supplies, and Sebastien Thierry is the current general secretary of the company, having joined in...

#GCPowerlist France 2018

Sophie Gelbert

General counsel and secretary of the board | Air France

Transport and infrastructure

Sophie Gelbert’s first move upon graduating from Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne Law University in 1984 was to COFACE where, in what would prove to be symbolic of the ultimate direction her...

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Sophie Saden

Group general counsel | Astorg

Financials

Astorg Partners is a private equity group with over €4bn worth of assets under its management, and is a pan-European operation with offices located in Paris, London and Luxembourg. Group...

#GCPowerlist France 2018

Stéphane Leblan

General counsel | Mobivia

Consumer products

Ever since joining the conglomerate Mobivia as its general counsel in 2010, Stéphane Leblan has achieved notable successes on the transactional front culminating with his work on the acquisition of...

#GCPowerlist France 2018

Susan Coles

General counsel and finance director | Vivet Therapeutics

Healthcare

Vivet Therapeutics is dedicated to developing innovative gene therapy treatments for orphan diseases. General counsel and finance director since February 2017, Susan Coles explains the unique role in-house lawyers can...

#GCPowerlist France 2018

Sylvestre Dhombres

General counsel and HR support director | Pylones

Consumer products

From an early stage in his professional development, Sylvestre Dhombres had a desire to ‘be a field lawyer close to business and action’, so his decision to become an in-house...

#GCPowerlist France 2018

Thierry Favier

Group general counsel | Groupe Savencia

Food, beverages and tobacco

Since its founding in 1956, Groupe Savencia Saveurs & Spécialités has grown to around 21,000 employees with an annual turnover of €5bn. Boasting a multifaceted portfolio of premium cheese and...

#GCPowerlist France 2018

Valentine Poylo

Head of intellectual property department for industrial partnerships | SNCF Réseau

Transport and infrastructure

In 2007, Valentine Poylo joined the infrastructure legal department of SNCF Réseau, in charge of all research, innovation and development projects, industrial partnerships and trademark portfolio of France’s national state...

#GCPowerlist France 2018

Xavier Ragot

Group general counsel | Christian Louboutin

Consumer products

High fashion brand Christian Louboutin’s general counsel Xavier Ragot is responsible for the creation of the in-house legal department at the company, and now presides over two teams dedicated to...

#GCPowerlist France 2018

Yannick Chalmé

Group general counsel | L’Oréal

Consumer products

An extremely successful and experienced general counsel, Yannick Chalmé was an in-house lawyer at Thales and Club Med before taking on group general counsel responsibilities at L’Oréal in 2001. Since...

#GCPowerlist France 2018

Deadline, hashtag, business, digital. All words rejected by the Académie Française as suspicious Anglicisms. The term general counsel (GC) may soon be added to that list. Increasingly, France’s senior in-house lawyers are preferring to call themselves GC rather than directeur juridique. Of course, when speaking to an English-language publication this might be expected, but even our French-speaking researchers noted that GCs described their role using English phrases like ‘business partner’ or ‘strategic advisor’.

The fashion for English loan words in commercial settings may be partly to blame for this shift, though the change in terminology likely reflects the increasingly non-legal aspects of the GC role. From dealing with questions of ethics and corporate conduct to a rising tide of regulatory enforcement and understanding how new technologies will impact their businesses, GCs are stepping far outside their professional training. It certainly feels like there has been a conscious effort on the part of French GCs to differentiate themselves from the historical stereotype of the legal director as a corporate record keeper who plays little part in the wider organisation.

Indeed, a number of the GCs profiled here were closely involved in matters their organisations tend to describe as ‘existential’, from marquee deals to high-stakes litigations and dealing with new regulations such as the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). As a result of this work, several of the GCs profiled here have achieved recognition in France’s wider business press.

The GC Powerlist: France highlights this transformation while celebrating the leading figures of France’s vibrant in-house community. Research involved canvassing the opinions of leading law firm partners and in-house counsel alike, as well as analysing the career trajectories of the candidates considered for inclusion to identify those GCs that have made a truly lasting contribution to their organisations.

With thanks to our sponsor DS Avocats, we celebrate the rise of les GCs.

DS Avocats

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Slow growth in Europe, and particularly the Eurozone has dominated headlines for so long that one could be forgiven for thinking European businesses have backtracked. France is often singled out as a case study on how low growth, high state expenditure, and heavy regulations have caused businesses to regress. As this Powerlist demonstrates, the reality is quite different.

France is home to some of Europe’s largest and strongest companies, producing goods and services that are in global demand. France is also recognised as a European centre for innovation, with high-growth technology companies which form a booming and visible part of the French economy. Moreover, French businesses are staffed by managers and professional advisers who are widely considered to be amongst the best in the world; French corporate counsels are no exception. To stand out from the crowd in this environment takes a rare combination of technical knowledge, commercial acumen, strategic wisdom, and interpersonal and managerial skills.

DS Avocats is delighted to support the GC Powerlist France and help recognise the leading figures of France’s internationally-renowned in-house community. A strong and vibrant French economy is key to the future of Europe, and those featured in this list will play an important role to prompt the ‘French Touch’ even further. DS Avocats shares their passion, their thorough knowledge of the various sector specifics, and their excellent advice and innovative approaches to law which enhance the businesses within their strategic growth and reinforcement of their market position. Like those featured in this Powerlist, we are constantly reflecting on various improvements of the legal services we provide through efficient methods as well as the role of the attorney within a changing business world.

However, we also believe that legal advice should be provided as simply as possible, without a vision of ‘over-simplification’. The interests of businesses are not served by avoiding the complexities of law. Professional advisers who can contribute to the success of a transaction, of a business or a strategic plan without losing sight of the legal complexities that may arise are truly unique. The members of
this Powerlist have all managed to achieve this in their own way. We at DS Avocats share their approach.

We should not limit the professional relationship between law firms and clients to a simple commercial approach, but rather create a long-term relationship based on trust and viability. Sharing the same values as those individuals we represent is key to a collective future profession of the law.

On behalf of all the partners at DS Avocats, I would like to congratulate the corporate counsels included in this year’s GC Powerlist for France.

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DS Avocats est particulièrement fier de s’associer à The Legal 500 encore pour cela initiative exclusivement dédiée à la distinction des directeurs juridiques.

Cet événement majeur nous offre l’occasion d’appréhender, ensemble, la meilleure façon de relever les défis de notre temps.

GC Summit Switzerland

On 23rd November, The Legal 500 was in Zurich again to host the GC Summit Switzerland 2022.

The event gathered leading general counsel and private practice practitioners from Switzerland to exchange their views on cutting-edge legal topics. The quality of the discussions was exceptional.

The Summit opened with a session, led by Fabian Martens and Nils Harbeke, of Pestalozzi, focusing on the changes brought by ESG in the legal and tax functions. The panel, which also included Eva Frehner (Sulzer), Romana Giesen (Swisscom) and Matthias Maurer (Lonza), discussed the recent shift in the weight of ESG, changing from being  “best practice” to compulsory legal obligations. Following a comprehensive introduction, the panel explained the key legal ESG-related requirements for companies carrying out business in Switzerland, with a specific focus on competition and tax law.

Daniel Raun and Beda Kaufmann, of Advestra hosted the second panel. Along with Philippe Huber (SIG) and Robert Kuster (Zurich Insurance), they shared insightful comments on how to draft term sheets accurately and the main elements that parties should focus on at this early stage of a prospective deal.

The following session was chaired by Melissa Magliana, Daniel Lucien Bühr and Matthias Gstoehl, of Lalive. The discussion covered strategies to mitigate and manage dispute risks. The speakers examined how companies can prevent disputes, optimize amicable resolutions and prepare for legal proceedings, should they arise. Both litigation and arbitration were discussed, with a highlight on climate change litigation, stakeholder claims, and greenwashing-related enforcement.

To conclude the Summit, Irène Suter-Sieber and David Vasella, of Walder Wyss, moderated a panel that explored key issues of international private law, data protection and secrecy law, and labour, tax, and social security law, which relate to remote working from abroad.

After an excellent afternoon of exceptional panel discussions, attendees continued the conversation and enjoyed a valuable networking opportunity over Swiss gin, wine and canapes.

Thank you again to all our panellists for sharing their insights, and special thanks to Advestra, Lalive, Pestalozzi and Walder Wyss for partnering with us on this enjoyable and successful event in Zurich.