Solicitors governing body: BRAK (Bundesrechtsanwaltskammer)
Competition authority: The Bundeskartellamt
Financial regulator: BaFin
IFLR1000 ranking categories in this jurisdiction:
Financial and corporate (published October) - Banking, Capital markets : Debt, Capital markets : Equity, Capital markets : Structured finance and securitisation, M&A, Private equity, Project development, Project finance, Restructuring, Insolvency
Germany is governed federally, divided into 16 states which are run almost completely autonomously. Under the country’s constitution and its primary legislation, the Basic Law, each state decrees its own laws and forms its own parliament and government. All states can influence federal law through the upper house of its parliament.
As a consequence of federalisation, Germany has a network of 28 regional bars. These bodies, which are mostly responsible for accrediting new lawyers and handling misconduct and professional matters, are overseen by the federal bar, BRAK (Bundesrechtsanwaltskammer). As a central, independent regulator, BRAK ensures the profession remains impartial from the organs of the state. Both lawyers and law firms must be registered with a local bar.
German regulation takes a fairly liberal approach to the practice of foreign lawyers on its soil. Those from EU and EFTA states and Switzerland, can provide legal assistance in German, foreign and international law. Lawyers from member state of the WTO or GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services) who have positions akin to a German Rechtsanwalt (a qualified lawyer) in their own country, may practice their jurisdictions’, or international, law in Germany.
Establishing a foreign firm in Germany is beset by few hurdles. With authorisation from a local bar, an EU firm can open in the relevant state. If an EU firm takes a corporate or LLC form, the business must also be registered with a local court. Firms from outside the trading bloc can also launch in the country with bar approval, but only as a partnership or as a sole practitioner.
Given the relative ease with which a firm can set up in Germany, and the size and sophistication of the economy, it is not surprising to note that the country’s legal market for transactional financial and corporate work is saturated by international firms. So much so, that in the context of the high-end, larger deals, only a few national firms commonly feature.
Of these domestic advisors, Hengeler Mueller, which is, even in the wider market, one of the leading firms in the country, is undeniably the strongest. Almost an anomaly in Germany, the firm is full service, has no offices outside the country’s borders, and is involved in a good proportion of the country’s most complex deals. In the corporate area, especially M&A and private equity, Gleiss Lutz has an excellent practice, exceeding most of its foreign competitors in quality and activity. A third worth noting is Noerr, another local firm with a regional network and a good reputation for corporate transactional advice to mid-sized German businesses. While Hengeler is the finished article, the latter two firms are still developing their finance offerings, but both are growing steadily in terms of coverage and revenue.
Considering the breadth and depth of foreign firm’s practices, the four of the five magic circle firms present in Germany dominate the upper end of the market. US firms are well represented too, with more than a third of the State’s white shoe firms having, at the very least, one office in Germany and, in some cases, as many as five. However, barring a few exceptions, US firms generally have a more focussed approach to those heralding from the UK, concentrating on core specialisms rather than all services.
The exceptions - those US firms that have committed more to Germany - have had mixed success. Some that, in the past, had larger, more diverse offerings, do not today. Take Shearman & Sterling, for example. At one time, the firm had three German branches and a large team. Today, it has one in Frankfurt, with only five permanent German partners. Others US firms with large German networks to cut back recently, include Orrick, which condensed from four offices to two, and White & Case, which closed its branch in Munich. Sidley Austin, meanwhile, has shut down entirely.
This trend of scaling back in Germany is not exclusive to US firms. Clifford Chance began restructuring its team in the country in 2014, and now has significantly less German partners. Freshfields has consolidated too, merging its offices in Düsseldorf and Cologne in late 2015.
Foreign firms retrenching in Germany is not indicative of work drying up, evidenced by the fact that new international firms continue to arrive in the stead of those leaving and others, which already have a presence in the country, are still expanding. In 2013, Morrison Foerster took over Hogan Lovells office in Berlin and Herbert Smith Freehills also launched in the capital and, around the same time, in Frankfurt. In 2014, Field Fisher opened in Düsseldorf and, this year, Greenberg Traurig picked up Olswang’s former team to open in Berlin, Reed Smith moved into Frankfurt, and Goodwin Procter launched its first office in the country in Munich, with Ashurst hires.
One explanation behind the fluctuating nature of international firms’ German networks, and to a lesser extent, teams, is the country’s federal constitution, which has engendered a country where industry is decentralised. The Rhine-Rhur region is the home of German manufacturing. Bavaria’s capital, Munich, where the country’s main IP court is located, historically has a strong stall of technology businesses. Berlin houses the government, is where most German real estate companies are based and has become a home for start-ups, thanks to its cheap rents and general appeal to employees. Hamburg, meanwhile, has the country’s main ports and Frankfurt is the centre of finance.
In trying to cover all these diverse markets, some international firms have spread themselves too thin. They create high overheads by having four or five offices and struggle to generate enough work to maintain all the branches. For traditionally high-earning firms from the US and the UK, an additional challenge is managing German clients’ lower fee expectations.
Without a doubt, M&A is the most commonly practiced area of law among the market’s foreign contingent. Banking and finance represents another large portion of work, although bank side work can be a difficult area to penetrate because of the long-standing relationships that exist. Most firms do some capital markets work and private equity clients generate mandates for the host of buy-out practices. As restructuring has developed as an area of law and, subsequently, as a practice, the number of firms in Germany with dedicated teams, or at least specialists, has grown significantly. Insolvency administration, however, is the realm of domestic boutiques concentrating on this practice. In recent years, as the economy improved and the level of new cases dropped, some of these have sought to expand the focus of their practices, employing lawyers who can provide ancillary services such as finance.
Ben Naylor - EMEA Editor
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld is active in restructuring and insolvency. The firm represented creditors, such as Oceanwood Capital Management, recently. Work included advising on its client’s interests in the restructuring of Norske Skog group, for which Oceanwood Capital Management is the majority holder of senior secured notes.
Otherwise, the firm represented assorted bond holders in distressed corporate entities.
Allen & Overy’s areas of expertise in Germany are lending – borrower and lender side work – on large syndications or acquisition financings, and complex debt restructurings. The firm has good project finance and debt capital markets, including US high-yield, practices too.
In capital markets the firm has been involved in number of interesting debt issues. These transactions included a refinancing by Tank & Rast which involved a large bond issue where the firm acted for the managers, and a project bond issue to finance a road PPP where the firm acted for the arrangers. Other notable work included regulatory capital issues on behalf of banks and several convertible bond issues. Equity highlights for the firm were an issuer side block trade and a capital increase. Additionally, the firm has advised a number of lenders on structured finance programmes.
In M&A the firm has been involved in number of large cross-border public deals, both inbound and outbound. These include advising Uniper on Fortnum’s takeover bid for the company, and acting for Cerberus on the privatisation of HSH Norbdbank.
Notable recent restructuring mandates were predominantly on the side of creditors. A clear highlight was advising the coordinating committee of creditors in the restructuring of the Steinhoff group.
Staffing changes at the firm included the arrival of banking regulatory specialist Alexander Behrens from Mayer Brown and the departure of Kai Schaffelhuber, who moved in-house.
"The firm has a high degree of commercial understanding, is always available and has strong commitment to projects. Its invoicing is reliable, and it maintains familiarity with the client as partners and senior associates remain personally involved." - M&A
Arqis is an independent domestic firm active in M&A and private equity work.
The firm represented a mix of buyers and sellers within M&A. An example of its work was advising Oerlikon on the acquisition of AC-Automation.
The firm hired Christian Wegener, who is active in M&A, as partner from Linklaters in June 2018. Daniel Wied, partner in private equity, left the firm in 2017.
Other clients of the firm include SchneiderGolling, Katjes Deutscheland, and Alloheim.
Berner Fleck Wettich is a German firm recognised in M&A. In terms of recent transactions, the firm advised both buyers and sellers, with the emphasis on representing acquirers. For example, the firm advised Robert Bosch Group on its 100% acquisition of MTA.
The firm hired Christian Nienkemper as partner in M&A from Hengeler Mueller in 2017.
The firm has also advised various private families, along with Sazka Group, Atlas Mara Beteiligungs, and Cognotekt, to name a few.
"Deep expertise in M&A, very goal oriented and entrepreneurial mindset and client approach." – M&A
"Efficient and pragmatic." – M&A
"BFW works at a high level. The accessibility is exceptionally good. In addition, all partners have an equally high level of service as well as personal expertise. We feel all around well advised and have often recommended BFW." – M&A
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in Germany is active in capital markets, on both the debt and equity side, banking and finance, and M&A. It particularly excels in capital markets work.
The firm primarily represented borrowers in the banking and finance area, representing ArcelorMittal on a schuldschein issue.
A deal highlight for the firm in debt capital markets was advising Deutsche Bank on an offer to exchange and purchase its outstanding debt.
In M&A the firm has worked on both sides of acquisitions, representing buyers and sellers, and on mergers. A highlight for the firm was representing Alstom in its merger with Siemens.
Partner Hanno Sperlich left the firm in June 2017.
Other high-profile clients of the firm include Alpha Group, General Motors, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
In Germany, Clifford Chance had a broad set of transactional practices. All the practices are strong but the lending and financing and M&A and private equity teams are among the elite offerings in Germany. The firm’s sector expertise includes banking, power and automotive.
The firm employs some of Germany’s most experienced acquisition finance specialists. Its recent lending and financing highlights include a number of lender and borrower side roles on sizeable buy-out transactions and refinancings of older M&A deals. The headline deals included advising lenders on financing Hochtief’s voluntary tender offer for Spanish Abertis Infraestructuras and Fortum's public takeover offer for Uniper.
The firm’s experienced project finance team has advised on several large financings, including a green bond issue, relating to energy and healthcare projects in Europe.
In the capital markets area, where the firm is stronger on the debt and structured finance side than it is on the equity side, the firm has recently worked on handful of large bond sales, including a number of equity linked deals, with most of it work coming on the arranger or bookrunner’s side. Among the standout deals were large issues by Volkswagen and Bayer, and a sovereign bond issue by Austria. Notable equity work included several Frankfurt IPOs and secondary offerings, with a mix of issuer and underwriter roles. Additionally the firm has worked on large securitisation transactions of a mix of asset classes – shipping, auto and corporate loans, among them.
In M&A the firm worked on a number of large cross-border deals in the power and banking and financial services sectors. The highlights include buy side roles on the acquisitions of Ista and the wealth management and insurance business of ABN AMRO in Luxembourg.
The private equity practice has been active for international house and domestic funds. It advised triton on several large deals and assisted 3i and Cinven with exits.
The restructuring practice has been particularly active in the aviation sector, assisting airlines and creditors to airlines in insolvency hearings.
New hires in the research period include corporate partners Markus Stephanblome and Thomas Voland who joined from White & Case and Freshfields respectively.
Commerzbank, EQT, UniCredit, BC Partners, Cinven and Volkswagen are some of the firm’s well-known clients.
"Excellent staff throughout the organisation, not only at partner level. The firm is also very commercial." - Banking, M&A
"Good brand reputation and commercially focussed. Documentation-wise it sets the market standard with its good links to the loan market association. When caps were agreed, these were followed."- Banking, project finance
"We received fast, profound and clear advice. Clifford Chance is able to find pragmatic solutions." - M&A
"Excellent market and legal know how; very good service and accessibility - quick and concise answers, always to the point. A pleasure to work with." - Banking, capital markets, project development, project finance
Within the German legal market, Dechert is recognised in M&A. An example of the recent firm’s work on the buy side is representing AKKA Technologies in its cross border 100% takeover of Gigatronik Holding, Gigatronik Austria, and Gigatronik (Switzerland).
There was some turnover in the firm’s partnership during the research period, with two partners leaving. Berthold Hummel and Katja Heuterkes left the firm for Baker McKenzie.
A few other clients of the firm include Lazada Group, Baramundi Software, and CIT Group.
Dentons has offices in Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich. The firm’s German practice is recognised in capital markets, M&A, and restructuring.
In structured finance and securitisation work the firm advised Bank Vontobel on various issuances of structured products and the establishment of a securitisation platform in Luxembourg.
In M&A the firm predominantly worked for buyers and sellers in acquisition transactions, but also represented clients entering into joint ventures.
The firm advised Paracelsus Kliniken in restructuring and insolvency. The client was taken over by Porterhouse Health and restructured, allowing it to continue operation.
The firm hired eight new partners during the research period: Petra Brenner and Daniel Fritz in restructuring and insolvency; Heiko Heppner, Arne Klüwer, Matthias Eggert, and Mortimer Berlet in capital markets; and Simon Vogel and Richard Fagerer in private equity.
Dr Beck and Partner specialises in insolvency and has offices throughout Bavaria.
In insolvency, the firm represented distressed institutions, often working on restructurings via sale to a new investor, such as for its client BOA Group.
Other clients include Bavaria Yachtbau, Eurographics, and Outbank.
"Very experienced with highly qualified staff, excellent communication skills, and highly customer oriented." - Insolvency
"Beck and Partners has excellent expertise, and is quick and reputable." - Insolvency
"Joachim Exner is one of the most experienced and best known insolvency managers in Germany, and probably the best within the automotive industry." - Insolvency
Glade Michel Wirtz is a local independent specialising in M&A.
Recent work highlights include advice on joint ventures and acquisitions, representing buyers and sellers. The firm worked on the acquisition of ROVEMA Group for its client, the acquirer, Haniel.
Daimler is a key client of the firm, with other noteworthy clients including Fujian Grand Chip Investment Fund and Spirax-Sarco Engineering.
Gleiss Lutz is one the leading domestic corporate law firms in Germany and is broadly strong in financial and corporate work. The firm is often mandated as German counsel on large inbound M&A and private equity transactions, and its other corporate transactional practices are recommended too. Its equity capital markets team is often mandated as issuer’s counsel for mid-size IPOs and it has a number of experienced restructuring partners. With a strong public German law offering, the firm has capabilities in project development, and it has a banking partner with experience in energy project financings.
The firm’s recent notable banking and finance mandates were a mix of borrower side syndicated loans, acquisition financings, refinancings and debt restructurings.
In M&A and transactional private equity the firm was involved in various large cross-border deals. The publishable headline deals included advising the Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan on the acquisition of Ceramtec, and general Atlantic when it bought a stake in Prosiebensat.1.
The firm’s most significant restructuring work has been acting for German debtors or those with interests in the debtors. The firm is representing other airlines in the case of Niki, and acting for Steinhoff and TSV 1860 München in the companies’ restructurings.
A notable recent staffing change saw key private partner Jan Bauer move to Skadden.
Deutsche Telekom, Eon, and Raiffeisen Bank International are among the firm’s notbale clients.
"Gleiss Lutz's work is quick, compact and excellent. The firm are tough negotiators and utterly reliable in M&A negotiations. It's excellent as individual lawyers and as a team, but it is rather expensive and not suitable for small transactions." - M&A, project development
"Excellent industry knowledge in real estate, corporate finance, and good international network." - Banking
"Very well staffed; responds in short time; and has a view of the essentials and business needs." - Insolvency, M&A
"Excellent high-end level work. Small, but very powerful teams." - M&A
"High availability with holistic view on structures. Its work is very accurate and precise with great internal interconnectedness." - Banking, capital markets
"Highly skilled with a very good overview of market practice." - Banking
"My overall impression of the firm is very good. The quality of all lawyers which we work with is outstanding. Gleiss provides great value for money and has a very well established best friends network worldwide." - Banking, capital markets
"Specialised individuals with a very good mixture of in-depth knowledge of the law and hands-on pragmatism when it comes to providing solutions." - Insolvency, project finance
"When it comes to complicated matters my first choice would be Gleiss. The firm has great lawyers and the quality of all Gleiss lawyers I am working with is excellent. It has an excellent best friend network worldwide and provides the best quality for money." - Banking
"The firm offers prompt and practical support. It is hands-on and results driven with a problem solving attitude. It also provides quick turnaround of documents and a clear strategic rationale." - Banking, M&A
GLNS is a corporate boutique with a focus on M&A. A recent notable deal for the firm was advising Audi in its takeover of ABT Formula E from ABT Sportsline. This is representative of the firm’s broader work representing acquirers.
A few high-profile clients of the firm include Paragon Partners, Fidelium Partners, and Delivery Hero.
"GLNS is great. The team helped us with the exit of our startup. It handled the full process of due diligence and the negotiations. Very professional." - M&A
"The law firm is highly professional with very knowledgeable lawyers who are working extremely hard to successfully get transactions across the finish line. In addition to its vast knowledge of the law, it really understands the commercial needs of the client and takes the same into consideration when providing legal advice." - M&A, restructuring
Greenberg Traurig is active in M&A in Germany.
Within M&A recenty the firm has worked on the buy and sell side of acquisitions and on joint ventures for its clients, for example advising Rentokil Initial on a cross border joint venture with Haniel Group.
Other clients of the firm include Obvious Ventures, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, and BIP Investments.
"Good and practical advice according to customer's needs; can be contacted at all times; flexible." - Banking
"It has a fast, professional, commercial and resourceful team." - Private equity, project development
"The firm did an excellent job advising us on German law for a transaction that occurred in several countries in Latin America. It became the direct point of contact with our counterpart and was absolutely reliable and always very client oriented." - Banking
"The service provided by Greenberg Traurig is excellent. It has well prepared specialists that are willing to think through our risks and propose clever solutions for difficulties. It is willing to help any time, and are very patient with us considering the cultural and language differences." - M&A
"Very good communication skills, and affordable when compared to other top tier providers." - Banking
Hengeler Mueller is vastly experienced in high-end cross border and domestic work in all areas covered by the rankings. Banking regulatory, lending advice, equity capital markets and M&A are arguably where it is strongest in depth and experience. The firm’s clients include most of the corporations listed on the DAX, Germany’s largest financial institutions, and various well-known global brands, Automotive, banking, power, and manufacturing are a few of the sectors in which the firm has expertise.
In banking the firm’s recent workload has been spread across regulatory mandates and lending advice. In the former the firm has been providing supervisory law advice on Brexit, CRR, CRD IV, MiFID II, and on the implementation of the European Payment Services Directive II. The firm’s recent portfolio of lending work, where it was more often representing borrowers, encompassed a significant number of large cross border acquisition financings.
Despite a slight dip in the number of German bond issues in 2017 when compared to the previous year, the firm still advised on 120 bonds issues and the establishment, or updates to, 33 programmes. The firm’s more complex mandates included roles on the largest liability management transaction in Europe outside the finance sector ever (at closing) related to Innogy’s IPO, the first Krügerrand Gold Bond, Innogy’s first green bond, and the first Solvency II compliant bond issued by a German insurer. The firm was more often advising issuers.
Recent equity capital markets for the firm included several IPOs, including an issuer side role for Bawag, and a number of secondary offerings, including Deutsche Bank’s rights issue where it acted for the arrangers. Additional capital markets work was primarily securitisations,
In M&A the firm was involved in some of the largest deals in Germany in 2017, including several large public takeovers and a number of deals in the energy sector. The highlights included representing Fortum on the takeover of Uniper.
The firm’s private equity practice represented sponsors on some large cross border exits. The highlights included representing CVC when it sold its stake in Ista, and EQT when it divested of CBR Fashion to Alteri Investors.
In the insolvency area the firm is acting on several headline-making cases, including representing Lufthansa in the insolvency of Air Berlin and Blackstone in the Jack Wolfskin’s case.
Blackstone, Deutsche Bank, Brenntag, Carl Zeiss, and Vitol are a few of the firm’s key clients.
"Excellent in-depth legal knowledge and great client counsel. Highly efficient communications with all levels of our organisation." - M&A, restructuring and insolvency
"Exceptionally good lawyers with sound business judgement and a high service mentality." - M&A, private equity
"Highly efficient, highly responsive and outstanding know-how." - Banking, M&A, private equity
"The firm provides state of the art advice on bank regulatory issues including bail-in issues and convincing capital markets expertise. It's innovative but still very good quality." - Capital markets
"Top lawyers that are extremely experienced and have outstanding professional and personnel skills." - Capital markets, M&A, restructuring
Hogan Lovells is active across banking, debt, equity, and structured finance and securitisation capital markets, private equity, M&A, project development and finance, and restructuring. The firm is strong in capital markets. The firm has seen notable activity in the automotive and transportation sector in most of the practice areas it works in recently.
The firm’s banking and finance work has been featured a number of acquisition finance deals, such as advising Swissport Group on the financing of its Aerocare acquisition.
The firm worked on a wide range of capital markets transactions in debt, equity, and structured finance and securitisation. An equity markets highlight for the firm was representing Vapiano in its IPO. On the debt side, the firm advised Commerzbank as arranger on Deutsche Pfandbriefbank’s debt issuance. In structured finance the firm advised Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank on a structured note and certificates program.
In M&A the firm’s highlights included representing Daimler with respect to a joint venture with BMW for car sharing, ride-hailing, and parking services. In private equity the firm worked on acquisitions and sales by funds, such as advising Woodward on the acquisition of L’Orange from Rolls-Royce.
In restructuring and insolvency the firm has advised a range of clients including debtors and creditors, for example advising Leiser Group on its restructuring via insolvency plan proceedings.
The firm hired two new partners: Jochen Seitz and Peter Maier, both are from Mayer Brown and active in capital markets.
A few other notable clients of the firm include FlixMobility, Deutscher Derivate Verband, and ExxonMobil Central Europe Holding.
"Excellent law firm for equity capital markets with Michael Schlitt being one of the outstanding lawyers in this field in Germany. Michael and the team are widely known and well respected in the industry. They are always reachable during the project and certainly go the extra mile to make things work. The team works hands-on and always in the interest of the transaction trying to find workable solutions for all problems arising. The firm and the team around Michael is highly recommended!" - Capital markets
"Great international network facilitates complex international transactions. In one case there were six European and Asian jurisdictions involved." Banking, M&A
"Hogan Lovells' team is always well prepared and takes the extra effort to make a project successful."
"The firm looks for pragmatic solutions to get the deal done." - Securitisation
"Michael Schlitt is a leading expert in the capital markets and has in depth expertise in all matters of capital markets transactions. He is also excellent in implementing innovative structures and new market standards." - Capital markets
"One of the most experienced equity capital markets practices in Germany providing excellent and 100% reliable services. Its highly skilled team is always solution-oriented going the extra-mile for clients." - Capital markets
"It has broad regulatory knowledge and industry know-how with the ability to translate regulatory law into viable solutions for business. It delivered excellent documentation, legal texts and letters to regulators." - Regulatory
"Top notch knowledge in securitisation in Germany, and one of the few firms to have experience in the Chinese market." - Securitisation
"Up-to-date advice, always very consistent and pragmatic, quick turnaround time and reliable service." - Banking, capital markets
"Very strong reliable performer offering good advice." - M&A
"It has one of the most experienced capital markets lawyers heading its franchise and has an extremely hands-on approach from the entire team. We enjoy senior attention from Prof. Schlitt who's available 24/7, and given its IPO track record the firm is very efficient." - Capital markets
"Hands-on and deal and business focussed; people with whom it is fun to work with even in tough times; it offers practical solutions and not just 'lawyer-like' ones." - Capital markets, M&A
"The capital markets team at Hogan Lovells led by Michael Schlitt is praised for its around the clock availability, practical and seamless advice as well as its hard-working and reliable wider team on the ground. In particular, I appreciate Michael Schlitt's tremendous expertise in the capital market space as well as his attitude to stay calm even in hectic and time-critical situations. His advice is extremely hands-on, practical and straight to the point while he manages his team across all seniority levels very well. Also the other team members, particularly Susanne Lenz, work very precisely while being up to speed at the same time. The way the team managed the transaction and the tailored advice it provided us with was excellent." - Capital markets
"Reliable and solid performance in equity capital market transactions. Michael Schlitt is clearly the leading partner for this kind of work within the firm. He has a clear focus on improving his team's quality." -
"High professional work; good cooperation; and focussed on the target." - Insovency
"It always tries to find pragmatic solutions. The team works very hard and can be reached nearly at any time." - Capital markets
Kallan is an independent domestic firm active in M&A. The firm recently mostly did work for acquirers, including representing Loomis in its acquisition of Kötter Geld- & Wertdienste.
Other clients of the firm are Pagero Group, Intrum, and Semcon.
King & Spalding is recognised for banking work in Germany. The firm’s banking and finance practice worked on loans financings recently, representing lenders and borrowers. For example, the firm advised AEW Europe on six financings since summer 2017. The firm picked up notable work in the real estate sector.
Other clients of the firm are Barings Real Estate Advisers, Bayerische Landesbank, and Landesbank Baden Württemberg.
Kirkland & Ellis’ German offering has a strong restructuring practice with an excellent reputation for representing creditors in matters with a complex debt element. It is also involved in high-end transactional private equity work and specifically targets work in this area. In line with the firm’s focus on private equity, it advises on financing LBOs and only works for sponsors.
In the banking and finance area the firm’s recent portfolio of work is dominated by LBOs on which the firm provided financing advice in addition to corporate advice. A headline role was Bain and Cinven’s takeover of Stada where the firm advised the buyers and borrowers.
The firm’s capital markets mandates were all also related to acquisitions by funds, including bonds to help finance deals and post-acquisition share issues.
Private equity highlights for the firm were a mix of buy and sell side work, but the highlights were acquisitions, namely the purchases of Stada and CBR where the firm represented the acquiring financial sponsors.
Kirkland’s restructuring practice has had lead roles for creditors in most of the biggest recent insolvencies in Germany. These include Jack Wolfskin (senior lenders), Air Berlin (bond holders), and Steinhoff (ad-hoc committee of convertible noteholders) to name a few. Abroad the firm is lead counsel to Agrokor, the biggest employer in the Balkans, in its restructuring.
Bain Capital, Cinven, and Lonestar are some of the firm’s high-profile clients.
"Strong senior partner engagement and high quality advice. Very responsive team with a strong technical, pragmatic approach. Very user friendly." - Private equity
"Top tier team in the German market, highly competent lawyers with excellent commercial understanding and a hands-on approach. Have set several precedents in the restructuring of German and multinational corporates." - Restructuring and insolvency
"Very good information on proceedings with clear statements to further steps. It also provides good translation of specific legal details." - Restructuring and insolvency
One of Latham & Watkins focusses in Germany is representing financial sponsors on deals, and it has strong LBO and transactional private equity practices. Heralding from New York, the firm also boasts arguably the most experienced New York law high-yield practice based in Germany. Restructuring and insolvency is another practice where the firm is among the market leaders in Germany, and generally instructed on large cases.
The firm has been involved a significant number of large new money LBOs and refinancings, with a mix of lender and borrower roles. Among the highlights was advising the banks which financed the takeover of Stada.
Recent debt capital markets work was varied. Notably it had issuer side roles on a number of large debut high-yield issues by German companies, advised the lenders/arrangers on various significant bond issues as part of bank/bond financings, several of which were for private equity buyouts.
The equity capital markets practice secured roles on high profile IPOs and secondary offerings. The highlights were advising Siemens on the IPO of its Healthineers unit, advising the joint global coordinators and joint bookrunners of Hellofresh’s IPO, and representing Varta on its IPO.
In M&A the firm secured mandates on a numerous large strategic cross border deals with a German party. The deals were in sectors including power, transport, and automotive manufacturing.
The firm was busy in private equity and advised international houses on exits and acquisitions of German assets. The highlights included representing BC Partners when it bought PlusServer and CVC when it purchased an 80% stake in Breitling.
Recent headline restructuring and insolvency work for the firm has included roles for debtors, creditors and other claimants in large cases. A few examples were representing the insolvent Air Berlin in proceedings, and acting for the ad-hoc committee of certain bondholders in the restructuring of Steinhoff.
Notable clients include Siemens, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, and Uniper.
"Broad and in depth knowledge of corporate finance topics around restructuring, refinancing and acquisition financing both for corporates and financial sponsors. High quality advice and superb legal expertise in the relevant legal fields." - Banking
"Excellent advice. Robust defence of our position based on clear understanding of our requirements." - Banking
"High professional expertise combined with thorough understanding of complex restructuring situations; outstanding conduct of negotiations." - Restructuring
"Latham is certainly a market leader in private equity, M&A and large corporate restructurings and refinancings." - Banking, capital markets
"One of the best law firms in the market. Especially in special restructuring situations." - Banking, restructuring
"Excellent and timely." - Banking
"Reliable partner that's always reachable and quick in giving advice." - Restructuring and insolvency
Leo Schmidt-Hollburg Witte & Frank is a domestic German corporate boutique. Recently in M&A the firm advised on joint ventures and a mix of sales and acquisitions. A highlight for the firm was advising Pareto Securities on a joint venture with Ernst Russ, forming a joint-venture company in Hamburg.
Other clients of the firm include Zertus, EMERAM Capital Partners, and MCM Marine Capital Management.
Linklaters has a broad transactional offering in Germany but its main attribute is banking and finance expertise. It has a number of market leading banking supervisory law, bank lending, and debt capital markets experts, and additionally is known for specialising in the issue of equity-linked debt products.
Recent banking highlights for the firm include large new money syndications and refinancings, and several large acquisition financings. Among the highlights were a bridge financing for Eon for its acquisition of Innogy, and representing Deutsche Bank when Heidelberg Cement refinanced its revolving credit facility.
Project finance highlights were mostly lender side roles on power projects, both new money deals and refinancings.
In the debt capital markets area, the firm was involved in a significant amount of new debt issues, with a mix of arranger and issuer roles, and a range of products including exchangeable, hybrid, and regulatory capital issues. Other debt finance work included various derivatives and securitisation transactions for investment banks.
The M&A practice is involved in public and corporate transactions in sectors including infrastructure, energy and manufacturing. The highlights include Thyssenkrupp’s European merger with Tata Steel and Hochtief’s takeover of Abertis.
In the restructuring area the firm’s work has mostly been on the side of creditors although it had several mandates for regulators in the restructuring of European lenders.
A significant lateral hire by the firm in the research period was the recruitment of Neil George Weiand, one of Germany’s most experienced bank lending specialists, from Allen & Overy.
Deutsche Bank, UniCredit, and Eon are some of the firm’s notable clients.
"Consistently good work, good product knowledge, and very responsive." - Derivatives, restructuring
"Excellent M&A practice, highly responsive, very knowledgeable in the energy sector and its individuals are easy to work with. Pragmatic and sensible firm that understands the commercial drivers." - M&A, project finance
"Linklaters has provided us excellent service, obtaining positive outcomes at a reasonable price. It is responsive, professional and pragmatic." - M&A
Mayer Brown is recognised in banking, capital markets debt, structured finance and securitisation, and M&A.
In banking, the firm has worked on refinancings, acquisition finance, and syndicated loans, representing borrowers and lenders, along with giving regulatory advice. For example, the firm advised Natixis Pfandbriefbank on an acquisition financing for Eschborn Plaza.
In capital markets the firm was active in the debt markets, including high yield. A highlight in this practice area was representing China International Capital Corporation, Société Générale, China Minsheng Banking Corp, SPD Bank Singapore, and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China as joint arrangers on a eurobond issuance on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.
In structured finance and securitisation the firm advised Commerzbank on the security structure of exchange traded notes and commodities.
In M&A the firm advised Nestlé on the acquisition of Atrium Innovations.
Other high-profile clients of the firm include Bundesverband Deutscher Banken, Deutscher Derivate Verband, the Royal Bank of Scotland, and Dow Chemical.
"Excellent legal knowledge, and very experienced in international capital markets."- Capital markets
"I have been working with Bernd Bohr and his team at Mayer Brown since late 2014. We have been extremely happy with the quality and level of service we have received from Mr Bohr and his team. It has always come through for us and has delivered great results on time and on budget. Bernd Bohr has been our go-to lawyer for all our financing transactions, including all our high yield bond offerings over the past few years. He is exceptionally quick and smart and knows all the documents and relevant precedents. At the same time he is always commercial and pragmatic. We are very happy with Mr. Bohr and his team and are continuing to rely on him for all our financings requirements, including various term loan and variable capex facilities." – Banking, capital markets
"It offers pragmatic advice, strong relationship management, and is fully up to speed on the relevant issues." – M&A, restructuring
"It's responsive, precise, and provides practical and workable solutions. The team has a high level of legal, regulatory and industry expertise." - Derivatives
"Strong practice, with the lead partners very visible on transactions and good at maintaining client relationships." - Private equity
"We have experienced Mayer Brown partners as reliable, responsive, and accomplished legal advisors." – Capital markets
"We are very much satisfied with its work. It has a high degree of discipline and are cautious with its dealings. The firm both produces good quality of work in a relatively short period of time. It is competent, especially in M&A and insolvency." - M&A, insolvency
"We work mostly with our relationship partner, Dr Joachim Modlich, and his team and—depending on the project—his international colleagues. Joachim is a very business-minded, solution-oriented and proactive lawyer which we appreciate a lot. He keeps the team working for us as small as possible, is always on top of the matter and solves any issues that may arise with any of his colleagues. Apart from these important managerial skills, the quality of his own legal work is outstanding—always adequate for the situation and taking a risk-based approach." – M&A
"High commitment, very experienced, comprehensive advice and strong communication." – M&A
Milbank has a strong leveraged buy-out practice, experienced in both the financing and M&A aspects of private equity transactions. More broadly the firm is recognised for lending work and strategic M&A.
The firm worked extensively in acquisition finance in the banking practice area. Clients included Commerzbank, HSBC Trinkaus & Burkhardt, and IKB Deutsche Industriebank.
In capital markets the firm advised Goshawk Aviation Group on its schuldschein issuance, with Commerzbank and BNP Paribas acting as joint lead arrangers.
In terms of M&A, the firm represented Affinatas on the merger with Spark Network, creating a new German holding company listed in the US through American Depositary Shares.
In private equity the firm’s clear highlight was advising Partners Group, part of the consortium led by Cinven and Bain, in the takeover offer for Stada.
The firm hired Steffen Oppenländer, an M&A partner, from Hengeler Mueller in September 2017.
Other high-profile clients of the firm include Bank of Ireland, Goldman Sachs Lending Partners, and the Carlyle Group.
"Easy accessibility of lawyers that offer competent advice in tricky situations." – Restructuring
"Excellent people; Thomas Ingenhoven is one of the best finance lawyers in Germany; good bench of associates who can run with a deal largely on its own. It has great customer service and dedication and a good international network." – Banking
"Very strong M&A competencies and excellent public markets law support." – M&A
Noerr is recognised in banking, capital markets, M&A, and restructuring. The firm is strongest in restructuring and banking.
The firm worked extensively on acquisition finance in banking, for example representing Deutsche Bank, along with a consortium of banks including Bayerische Landesbank, Commerzbank, Landesbank Baden-Württemberg, and Deutsche Industriebank, on acquisition finance for Tyczka Group.
In capital markets, on the equity side, the firm advised HelloFresh on its IPO in Frankfurt, among other IPOs. On the debt side, the firm advised its clients on bond issuances, for example advising MyBucks on its three-year bond issuance on the Vienna Stock Exchange.
The firm has worked on a mix of purchases and sales in M&A. It advised Condor and its parent company Thomas Cook on the takeover of Air Berlin Aviation.
In restructuring, the firm primarily represented the interests of creditors in insolvent entities, for example working on the restructuring of Eno Energy for a consortium of banks.
In capital markets, the firm hired Volker Land from White & Case in April 2017. In banking and finance, the firm hired Kai-Michael Hingst, also from White & Case, Edina Schweizer from Kinstellar, and Alexander Schilling from Allen & Overy. Nadejda Kysel left in May 2017.
Some other noteworthy clients of the firm are Deutsche Pfandbriefbank, Landesbank Baden-Württemberg, and UniCredit Bank.
The firm opened a new office in Hamburg in March 2017.
Pinsent Masons has a presence in banking, debt and equity capital markets, and M&A in Germany.
In capital markets the firm’s work was centred around IPOs and capital increases for its clients, such as advising Mynaric on its IPO in the scale segment of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.
In M&A the firm advised MultiBank on the acquisition of a German investment management firm, also working on regulatory issues. The firm has also advised clients on sales in M&A.
The firm hired in M&A, taking on a new legal director, Peter Roesgen from Hogan Lovells and Thomas Peschke as partner from KPMG.
Other notable clients of the firm include Shanghai Western Investment Management Co., Nabaltec, and Knorr Bremse Nordic Rail Services.
"In the past few years we have acquired numerous listed and non-listed technology companies. Pinsent Masons—mainly Thomas Mayrhofer supported by Gudrun Moll—accompanied us through the share acquisition taking on de-facto control. The creativity of Pinsent Masons in the structuring phase, but also its fast and focussed approach within the various steps required has been outstanding." – Banking, M&A
"Dr Leonard is not only highly responsive and does excellent legal work, but most importantly, she does this in a manner that is easy to implement in our business—she provides real answers rather than long expositions on legal theory." – M&A, restructuring
Schalast is an independent domestic firm active in M&A.
The firm advised a mix of buyers and sellers in M&A, for example representing Beyond Capital Partners on the acquisition of two companies in the light and building sector.
Jürgen Heilbock, a non-equity partner in M&A, left the firm in May 2017.
A few other clients of the firm are Docu Group Deutsche Holding, KOA Europe, and Med 360.
"Good turnaround and professional advice." - Regulatory
"I like its business and solution oriented style; it is very good in negotiation strategies. Although a medium-sized firm, it managed in deals with two big shot firms on the other side extremely well." - M&A
"Professor Schalast provides very valuable advice, considering not only legal aspects but also business aspects. He is very strong in understanding the business." - M&A
"It has strong experience in the sector and dealt with matters well, expeditiously and practically." - M&A
"We jointly represented a bank that was in distress. Our firm did the Dutch law aspects, and Schalast the German law aspects." - Restructuring
"I find Schalast Rechtsanwalte to be the perfect 360 degrees law firm. I have been receiving competent and quick advice for almost 10 years by Schalast & Partner in many fields. I particularly appreciate its client orientated service at fair rates." - Banking
"Very individualised profound advice and legal knowledge." - Banking, M&A
"Knows the industry, knows the business; very strong commercial understanding, and very accessible."
"Very competent and reliable."
Kristof Schnitzler, Andreas Walter
"Excellent lawyers, practical and good price and quality."
“Excellent English, good local knowledge of marketplace and very sound and practical advice.”
Shearman & Sterling in Germany is active in banking, capital markets, both debt and equity, and M&A.
In terms of banking and finance, the firm saw extensive work in acquisition finance, primarily on the lender side. A stand out deal from the research period was advising Ardagh Group on a financing by Citibank, comprised of asset-based lending secured by assets in the US, Germany, the UK, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Ireland.
In the equity markets the firm worked on several employee share offerings, including for Adidas, Peugeot, Michelin, and L’Oréal. On the debt side, the firm represented corporate clients raising funds through bond issuance, for example advising Ardagh Group again on a notes offering.
The firm predominantly worked on acquisitions for buyers in M&A, but also saw work advising sellers, and, to a lesser extent, was active in joint ventures. A recent highlight for the firm in this practice area was advising Allianz on its sale of about 90% of Oldenburgische Landesbank to Bremer Kreditbank.
Ardagh Group and Allianz are key clients of the firm, with other noteworthy clients including Goldman Sachs International, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, UniCredit, and RBI.
"The firm's partners pay high attention to a transaction. It offers quick response times and a solution-oriented approach that doesn't waste too much time arguing for the sake of arguing." - Banking
Simmons & Simmons is active in banking and M&A in Germany.
In banking, the firm has experience representing a international investment banks as lenders, arrangers, and borrowers, including work on acquisition finance and refinancing.
The firm represented buyers in M&A transactions. It saw some work in mergers and sales. An example of its work representing buyers was its advice to Aperam in its acquisition of VDM Metals.
The firm substantially recruited during the research period, hiring four new partners. The new additions are Werner Meier from King & Spalding, Benedikt Weiser from Dechert, and Robert Heym and Theresia Gondro from CMS Olswang, Boris Schilmar, partner in M&A, left the firm for KPMG Law in February 2018.
The firm represents several notable financial institutions, such as JP Morgan Securities, Lloyds Bank, and BlackRock.
"Fantastic team. Dr Weiser and Ms Schwiebert were excellent partners for our firm." – Investment funds
"Very responsive, offering creative solutions and relevant expertise." - Capital markets, insolvency
"Very interest-based advice in complex situations with viable client relationship management." – Investment funds
Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom’s strength in Germany lies in equity capital markets, but it is also known for private equity, M&A, and debt markets work.
In banking, the firm advised primarily borrowers, often on acquisition finance or refinancing deals. The firm advised Hillenbrand on a syndicated facility with Commerzbank, for example.
In equity capital markets, the firm worked on the IPO of Zur Rose Group on the SIX Swiss Exchange, representing UBS and Berenberg as joint global coordinators and joint bookrunners. The firm worked on multiple notable IPOs in the capital markets equity area, additionally assisting with secondary placements. On the debt side, the firm advised JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank as joint bookrunners on TLG Immobilien’s bond offering.
A stand out deal for the firm in M&A was advising the supervisory board of Stada in its takeover by Bain Capital and Cinven Partners. More broadly in M&A, the firm represented a mix of sellers and acquirers, with the emphasis on the latter, and did work in joint ventures for its clients.
Other high-profile clients of the firm are Commerzbank, UBS, Bank of America Merril Lynch, and Daimler.
"It has excellent knowledge of our business model, is dedicated to solving the client's problems, and has excellent negotiators that are very well accepted in the financial community. The firm is clearly focused on the main issues without neglecting secondary risks." - Banking and finance
Sullivan & Cromwell is a market leader in equity capital markets and strong in M&A.
In banking, the firm worked for both lenders and borrowers, with a highlight being its work for JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, and BNP Paribas on a senior facility agreement to Tele Columbus.
In debt capital markets the firm represented German corporate clients on debt issuances, including advising Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau on twenty-two shelf takedowns.
Equity capital markets is where the firm excels. It advised on many high-profile IPOs during the research period. A notable deal in this category was advising Deutsche Bank as global coordinator and book runner, and Barclays, Citigroup, and Credit Suisse as joint bookrunners, on the IPO of DWS Group, previously Deutsche Asset Management, prior to its carve out from Deutsche Bank.
A true standout for the firm in M&A is advising Bayer on its acquisition of Monsanto. Otherwise, the firm worked on a number of extremely high value deals, including further acquisitions, but also a series of mergers.
The firm has represented a multitude of notable clients, including Praxair, Goldman Sachs, Siemens Aktiengeselschaft, and TLG Immobilien.
Willkie Farr & Gallagher has a strong private equity practice.
In banking, the firm worked on acquisition finance deals, representing both acquirers and lenders. For example, the firm advised Permira Debt Managers in lending to Vitruvian Partners to finance the acquisition of Technogroup IT-Service.
In private equity the firm represented the London based fund PAI Partners in the cross-jurisdictional sale of its portfolio company, IPH, to Advent International, in the process combining IPH with Brammer.
PAI Group and Ardian are key clients of the firm, with other clients including Waterland Private Equity, Hudson’s Bay Company, and 3i Group.
"One of the best experiences I've had working with a law firm in two decades. It was highly competent and efficient and quickly became the most listened-to voice in a room full of lawyers. I felt confident relying on its expertise and advice as it could think through both legal and business side problems." - Private equity