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Thought Leaders

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Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Christoph Neeracher is praised by commentators as “a strong dealmaker” with a track record for excellent private M&A work.

Questions & Answers

Christoph Neeracher heads the private M&A and private equity practice at Bär & Karrer. He specialises in international and domestic M&A transactions (focusing on private M&A and private equity transactions, including secondary buyouts, public to private transactions and distressed equity), transaction finance, venture capital, start-ups, corporate restructurings, relocations, corporate law, general contract matters (eg, joint ventures, partnerships and shareholders’ agreements) and all directly related areas, such as employment matters for key employees (eg, employee participation and incentive agreements). 

What inspired you to pursue a legal career?

It was Rolf Watter and Peter Forstmoser during an M&A off-site seminar at Zurich University, a long time ago. The way they introduced us into the diversity of legal (and commercial) topics of M&A transactions was a triggering moment for me to pursue a legal career. 

What do you enjoy most about working on M&A and private equity transactions?

The variety of topics, challenges and personalities involved. Although one must expect somewhat repeating elements, M&A transactions are never the same and require all involved parties to adapt quickly to the particular situation. From market environment, specific industry challenges and opportunities, to strong characters of the key persons involved – all those elements form unique transactions resulting – mostly – in interesting new and diverse experiences. 

What do clients look for in an effective M&A lawyer?

Pragmatic, solution-oriented, commercially minded and technically excellent lawyers, with great social skills, are predetermined to be successful M&A lawyers and are highly sought after by clients. An effective M&A lawyer needs to be able to carefully read the counterparties’ representatives and be able to find reasonable compromises while being tough and demanding at the same time. 

You have noted a shift in focus of private equity companies from traditional to technology-related industries. How has this impacted your practice?

We see a greater involvement of our IP/IT department in recent transactions given the increased focus on technology-related industries. This has impacted my practice insofar as technological interest and industry-specific expertise is progressively mandatory. In addition, retention of key personnel (to avoid a knowledge drain) has also gained importance and therefore discussions around re-investments and participation of key managers and developers have also increased. 

What would you say is driving increasing consolidation in certain sectors such as retail?

Consolidations are normally driven by economic factors (sometimes by increased regulatory pressure, (eg, on banks) and the need to realise synergies or to focus on key areas. Retail businesses in particular are facing big challenges as a result of changed consumer behaviour. Vertical integration and disposal of non-core divisions (and carve outs) lead to a significant increase of M&A activities. 

Looking ahead, what role do you see publicly listed companies playing in the private equity and M&A market?

Private equity companies are increasingly considering public to private (P2P) transactions – be it as a result of low stock prices, the ability to (sometimes) acquire companies outside of auction processes, the limited number of larger privately held companies in the market or other reasons. Successful P2P precedents generate more and more interest from private equity investors to pursue take-private opportunities. 

How do you expect the ramifications of covid-19 to impact the M&A market?

We expect a decline in M&A activities until the need to dispose of divisions, restructure companies or otherwise focus on key activities increases – all depending on the overall impact of covid-19 (and in particular the duration of the covid-19 restrictions and uncertainties) on the economy, consumer behaviour and other key factors. We all hope that the impact will be limited to what we envisage today, but doubts remain as to whether we have yet seen the full magnitude of the pandemic. 

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Always stay positive and confident, even in difficult situations such as the 2007–2008 financial crisis or when looking at today’s challenges. 

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Christoph Neeracher is praised by commentators as “a strong dealmaker” with a track record for excellent private M&A work.

Questions & Answers

Christoph Neeracher heads the private M&A and private equity practice at Bär & Karrer. He specialises in international and domestic M&A transactions (focusing on private M&A and private equity transactions, including secondary buyouts, public to private transactions and distressed equity), transaction finance, venture capital, startups, corporate restructurings, relocations, corporate law, general contract matters (e.g. joint ventures, partnerships and shareholders agreements) and all directly related areas such as employment matters for key employees (e.g. employee participation and incentive agreements).

What has been the most memorable case you have worked on to date? 

Every case is unique and memorable in its own way as there is almost always a variety of topics, challenges and personalities involved. Although one must expect somewhat repeating elements, M&A transactions are never the same and require all involved parties to adapt quickly to the particular situation. From market environment, specific industry challenges / opportunities, to strong characters of the key persons involved – all those elements form unique transactions resulting – mostly – into interesting new and diverse experiences. 

What would you say is driving the increasing interest from private equity companies in public M&A? How is this impacting the market? 

Private equity companies are increasingly considering public to private (P2P) transactions in particular as a result of low stock prices, the ability to (sometimes) acquire companies outside of (very competitive) auction processes, the limited number of larger privately held companies in the market or other reasons. Successful P2P precedents generate more and more interest of private equity investors to pursue private opportunities. This is impacting the market insofar as companies can sometimes go private again after a relatively short period of time following an IPO.

What are the main complications that lawyers face when handling cross-border M&A proceedings? 

Coordination and communication are the key success factors when handling cross-border M&A proceedings. Hence, getting all legal advisers on the same page, by assigning clear responsibilities and committing to strict deadlines from kick-off to closing, is critical, in particular where coordination has to take place between different law firms that are dispersed over different time zones.

How has the shift from individual to teamwork on transactions changed the nature of M&A practice?

The shift from individual to teamwork on transactions has proven to be very beneficial for the clients on M&A transactions as they receive the best advice from the relevant experts. It is crucial for efficient deal handling that one transaction experienced lawyer is in charge and assumes overall deal responsibility to build the right team (involve experts if and when needed), allocate tasks, keep oversight of the various work streams and be the key contact for the client.

In what way has covid-19 affected pending M&A transactions?

The first half of 2020 shows that the M&A business on the Swiss market decreased by roughly a quarter compared to the same period of 2019. This slow-down was primarily caused by the covid-19 pandemic and due to the related uncertainties several transactions were postponed or suspended. 

However, the sale of Swissbit, a leading Swiss based manufacturer of secure, high-quality storage and embedded Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, to private equity investor Ardian amidst the covid-19 pandemic, is proof that there is still an appetite to acquire attractive targets in Switzerland (especially small and medium enterprises).

How is the generational shift changing legal practice at your firm? What do younger lawyers do differently? 

Younger lawyers do increasingly make better use of technology to improve processes and efficiency. An open communication within the law firm is crucial for younger lawyers to allow them gaining a complete understanding of the law firm and its structure.

Looking forward, where does the future of M&A in Switzerland lie? 

We are fairly optimistic to see an active M&A landscape in Switzerland in the future as the TMT sector remains to be attractive for investors and consolidation continues to be relevant in various sectors (in particular in the healthcare and IT sector). Further, private equity investors are still facing high pressure to invest and can (still) benefit from low interest rates. This is of course all conditional upon the covid-19 pandemic not worsening again and thereby creating even more uncertainty, and financing banks not becoming less accommodating in financing transactions due to the covid-19 pandemic.

What advice would you give to younger lawyers looking to specialise in M&A?

I would gladly pass on the best piece of advice that I have ever received: “Always stay positive and confident, even in difficult situations.” Apart from that it is in my opinion crucial that an aspiring M&A lawyer develops a second mainstay to ensure business continuity even in situations where M&A activity may unexpectedly decrease.

Global Leader

M&A 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Christoph Neeracher is praised by commentators as “a strong dealmaker” with a track record for excellent private M&A work.

Biography

Christoph Neeracher heads the private M&A and private equity practice at Bär & Karrer. He is based in Zurich and has been a partner since 2007. He is a member of the managing board of Bär & Karrer and, among others, co-founder of Bär & Karrer's startup desk.

Christoph Neeracher specialises in international and domestic M&A transactions with a clear focus on private M&A and private equity transactions (including secondary buyouts, public to private transactions and distressed equity). Christoph Neeracher further advises clients in connection with transaction finance, venture capital, startups, corporate restructurings, relocations, corporate law, general contract matters (such as joint ventures, partnerships and shareholders' agreements) and all directly related areas such as employment matters for key employees (in particular employee participation programmes). Additionally, Christoph Neeracher represents clients in litigation proceedings in his core fields of activity.

Christoph Neeracher has extensive experience in national and international private M&A transactions (sell- and buy-side) in various industries and regularly leads international corporate auction processes involving multiple bidders and parallel negotiations (using different sub-teams; all under heavy time pressure).

Christoph Neeracher has frequent speaking engagements on M&A-related topics (eg, Swiss Private Equity & Corporate Finance Association, SECA, Executive MBA University of St Gallen, LLM University of Zurich and Mergermarket) and was the chairperson of an annual seminar on mergers & acquisitions for practitioners, in cooperation with the University of St Gallen, Switzerland. He is a regular contributor to international M&A, private equity and corporate law publications (eg, IFLR MagazineGTDTLegal 500LexisNexis Mergers & Acquisitions Law Guide).

He holds a Dr iur from the University of Zurich and a LLM in corporate law from New York University. He is a member of the Zurich and the Swiss bar associations as well as the IBA and the IPBA. Christoph Neeracher speaks German, English and French.

Christoph Neeracher is recognised as one of the pre-eminent private M&A and private equity attorneys in Switzerland and a leading lawyer in financial and corporate law by IFLR 1000 (since 2011) and Chambers Europe and Chambers Global (since 2010), The Legal 500 (since 2012) and Who's Who Legal (since 2013). Who's Who Legal M&A 2019 describes him as "top-class in private M&A" and "an excellent negotiator". Christoph Neeracher is ranked first in Mergermarkets' Profile League Table for 2016's most prolific individual DACH legal advisers.

Bär & Karrer is a renowned Swiss law firm with more than 170 lawyers in Zurich, Geneva, Lugano and Zug. Its core business is advising clients on innovative and complex transactions and representing them in litigation, arbitration and regulatory proceedings. The firm's clients range from multinational corporations to private individuals in Switzerland and around the world.

Bär & Karrer has been repeatedly awarded Switzerland's "Law Firm of the Year" by the most prestigious international legal ranking agencies.

National Leader

Switzerland - M&A 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Christoph Neeracher comes highly recommended by peers who applaud his excellent work on private M&A and private equity transactions. He has extensive experience on the buy and sell sides​.

Biography

Christoph Neeracher heads the private M&A and private equity practice at Bär & Karrer. He is based in Zurich and has been a partner since 2007. He is a member of the managing board of Bär & Karrer and, among others, co-founder of Bär & Karrer's startup desk.

Christoph Neeracher specialises in international and domestic M&A transactions with a clear focus on private M&A and private equity transactions (including secondary buyouts, public to private transactions and distressed equity). Christoph Neeracher further advises clients in connection with transaction finance, venture capital, startups, corporate restructurings, relocations, corporate law, general contract matters (such as joint ventures, partnerships and shareholders' agreements) and all directly related areas such as employment matters for key employees (in particular employee participation programmes). Additionally, Christoph Neeracher represents clients in litigation proceedings in his core fields of activity.

Christoph Neeracher has extensive experience in national and international private M&A transactions (sell- and buy-side) in various industries and regularly leads international corporate auction processes involving multiple bidders and parallel negotiations (using different sub-teams; all under heavy time pressure).

Christoph Neeracher has frequent speaking engagements on M&A-related topics (eg, Swiss Private Equity & Corporate Finance Association, SECA, Executive MBA University of St Gallen, LLM University of Zurich and Mergermarket) and was the chairperson of an annual seminar on mergers & acquisitions for practitioners, in cooperation with the University of St Gallen, Switzerland. He is a regular contributor to international M&A, private equity and corporate law publications (eg, IFLR MagazineGTDTLegal 500LexisNexis Mergers & Acquisitions Law Guide).

He holds a Dr iur from the University of Zurich and a LLM in corporate law from New York University. He is a member of the Zurich and the Swiss bar associations as well as the IBA and the IPBA. Christoph Neeracher speaks German, English and French.

Christoph Neeracher is recognised as one of the pre-eminent private M&A and private equity attorneys in Switzerland and a leading lawyer in financial and corporate law by IFLR 1000 (since 2011) and Chambers Europe and Chambers Global (since 2010), The Legal 500 (since 2012) and Who's Who Legal (since 2013). Who's Who Legal M&A 2019 describes him as "top-class in private M&A" and "an excellent negotiator". Christoph Neeracher is ranked first in Mergermarkets' Profile League Table for 2016's most prolific individual DACH legal advisers.

Bär & Karrer is a renowned Swiss law firm with more than 170 lawyers in Zurich, Geneva, Lugano and Zug. Its core business is advising clients on innovative and complex transactions and representing them in litigation, arbitration and regulatory proceedings. The firm's clients range from multinational corporations to private individuals in Switzerland and around the world.

Bär & Karrer has been repeatedly awarded Switzerland's "Law Firm of the Year" by the most prestigious international legal ranking agencies.

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