JUVE Law Firm of the year

Corporate

Brexit turns the Continent on its head

Corporate lawyers have seen their work transform in the aftermath of the financial crisis, but 2016 brought another shock which will shape their market for years to come. The UK’s vote in June 2016 to leave the EU has radically changed the issues and scope of corporate law; it will also transform the role of German law within Europe as a whole. Firstly, the fact that corporations and banks with headquarters in London would then be based outside of the EU was the first aspect of the cataclysmic referendum result.

While for many companies being outside of the EU will not be problem as such, for any industries that are more heavily regulated – and here banks are the foremost challenge – there will have to be in-depth restructuring of their setup. Lawyers reported that immediately after the result, banks were exploring how the combination of corporate and regulatory conditions would affect their structures.

D&O advice continues to grow

The boom in advice to managers as regards their liability has been going on for some years and shows no sign of abating. Indeed every year more firms become involved thanks to the need for independent advice to executive and supervisory board members. The scandal at VW even led to the advisory board getting advice from a leading corporate lawyer. This situation in general has led to a certain bifurcation in the market: on the one hand, law firms are tending to specialize in advising the company and its shareholders, while on the other hand, smaller boutiques provide advice to individuals, with some law firms specializing in second opinions to the companies.

Versatile corporate lawyers highly sought after

It is a long time since there were such significant moves in the corporate market. The most spectacular was Dr. Achim Herfs’ move from Hengeler Mueller to US private equity powerhouse Kirkland & Ellis – a remarkable event since it was the first time a senior Hengeler lawyer had ever left the firm for a competitor. It underscored Kirkland & Ellis’ ambitions for the market, as well as the potential attraction of Hengeler partners in the coming years: the former Hengeler partner covers everything from law of corporations to capital markets, restructuring and dual-track exits.

Other important moves included Gibson Dunn & Crutcher’s opening an office in Frankfurt with Dr. Wilhelm Reinhardt, the most important takeover lawyer from Latham & Watkins.

Corporate lawyers also sought after in business

The central role corporate know-how plays outside firms was demonstrated by the announcement that Flick Gocke Schaumburg’s key corporate partner Prof. Dr. Stefan Simon would be joining the supervisory board at Deutsche Bank in Bonn, in order to take over the post from Georg Thoma. It was a major blow to the firm, since Simon has been responsible for building up an enviable corporate practice over the past five years.

 


 

The following chapter deals with those firms that operate at the top end of the market, where they have gained a national or international reputation. This chapter spans advice to large companies and corporate groups, including stock corporations and their management/supervisory boards, on restructuring, corporate contracts, control agreements, amendments to articles of association, mergers and spinoffs, as well as takeovers according to the German Securities Acquisition and Takeover Act. Legal advice on acquisitions is covered in the ?M&A chapter. This practice area is also closely connected to ?insolvency and restructuring, ?compliance audits and investigations. Corporate litigation is discussed in the chapter on ?dispute resolution.


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