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France: M&A and Governance 2016

In the last few years European M&A deal activity has been robust, with France being among the most active on the continent. However, the situation has deteriorated with a 41 per cent decline in transactions involving a French company during the first nine months of 2015, compared to the same period in 2014. Current economic unpredictability and concerns over the price of the euro are having a negative impact on confidence in the region. Against this backdrop we identify 19 M&A practitioners and eight due diligence accountants. 

Bredin Prat leads the way in our research with an impressive five practitioners listed in this chapter. The “superb” Sébastien Prat is praised by clients and peers for his “phenomenal technical abilities” and as a “gifted handler of complicated transactions”. Didier Martin is described as an “excellent strategist” and “a longstanding authority” in terms of both domestic and cross-border corporate deals. Patrick Dziewolski is recommended by clients and peers for his practical and forward-thinking counsel; he is particularly well known for his work in the energy, construction and financial sectors. Olivier Assant comes recommended for his work in both inbound and outbound M&A transactions. His business sense is highly commendable, according to respondents. Alongside them clients recommend Benjamin Kanovitch for his ability to provide “pragmatic, clear and meticulously worked-out advice”.

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom have two outstanding practitioners identified in this chapter. Head of the firm’s European M&A practice and leader of the Paris office Armand Grumberg focuses his practice on strategic and complex cross-border transactions, including public and private acquisitions, contested and hostile bids, joint ventures, and corporate reorganisations. Alongside him, Olivier Diaz is “a certain inclusion” with over 25 years advising on some of the largest and most complex M&A transactions in France.

From Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier, Jean-Michel Darrois is considered “one of the most influential dealmakers in France”. He is praised by respondents as one of the leading authorities in high-status cross-border transactions. He is joined by Alain Maillot who is highly respected for his impressive network of contacts and an excellent supporting team.

Nadège Nguyen from Gide Loyrette Nouel is “as smart as they come”, according to one peer. Her practice covers domestic and cross-border M&A, with a particular focus across the industrial and renewable energy sectors. She continually impresses clients with her “willingness to go the extra mile”. Alongside her, Christophe Eck frequently works on cross-border deals. He is described as “astute and a gifted negotiator”.

At Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Hervé Pisani is an “internationally acclaimed expert” in public and private M&A. Described as an “outstanding lawyer”, he also “thoroughly understanding clients’ business requirements”.

David Aknin at Weil Gotshal & Manges is widely seen as a “leading corporate practitioner”, with a “fantastic grasp over the management of the different parties involved in complex transactions”.  

Youssef Djehane from BDGS Associates is a “renowned authority” on a wide range of M&A and governance issues. Praised by clients for his “sharp handling of complex transactions”, he produces “pragmatic, clear and meticulously worked out advice”.

Cabinet Bompoint’s Dominique Bompoint is “without doubt a top player”.  In particular, he is praised for his “ability to get to the heart of the issue when the deal is on the line” by one respondent.

From Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, Pierre-Yves Chabert is described as “one of the country’s premier corporate lawyers”. His presence on a transactions is described as “a huge asset” by sources.

The “fantastic” Jean-Pierre Martel at Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe is a much sought after practitioner. He focuses his practice on advising on complex transactions. Clients praise his “creativity” combined with a “strategic approach”.

Daniel Hurstel from Willkie Farr & Gallagher has a strong presence in both inbound and outbound M&A deals. One peer responded, “He has many technical attributes I admire, as well as a commercial and user-friendly approach.

Thierry Brocas from De Pardieu Brocas Maffei stands out as one of the “elder statesman” of the French M&A market.

Due Diligence Accountants

Eight individuals stand out for their impressive contribution to this field.

At KPMG Vincent Delmas is highly respected by clients for his experience and “tough approach”. He is joined by Raphael Jacquemard, a prominent nominee for his analytical abilities.

Accuracy is home to the “excellent” Christophe Leclerc. Alongside him is Bruno Husson, who clients find responsive and user-friendly.

At PwC, Philippe Degonzague is recommended for his “top-notch” due diligence international practice.

At Deloitte Sébastien Manelfe is described as “certainly a leading figure and authority on M&A due diligence”.

Olivier Macard is ranked as the key figure from EY.

From Eight Advisory, Christian Berling is seen as a go-to figure for both domestic and international M&A advisory services.

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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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W11 1QQ, UK