France

Reviews

Practice area

IFLR1000 Reviews

Overview

Solicitors governing body: Conseil national des barreaux

Competition authority: Autorité de la concurrence

Financial regulator: Autorité des marchés financiers

IFLR1000 ranking categories in this jurisdiction:

Banking, Capital markets: Debt, Capital markets: Equity, Capital markets: Structured finance and securitisation, M&A, Private equity, Project developmentProject finance, Restructuring and insolvency

Jurisdiction overview

The French legal system is based on a civil code, much like that of Spain, Germany and Italy. Many of France’s former colonies use French law as the basis for their own constitutions, particularly in francophone Africa. As a result many of the largest French firms have dedicated international desks in Africa, and around the French speaking world.

There is limited legislative regulation in place to restrict the practice of law in France, and lawyers from all bars in the EU are permitted to practice, if they have passed local examinations. The Paris bar is one of the largest of its kind in the world and is open to registration from foreign firms, which has resulted in a large number of international outfits setting up shop in the jurisdiction. 

The market's diverse nature has also allowed for a high level of specialisation, which in turn has also paved the way for smaller domestic boutiques to break off from larger firms. 

The market is also heavily populated by English and American firms, though there has been evidence of some US outfits withdrawing from the market in recent years.

IFLR1000 2019: France market trends and developments

Financial and corporate
Allen & Overy

In France, Allen & Overy is one of the leading banking and finance firms and secures a number of top tier rankings. 

In banking, the firm acted for clients in the energy, infrastructure and real estate industries on LBO, credit facility and financing matters, working for both lenders and borrowers. A standout deal on the lender side saw the firm advising Lloyds in the first green syndicated loan.

In project finance, the team advised on a number of matters in the energy and telecoms sectors, mainly acting for the lenders, including advice on the refinancing and extension of a high-speed telecom network in Drôme-Ardèche held by ADTIM.

The debt capital markets team was active in the financial services and insurance industries; matters include work for Air Liquide as issuer on the first guaranteed issuance by a foreign issuer in the Chinese domestic market. 

In the equity space, the firm advised on IPOs, share capital increases and equity linked transactions. Key deals include work for Natixis as underwriter on Antalis’ IPO, and advice to the bank syndicate which acted as joint global coordinators, joint lead managers and joint bookrunners on ALD’s IPO. 

In structured finance and securitisation, the firm was active in the retail, automotive and energy industries, advising hedge banks, custodians and arrangers on derivatives and securitisation matters. 

In M&A, the firm advised on acquisitions made in the energy, telecoms, healthcare, real estate and infrastructure sectors. Highlights include work for Total on the acquisition of Engie. On the private equity side, the firm worked with Apax Partners, Carlyle and Eurazeo.

In the projects space, the firm has picked up work in a number of foreign jurisdictions, advising sponsors, project companies, and lenders on power projects in Georgia and Benin.  

Counsel Mia Dassas joined the firm in July 2017 from Linklaters.

Client feedback

"A very reliable and strong M&A practice. The Paris team is very talented with other notable skills in its public law and dispute resolution practice." – Banking, M&A, private equity, project finance and project development

"Allen & Overy lawyers, Julien Roux and Caroline Delavet, provide pragmatic and straight to the point advice very efficiently. They are solution oriented with attention to detail." – Banking

"Allen & Overy is very professional and the timing has been respected." – Banking and finance

"The firm's excellent. It's timely and offers good service, and gets the job done on time." – Banking and finance, and capital markets 

"Excellent work provided in a particularly complex and time consuming transaction. High quality service as the team has great technical skills and is very pleasant to work with, always available and very client oriented." – Capital markets

"Practical legal advice and guidance with involved lawyers." – M&A

"The work of Allen & Overy is always excellent. It is undoubtedly one of the top three financial law firms in the world. Its work never disappoints." – Capital markets

"The firm is very reliable and professional with high quality advisory and work, deep knowledge of the practice and strong experience. It has excellent organisation skills to meet deadlines and a strong capacity to follow up on all steps required in the execution of a transaction." – Capital markets

August Debouzy

August Debouzy is a French firm active in banking, restructuring, and M&A. 

In banking, the firm advised Compagnie D’Affretement Et De Transport as borrower on an acquisition financing to purchase STVA. The firm represented both borrowers and lenders, with a more work for borrowers. 

A transactional highlight for the firm in M&A was advising Commissariat À L’Energie Atomique Et Aux Énergies Alternatives (CEA) on the sale of its stake in Areva to the French government. In general, the firm represented a mix of acquirers and sellers. 

In restructuring work, the firm advised a subsidiary of ArcelorMittal, lorraine TIbes, on its restructuring. 

Other notable clients of the firm are ING Bank, China General Nuclear Power Europe Energy, and Oger International. 

Client feedback

"It's available, has high technical knowledge, it is professional and a strong fighter." – Banking and finance, restructuring and insolvency

"Very good lawyers with business skills: know how to secure business at stakes while offering efficient legal protection." – Banking, capital markets, M&A

Baker McKenzie

During the research period, Baker McKenzie was active in private equity, banking and finance, and M&A. The firm’s French practice is also recognised for work in restructuring, project finance, debt capital markets and structured finance and securitisation.

In banking and finance, the firm represented large international financial institutions as lenders. The firm represented a syndicated of banks led by Standard Charted on a multi-currency loan for Afreximbank, for example. 

In M&A the firm represented acquirers and sellers. An example of the firm’s work on the buy side was representing Suez on its buy out of GE’s water business, a transaction spanning 110 jurisdictions.

The firm was also active in private equity, including representing Vitruvian Partners in its investment in Vestiaire Collective. 

The firm hired Matthieu Grollemund as partner from Dechert in M&A and private equity. In the firm’s banking and finance team, Anne Vrignaud, a local partner, left in January 2018. 

The firm represents a notable mix of high-profile banks, with recurring work for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Afreximbank, BNP Paribas, and Société Générale. Other notable clients of the firm include L'Oréal, Longer Arc Capital, and ICU Medical. 

BDGS Associés

BDGS Associés is an independent domestic firm broadly active in transactional work. 

Recent work for the firm included representing the French Government in a loan for the restructuring of Presstalis, the publisher of Le Monde. Otherwise, the firm worked on a mix of restructuring deals and insolvency proceedings, representing both debtors and creditors. 

Other clients of the firm are Campofrio Food Group, BPIFrance and AMS Energie, and Tikehau Capital. 

Bignon Lebray

Bignon Lebray is a domestic firm notable for its M&A and private equity practices. 

The M&A team worked for the stockholders of Altima Group as sellers to Accenture One, and helped the shareholders of ATH Medical in its sale to Sterimed.

Private equity has been central to the firm’s recent activity. In particular, it has worked with start-ups in raising capital. 

Partner Serge Rastorgoueff joined the firm in March 2018 from Holman Fenwick.

Client highlights include Sarbacane Software, Alzprotect, Openio, Vaxiano and Transfert et Developpement Informatique. 

Bird & Bird

Bird & Bird is best known in France for its work in banking, project finance, and restructuring and insolvency.

In restructuring and insolvency, the firm advised Crédit Agricole as trustee, in a corporate trust set up as part of a financial restructuring, involving a pool of nearly 10 banks and it was conducted under the supervision of the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

Other key clients include SCI Les Salins, Teva Sante. Total and Tenesol.

Bredin Prat

Bredin Prat is one of the preeminent French domestic firms in the M&A space.

In banking and finance, the team advised mainly borrowers on acquisition financing, syndicated facilities and restructurings. Key clients include Direct Énergie, ENGIE, Axa and Fnac-Darty.

In debt capital markets, the firm advised on bond issues and hybrid instruments primarily for issuers.

On the equity side, the firm worked for the majority shareholder Fosun on the capital increase of PAREF, and for Groupe Delachaux and its majority shareholder on its IPO.

The M&A team advised on deals in the energy, insurance, retail, finance and food industries. Standout deals include work for Axa on the acquisition of XL Group, and advice to ENGIE in connection to the sale of ENGIE’s interest in EPI to Neptune Energy. 

The firm has been active in private equity. Key clients include Alta One, Blackstone, Eurazeo and TDR Capital.

In restructuring and insolvency, the firm acted for lenders, financial investors, bondholders, companies facing difficulties and their shareholders on debt restructurings, bankruptcy matters and safeguard proceedings. 

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton

In France, M&A and capital markets are Cleary’s strongest practice areas, where the firm takes advantage of its strong connections to the US and its US qualified lawyers.

The banking team has worked mainly for borrowers on credit facilities, bridge loans, refinancing, acquisitions and project financings in the energy, food and beverage, and real estate industries. Deal highlights include work for Thales, Gecina and Poult Group.

In equity capital markets, the firm worked for issuers on IPOs, capital increases and rights offerings. Examples include work for Europcar, Carmila and Tikehau Capital.

In the debt space, the team advised issuers and underwriters on senior non-preferred notes offerings and sovereign bonds issuances across various industries. Deal highlights include work for Airbus, Crédit Agricole and BNP Paribas. 

The M&A and private equity team worked on acquisitions, mergers and takeover offers acting for a mix of targets, buyers and sellers. The firm was active in the automotive and retail sectors, working for General Motors in the sale of its Opel/Vauxhall subsidiary and European operations to PSA Group, and advising Essilor in its merger with Luxottica. 

In projects, the firm advised sponsors, lenders and concessionaires on a number of matters in Europe and Africa including energy and infrastructure projects for Akuo Energy and ArcelorMittal.

In restructuring and insolvency, the firm represents primarily debtors, shareholders and creditors. The details of the work is confidential.

Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance has a broad practice in France with strength across banking, debt capital markets, and structured finance and securitisation.

In banking, the firm acted on the borrower and lender side in relation to acquisition, leveraged and infrastructure finance as well as other general corporate finance matters. Deal highlights include work for JP Morgan, HSBC, Accor and UniCredit. 

In debt capital markets, the firm worked for underwriters and issuers on bond offerings, takedown issuances and hybrid bond issues. Highlights include work for Carrefour, Volvo, Natixis and Morgan Stanley. 

In the equity space, the team advised on a number of IPOs. Most of the work is confidential but the ALD IPO, where the firm worked for Société Générale as shareholder and ALD as issuer, is public. The firm also worked on the Altran and Solutions 30 block trades, advising the selling shareholder P2C Investissements.

In securitisation, structured finance and derivatives work the firm worked for originators, financial investors, issuers, and sponsors on securitisations of portfolios, establishing trade receivables securitisation programs, and repackaging transactions.

The M&A team worked on acquisitions for clients in the energy, automotive and media industries, acting for both sellers and buyers. Deal highlights include advice to Engie, Europcar and Havas.

In projects, the firm worked for lenders, sponsors and domestic and foreign investors on renewable energy, infrastructure, and oil and gas projects. Key clients include the French Ministry of Ecology Sustainable Development and Energy, The Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF) and Total.

The firm also worked on restructurings and insolvencies across different industries. Most of the work is confidential, but publishable matters include work for CGG and Manurhin. 

Client feedback

"Among the very best and uniquely strong in the areas we use it most because of the long commitment Jonathan Lewis and Cedric Burford have had to us. Jonathan provides great coordination as well as unparalleled expertise and commitment." – Banking, and capital markets

"Clifford Chance Paris is reactive and brings accurate advice. The team has deep knowledge on PPPs and project finance but also has strong capabilities on others legal matters." – Banking and project finance

"It's professional and business oriented."  - M&A

"The firm offers state-of-the-art services with excellent legal and tactical advice." – Banking and finance

CMS Francis Lefebvre Avocats

CMS is active across capital markets, banking, project development, M&A, private equity, and restructuring and insolvency.  

In banking, the firm advised clients on a mix of lending and borrowing, such as advising Fromageries Bel in borrowing a multi-currency facility. 

In debt capital markets, the firm represented various corporates on bond issuances. For example, the firm advised on an EMTN program for Caisse des Dépôts. On the structured finance and securitization side, the firm advised Société Générale Securities Services on a new securitisation fund. 

In M&A the firm worked on a mix of acquisitions and sales for its clients. For example, the firm advised Fédération Nationale de la Mutualité Française in being acquired by Scor. In private equity the firm represented Caravelle Group on its acquisition of Tiama Group. 

In project development the firm worked on developments in the energy sector, specifically wind.

In restructuring and insolvency the firm predominantly worked in insolvency, representing both creditors and debtors. 

Geoffrey Levesque joined the firm as partner from Freshfield Bruckhaus Deringer in April 2018. He works in project development. Jacques Isnard, a partner active in private equity, left the firm in June 2017 to retire. 

Other notable clients of the firm include HSBC France, Renault, and NGE.

Client feedback

"A reliable law firm, with extensive expertise and experience." – Banking, project finance

"Highly dedicated team with very experienced senior consultants." – M&A

"It's very good to advise on unusual or innovative deals at a reasonable price. The lawyers are available, clever and right on the business points." – Project finance

"The capital markets team of CMS Paris is always available and very proactive in our relationship. It has exceptional knowledge in its field and are a true partner for our team. It makes things simple and that's a real asset." – Banking, capital markets

"The law firm has a very good practice in banking and financing." - Banking and capital markets

"The various people in CMS Francis Lefebvre really know us and do understand our trade, our needs and our ways of doing business. This together with its excellent professional skills enable it to be very efficient and to the point. We trust and appreciate the firm absolutely." – Corporate and M&A

"It has thorough knowledge of all aspects of French law." – Banking and finance

François Tenailleau

"An exceptional individual combining extensive expertise in public law and project finance with a taste for innovation."

"Excellent, pragmatic, innovative and value for money."

Emmanuel Faury

"Very diligent and customer-oriented."

Jean-Thomas Heintz

"Very deal oriented corporate lawyer eager to find solutions and serve clients interests."

Céline Cloché-Dubois

"She has very good knowledge of the energy sector. She has an extended network, and is highly dedicated and result oriented."

Benjamin Guilleminot 

"A very good lawyer having a very good practice."

Marc-Etienne Sébire

"He is brilliant and makes things accessible."

Davis Polk & Wardwell

Davis Polk & Wardwell has an active M&A practice in France. The firm worked on the buy and seel buyer side recently, with the firm work highlights including advising Technip in its USD 17 billion merger with FMC Technologies. 

Other clients of the firm include AP Møller-Mærsk, Valeo, and NBC News. 

De Pardieu Brocas Maffei

De Pardieu Brocas Maffei is a domestic firm with particularly strong banking and finance and restructuring and insolvency practices.

The banking and finance team advised primarily lenders in acquisition finance, syndicated loan matters and refinancing. Their main clients include leading French and international banks like BNP Paraibas, Natixis and JP Morgan.  

In the capital markets space, the firm’s equity work saw it advising the banks on the capital increase of FREY. As for its debt activity, the firm has structured a considerable variety of security issuances, tender offers for bonds and notes issuances, working mainly for issuers. The firm also worked on structured finance and derivatives deals, advising French banks.  

In M&A, the firm has instructed buyers and sellers in relation to cross-border private acquisitions. For instance, it assisted Batipart, Orano and Norges Bank. Private equity is a real strength, and it worked on leveraged buy-out transactions and minority stake acquisitions in the area. 

The infrastructure, technology and energy sectors represent areas of strength for the project finance and development practices, and the firm has been working for investors and lenders.

Debt restructuring has dominated much of the firm’s restructuring and insolvency activity, advising banking pools and individual lenders. 

Nadine Gelli joined the private equity team in June 2017 from Ashurst. Matthieu Barthélemy left the firm to join de Gaulle Fleurance & Associés in July 2018.

Some of the firm’s most noteworthy clients include Toys R Us, NEOEN, EIB, Bank of Tokyo, Deutsche Bank and HSBC. 

Client feedback

"It has dedicated lawyers with deep knowledge and expertise." – Banking and capital markets

"Excellent work and highly reactive with nice teams to work with." – Banking

"I have worked with Cedric Chanas and his team of lawyers in the past, and once again this year on one of my firm's important private equity investments. As always, it has been very efficient, easy to work with, pro-active, always on the ball and keeping the right momentum for the deal. Moreover, it has displayed very strong technical skills in some specific aspects of the deal (notably on intellectual property), and a very solid set of negotiating skills. It also has a very strong financing team, which is key in our market. Finally, the quality for the price paid is unmatched in France!" – Banking, M&A and private equity

"One of the best practices in Paris for financial restructuring, but it could be more international." – Restructuring and insolvency

"Very knowledgeable about the law and practice of corporate insolvency and financial restructuring. It does not have the depth and strength of a London firm but has worked very well alongside us." – Banking and finance, and restructuring and insolvency

"Very seasoned partners with long private equity experience. It has a proactive and problem solving approach." – Banking, M&A, private equity, and restructuring and insolvency

"Very solution oriented law firm, working closely with us on a strategic level as well as on a day to day basis. Patrick Jais and his team are highly dedicated and efficient." – Banking, capital markets, M&A, and private equity

"High expertise in M&A and very good relationship skills. It is available and has a pragmatic approach. The firm does have less expertise for very specific issues regarding regulatory matters in renewable energy (wind)."- Banking and M&A

Dentons

Dentons is strongest is structured finance and securitisation capital markets and project development.  

In banking, the firm worked on financing, acquisiton finance, refinancing, representing a mix of borrowers and lenders. An example of the firm’s work was advising BNP Paribas Real Estate investment Management France on a mortgage refinancing.

In terms of project finance, a transaction highlight or the firm was advising Vinci construction France, Mirova, and SaarLB on the financing of a PPP to construct and maintain three schools.

The firm’s private equity work generally pertains to companies being acquired by private equity funds, not representing the funds themselves, with a few notable exceptions such as advising KKR on its acquisition for Unilever’s spreads business. 

The firm’s project development team worked extensively on energy projects throughout Africa, for example advising African Infrastructure Investment Managers on renegotiating the project documents and power purchase agreement for a thermal power project in Mali. 

In restructuring and insolvency, the firm represents creditors, such as Credito Valtelinese, and debtors, such as Sinequanone, in insolvency proceedings. 

A highlight for the firm in structured finance and securitisation was advising Deutsche Bank on its collateral obligation to derivative counterparties under EMIR rules in France and other EU jurisdictions. 

The firm hired Julien Bacus as a partner from Ashurst in banking in finance and capital markets in March 2018.  In project development the firm hired two new partners, David Syed, who joined in November 2017 from Orrick, and Leïla Hubeau, who joined in January 2018 from Herbet Smith Freehills. 

Other high-profile clients of the firm are Charterhouse Capital Partners, Inframed, and Groupe Rocher.

Client feedback

"Great people. High knowledge of the business and M&A practices. It has team spirit too." – M&A, project development

"High level of expertise within all areas and very good accessibility. Delivers high quality on time." – M&A, private equity

"It has quite good business knowledge and is rather oriented to client satisfaction and creative problem solutions." – M&A

"The firm is very professional and highly experienced. It offers detailed advice and is price competitive." – Banking and finance, capital markets

Duhamel Blimbaum

Duhamel Blimbaum is active in funds, equity capital markets, and private equity, and specialises in representing fund clients. 

In the funds area, the firm advised Mirabaud Asset Management on establishing an investment fund, Mirabaud Living Heritage, which is the first French PE fund for Mirabaud Asset Management.

In equity capital markets, the firm worked on a few share transfers for corporate clients.

The firm also advised private equity clients on acquisitions

Other clients of the firm are EQT Partners, Novaxia Asset Management, and York Capital Management. 

Client feedback

"Very good in regulatory business with innovative ideas in fund structuring, and it is business oriented." – M&A, private equity

DWF

DWF is a UK based firm with a French presence active in the financial and corporate space and in projects. 

The M&A team worked mainly for buyers recently. Work highlights include giving advice to Keywords Studios in the acquisition of three French companies specialised in video games dubbing.

Partner Carole Arribes joined the M&A team from Clyde & Co in January 2018.  

Other clients include Rubis Terminal and Glencore Group. 

Client feedback

"Excellent team. Jean Francois Mercadier has extensive knowledge of the mining industry, as well as infrastructure financing and large-scale projects, in Africa. He is well supported by a dedicated team, which provides comfort for long term support." – Project development, project finance 

Fieldfisher

Fieldfisher is recognised for banking and restructuring and insolvency work in France. 

In banking, the firm advised Berlin Hyp on a retail real estate refinancing for Novaxia Asset Management. Otherwise, the firm worked on financing, generally representing financial institutions acting as lenders.

In restructuring and insolvency the firm advised a mix of debtors and creditors in restructuring transactions.

In January 2018, partner Samuel Pallotto joined the firm from Brunswick Société d'Avocats and he is now the head of the Capital Markets department.

Other clients of the firm include Triodos Bank. 

Client feedback

"The firm is serious, reliable, and proactive." – Banking and finance

"Its Paris office has strong negotiations skills and is very much client focused with strong commercial acumen." – M&A

FTPA

FTPA is a local firm recognised for M&A and restructuring work. 

In restructuring and insolvency the firm primarily worked on the insolvency side recently, representing both debtors and creditors. For example advising Nortel Networks on its cross-border bankruptcy proceedings. 

The firm hired Jerome Chevalier from the French Treasury Ministry. 

Other clients of the firm include British American Tobacco, Alpha, and Group Monplaisir.

Gibson Dunn & Crutcher

In France, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher has recent experience in M&A transactions, advising sellers and buyers. Work highlights include advice to Crédit Agricole in the acquisition of a 15% stake of CACEIS. Another example is work for Vivendi on the sale of Watchever Group and its subsequent merger with Dailymotion. 

The firm also worked on private equity leveraged buyouts, restructurings, acquisitions out of bankruptcy, and joint ventures.

A five-lawyer team, Amanda Bevan, Eric Bouffard, Bertrand Delaunay, Jean-Pierre Farges, and Pierre-Emmanuel Fender, joined the firm in June 2017 from Ashurst.   

Key clients include Allianz France, Lazard, Publicis, TPG Growth, and KBL. 

Gide Loyrette Nouel

Gide Loyrette Nouel is one of the best known names in the French market and one of the leading domestic firms. While the firm is active across all areas, financing work is what sets it apart. 

In banking, the firm worked for arrangers, borrowers, lenders and bookrunners on refinancing, acquisition and real estate financing. Work highlights include advising Europcar on the acquisition financing of Goldcar. 

The project finance team worked for sponsors, consortiums and lenders like the Naval Group, the International Finance Corporation, the European Investment Bank and the Paris Airport Management. 

In debt capital markets area, the firm advised issuers and underwriters on notes issuances, hybrid transactions, high-yield issuances and covered bonds. In equity, the firm has been active working on IPOs, rights issues and private placements. In structured finance and securitisation, key clients include Europcar and SCOR Investment Partners. 

The M&A team worked mostly for buyers in the real estate, infrastructure, insurance and energy sectors. Clients included advice to AccorHotels, Nidec Corporatio, Michelin and Eurazeo.

The restructuring and insolvency team has been working for creditors, and shareholders and on the real estate, infrastructure, retail and insurance sectors. 

Gabriel Sonier retires form the firm in February 2018. Olivier Diaz joined the M&A team from Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom in March 2018.

Herbert Smith Freehills

Herbert Smith Freehills has a strong practice in France, which includes a specialised Africa team. International project work is a core strength. 

In banking and finance, the firm acted borrowers and lenders. A clear highlight is work for Danone, acting as borrower, in relation to the green revolving credit facility agreement. Other key clients include AccorHotels, Citibank, BNP Paribs, Essilor and Societe Generale.

The energy sector has been a clear focus for the firm’s project finance and development teams. Some highlighted clients are Vinci, EDF and Société Générale. The firm worked for sponsors, contractors and lenders.

In equity capital markets, the firm acted for mainly for corporate issuers on a number of private placements. In the debt space, the firm acted for arrangers and issuers on some notes issuances and convertible bonds. The firm also worked on structured finance and securitisation, where it has a well-balanced client base including arrangers, originators, investors, and asset managers; deal highlights include help Crédit Agricole Consumer Finance in the setting up of a public ABS securitisation program.

In M&A, the firm worked on multiple acquisitions, advising mainly buyers like UBS France, Nordgold and EDF. It also advised on mergers and joint ventures.

Finance and energy sectors are also areas of activity for the firm’s restructuring and insolvency practice. Within these, debt restructuring and insolvency matters are common. The firm has advised financial institutions, multinational corporations, and French and foreign creditors .

Leila Hubeaut has left the M&A team to join Dentons in January 2018. Anne Petitjean joined the project development team in February 2018 from White & Case.

Hogan Lovells

Hogan Lovells works is broadly active in transactional work in French. The firm has an Africa and a China desk to service clients abroad. 

In banking, the firm primarily represented financial institutions, but saw some work on the borrower side. The firm also saw notable work in acquisition finance, for example advising BNP Paribas on the acquisition finance for Nissan’s European headquarters. 

The firm was active in debt markets, where it advised a mix of banks, such as Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, and corporates on bond issuances. On the equity side, the firm advised corporate clients on share transfers, capital increases, and equity swaps. 

A highlight for the firm in structured finance was advising LeasePlan on ABS deal of receivables for its French subsidiary, which works in the vehicle leasing market. Similarly, the firm advised Crédit Agricole on an MBS deal. 

In M&A the firm worked on a mix of transactions, with the largest portion of work being in acquisitions for its clients acting as buyers. An example of this was representing Daimler on the acquisition of Chauffeur Privé. 

In project development, the firm worked mostly in the energy sector, advising on energy production and distribution projects. An example of the firm’s work is advising the government of Burkina Faso on a thermal power plant.

The firm’s work in restructuring and insolvency was centred around advising banks on the insolvency proceedings of debtors, such as advising Natixis and 12 other banks on the insolvency proceedings of Ludendo Group. 

The firm hired partner Laura Asbati from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in September 2017 in capital markets. Additionally the firm hired partner Julien Martinet from Jeantet in January 2018, in banking and finance.

Other notable clients of the firm include the Islamic Development Bank, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and Edmond de Rothschild. 

Jeantet

Jeantet is a regional firm, active in Western Europe, Central and Eastern Europe, and Morocco. The firm’s French office is broadly active in transactional work. 

In banking, the firm worked for a mix of corporate clients and financial institutions on financing transactions, often on refinancing existing agreements. It also saw notable work for sovereign financial authorities such as the Libyan Investment Authority and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. An example of the firm’s work on debt financing was representing Gramercy on the amendment of a loan agreement with DekaBank Deutsche Girozentrale. 

The firm’s capital markets work was primarily on the equity side, with some debt work for corporate clients. A highlight for the firm was advising O2i on a capital increase with preferential subscription rights. 

In M&A the firm specialized in representing its clients acting as acquirers, but also saw work on the seller side and on joint ventures. 

A private equity highlight for the firm was advising Bain Capital on the acquisition of Diversey Care from Sealed Air.

In project development the firm is advising Radio France on the renovation of La Maison de la Radio. 

Banking partner Julien Martinet left the firm for Hogan Lovells in January 2018. 

Other noteworthy clients of the firm include Societe Generale De Banque Au Liban, China Construction Bank, and Figeac Aero. 

Client feedback

"Very client oriented and pragmatic approach. Good availability and proactive in relationships." – M&A, private equity

Lacourte Raquin Tatar

Lacourte Raquin Tatar is a domestic firm active in finance and M&A. 

In recent finance work the firm represented Aviva in setting up a securitization debt fund. 

In M&A the firm worked on acquisitions for acquirers, and on joint ventures. For example, the firm advised Orange on establishing a joint venture with Covage and Caisse des Dépôts et consignation to construct a high speed network in the Essonne department. 

The firm hired Damien Luqué as a partner in banking and finance in January 2018 from CMS. 

Other notable clients of the firm include BNP Paribas, BPIfrance, and Societe Fonciere Lyonnaise. 

Client feedback

"Good level of quality, efficiency to deliver advice, and always available." – Banking and finance

"We've worked before with Damien Luque. Damien and his team have always been very accessible and easy to work with. Damien is highly responsive and is dedicated to providing legal advice in practical terms that can be easily understood by a non-lawyer. His team is not only dealing with one kind of matter but has a global vision of the banking and financial industries." – Banking and finance

LL Berg

LL Berg is a French corporate boutique specialising in private equity work. Recent deal highlights include work for the founder of Grand Frais on the acquisition by Ardian of a majority stake in the company and its subsidiaries, and advice to the management in the acquisition by Antin of a majority stake in Almavia Santé, the fifth largest private hospital group in France. 

Other key clients include the managers of Mademoiselle Desserts, and the founders of DRT.

Nabarro & Hinge

Nabarro & Hinge is recognise for banking and finance, M&A, and private equity work. 

In banking, the firm advised OVH on its refinancing and the subsequent financing of an investment plan via a revolving credit facility. Otherwise, the firm worked for a mix of buyers and sellers on various debt instruments. 

An M&A highlight for the firm was advising Fareva on its acquisition of BCM, a subsidiary of Walgreens Boots Alliance. The firm’s work in the M&A area was generally on mergers. 

Key clients of the firm are Alcentra, Naxicap Partners, Permira, and Bank of Ireland. 

Client feedback

"The law firm keeps on progressing year after year and is always able to remain close to its customers by maintaining this very specific professional and responsive proximity which makes it strong." – Banking and finance, M&A

Norton Rose Fulbright

In France, Norton Rose Fulbright is broadly strong and notable for project work. 

In banking, the firm’s work for lenders including Natixis, Union National Bank, Ghana International Bank, the Mauritius Commerical Bank, and British Arab Commerical Bank on transactions. 

In project finance the firm worked on a series of notable deals, largely in the maritime and energy sectors, both in France and in North Africa. An example of the firm’s work was advising Société Générale Corporate & Investment Banking as lead arranger on financing for the ferry vessel 

Honfleur, a LNG vessel. 

In M&A, the firm worked on a mix of sales and acquisitions, with a small amount of work in joint ventures, including advising APICIL on a fintech partnership with AXA Seed Factory and Fundshop. In project development, the firm worked on projects around the world, and often in the energy sector. For example the firm advised the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy on an 800MW solar project. 

Other clients of the firm include Abengoa, Citibank, and InfraMaroc. 

Client feedback

"Excellent on depth of legal advice and client relationship." - Banking

Orrick Rambaud Martel

Orrick in France is best known for its structured finance and securitisation practice.

The firm’s structured finance and securitisation work includes securitised loans restructurings and trade receivables for arrangers, creditors, lenders and sponsors.

In M&A, some of the deal highlights include advising on Tead’s sale to Altice, and Abertis Infrastructuras' acquisition of Sanef. 

Laurent Jaeger has left the firm in July 2018 to join King & Spalding. 

Some key clients are BNP Paribas, Natixis, Morgan Stanley, EDF and L’Oréal.

Client feedback 

"Highly ranked professionals. Experts in securitisation and in managing client relationships." -  Banking and finance, and capital markets

Racine

Racine is active in M&A and restructuring and insolvency.  

In terms of M&A, the firm worked for both buyers and sellers recently, advising on due diligence and transaction documentation. The firm also saw some work in joint ventures, advising Leroy Merlin on a joint venture to develop La Borne de l’Espoir. 

In restructuring and insolvency, the firm worked on a few noteworthy restructuring transactions, such as working for Presstalis in its conciliation procedure and negotiations with shareholders and creditors under the supervision of the Comité Interministériel de Restructuration Industrielle.

The firm has hired three new associates and three new counsels in M&A throughout 2017.

LBO France is a key client of the firm. 

Client feedback

"Excellent teams." – Banking and finance

"High specialisation." – Banking and finance, restructuring and insolvency

Reboul & Associés

Reboul & Associés is a domestic firm recognised in banking and finance. Recently the firm advised Babilou on a refinancing deal, performing similar work for Kering. 

Santoni & Associés

Santoni & Associés is best known for its restructuring and insolvency practice, acting mainly for debtors.

Scotto & Associés

Scotto & Associés is an independent French firm active in private equity. The firm often advises corporate clients on sales to private equity funds, such as advising Baccarat in the group’s disposal to Fortune Fountain Capital. 

Other clients of the firm include Kiloutou, Europcar, and Sarenza Group. 

Shearman & Sterling

In France, Shearman & Sterling is well known for its debt and equity capital markets work.

In banking, the firm represented clients as arrangers, and lenders in relation to term loans, secured bridge financings and acquisition financings in real estate and other industries. Deal highlights include work for BPI, Barclays, UBS and Nokia.

The capital markets team advised primarily issuers, on the debt side the firm worked on bond issuances and other similar matters in the TMT and energy sectors. In equity, the firm has been involved in some IPOs and block trades. Key clients include Vivendi, Orange, STMicroelectronics and The Agence des Participations de l’Etat (APE).

In M&A, the firm worked on a number of acquisitions with work for buyers and sellers in the finance, TMT, energy and healthcare sectors. A clear highlight was the work for Novartis on its acquisition of AAA.

The restructuring and insolvency team advised on reorganisation proceedings, bankruptcy cases and debt refinancing in the energy, real estate and TMT industries. Deal highlights include advice to Japan Nuclear Fuel in connection with the restructuring of Areva’s debt. 

Philippe Wolanski left the banking team in March 2018 to join Watson Farley & Williams.  

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom

Skadden Arps has active M&A and capital markets practices in France.  

Recent transactional highlight for the firm in M&A included advising the Westfield Corporation on its merger with Unibail-Rodamco and representing Auchan Retail on purchasing a 36.15 % stake in its subsidiary, Sun Art Retail Group, a transaction valued at USD 2.88 billion. 

The firm saw the departure of Olivier Diaz to Gide Loyrette Nouel. 

Other notable clients of the firm are Euler Hermes Group, ANF Immobilier, and Eurazeo. 

Client feedback

"Excellent professionalism, engagement and commitment in the Parisian office, leading to strong results in a short timeframe." – Banking and finance, M&A, private equity, restructuring and insolvency

"Extremely professional and efficient team in all practice areas. Especially the cross-border cooperation between its offices is efficient for cross-border deals." – M&A, private equity

Squair

TsL Avocats is a corporate boutique based in Paris. Recent work highlights include advice to Thales on the sale of its identity management business, and advice to Capzanine on the acquisition of a minority stake in Moving.

The firm’s key clients include Rosa Unica, Yakabooks, and La Provence. 

Stehlin & Associés

Stehlin & Associés is recognised for M&A work. Recent deal highlights include advising Artal on the sale of the capital of Chinese Mankattan Group to Mexican Grupo Bimbo, and advising CIM on the acquisition of the majority of the capital of Maison Bontout. 

Key clients include Mimran group, Crédit Mutuel Arkéa, and Grupo Stalaven.

Client feedback

"It provides advice at the level of a major international law firm with the flexibility and reactivity of a small practice." – Banking and finance, M&A, private equity

Stephenson Harwood

In France, Stephenson Harwood is recognised for its work in banking and private equity.

The banking team worked mainly in the shipping and aviation sectors during the research period. Deal highlights include work for Corsica Ferries on the acquisition and financing of four vessels, and advice to Lion Air Group on the acquisition and financing of a number of Boeing 737 and ATR 72 aircraft.

In private equity, a clear highlight was work for Siaci Saint-Honoré’s management on the acquisition of a majority stake of the business sold by Ardian and Edmond de Rothschild. 

Recent staffing changes include the recruitment of investment funds partner Tiana Rambatomanga in September 2017.

Other key clients include Sunstone Ships, Compagnie du Ponant, Aergo, GDE Groupe Ecore, AD Education and Five Arrows Direct. 

Sullivan & Cromwell

Like in the US, Sullivan & Cromwell is recognised for its M&A and capital markets practice in France.

In debt capital markets, the firm worked for clients in the finance and infrastructure industries and advised on a series of offerings. Deal examples include work for the Council of Europe Development Bank on its notes issuance and for Elis on its convertible bonds offering.

In the equity space, the team advised on share capital increase and rights issues in the energy, TMT and insurance industries. Deal highlights include work for Altran Technologies on its capital increase, for the underwriters on a capital increase by EDF, for Elis on a rights issue, and work for ASR Nederland on its IPO.

In M&A, the firm advised clients on acquisitions in finance, TMT and infrastructure sectors. Deal highlights include work for Elis on the takeover of Berendsen, work for Altran Technologies on its acquisition of Aricent, and work for Goldman Sachs Infrastructure Partners on the sale of its stake in Groupe Eurotunnel to Atlantia. 

UGGC & Associés

UGGC & Associés is best known for its private equity and restructuring and insolvency work.

In private equity the firm advises the likes of Advent Life Sciences, Alliance Entreprendre, EFS, BPI France Investissement and BNP Paris Development on transactions. 

Client feedback

"Generally knows its stuff or tries to find out. The firm is very proactive and goes out of its way to help and deliver on time. Also, they are nice people and will spend time to explain more complex issues." – Banking and finance

Watson Farley & Williams

Watson Farley & Williams in France has been active in banking and project finance during the research period.

In banking, highlight deals include advising the lenders Crédit Agricole Corporate & Invest Bank, SACE, and a syndicate of banks in a financing of four 3,300 passengers cruise vessels to be built by the Italian shipyard Fincantieri. In the same area, the firm advised Brittany Ferries as the borrower, on the financing of the ferry Honfleur agreed with a consortium of banks. 

In project finance the firm advised investment manager AMP Capital in a financing of a global renewable energy portfolio developed by French renewable energy provider Neoen. Another highlight was work for the French Ministry of Defence as borrower, in the refinancing in the form of bonds of the PPP regarding the French Pentagon project located in the Balard district of Paris.

Recent staffing changes include the recruitment of partner Philippe Wolanski from Shearman & Sterling in March 2018 and the departure of partner Guillaume Ansaloni in October 2017.

Other key clients include DFDS, Banco Santander and the European Investment Bank.

Client feedback

"Highly satisfactory assessment. The firm is reliable, pragmatic, efficient, and has excellent relationship skills to manage the parties. However, accuracy and documentation skills could be further improved in relation to limited recourse waterfalls." – Banking, project finance

White & Case

White & Case in France has a broad practice across all financial and corporate practice areas, but it is best known for its work in finance and capital markets.

In banking, the firm acted for lenders in connection with acquisition finance, debt refinancing and revolving credit facility arrangements. Deal highlights include advising Suez on a bridge loan facility for the acquisition of GE Water & Process Technologies.

The capital markets team has focused on debt, including working for managers and issuers on notes and bond issuances. Key clients include AXA, Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs.

On the equity side, the firm advised banks on rights issues by Altran and Europcar. The firm also acted on IPOs for SMCP and Carmila.

In M&A, the firm advised buyers and sellers in the TMT, automotive and energy industries. Work highlights include advice to Ingenico on its acquisition of Bambora.

The restructuring and insolvency team advised lenders, and pools of banks on a number of financial restructurings and reorganisation plans in the energy, healthcare and infrastructure sectors.

In projects, the firm also worked on energy, healthcare and infrastructure sectors for lenders, hedging banks, sponsors and investors. Key clients include Vinci Concession, Eranove and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Anne Petitjean left the project development team in February 2018 to join Herbert Smith Freehills.

Willkie Farr & Gallagher

Willkie Farr & Gallagher continues to excel in the restructuring and insolvency, and private equity areas.

In project finance, the firm advised sponsors, shareholders, institutional investors, and consortiums on transport, energy and infrastructure deals. Key clients include Meridiam, ArcelorMittal and the European Investment Bank. 

In M&A, the firm advised on acquisitions, disposals and joint ventures in a broad range of sectors, including retail, infrastructure and energy, working mostly for buyers. Deal highlights include working for Azzurra consortium on the acquisition of a majority stake in Aéroports de la Côte d’Azur from the French state and the Département des Alpes-Maritimes. 

Healthcare, infrastructure and food industries were the most active sectors in the private equity area.

The restructuring and insolvency team worked for debtors, sponsors, hedge funds and investors on financial restructurings, recovery proceedings and bankruptcy cases in different sectors. 

Key clients include OpenGate Capital, Apollo Capital and Monarch Alternative Capital, and Bpifrance.

Client feedback

"Probably the best restructuring practice in Paris, especially for creditors work since the arrival of Lionel Spizzichino. It has a very creative and dedicated team, and an excellent network within the restructuring community." – Restructuring and insolvency 

"It is available, transparent and fair. The firm has a wide range of competencies." – Project finance