Law Firm of the Year

Clifford Chance stands out thanks to its integrated European network, in which its private equity practice is supported by specialist, local expertise.

Matthew Layton, partner in corporate finance, says: “In the last two or three years we’ve been working with private equity clients to become their legal strategic partner internationally. This means we can service their legal needs across Europe not just on the corporate side but in other areas as well.

“This strategy has led to a deepening relationship with existing clients and an ability to attract new ones.”

Layton adds that the firm’s strong borrower and lender practice means it is up to speed with what is happening in the banking market and can pass on to clients its knowledge of where the market is moving and the thinking of different banks.

Supporting the client wherever they happen to operate was illustrated by the firm’s work with Candover in its acquisitions of Parques Reunidos in Spain and Ferretti in Italy.

Last year Clifford Chance advised on 59 private equity deals in Europe with a total value of almost €41bn. These included advising KKR on the acquisition of Alliance Boots, which was Europe’s largest LBO to date. The firm also advised Carlyle Group on the disposal of and reinvestment in AZ Electronic Materials; CVC and Permira on the merger of Saga with the AA, and Candover on the acquisition of Dutch industrial conglomerate Stork.

Existing clients last year included CVC Capital Partners, HgCapital, Permira, Candover, the Carlyle Group, Warburg Pincus, Macquarie, Duke Street Capital and 3i Group. New clients included Citigroup’s Global Special Situations Group, DLJ Merchant Banking, Bridgepoint Capital and Middle East investors such as Isithmar and Mubadala Development Company.

Clifford Chance is the leading, or one of the leading, private equity law firms in most European jurisdictions. For example, the recruitment of key staff from Lovells’ Frankfurt office enabled Clifford Chance to become one of the top private equity firms in Germany. The team in Amsterdam is also particularly strong, advising on most of the high-profile deals in the market.

As well as advising on transactions, the firm provided other services for private equity clients. For example, its public policy group advised clients who were called to appear before the UK Parliament’s Treasury Select Committee last summer. It also advised some clients on their response to the UK’s Walker report on private equity.