Comment: FGS is a large and traditionally leading tax firm and made great strides in efforts to internationalize work. After joining the global Taxand alliance in early 2016, managing partner Rödder’s corporate tax team is increasingly referring German activity to the network and thus keeping the lead role in work for high-end German clients internationally. One prime example was the sale of globally positioned, regular FGS client Wirtgen to US corporate Deere. But even more important for the future is the fact that Taxand is providing serious inbound work to FGS, putting international (esp. European) companies that FGS previously had no access to on the almost exclusively German client list. The new IT collaboration with Deutsche Telekom, with whom FGS is aggressively tackling the trend towards legal/tax tech, also shows how the traditional work patterns of the large, tax-focused firm are being broken up, starting from the Bonn head office. But FGS also suffered a bitter blow: though it gained two partners specializing in VC and PE for its Munich office from KMW, incl. funds specialist Christian Schatz, almost half of the Berlin office broke away with the departure of the two renowned young partners Dr. Peter Möllmann and Dr. Helder Schnittker (own firm). Tax and ?corporate hopefuls in Bonn also joined new firm Schnittker Möllmann Partners, noticeably weakening FGS in its staffing development, a fact not disguised by Dr. Barbara Fleckenstein-Weiland making equity partner. She is the first female partner in the history of FGS.
Strengths: MDP advisory and litigation practice with tax know-how. Strong roots among DAX companies and family businesses thanks to strengthened expertise in corporate and inheritance tax law ( ?company succession and trusts). Very good linking of ?corporate and corporate restructuring. ?Tax criminal law.
Development potential: The loss of Möllmann and Schnittker weakened not only the Berlin office, but the corporate practice in general. The firm will need to build the office back up to generate more referrals from its undoubtedly strong tax practice and to play a greater role in lucrative deals. Appointing Fleckenstein-Weiland as partner put the expansion of sales tax, an open flank in the tax practice, on the agenda.
Recommended: Prof. Dr. Thomas Rödder (“renowned, strong negotiator”, competitor), Prof. Dr. Hubertus Baumhoff (transfer pricing), Prof. Dr. Andreas Schumacher, Dr. Joachim Schmitt (reorganization tax), Dr. Karsten Randt, Dr. Jörg Schauf (“outstanding know-how in procedural tax law”, client; both ?tax criminal law), Prof. Dr. Stephan Schauhoff (“preeminent expertise, enjoys the shareholders’ trust”, client; ?trusts), Dr. Florian Kutt, Dr. Ingo Stangl, Dr. Jens Schönfeld, Dr. Xaver Ditz (transfer pricing), Dr. Arne von Freeden, Dr. Jochen Bahns.
Practice: Broad corporate tax practice. Structuring advice, both independently (incl. compliance, sales tax, transfer pricing, corporate valuation, accounting law) and in connection with corporate and capital markets (restructuring, advice to management/supervisory boards, ?M&A). Extensive advice on tax investigations and litigation before German and European courts, ?tax criminal law. (42 equity partners, 37 salary partners, 140 associates, 6 of counsel)
Clients: ?? Wirtgen Group on €4.4bn sale to Deere & Company; ADAC on spinoff into SE and trust; Uniwheels on sale to Superior Industries; tax advice to Equistone Fonds concerning sale; Hasso Plattner Foundation on cross-border structuring (all public knowledge).
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