GCR 100 - 17th Edition

Homburger

02 March 2017

Switzerland

The godfather of Switzerland’s competition bar, HOMBURGER was the first firm to establish an antitrust practice in the early 1960s and remains one of the country’s elite. Franz Hoffet leads a competition team that boasts real depth, working with partner Marcel Dietrich and a roster that counts two counsel – Martin Thomann and Andreas Burger, who was promoted this year – and several associates. Partner Gerald Brei left for Eversheds earlier this year, but Hoffet expects the departure to have little effect on the practice. The competition team, which recently merged with the firm’s wider regulatory group, has serious pedigree, having previously represented clients in Switzerland’s first-ever leniency application, its first-ever dawn raid and its first-ever sanction procedure. This year it added another first: acting for Volkswagen-importer AMAG in the country’s maiden hybrid settlement case.

The firm is active in the majority of the major behavioural cases brought by Switzerland’s Competition Commission. It advises leniency-applicant UBS in the enforcer’s Libor, Forex and precious metals investigations – the biggest cartel matters ever handled by the commission. Homburger counsels Alpiq, the country’s largest electricity company, and big-tobacco company Philip Morris. It is advising a company in civil antitrust litigation relating to a selective distribution system and also representing Eli Lilly in its appeal against vertical price-fixing charges before the country’s Federal Supreme Court, as well as several other clients on parallel import cases.

For the most part, merger control work in Switzerland is rare because of the country’s high thresholds, but Homburger sees more of this than most. It advised leading European digital publisher Axel Springer on its joint venture with Ringier, securing Phase I approval for the magazine business deal, and also took instructions from Swisscom regarding a joint venture with Coop, setting up an ecommerce platform. The firm is regularly active on big international mergers that don’t require filing in Switzerland. It coordinated multinational filings for ChemChina on its €39.4 billion takeover of Syngenta and also files deals in Brussels, something that few other Swiss firms are able to do. Last year, the firm was instructed on a pair of megadeals: advising Holcim on its international filings – except in the EU – for its €40 billion merger of equals with Lafarge, and General Electric on its €12.5 billion bid for Alstom’s power and grid businesses.

 

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