HERBERT SMITH FREEHILLS

Comment: This firm, which is respected in real estate, seamlessly replicated last year’s success. Once again it was seen on the side of Vonovia, together with Freshfields, this time in the takeover of Austrian company Conwert. This demonstrates the firm’s focus on capital markets and underscores its strength in the residential sector, as do other deals (e.g. Cording). Work for Qatar Investment in one of the biggest deals of the year – the TaunusTurm acquisition – was another success in transactions. HSF benefited from the revived project development market, stepping up activity in this field (esp. in Berlin) and reeling in some new clients. The arrival of a public lawyer from Mayer Brown last year thus came at the right time. The German practice traditionally works closely with the Paris office and has a strong international focus in general. There was a rise in advice on investing in Iran following the easing of the embargo.
Development potential: Practice head Kessler has established a hard-hitting interdisciplinary team since the firm entered the market four years ago. But there is a gap in expertise when it comes to tax law. Closing this would do the practice good in share deals.
Recommended: Thomas Kessler (“good guy, dealmaker”, competitor), Dr. Markus Lauer (“very pleasant to work with, solution-oriented”, “proactive, very collegial”, competitors).
Practice: Portfolio and single-asset transactions as well as finance/refinancing. Project development and asset management. Advice on the interface with restructuring. (Core team: 1 partner, 3 counsel, 5 associates)
Clients: ?? Vonovia on Conwert takeover; Qatar Investment Authority on acquisition of a stake in TaunusTurm; Cording on acquisition of real estate portfolio incl. JV setup and financing; Ardian Germany on acquisition and financing of Wappenhalle office complex in Munich; ongoing advice to Art-Invest regarding Kö-Bogen.
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