HENGELER MUELLER

Comment: A leading corporate practice that, together with Linklaters, is the firm most strongly identified with Germany, Inc. since Freshfields has undergone the internationalization of its practice. The huge and complex demergers at core clients RWE and Metro were highlights, displaying Bungert’s and Austmann’s grip on those clients respectively. But apart from the impressive – but also to-be-expected – list of instructions for top corporates, it is once again the breadth of the practice which sets it apart from its competitors. In a market where M&A is booming but demanding cross-border and challenging reorganization beforehand, the breadth of HM’s corporate partners is thus an advantage. Free of the profit pressure facing international firms, HM can continue to advise a wide range of Mittelstand clients and also – something which is more price-sensitive – a wide range of concerns on AGms and objection proceedings. Competitors Freshfields and Linklaters have left work of this intensity behind them. The extension of this corporate work into more international instructions is (as opposed to ?M&A) is a more recent phenomenon for the HM practice. The work for EU-wide reorganizations of Credit Suisse and the merger-of-equals between Linde and Praxair was thus a significant development. HM enjoyed its fair share of public takeovers (e.g. defense of Braas Monier; United Internet as bidder), but in truth that is one area where the firm does not enjoy dominance. Not only Sullivan & Cromwell but also other firms have gained ground on the leading group here, and since this was always seen as HM’s home turf, that is an unwelcome market shift. The firm rarely loses partners and thus the departure of Dr. Steffen Oppenländer to Milbank was a surprise.
Strengths: HM has held on to its market-leading position with unrivaled breadth for decades. The close cooperation with the finance practice has yielded a strong restructuring team.
Development potential: Considering its strong industry contacts in the financial services sector, HM is – given the structure of its best-friends relationships across Europe – not in a comparably strong position to advise on the expected reorganization of the banking industry post-Brexit. This will be a major factor in the market in the next few years, and the informal relationship with Slaughter and May in London in particular is facing yet another new challenge.
Recommended: Prof. Dr. Gerd Krieger, Dr. Matthias Blaum, Dr. Maximilian Schiessl (“high level of quality and responsiveness”, client), Dr. Andreas Austmann (“exceedingly high-quality work, good company and sector knowledge”, client), Dr. Matthias Hentzen, Dr. Rainer Krause, Dr. Daniela Favoccia, Dr. Reinhold Ernst, Dr. Wolfgang Groß, Dr. Daniel Wilm (“rare expertise on the interface of corporate and insurance”, client), Dr. Carsten Schapmann, Prof. Dr. Jochen Vetter (“extraordinary specialist knowledge combined with pronounced commercial understanding”, competitor), Dr. Johannes Adolff (“when it’s a big name and the matter is complicated, he’s the one I call”, client; “immensely intelligent and impressive lawyer”, competitor), Dr. Karsten Schmidt-Hern, Dr. Dirk Bliesener, Dr. Georg Seyfarth, Dr. Hartwin Bungert (“never loses sight of the bigger picture even in the most complicated structures”, client; “amazing expert, excellent project management”, competitor), Dr. Stefan Richter, Dr. Wolfgang Meyer-Sparenberg (“pleasant, well versed”, competitor), Dr. Oliver Rieckers (“pragmatic and solution-oriented”, competitor), Dr. Georg Frowein (“knowledgeable, flexible”, client), Dr. Kai-Steffen Scholz (“in a league of his own, super sparring partner”, client), Dr. Viola Sailer-Coceani (“argues cases in a very detailed way and competently”, client), Prof. Dr. Michael Hoffmann-Becking.
Practice: Large proportion of high-end work in law of corporations, incl. ?corporate litigation. Strong in ?insolvency and restructuring and capital markets ( ?equity issues and IPOs). Long-established all-round advice to prominent family companies. Large practice in AGM advice, incl. legal challenges. Strong notary office. (52 partners, 101 associates)
Clients: ?? RWE/Innogy on carve-out and preparation for IPO; Metro on division of Metro Group, incl. spinoff of wholesale business; United Internet on public takeover bid for Drillisch; Linde on cross-border merger with Praxair by means of a stock swap under the umbrella of a new holding company; executive board of Braas Monier in defense against takeover bid of Standard Industries.
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