LATHAM & WATKINS

Comment: Highly recommended corporate practice, which extended its reach still further last year as an advisor to DAX concerns and other major companies. Clients such as E.on/Uniper, Daimler/Toll Collect and Rhön-Klinikum ensured that the firm always had its hands full with major projects, though the contacts of Traugott, who arrived last year, also bore fruit in the form of new clients, e.g. H&R and BayWa. Even the Siemens relationship was improved. The arrival of the well-known Linklaters partner Paschos could result in still greater strides, as he was involved in some of the market’s biggest corporate projects last year, for clients such as ZF, Bayer and Deutsche Börse. In parallel, L&W is making increasing use of its international contacts, most recently in advice to Chinese investors and their German subsidiaries and on Russia-related joint ventures and projects. This upward tendency the corporate practice currently finds itself in demonstrates that its plan to focus on high-end work is thriving – despite the staff unrest of recent years. The loss of a further corporate partner, Dr. Björn-Axel Dißars, in Hamburg (to Watson Farley) is unlikely to be the end of the world. However, the firm still lags behind leading competitors in public takeovers, which, given the current boom here, is not insignificant.
Strengths: International setup; certain partners have distinctive industry focuses (e.g. healthcare, financial service providers). Outstanding practices in ?private equity, ?insolvency and restructuring. ?Financing and ?tax partners with extensive transaction experience.
Development potential: While rivals such as Freshfields and Linklaters have been scoring points with their strong compliance expertise for years and have placed some of their key corporate lawyers in this highly profitable field, L&W has so far only dipped its toe into the water here. The firm certainly has the necessary qualities, from its specialist expertise to its international integration.
Recommended: Dr. Henning Schneider (“broad setup, especially strong in the healthcare sector”, competitor), Dr. Harald Selzner, Dr. Nikolaos Paschos, Dr. Stefan Widder (“strong young corporation lawyer”, competitor), Dr. Martin Neuhaus, Rainer Wilke, Dr. Markus Rieder, Dr. Rainer Traugott (“finds solutions where others would give up”, client), Dr. Hans-Jürgen Lütt (“much experience in takeover law”, competitor), Frank Grell.
Practice: Ongoing extensive advice to portfolio companies of private equity houses. Restructuring, change of corporate form, carve-outs, joint ventures, projects and ongoing advice (incl. AGMs) to major corporates, mainly from Düsseldorf and increasingly Munich. (18 partners, 4 counsel, 32 associates, 2 of counsel)
Clients: ?? H&R on change of corporate form; BayWa on JV with Al Dahra Agriculture; Shenhua Group on JV with Manz and Shanghai Electric; Arag family shareholders on sale of life insurance division; Siemens on legal separation of global healthcare division.
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