Comment: A leading firm in corporate. The degree to which Linklaters has established itself as core advisor to a multitude of major corporations is one of the German legal market’s success stories of the past decade. One example of these close ties is Wollburg’s work for Deutsche Bank in connection with executive bonuses. But even putting aside DAX, the list of German concerns that turn to Linklaters for complex major projects as well as ongoing advice has grown still longer: new clients such as Ströer, Otto and Hello Fresh were seen alongside long-standing clients such as HSH, E.on and VW/Porsche. Several specialties take center stage, incl. the practice’s outstanding ties to the financial sector – though clients here call less on the corporate team and more on the banking and financing or even public law specialists. Indeed, clients from the banking sector dominate the interface with the compliance and investigation practice. Wollburg, Wilsing and Illert represent another specialty as advisors to many executive and supervisory boards, incl. on critical AGMs and potential misconduct. The process of transferring the reins to the next generation of partners that has been taking place in recent years suffered a setback, however: Dr. Nikolaos Paschos, the most renowned partner here, jumped ship to Latham & Watkins in fall 2017, a heavy blow for the practice.
Strengths: Outstanding links to other fields, esp. ?debt issues/ ?banking and regulatory and ?tax. Strong ?insolvency and restructuring and ?M&A practices as well as ?corporate litigation.
Development potential: Since the withdrawal of Munich partner Dr. Rainer Traugott last year, the regional imbalance within the corporate practice has become more noticeable: neither at Hengeler nor at Freshfields are the big corporate names concentrated in one place to the extent that they are in Linklaters’ Düsseldorf office. A more equitable spread with a view to diversifying the client base would be logical. In Frankfurt Oppenhoff was occasionally active for investment banks in public takeovers, but here too Linklaters is under-represented in the market.
Recommended: Dr. Hans-Ulrich Wilsing (“important confidant of executive boards”, competitor), Dr. Ralph Wollburg (“top advisor in law of corporations”, competitor), Stephan Oppenhoff, Dr. Tim Johannsen-Roth (“highly competent, client-oriented”, client), Dr. Wolfgang Krauel, Ulrich Wolff, Dr. Thomas Nießen (“very reliable, really puts himself in the client’s shoes”, client), Staffan Illert, Kristina Klaaßen-Kaiser, Achim Kirchfeld (“very well-thought-out solutions, highly seasoned”, competitor).
Practice: Advice to management boards on D&O suits, restructuring and joint ventures. Much work in stock corporation law in Düsseldorf and Frankfurt (changes of corporate form, AGMs), regulated industries in Berlin. Focus on the auto, chemicals, life sciences and consumer goods industries as well as financial service providers. (26 partners, 8 counsel, 93 associates, 3 of counsel)
Clients: ?? HSH Finanzfonds/Schleswig-Holstein and city of Hamburg on spinoff of HSH Nordbank; Deutsche Bank on negotiations with former executives over waiving bonuses; executive board of Porsche Automobil Holding/VW on diesel scandal; E.on on corporate restructuring; Hello Fresh on SE conversion.
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