Belgium

Reviews

Practice area

IFLR1000 Reviews

Overview

Solicitors governing body: Institut des Juristes d’Entreprise, Ordre Français des Avocats du Barreau de Bruxelles, Nederlandse Orde van Advocaten bij de Balie te BrusselOrde van Vlaamse Balies

Competition authority: Belgian Competition Authority

Financial regulator: Financial Services and Markets AuthorityNational Bank of Belgium

IFLR1000 ranking categories for this jurisdiction:

Financial and corporate (published October) – Banking and finance, Capital markets, M&A

Jurisdiction overview

Lying at the heart of the EU, the Belgian economy and legal market has a distinct international feel. Like the other Benelux countries, deals here will more often than not involve some non-Belgian entity, as buyer, seller or financier, and these will come from a range of different jurisdictions, including significant amounts from France, Germany, the UK and beyond.

The legal market is a mix of international and domestic firms. Broadly speaking, historically the international firms took a larger share of the high-end market with domestic firms more focused on mid-cap and smaller deals. However, in recent years those domestic firms – along with the Benelux regional firms – are increasingly being seen on the bigger, more complex matters.

Almost all practices are headquartered in Brussels, though there are a number of firms either based in or with offices in Antwerp as well.

Jon Moore - Journalist - EMEA

 

EU COMPETITION

PLEASE NOTE - EU COMPETITION RANKINGS AND COMMENTARY CAN BE FOUND HERE

Competition authority: European Commission

Overview

All member states of the European Union (EU) have to abide by EU Law in addition to their own national legislation systems. The EU’s competition law regulates four main areas that affect fair trade: abuse of dominance, cartels, merger control and state aid. The European Commission (EC) is the body responsible for dealing with competition law regulations and infringements.

Abuse of dominance law is designed to prevent parties who have dominance in a market from impeding other parties through actions such as interfering with acquisitions or limiting production.

The law surrounding cartels is designed to prevent collusion among different parties within an industry sector. Illegal agreements can include areas such as price fixing and supply.

Merger control law is concerned with preventing market dominance through mergers and acquisitions. It prevents companies from achieving a dominant market share by acquiring other companies and assets. Cases are classified as either Phase 1 or 2, if a company cannot or will not abide by the EC’s recommendations from Phase 1 the case will move to a Phase 2 proceeding.

State aid law is designed to prevent member states giving an unfair advantage to public or strategically important companies through strategies such as financial incentives, tax cuts and market access.

EU competition work has created a whole new legal market within Brussels and it is a broad and varied church with law firms from across Europe and America all maintaining offices and staff to handle case work.

Lawyers from any EU member states can become permanent European lawyers in Brussels if they register with a local bar in Brussels. They can practice EU law and the law from their home state but not Belgian local law unless they do so in conjunction with a Belgian lawyer. It is this arrangement that allows lawyers from across the EU to set up in Brussels and offer EU law advice to clients from their home country.

Sam Duke - Editor

Financial and corporate
Allen & Overy

Allen & Overy has strength across the board in financial and corporate work in Belgium. 

The banking team has worked for both lenders and borrowers in connection with the refinancing of project finance facilities, acquisition financings and general corporate financings. In the process, it has acted for the likes of BNP Paribas Fortis, ING Bank and electricity transmissions system operator Elia. A clear highlight saw the team advise HSBC and Commerzbank on a financing related to the construction and development of a new deep sea port in Bangladesh.

The firm’s capital markets work includes cross-border arrangements such as capital increases, investments and securities. On a notable debt mandate, the firm represented Rivage Investment on its private placement of bonds as the company sought to refinance an existing leasing structure. On the equity side, a highlight was representing carpet manufacturer Balta on its IPO and listing of shares on Euronext Brussels.

Among other notable work, the M&A team advised clients on private equity-matters, divestments and joint ventures in the food and drink, pharmaceutical and technology sectors. Highlight deals include work for Gilde Buy Out Partners on the acquisition of Oystershell and work for Mediahuis on the sale of a 50% stake in De Vijver Media. 

In the projects area, the firm has been active on PFI and PPP mandates, and notably represented Northern Diabolo in relation to the rail connection to Brussels Airport. Other large mandates that the firm represented parties on include the Leopold II tunnel, the Liège Light Rail, and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP).

Along with those outlined above, the firm has also worked with clients Belfius Bank, CVC Capital Partners, and Total.

Client feedback

“The capital markets team of Allen & Overy in Belgium is a leader on issues such as securitisation and banking law in Belgium.” – Banking, capital markets

“Allen & Overy's lawyers are always sharp and provide hands-on, to-the-point advice based on their extensive experience in corporate, M&A and financing matters.” – Banking, M&A

“Quite good involvement and pro-active in general. Team of highly qualified lawyers. Pragmatic.” – M&A

Astrea

The team at domestic firm Astrea is recognised for M&A, while it also has a strong banking offering.

During the research period, the firm’s banking and finance team has regularly supported international groups as local counsel on secured lending transactions. In addition, the team has been active in the project finance space, where it has notably worked for clients such as the city of Bruges and Zorgbedrijf Antwerpen on separate matters.

The M&A team has been active recently, most notably in the technology and transportation sectors. A clear highlight saw the firm advise Hong Kong-based venture capital group, Horizon Ventures, on an investment in the Belgian technology company, Cloudalize.

Further clients of the firm include Eurofins, LivaNova, and Talkpool.

Client feedback

“The two partners we mostly work with at Astrea are quick responders with spot-on, pragmatic advice. They know the industry of ours and their clients very well and do not bother you with over detailed advice. They are reliable and very up-to-date.” – Banking, restructuring and insolvency

Baker McKenzie

Baker McKenzie in Belgium acts on matters across the financial and corporate spectrum, with a particular strength in banking.

During the research period, the firm’s banking team has primarily represented lenders, acting on refinancings, acquisition financings and work related to export finance. Clear deal highlights include work advising a number of banks on a large real estate-financing on Luxembourg’s first residential tower. In addition, the firm worked on the first green loan in Belgium, while acting for BNP Paribas Fortis, Belfius, KBC and ING in connection with a revolving credit facility to postal service provider, bpost.

In capital markets, the firm worked on several equity mandates, representing the likes of Biocartis, Nyrstar and Ogeda. 

The firm’s M&A and transactional private equity practice has worked on a number of large deals. Highlights included acting for Brussels Airlines on its purchase of Thomas Cook’s Belgian airline business and representing Sodexo on its acquisitions of business management systems, Xpenditure and iAlbatros. Other highlights included advising TVH Group on its contemplated public takeover of Lavendon Group, and representing Resilux on its proposed tender offer by Bain

Other key clients of the firm include ABN Amro, MasterCard and Visa.

Bird & Bird

Bird & Bird has a strong banking practice in Belgium, which often works on financial regulatory matters. The firm is also active in M&A.

In the banking and finance space, most of the firm’s work has involved advice on regulatory matters. It has assisted clients such as BNP Paribas, easyJet and Mastercard on issues including the EU Interchange Fee Regulation (IFR) and the EU Payment Services Directive (PSD2).

The M&A team completed notable work in the life sciences and technology sectors during the research period. A clear highlight saw the firm advise cooling systems maker, Calyos, on a new round of venture capital investments and a related stock option plan. 

Key clients include the likes of Fujifilm, Lenovo, and TripAdvisor.

Client feedback

“The overall level of service is excellent. The Bird & Bird team has an in-depth knowledge of regulatory and competition law issues, and all the transformations that the payments industry is currently going through. This means that they are able to fully factor into their legal advice the economic context within which we operate. In addition, the team has an in-depth knowledge and understanding of our business, which makes our life easy in terms of us instructing them. Their legal advice is practical and therefore directly actionable, and always aimed at helping us identifying the solution that achieves the best compromise between the commercial objectives and the potential legal risks involved. Finally, the team is very responsive.” – Banking

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton’s strongest transactional practices are M&A and capital markets, with the firm generally maintaining a good share of the market’s significant deals in these areas. Financial services, infrastructure, private equity and transport are sectors where the firm has expertise.

The firm’s banking and finance team has been involved in a variety of transaction types - syndicated loans, acquisition financings and financial restructuring. A few of the highlights were acting on amending Goodyear’s pan-European securitisation programme and representing Akuo Energy on a windfarm project financing venture in Montenegro. The governments of African nations including Chad, Madagascar and Senegal have also recently worked with the firm’s banking practice on an assortment of issues.

In capital markets, the firm has worked on high yield notes offerings by clients including CMA CGM and Nyrstar. During the research period, the firm has also represented the underwriters including JPMorgan and KBC Securities on an offering by Umicore. 

In M&A, the firm has a good reputation for cross-border work. A recent highlight for the team was representing AB InBev in the proposed merger of AB InBev and Efes’ respective Russian and Ukrainian beer businesses. The firm also recently worked on significant transactions for Bekaert, Ontex and Umicore.

CVC Capital Partners, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs are among the firm’s key corporate clients.

Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance is recognised in Belgium for its banking practice, where it is renowned as a market leader. It also has one of the leading capital markets practices in the country.

In the banking and finance space, the firm impresses on a range of significant mandates from acquisition financings to restructurings. 

In project finance, highlights include representing ING on the financing of a petroleum storage terminal in Antwerp, and the European Investment Bank on the financing of a high-speed broadband network in Belgium.

In the capital markets area, the firm worked on bond issues for Eandis and Econocom. On the equity side, it represented agro-industrial company, Sipef, and engineering company, Hamon, on rights issues. 

The firm’s M&A practice has been busy, working on large cross-border strategic and private equity deals. Recent highlights include representing the shareholders of RSC Anderlecht on the sale of the football club to Alychlo, and assisting Chequers Capital on its acquisition of Sport and Leisure Group.

The firm’s project development team has been active on a range of energy and power-related mandates and notably worked on advising Belgian electricity transmission systems operator, Elia, on its Modular Offshore Grid project.

During the research period, a key staffing change included the departure of partner Philippe Hamer from the M&A team.

Key clients of the firm include Eneco, Kingspan, and Nikon.

Client feedback

“Clifford Chance is a long-standing legal adviser that we use for more complex technical files. The firm has without any doubt the best finance team in Belgium. They are technically extremely strong and very efficient. The legal advice they provide is to the point and pragmatic.” – Banking

Contrast

Belgian firm Contrast is best known for its work in the M&A area, where it works closely with private equity and venture capital funds. 

During the research period, the firm worked on matters across a range of sectors such as energy, fintech and life sciences.

Cresco

Domestic firm Cresco has a solid presence in the Belgian market in capital markets and M&A, where it often represents entrepreneurial start-ups and venture capital funds.

In the capital markets space, one of the more notable matters that the team acted on saw it advise venture capital firm, Fortino, on several investments in emerging Belgian digital technology companies such as Aproplan and Teamleader.

The M&A team often works on the design and negotiation of important transactions, such as venture capital financings, joint ventures and other strategic transactions. In this aspect, the firm notably assisted customer data platform, NGData, on its strategic cross-border acquisition of the Eccella Group, an analytics consultancy firm with entities in London, Mumbai and New York.

Notable other clients of the firm include ABB Ventures, Hummingbird Ventures, and Xpenditure.

Client feedback

“Agile and dynamic, small team with hands-on approach and strong competencies in the field of venture capital, M&A and IP.” – Banking

“Tier One quality at Tier Three pricing. Can compete with any Tier One US firm in any given transaction at a fraction of the cost. Always available, super fast turnaround.” – Banking, M&A

“Very knowledgeable law firm. Great expertise, true business partner and has extreme flexibility when it comes to deadlines and deliverables. Perfect attitude and mindset.” – Banking, M&A

“Cresco's services were highly appreciated as a result of: good knowledge of corporate law; familiarity with software companies which gave added value to addressing intellectual property issues, as well to negotiate warranties in this field; and efficient and constructive communication with clients.” – M&A

“To the point and quick.” – M&A

David Dessers

“Always available, super fast turnaround.” 

“High appreciation of work. Excellent translation of complex business issues into legal documentation. Respected lawyer at the negotiation table.” 

“Responsive and has good technical ability.” 

Olivier Van Raemdonck

“Very client focused, proactive, has strong commercial and negotiation skills, and is a strong and clear communicator. Knowledgeable in his field of expertise.” 

Yannick Verrycke

“Business partnering skills are great, technically very strong, client focused, and very flexible on deliverables and time frames. Treats the client as if they were in-house legal counsel.” 

Eubelius

Eubelius is one of the preeminent Belgian domestic firms and is most recognised for its banking and M&A practices.

The firm’s banking team has been involved in a mix of lender and borrower side work, with significant deals completed in financing PPP projects. Other highlights included assisting Warehouses De Pauw on its private placement of green bonds to MetLife and working on the privatisation of Belfius Bank.

In the capital markets area, the firm has worked extensively in the real estate sector, which formed the crux of several of its equity and debt transactions. The firm also advised on capital market deals for several Belgian life sciences companies, including Ablynx and Mithra.

In M&A, the firm advised clients in the energy, food and beverage and transport sectors on acquisitions. Deal highlights include work for Elia on its acquisition of a shareholding in 50Hertz, work for the shareholders on the sale of Savaco and work for Alter Pharma in connection with an investment from The Riverside Company.

Key staffing changes at the firm included the arrival of banking counsels David Szafran and Frédéric Heremans, who arrived from Law Square and NautaDutilh respectively. Moving out, M&A partner Jozef Lievens left the firm to co-found his own practice Roots Advocaten.

Advent, Bain Capital, Damier and the Port of Antwerp are also among the firm’s key clients.

Client feedback

“Very responsive, and provides high quality advice.” – Banking

“Outstanding and excellent service. Very intelligent, pragmatic, excellent services providers.” – Capital markets, M&A 

“Top professionals. Very knowledgeable, hands on, top notch lawyers – both at partner and associate level.” – M&A

Fieldfisher

The Brussels office of international firm Fieldfisher is recognised for its work in M&A, where it often acts on cross-border matters.

In the M&A space, the firm has worked on acquisitions, fundraisings, reorganisations and sales during the research period. A notable matter saw the firm advise on Belgian matters for the shareholders of Singaporean IT services company, OneAston, in the sale of its shares to consulting group, Adneom.

A notable staffing change saw the departure of M&A specialist Jacques Meunier to Liedekerke Wolters Waelbroeck Kirkpatrick.

Cementir Holding, e-Capital, and Serviceplan International are among other clients of the firm.

Client feedback

“Professional, hands on, very much up to date, easily accessible and flexible.” – M&A

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

The Belgian offering of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is recognised as having one of the leading capital markets and M&A practices in Brussels. 

In banking and finance, the firm has worked for the acquirers and the lenders on several of the market’s leading acquisition-related deals. The firm has assisted the likes of BNP Paribas Fortis and Greenyard on mandates during the research period. Additionally in the banking area, the firm has advised on a number of treasury and corporate financial solutions, working on refinancings for clients including Ares Management and Center Parks.

During the research period the firm’s capital markets team has mostly been involved in bond issues for corporates and banks. Deal highlights include advising the underwriter on the EMTN programme of Elia and the bond trustee on an issue by Euronav. Its equity capital markets work includes acting for the Belgian State on the Belfius IPO and for Argenx on several private placements on Euronext Brussels, and its Nasdaq IPO. 

Recent M&A work included several high-value deals in financial services, pharmaceuticals and technology for corporates and private equity houses. Notably, the firm worked with Telenet on its acquisition of SFR Belgium and Luxembourg from Altice, the acquisition of Nextel, and the purchase of more shares from De Vijver Media.

Eurotunnel, Goldman Sachs, HSBC and Vitruvian Partners are among the firm’s notable clients.

K Law

The team at K Law is best recognised for its corporate offering, where it often assists clients with restructurings and M&A. The firm works in association with KPMG, giving it access to a global network. 

In M&A the firm worked on transactions related to insurance, private equity and technology. In a notable deal, the firm acted for the Japanese e-commerce group, DMMcom, in its acquisition of Belgian Jupiler Pro League football club, Sint-Truidense, from Stayen. 

During the research period, the firm added corporate partner Frank Cleeran to its team from the firm formerly known as Arts Cleeren & Vennoten. Going the other way, senior counsel Beatrijs Van Ginderachter moved in-house to work at Extensa Group. 

Other clients that the firm worked with during the research period include the Belgian packaging company Tape Services, and the private equity firm, Acathia Capital. 

In 2018, the firm opened offices in Antwerp and Hasselt, to work alongside the established offices in Brussels and Kortrijk. 

Client feedback

“Provide fast and good responses. They are available with easy access. They have a wide network with different fields of expertise.” – Banking

Laga

The team at Laga has a well-balanced practice in Belgium, and is mostly recognised for its strong work in the banking and M&A spaces. The firm operates across a variety of different sectors including financial services, infrastructure and technology.

The firm’s banking and finance team has advised on various loan facilities, including on acquisition and project financings, in addition to general credit agreements. Notably, the firm has assisted the European Investment Bank (EIB) on financing investments in research and development for aerospace company Sonaca, molecular diagnostics company Biocartis, and 3D printing specialist Materialise. 

In M&A, the firm has mostly worked on buy-side public and private acquisition work, including deals in sectors such as construction and life sciences. A clear highlight included advising the Port of Ghent (Belgium) in its merger with Zeeland Seaports (the Netherlands) for the subsequent creation of the North Sea Port.

Crédit Agricole, the Flemish government, and Swissport are among the firm’s key clients.

Client feedback

“Intelligent lawyers, who are punctual and have broad knowledge.” – Banking

Liedekerke Wolters Waelbroeck Kirkpatrick

Liedekerke Wolters Waelbroeck Kirkpatrick’s strengths are in banking and M&A, where it operates across a wide range of sectors.

The firm’s banking team has strength across the board, notably appearing on acquisition financings, regulatory and restructuring matters. Key highlights include assisting Sonaca on its syndicated financing for the acquisition of LMI Aerospace. A further standout deal saw the firm advise BNP Paribas Fortis in connection with the credit facilities for the acquisition of a site in Brussels by Ginkgo Advisor, a Swiss fund specialised in the decontamination and development of brownfield sites across Europe.

In the capital markets space, the firm notably assisted Nomad Foods group with the Belgian law aspects of its issue of senior secured notes.

Standout deals within the M&A area included assisting Lidl Belgium in its acquisition of seven stores from the listed Dutch retailer Ahold Delhaize, and representing logistics solutions group WiseTech Global in connection with its acquisition of Intris.

Notable changes to the M&A team during the research period, saw the arrival of partner Jacques Meunier from Fieldfisher and counsel Wim Dedecker from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton. Projects partners François Tulkens and Vincent Ost also joined the firm from NautaDutilh. Going the other way, partner Thierry Tilquin departed to join Lime Law. 

Other notable clients of the firm include Deutsche Bank, ING Bank and Moneygram.

Client feedback

“Professional advice, good knowledge of LMA documentation and cost efficient.” – Banking

“Excellent law firm, very pro-active and experts in their field.” – Banking, investment funds

“Professional, fast, transparent, and have a customer-focused approach.” – Banking, M&A

“Very pro-active and easy going team. Business-oriented.” – M&A

“Liedekerke is one of the very few firms I have met that is capable of combining a thorough understanding of complex legal and fiscal issues with the ability to provide clear and pragmatic advice and, when needed, creative solutions.” – M&A, project finance

Linklaters

Magic Circle firm Linklaters has one of the stronger Belgian financial and corporate practices. M&A in particular is an area where it excels, as well as equity capital markets, where it can arguably be considered one of the best in the market.

In M&A, the firm has been involved in market-leading work, partaking in deals across sectors such as biotechnology, financial services, food and drink, and pharmaceuticals. Standout work included acting for Ablynx on its public takeover by Sanofi, in one of the largest deals in Belgium from the research period. Other private M&A deals included advising bpost on its acquisition of Radial, and Novacap on its acquisition of Chemoxy.

In the equity capital markets space, the firm has acted on various mandates including on the IPOs of Balta Group, Belfius and X-FAB. Other highlights include work on the US IPO of Ablynx on Nasdaq and the initial global offering of Acacia Pharma on Euronext Brussels.

Apart from those mentioned above, other notable clients of the firm include Immobel, Solvay and UGC.

Loyens & Loeff

Loyens & Loeff’s Belgian arm is known for its banking practice, where it excels on energy-related transactions.

In the banking area, the firm has a strength in asset based and secured financing, working on deals in sectors including automobiles, minerals and food and beverages. Project refinancings is another strong area for the firm, where it worked on mandates concerning the Belwind, C-Power and Northwind offshore parks in the Belgian North Sea.

In the debt capital markets space, the firm worked on the offering of senior secured notes by NH Hotel Group, as well as on issuances by the Ideal Standard Group and by Synlab Bondco.

The firm rises to tier two in the banking and finance rankings after performing well.

Euroclear, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs are among the firm’s notable clients.

Client feedback

“Top advice, top service.” – Capital markets

Lydian

Domestic firm Lydian is best recognised for its banking and finance practice in Belgium, though it has also recently built its reputation in the projects area, especially within the real estate sector.

The firm has a strong track record in the banking and finance area, where it regularly works on matters including acquisition and project financings. Recent mandates have involved a significant amount of work in sectors including oil and gas, private equity and real estate. Highlights include working for Total in respect of its new oil and gas hub in the Port of Antwerp, via a joint venture with Sea-Tank Terminal Antwerp.

In the capital markets space, the firm has regularly assisted banks on their mandates. During the research period, the firm has acted on matters for the likes of BNY Mellon, Citibank and UBI Banca, among others.

Recent highlights within the M&A space saw the firm act for the buyers, in assisting Vivalto Home on the acquisition of four elderly care homes in Belgium, and in representing Sushi Shop on the acquisition of two more properties to expand its franchise.

The firm’s projects team has predominantly completed work in the real estate space, a sector where it features among the best in the market. Clear highlights include assisting international sportswear company Nike in regard to the construction of its new European distribution centre in Laakdal, and representing BNP Paribas Fortis on the building of its new headquarters in Brussels.

Beyond those mentioned other clients of the firm include the likes of Advent International, Barclays, and Immobel.

Client feedback

“Responsive people who pay attention to detail and are pleasant to deal with.” – Banking

“Lydian has a service-minded, kind and very competent team. It distinguishes itself from its competitors thanks to its very high performance levels and very fast response times.” – Project development

Monard Law

Monard Law is experienced across all areas of financial and corporate transactional work, with a noted strength in the banking and finance space.

In banking and finance, the firm has a historical strength in the aviation sector, where it regularly represents the largest national carriers on their transactions. During the research period, the firm notably acted for Brussels Airlines on the novation of the lease of an A319 aircraft and with the refinancing of another A319 aircraft in the context of a securitisation. The firm also acted for TUI Airlines Belgium on its fleet renewal and expansion.

The firm’s capital markets team has acted on matters including note purchases and mini-bonds for clients in the manufacturing and technology sectors.

Perhaps the most significant matter that the M&A team worked on recently saw it advising energy provider EDF Luminus as it acquired a majority share in Insaver, a company which sells and installs photovoltaic installations and battery systems.

In the projects space, the firm is active on PPP projects, working for both sponsors and developers. In a clear highlight, the firm acted for a syndicate of banks as lenders in a PPP project concerning the construction of the new headquarters of the Antwerp Police Department.

A notable staffing change included the arrival of PPP specialist France Vlassembrouck, who joined from Loyens & Loeff.

BNP Paribas Fortis, Carrefour and ID&T, the organisers of Tomorrowland, are other notable clients of the firm.

Client feedback

“Very professional, speedy, and has good expertise.” – Banking, capital markets, M&A

“We were supported in a quick, knowledgeable and efficient manner.” – Banking, project development

“Highly-tailored approach, good availability and proactive. Awareness of the non-factual aspects of deal making.” – M&A

“Highly qualified people with a hands-on approach.” – Project finance

NautaDutilh

In Belgium, regional firm NautaDutilh has good financial and corporate practices. The office’s primary strengths are in banking and capital markets, where it has completed recent deals within the energy, financial services and real estate sectors.

The firm’s banking and finance team has been involved in a variety of transaction types – asset-based lending and acquisition and project financings. A few of the highlights were acting for retailer Hema in connection with a high-yield bond refinancing and for Engie Electrabel as it looked to finance a series of onshore wind farm projects. 

In the capital markets area, the firm is recognised for assisting both issuers and financial institutions, and has represented clients in the jurisdiction’s two busiest sectors during the research period. In real estate, the team has advised on equity, equity-linked and debt transactions by Belgian REITs and developers. In the biotech sector, the team has advised Galapagos on its Nasdaq IPO and the underwriters on the Nasdaq IPOs of TiGenix and Argenx.

In M&A, the firm had buy-side roles on some of the market’s larger deals, acting for Sanofi on its takeover of biotech company Ablynx, Bain Capital on the acquisition of the Diversey Group from Sealed Air Corporation, and General Electric Aviation on the acquisition of GeonX through a share deal.

A key departure during the research period was banking partner Frédéric Heremans, who left to join the team at Eubelius.

Confinimmo, KBC and Wells Fargo are among the firm’s notable clients.

PwC Legal

PwC Legal in Belgium is mainly recognised for its strong banking team, where it offers advice on transactional and regulatory matters. It works closely with the professional services firm’s global legal network.

The firm’s banking team focuses on high-end deals in the market and works for both lenders and borrowers. A standout deal saw the firm represent a syndicate of banks including BNP Paribas Fortis and ING Belgium, in negotiating an increase to a facility for the senior homes care group, Armonea. Other notable matters included assisting the Communauté française de Belgique on its Euro MTN programme, and advising Korean investors on the acquisition financing of an office tower in central Brussels.

During the research period, the firm notably added former Stibbe banking specialists Ivan Peeters and Philip van Steenwinkel to its team. A further change saw the arrival of former Strelia partner, Jacques Richelle.

Other clients of the firm include Euroclear, Payone and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation.

In an active 2018, the firm rebranded itself as a member of the PwC network, after having previously associated with the group through the name of Law Square. It also opened an office in Antwerp, to add to its existing presence in Brussels.

Simont Braun

The team at Simont Braun in Belgium is recognised for its work in the M&A space, while also having a credible banking and finance offering.

In the banking space, the firm has largely worked on providing financial regulatory advice to its clients on matters including the EU Payment Services Directive (PSD2), MiFID II and GDPR implementation. The firm has also worked on bankruptcies and the renewal of consumer credit licenses.

Real estate work formed the bulk of the activity of the M&A team, with the firm notably assisting a family of shareholders in the sale of their share capital in Hotel Metropole. A further standout property transaction saw the team assist the Société d'Aménagement Urbain (SAU) in the creation and implementation of the Contemporary and Modern Art Museum and Architecture Museum in Brussels.

The Belgian State, Société Générale and UBS are among the firm’s key clients.

Client feedback

“Simont Braun are the fintech specialists in Belgium. They provide excellent legal advice and support for everything fintech-related, mostly around regulatory aspects.” – Banking

“Efficient and reliable.” – M&A

Catherine Houssa

“She is very professional and knows the fine print of the laws and EU regulations. She is also very open to innovative business models and can help make them work from a regulatory standpoint.”

Axel Maeterlinck

“Efficient, quick and reliable.”

Stibbe

Stibbe is recognised as one of the leading domestic names in the Benelux region, and in Belgium this is especially the case for its equity capital markets practice, where it ranks as one of the leading firms in the market.

In the banking and finance space, the firm was involved in two of the largest real estate finance transactions in the jurisdiction recently. The team advised car park owner Q-Park on the Belgian aspects of its refinancing following the acquisition by KKR and on Eurocommercial’s acquisition of Woluwe Shopping Center. Other highlights included working on a green loan for bpost and assisting WindVision on the financing of an onshore windfarm in Walloon.

During the research period, the firm’s capital markets team worked extensively in the securitisation and the covered bond markets. Deal highlights involved setting up securitisation structures for Rosy Blue in concern of its diamond inventory and during the financing of Buy Way’s consumer loan business.

In M&A, the firm represented both the buyers and sellers on high-profile Belgian deals. The firm worked on the sale of ENI Gas & Power to Eneco, the acquisition of Bureau Van Dijk by Moody’s and the expansion of DiDi Chuxing, among other notable work.

The firm’s multidisciplinary projects team has expertise in infrastructure, PPP and real estate matters. Mandates that the firm has worked on include the redevelopment of the Leopold II Tunnel, Standard de Liège’s stadium renovation and the Brussels Ring (R0) road project.

In addition to those already mentioned, some of the firm’s other key clients include BNP Paribas Fortis, the Brussels Airport Company, and the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ.

Client feedback

“Very reliable and proactive.” – Banking

“Understands the company's culture; pragmatic in approach; cost-conscious; and has sufficiently in-depth knowledge.” – Banking, M&A

“Very focused on getting the deal done, down to earth, and prepared to run the extra mile.” – Banking, project finance

“Easy to contact; respects deadlines; and has large expertise. Recommended for Belgian law matters.” – Capital markets, project finance

Strelia

The Belgian office of Strelia is best known for its work in the M&A area, where it often works with private equity and venture capital clients in the market.

A clear highlight within the M&A space saw the team work on assisting the French banking group, Natixis, in the framework of the acquisition of a controlling stake in Dalenys. Other sectors of expertise include retail, where it assisted the likes of Carrefour, Herschel and Veritas, and the food sector, where it represented clients including Burger King and Lunch Garden. The firm also advised a number of life sciences companies including CompuGroup Medical and Newton Biocapital on their investments.

Other clients of the firm include ING Bank, GlaxoSmithKline, and Mitel.

Van Bael & Bellis

Van Bael & Bellis excels in M&A work, and often provides domestic Belgian law advice on cross-border transactions. It is also active in the banking and restructuring areas. 

The M&A team works on a range of matters including private and public M&A, private equity work and joint ventures. The firm has recently worked on mandates in sectors including construction, energy and retail. In a standout deal, the firm advised the American private equity firm Carlyle on the Belgian aspects relating to the financing and acquisition of ZeroChaos, a workforce management firm. A further highlight saw the firm assist New Horizon Capital on a number of transactions including the divestment of its stake in the Swiss company, ams.

During the research period, the firm welcomed counsel Amaury de Borchgrave from the in-house team at AGC Glass Europe to its M&A team.

The firm’s key recent clients include hardware store, Intergamma, and agro-industrial firm, Axéréal.

Client feedback

“I only have positive things to say - all good experiences.” – M&A

“The counsels are very knowledgeable, proactive, client-oriented, efficient and well organised. They demonstrate a very professional attitude, which made me feel very confident about the quality of the advice they gave me. They were a valuable sparring partner in searching for pragmatic business solutions within the constraints of the legal framework. True business partners.” – M&A

Michel Bonne

“Only have positive things to say.”

“Very good communicator, is reactive, and has good experience.”

Mattias Verbeeck

“Very proactive, knowledgeable, and provides relevant and applicable advise taking into account the day to day business practice. He is customer oriented, extremely efficient and well organised.”

Van Olmen & Wynant

Van Olmen & Wynant is a niche law firm with a presence in the M&A space. During the research period, the firm has worked on matters in sectors including healthcare, life sciences and technology.

In a notable highlight in the M&A space, the firm assisted the Duo-Med Group, a distributor of medical equipment, in connection with the sale of its entire issued share capital. In another standout matter, the team assisted the shareholders of Scooty in the sale of the company to Europcar Group, a specialist in mobility markets.

Other notable clients of the firm include data company Collibra, ING Private Equity and insurance company, Patronale Life.

Client feedback

“Strong commitment, and good subject matter expertise.” – Banking, M&A

“Very competent, with high ethics, and excellent communication.” – M&A