Rolf Watter
Office:
Brandschenkestrasse 90
8027
City:
Zurich
State:
Zurich
Country:
Switzerland
Tel:
+41 58 261 50 00
Fax:
+41 58 261 50 01

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders - Switzerland

Rolf Watter heads the M&A practice at Bär & Karrer; he also specialises in corporate governance matters. He is presently the chair of Swiss-listed Ceva Logistics and of Postfinance. He is also a board member of Aryzta and AP Alternative Portfolio. He was chairman of Nobel Biocare and board member of Zurich Insurance, Syngenta, Centrepulse and Forbo. He is an editor of Swiss journal GesKR and the Basler Kommentare; he also teaches as a professor at the University of Zurich.

DESCRIBE YOUR CAREER TO DATE.

I was lucky that I began my career as a lawyer just when the first M&A wave started in Switzerland in the early 1990s. At that time, there was little legal know-how around on M&A matters and it was a big help that I had written my professorial thesis on this topic when I did postgraduate studies at Georgetown University in the US. A key element of the success was that the M&A market had been, from the start, very transparent on the question of which lawyer worked for whom – at that time, it was still prohibited for Swiss lawyers to carry out any sort of PR activity. This transparency helped potential clients to choose lawyers who already had experience in the field, which allowed me to broaden the client base quickly. 

M&A experience also helped me to become a member of the board of directors at listed companies at a relatively young age, which contributed to build a governance practice alongside the transaction business. 

Teaching at university and publishing was always important and certainly helped my career as lawyer.

HOW HAS THE ROLE OF LAWYERS IN THE CORPORATE SPACE DEVELOPED OVER THE COURSE OF YOUR CAREER?

The most striking development has been the specialisation of lawyers during the past 30 years. At the beginning of my career, one was already considered “specialised” when concentrating on commercial and corporate law, and on transactions; but nowadays lawyers are specialised in, for example, public or private transactions. 

Twenty years ago, a transaction lawyer was also supposed to be an expert on all transaction-related tax, IP and environmental matters. This is also not the case anymore – teamwork has replaced the practitioner who covered transactions from A to Z.

WHAT ARE THE GREATEST CHALLENGES CURRENTLY FACING M&A PRACTITIONERS IN SWITZERLAND?

I do not believe there are major challenges currently, but there are new developments – for example, the readiness of parties to litigate M&A deals post-closing, or to use litigation as a means in hostile public transaction. This trend necessitates that transaction lawyers also learn how a judge will read their carefully negotiated transaction agreements.  

WHAT MAKES BÄR & KARRER STAND OUT FROM ITS COMPETITORS IN THE MARKET?

We are a large and diverse team with a very high market share in public transactions, and a leading position in private equity transactions. 

IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT FURTHER STEPS NEED TO BE TAKEN TO EFFECTIVELY PROMOTE DIVERSITY AMONG COMPANY BOARDS?

Switzerland is likely to see legislation on this topic. My view is that it will be relatively easy to meet a gender quota in the supervisory boards, but much more difficult within top management. Generally, companies are absolutely willing to have diverse boards, but they are also aware that diversity is not only about gender – geography, age and a diverse know-how basis are equally, if not much more, important. 

TO WHAT EXTENT DO YOU SEE DIGITALISATION TRANSFORMING CORPORATE GOVERNANCE IN THE FUTURE?

There are two aspects worth highlighting: one is that digitalisation know-how is something boards need to have among their members so as to judge the impact and opportunities that digitalisation will have on the business model. Closely connected to this is the ability to assess the cyber risk issues the company might be facing. 

The second aspect is that software for management meetings starts to have a certain importance for boards and makes the work in practical terms easier, allowing them to, for example, easily review what has been discussed on the same topic in earlier sessions. 

LOOKING BACK OVER YOUR CAREER, WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE DEAL YOU HAVE BEEN A PART OF?

It was probably the merger between Sandoz and Ciba-Geigy, which created Novartis, simply because at the time it was the largest merger worldwide. I was the lead external legal counsel on the Sandoz side, shortly after I became partner at Bär & Karrer. There are also deals that stand out because they were complex, such as the merger and concurrent spin-off that created Syngenta or the takeover of Swiss Airlines by Lufthansa. 

WHAT, IF ANYTHING, DO YOU STILL HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH IN YOUR CAREER? 

I hope to be able to continue my career for another 10 years. One of the key goals in this time will be to ensure that the market position of Bär & Karrer will be kept once I retire or concentrate again on academic work. A further goal is to achieve as much as I can in the companies in which I serve as chairman or board member.  

Biographies:

Who's Who Legal Capital Markets: Debt and Equity

Rolf Watter heads the M&A and transaction practice at Bär & Karrer. He is based in Zurich and has been partner since 1994. He has broad experience in all types of M&A transactions, including defence mandates. He also specialises in corporate governance questions and capital market transactions.

Rolf Watter is presently chairman of PostFinance AG and of Ceva Logistics AG, and a board member of Aryzta AG, AP Alternative Portfolio and of the privately held Faber Castell (Holding) AG. Rolf Watter used to be a board member in a number of Swiss listed companies, namely Zurich Insurance Group, Nobel Biocare, Syngenta, Centrepulse and Forbo. In addition, he is a member of the regulatory board of the SIX Swiss Exchange.

Rolf Watter is an editor of the GesKR and the Basler Kommentare on the Code of Obligations II, the Financial Infrastructure Act, the Banking and the Merger Act. He regularly publishes in his fields of work.

WWL says: Rolf Watter is an eminent practitioner in Switzerland who enjoys a superb reputation for his vast expertise in debt and equity transactions.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Capital Markets which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Switzerland - Capital Markets

Rolf Watter heads the M&A–transaction practice at Bär & Karrer. He is based in Zurich and has been partner since 1994. He has broad experience in all types of M&A transactions, including defence mandates. He also specialises in corporate governance questions and capital market transactions.

He is presently chairman of PostFinance AG and CEVA Logistics AG and a board member of Aryzta AG, AP Alternative Portfolio and of the privately held Faber Castell (Holding) AG. Rolf Watter used to be a board member in a number of Swiss listed companies, namely Zurich Insurance Group, Nobel Biocare, Syngenta, Centrepulse and Forbo. In addition, he is a member of the regulatory board of the SIX Swiss Exchange. He also regularly advises SIX on various issues.

Rolf is an editor of the GesKR and the Basler Kommentare on the Code of Obligations II, the Financial Infrastructure Act, the Banking and the Merger Act. He regularly publishes in his fields of work.

Rolf holds a Dr iur from the University of Zurich and a LLM from Georgetown University, Washington, DC. Further, Rolf Watter has been a professor at the University of Zurich since 1996. He is a member of the Zurich as well as the Swiss Bar Association. He speaks German, English and French.

In Chambers Global and Chambers Europe, Rolf Watter is consistently ranked in “tier 1” of the leading lawyers for corporate/M&A in Switzerland. Best Lawyers awarded him Lawyer of the Year 2016 in corporate in the Zurich area. He is listed among the top 30 corporate governance practitioners in the world by Expertguides.

In the Bilanz, a Swiss economy journal, Rolf Watter has been listed as one of the two most influential lawyers in Switzerland since 2009. Rolf Watter won the ILO Client Choice Award Switzerland in the category M&A (2016 and 2018) and capital markets (2014).

Bär & Karrer is a renowned Swiss law firm with more than 150 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.

WWL says: Rolf Watter is a well-recognised name in the Swiss market who impresses with his strong knowledge of debt and equity-related matters.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Switzerland which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Switzerland - M&A

Rolf Watter heads the M&A–transaction practice at Bär & Karrer. He is based in Zurich and has been partner since 1994. He has broad experience in all types of M&A transactions, including defence mandates. He also specialises in corporate governance questions and capital market transactions.

He is presently chairman of PostFinance AG and CEVA Logistics AG and a board member of Aryzta AG, AP Alternative Portfolio and of the privately held Faber Castell (Holding) AG. Rolf Watter used to be a board member in a number of Swiss listed companies, namely Zurich Insurance Group, Nobel Biocare, Syngenta, Centrepulse and Forbo. In addition, he is a member of the regulatory board of the SIX Swiss Exchange. He also regularly advises SIX on various issues.

Rolf is an editor of the GesKR and the Basler Kommentare on the Code of Obligations II, the Financial Infrastructure Act, the Banking and the Merger Act. He regularly publishes in his fields of work.

Rolf holds a Dr iur from the University of Zurich and a LLM from Georgetown University, Washington, DC. Further, Rolf Watter has been a professor at the University of Zurich since 1996. He is a member of the Zurich as well as the Swiss Bar Association. He speaks German, English and French.

In Chambers Global and Chambers Europe, Rolf Watter is consistently ranked in “tier 1” of the leading lawyers for corporate/M&A in Switzerland. Best Lawyers awarded him Lawyer of the Year 2016 in corporate in the Zurich area. He is listed among the top 30 corporate governance practitioners in the world by Expertguides.

In the Bilanz, a Swiss economy journal, Rolf Watter has been listed as one of the two most influential lawyers in Switzerland since 2009. Rolf Watter won the ILO Client Choice Award Switzerland in the category M&A (2016 and 2018) and capital markets (2014).

Bär & Karrer is a renowned Swiss law firm with more than 150 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.

WWL says: Rolf Watter has a deep understanding of M&A, impressing sources with his "extensive know-how paired with the broadest possible experience of the requirements of a listed company".

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Switzerland which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Corporate: Merger & Acquisition

Rolf Watter heads the M&A–transaction practice at Bär & Karrer. He is based in Zurich and has been partner since 1994. He has broad experience in all types of M&A transactions, including defence mandates. He also specialises in corporate governance questions and capital market transactions.

He has been chairman of PostFinance AG since 2013 and is presently vice-chairman of CEVA Logistics AG (chairman 2018–2019) and a board member of Aryzta AG, AP Alternative Portfolio and of the privately held Faber Castell (Holding) AG. Rolf Watter used to be a board member in a number of Swiss listed companies, namely Zurich Insurance Group, Nobel Biocare (chairman 2012–2014), Syngenta, Centrepulse and Forbo. In addition, he is a member of the regulatory board of the SIX Swiss Exchange. He also regularly advises SIX on various issues.

Rolf is an editor of the GesKR and the Basler Kommentare on the Code of Obligations II, the Financial Infrastructure Act, the Banking and the Merger Act. He regularly publishes in his fields of work.

Rolf holds a Dr iur from the University of Zurich and a LLM from Georgetown University, Washington, DC. Further, Rolf Watter has been a professor at the University of Zurich since 1996. He is a member of the Zurich as well as the Swiss Bar Association. He speaks German, English and French.

In Chambers Global and Chambers Europe, Rolf Watter is consistently ranked in “tier 1” of the leading lawyers for corporate/M&A in Switzerland. Best Lawyers awarded him Lawyer of the Year 2016 in corporate in the Zurich area. He is listed among the top 30 corporate governance practitioners in the world by Expertguides.

Rolf Watter won the ILO Client Choice Award Switzerland in the category M&A (2016 and 2018) and capital markets (2014).

Bär & Karrer is a renowned Swiss law firm with more than 150 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.

WWL says: Rolf Watter is praised for his excellent work in corporate transactions by market commentators who describe him as "strong in public M&A".

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Corporate which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Corporate: Corporate Governance

Rolf Watter heads the M&A–transaction practice at Bär & Karrer. He is based in Zurich and has been partner since 1994. He has broad experience in all types of M&A transactions, including defence mandates. He also specialises in corporate governance questions and capital market transactions.

He has been chairman of PostFinance AG since 2013 and is presently vice-chairman of CEVA Logistics AG (chairman 2018–2019) and a board member of Aryzta AG, AP Alternative Portfolio and of the privately held Faber Castell (Holding) AG. Rolf Watter used to be a board member in a number of Swiss listed companies, namely Zurich Insurance Group, Nobel Biocare (chairman 2012–2014), Syngenta, Centrepulse and Forbo. In addition, he is a member of the regulatory board of the SIX Swiss Exchange. He also regularly advises SIX on various issues.

Rolf is an editor of the GesKR and the Basler Kommentare on the Code of Obligations II, the Financial Infrastructure Act, the Banking and the Merger Act. He regularly publishes in his fields of work.

Rolf holds a Dr iur from the University of Zurich and a LLM from Georgetown University, Washington, DC. Further, Rolf Watter has been a professor at the University of Zurich since 1996. He is a member of the Zurich as well as the Swiss Bar Association. He speaks German, English and French.

In Chambers Global and Chambers Europe, Rolf Watter is consistently ranked in “tier 1” of the leading lawyers for corporate/M&A in Switzerland. Best Lawyers awarded him Lawyer of the Year 2016 in corporate in the Zurich area. He is listed among the top 30 corporate governance practitioners in the world by Expertguides.

Rolf Watter won the ILO Client Choice Award Switzerland in the category M&A (2016 and 2018) and capital markets (2014).

Bär & Karrer is a renowned Swiss law firm with more than 150 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.

WWL says: Rolf Watter knows corporate governance inside out according to sources familiar with his top-tier practice and impressive experience in the field.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Corporate which can be purchased from our Shop.

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