GCR 100 - 11th Edition

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP

24 January 2011

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer once again beats all the competition to retain its position at the top of the Global Elite.

1. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP

Global heads: John Davies and Martin Klusmann
Home jurisdiction: United Kingdom and Germany
Total size of firm: 2,525
Number of competition specialists: 243
Percentage of competition specialists: 10
Who's Who nominees: 37
Partners: 50
Percentage of partners in Who's Who: 74
Senior associates: 40
Associates: 120
Counsel & consultants: 17
Other: 16
Number of lateral partner hires: 0
Number of partner departures: 1
Number of internal promotions: 3

Seventy six per cent of the firm's competition partners appear in Who's Who, and Freshfields garnered more rivals' votes than any other firm. What's more, with substantial practices in all the major antitrust jurisdictions, the firm's geographic reach is matched by few of its competitors.

Although the competition headcount is down slightly this year, the only major departure was something the firm can be proud of: Brussels and London partner Rachel Brandenburger was appointed ‘special advisor, international' to Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney at the US Department of Justice's antitrust division in early 2010.

Meanwhile, Thomas Ensign and Bruce McCulloch in Washington, DC, and Uta Itzen in Düsseldorf were all promoted to partner in May.

Freshfields competition team worked on many of the year's most notable matters, including two of the only three Phase II cases brought by the European Commission in 2010: Sara Lee's €1.3 billion sale of its global body care and European detergents businesses to Unilever; and the proposed tie-up between Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air.

Freshfields also represented Continental Airlines on merger reviews in the US, EU, Russia, Japan and China for its US$3.2 billion merger with United Airlines.

Highlights of the firm's behavioural work this year include advising Tesco on the UK Office of Fair Trading's decision to drop all allegations that the British supermarket chain had helped to fix the prices of tobacco products, following a seven-year investigation; and defending ThyssenKrupp, implicated in the elevators cartel matter, in DG Comp's first damages claim against a cartelist.

Austria

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP has enjoyed a busy year, advising on some of the most high profile cases in Austria. It handled the merger of Styria Media Group and Moser Holding, two of Austria's largest publishing houses. The pair joined forces in 2010 after a successful joint venture last year. The team also advised Ringier and Axel Springer in obtaining merger clearance in numerous jurisdictions for their newspapers and magazine joint venture.

On the behavioural side, Freshfields is defending Brenntag CEE against accusations brought by the Austrian Federal Competition Authority in the country's Cartel Court. The group also handles its share of private litigation, representing a large elevator manufacturer in cartel damages litigation proceedings before the Vienna Commerical Court. It successfully defended Bayerische Staatsforsten, a German forestry company, in private litigation before the Austrian Cartel Court. The company faced discriminatory pricing allegations brought by the Austrian Sawmill Association.

Freshfields also advised a major Austrian bank on EU state aid proceedings regarding its restructuring following nationalisation.

Other clients include Allgemeine Sparkasse Oberösterreich, Interseroh and EVN, an Austrian energy company.

Partner and Who's Who nominee Axel Reidlinger leads the firm's competition team, which includes four associates. Though the team is the smallest of the Austrian "elite", competition specialists in Vienna work closely with their counterparts in Brussels.

Brussels

Led by David Broomhall - one of the firm's nine partners named in the Who's Who - Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP remains at the forefront of competition work in Brussels. With 11 partners, two counsel and 38 associates, it is one of the largest groups in the market. "Freshfields are consistently strong and we see them very often," says Stephen Kinsella OBE of Sidley Austin LLP. The team has remained more or less the same over the past 12 months, save the departure of Rachel Brandenburger, who left the firm after being appointed special adviser to Christine Varney, assistant attorney general at the US Department of Justice's antitrust division, in January.

The firm has continued to play a large role in state-aid cases within the financial sector, working on almost all of the state-backed banking restructurings in Germany. The team is also advising ING on the European Commission's inquiry of the state aid it received from the Netherlands, and before Europe's General Court on its appeal against elements of its restructuring plan.

On the cartel front, partner Michael Esser represented electronics company NEC in DG Comp's landmark settlement procedure under the new regime. The firm is present on a large number of multi-jurisdictional cartel investigations, including in the air cargo, bananas, freight forwarding and DRAM markets, and is also defending elevator manufacturer ThyssenKrupp in a private damages action by the commission - the first claim by the commission against an alleged cartelist.

Merger work also remains steadfast. Partner Frank Montag advised Deutsche Bahn on its bid for Arriva. Montag was named global competition lawyer of the year by Who's Who Legal in July. Freshfields is also counsel to Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air on the carriers' proposed merger, which is under phase II scrutiny by the commission, and represented Continental Airlines on its merger with United Airlines.

France

The arrival of partner Maria Trabucchi to Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP last October served as a huge boost to the firm's Paris competition group. Trabucchi returned to Freshfields with her team from Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP, having begun her career at the firm. She works alongside practice head and Who's Who nominee Jérôme Philippe. "Jérôme and I knew each other well from my time at Freshfields and we are very happy to join our practices," says Trabucchi.

Recent cases handled by the firm include advising Visa on its acquisition of debit card payment scheme Carte Bleue. It is also working on several leniency applications.

In the state aid field, the firm is co-counsel with Darrois Villey to financial organisation Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations on the competition issues surrounding the creation of a French sovereign wealth fund.

Germany

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP is the leading competition practice in Germany, named by almost every other firm as the one they most aspire to emulate. Its size, the calibre of its personnel and its geographical range mean the firm stands alone.

Helmut Bergmann leads the 11-partner group in Germany, which is supported by two counsel, three consultants and 36 associates shared between offices in Berlin, Düsseldorf and Cologne. Four German partners in Brussels, including Frank Montag, also work closely with the lawyers in Germany. Uta Itzen was made a partner, and Christoph Sieberg was appointed as counsel in May. The practice boasts nine nominees in The International Who's Who of Competition Lawyers and Economists, more than any other firm in Germany.

In the past year, the group has worked on several key German matters. It advised Air Berlin on its takeovers of Condor and TUIfly, as well as Advent International on its acquisition of rehabilitation clinics operator Median Group. It also advised Otto on its takeover of Primondo, which was cleared by the European Commission.

On the cartel side, Freshfields is representing ABB in two separate cartel investigations of the gas-insulated switchgear and power transformers sectors. It advised Holcim in cartel proceeding and a parallel damage claim, and confectioner Mars on the Federal Cartel Office's probe of the food industry.

Italy

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP fields a strong competition practice in Italy, led by partner and Who's Who nominee Tommaso Salonico. Partner Gian Luca Zampa is also nominated to the Who's Who. The pair work alongside two other partners, one senior associate and 15 associates.

The team is acting for Sotheby's and Abbott Products in two separate cartel proceedings before the Italian Antitrust Authority, and for Cargill in a cartel case before the European Commission. That investigation was closed without infringement decisions or commitments.

Freshfields is advising Iride on an investigation by the Italian authority of a possible abuse of a dominant position in the local markets for the sale of electricity and gas. It also represents Schenker Italiana, part of the Deutsche Bahn group, on an investigation of alleged anti-competitive agreements in the land freight-forwarding sector.

The firm reports that merger work is also on the increase once again. It represented Gazprom on the EU merger control filing of a joint venture with PremiumGas, as well as handling State Street Corporation's acquisition of Intesa Sanpaolo's Securities Services business.

Japan

Next comes Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, which handles its fair share of Japanese antitrust matters, both behavioural and transactional. The practice comprises three partners, one senior associate, four associates and Who's Who nominee Akinori Uesugi, who is a senior consultant.

The firm caused something of a stir when hiring Uesugi in 2006, as he is a former secretary general of the JFTC, where he worked for 36 years. Under the rules of the Japanese bar, Uesugi cannot have his own clients because he is not a licensed bengoshi lawyer, but his extensive knowledge of the JFTC provides the Freshfields team with invaluable advice on strategy and Japanese competition law.

The firm advised biotechnology giant Agilent on a cross-border merger, which required filings with the JFTC and other competition agencies, and represented Morgan Stanley MUFG Securities regarding its joint venture with Mitsubishi UFJ Securities. It also advised Continental Airlines on the Japanese aspects of its merger with United Air Lines, and represented a Japanese trading house on six global joint ventures.

In other matters, Freshfields represented a global glass manufacturer in the European Commission's cartel investigation of the car glass industry, and helped several clients implement compliance programmes.

Netherlands

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer also fields a notable competition practice, and benefits from a large international network. Who's Who nominee Onno Brouwer leads the competition team, which includes partner Winfred Knibbeler - who also makes an appearance in Who's Who - eight associates and one counsel in Amsterdam. This year, the firm's behavioural and state aid work has increased. In state aid matters, the team has represented ING, the Dutch associations of commercial broadcasters (Vestra) and newspaper publishers (NDP), as well as ABN AMRO.

The firm has worked on some of Europe's most important competition cases, including defending Shell against the European Commission's cartel investigation in the Dutch bitumen market. The case is now before the General Court. Freshfields also represents ThyssenKrupp in its appeal before the court. The company was hit with a €480 million fine by the commission for its part in the elevators and escalators cartel. The firm is representing Ceres in the investigation of the flour sector.

This year, the firm has also advised Slovak Post against charges that it breached article 82 of the EC Treaty. It is advising Essent in its proposed merger with RWE and is representing Betfair in proceedings before the European Court of Justice and the District Court of The Hague.

Other new clients this year include Apple, Mitsui Oil Exploration and Compass.

Russia

Alexander Viktorov is now the sole head of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP's Moscow competition group, which he has co-led since 2005. Viktorov was promoted to counsel in October 2009, and is a new entrant to Who's Who. Supporting Viktorov are one associate and one paralegal who work full time on competition matters.

The team has worked on several high-profile, global deals over the past two years, including advising Comcast on its 51 per cent stake acquisition of NBC Universal, and acting for Alcan on the Russian merger control issues arising from the sale of its global packaging operations to Amcor. Other notable transactions include advising chemical and pharmaceutical group Solvay on the €160 million acquisition of a soda ash plant in Berezniki, assisting Geely with its acquisition of Volvo and counselling Porsche on the Russian competition law aspects of its internal restructuring and increase in its stake in Volkswagen.

Spain

Who's Who nominee Francisco Cantos leads the competition group at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP in Madrid. Cantos works alongside one other partner, three senior associates and six associates. Spanish practitioners say the foreign firm has had more success in penetrating the local market than just about any other.

This year, it represented Abertis, the Spanish listed infrastructure multinational, on various antitrust investigations carried out by the country's Competition Commission, including abuse of dominance complaints, forced divestment of its shareholding in a competitor, antitrust litigation, advice on EU state aid matters as well as on the complex acquisition of its competitor Axion.

E-On is another high-profile client, under scrutiny by the authorities for possible restrictive practices and abuse of dominance in the Spanish electricity sector. Other clients facing behavioural investigations this year include Mediapro, Deutsche Bahn, L'Oreal and Thyssen.

At the EU level, the team represented Holcim when the European Commission and the Spanish Competition Commission conducted dawn raids on suspicion of restrictive practices in the cement market. It also secured EU merger approval for GDF Suez's acquisition of Agbar, a Spanish listed utility group.

United Kingdom

The London-based competition team at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP continues to be one of the strongest in the country. Led by Rod Carlton and featuring six nominees in The International Who's Who of Competition Lawyers and Economists, the team works on many of the UK's largest deals and investigations. The firm's competition litigation team, led by partner Jon Lawrence, leads the way among UK practices. This year, it acted for ABB, Bayer and F Hoffmann-La Roche, among others, in follow-on actions arising from cartel decisions.

The Freshfields team continues to be at the forefront of competition cases arising from the financial crisis, advising Anglo-Irish Bank on its proposed restructuring, and ING on the European Commission's investigation of state aid granted by the Dutch government. The firm has also been heavily involved in several matters before the UK's Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT). It acted for Tesco, in its successful appeal against the introduction of a 'competition test' following the Competition Commission's groceries market investigation, and it advised BAA when the company challenged the commission's order to divest certain airports. In both cases, the CAT overturned the commission's original ruling. In the merger control field, high-profile deals include Ticketmaster/Live Nation – in which the team achieved unconditional clearance twice, Nufarm/AH Marks, and Comcast/NBC.

Other competition clients have included Bayer, the London Stock Exchange, Dunlop Oil and Marine, and ITV.

United States: Government Antitrust

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP entered the Washington, DC market in 2002. Partner and practice head Robert Schlossberg is a nominee to the Who's Who and has chaired the M&A committee of the American Bar Association's antitrust division. Partner Paul Yde - another Who's Who nominee - spent time at the FTC before joining Freshfields and now handles many federal antitrust investigations. The partnership doubled in 2010 when counsels Thomas Ensign and Bruce McCulloch were made up to partner. They are supported by one of counsel and 10 associates.

The team acted for Dunlop Oil & Marine in the DOJ's marine hose cartel investigation, as well as advising Emirates in the international air cargo cartel investigations and related private litigation. It represented Continental Airlines in the company's reviews of its Asian-Pacific joint venture with United Airlines and All Nippon Airways, and associated application for antitrust immunity. The firm also acted for Continental in the transpacific passenger air transportation antitrust litigation in the Northern District of California, in addition to advising the airline on its alliance with United Airlines, joint venture with United Airlines, Air Canada, and Lufthansa, and entry into the worldwide Star Alliance.

Transactional work includes representing K+S on its acquisition of rival Morton Salt, and steering through BASF's takeover of specialty chemical company Ciba Holding. It also represented Solvay when Abbott Laboratories acquired the company for approximately US$7.2 billion.

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