GCR 100 2023

15. Ashurst

15. Ashurst

Professional notice

Merger ranking:-Cartel ranking:4Private Litigation ranking:-
Global headEuan Burrows, Duncan Liddell, Denis Fosselard and Alyssa Phillips
No. of jurisdictions with a GCR-ranked competition team6
Practice size85
Percentage of partners/counsel in Who's Who Legal37%
Lateral partner hires0
Partner departures1
Former senior enforcers who are partners/counsel2

Ashurst’s busy global antitrust practice climbs three places to 15th in this year’s Global Elite listings, in part because of its recent cartel work. The firm houses GCR-ranked teams in six jurisdictions, with highly regarded practices in Australia and the UK. Led by Euan Burrows, the group has remained largely stable in recent years, although partner Michaël Cousin defected to Addleshaw Goddard in September 2021.

Cartel work is one of the firm’s key strengths, as underlined by its rise to fourth in our rankings of the world’s 10 best practices for that work area. Teams in Italy, Belgium, Spain, the UK and Australia defend clients in a host of high-profile cases. Partner Denis Fosselard acts for long-term clients Ferriera Valsabbia and Alfa Acciai in their appeals against steel rebar cartel fines levied by the European Commission in 2002. The General Court confirmed a third re-adopted infringement decision by the EU watchdog in November 2022, after the courts twice annulled the fines due to procedural errors. The Brussels team also helped Bank of America successfully argue that proposed fines in the EU’s government bonds cartel probe were time-barred, with three rivals being sanctioned €371 million in May 2021 for unlawful information exchange. Elsewhere, the group advises several companies in Spanish cartel cases, while also acting for Alkaloids of Australia and its executive Christopher Kenneth Joyce in a criminal cartel investigation in Australia. The active pharmaceutical ingredient producer and its employee accepted the charges in 2021, with prosecutors now pushing for a custodial sentence on the latter.

It’s not just cartel matters in which the firm excels. The team secured a major victory for Intel when it convinced the General Court in January 2022 to annul the European Commission’s €1.07 billion abuse of dominance fine, although the case is now on appeal before the European Court of Justice.

The firm is also instructed by EUFA in one of the continent’s most high-profile private litigation cases, as the European football governing body fights off a claim by the breakaway European Super League that it breached EU competition rules. A Spanish judge referred questions to the European Court of Justice in May 2021.

Most of the firm’s merger control mandates are rooted in Europe and Australia. The competition group recently advised IHS Markit on its $44 billion merger with S&P Global, securing conditional approval in Phase I from the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority and European Commission.

Ashurst has an experienced global anti-trust, regulation and foreign investment practice, with a team of over 80 lawyers and economists providing advice from our offices in Abu Dhabi, Brisbane, Brussels, Dublin, Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Melbourne, Milan, Munich, Paris, Singapore and Sydney. We advise clients across all industries including Energy & Natural Resources, Infrastructure, Digital Economy, Financial Services and Real Estate. 

Our team is highly experienced across the full suite of competition law issues including advising on merger control (including multi-jurisdictional filings), cartels/anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominance, market/sector investigations, competition litigation, consumer law, state aid, public procurement, foreign direct investment and trade law, together with sector-specific regulation across a range of regulated industries. We advise clients globally, including in the Middle East and across Asia, as well as in Europe and Australia. We deal with the European Commission and European courts on a daily basis, as well as the regulatory authorities in numerous jurisdictions around the world.

Regulation is of increasing importance as authorities seek to regulate competition and enforce antitrust rules. Companies increasingly face the risk that their industry will be closely scrutinised. We have advised in relation to a number of market studies and market investigations carried out by the European Commission and national competition authorities. Our team has expertise in dealing with sector regulators and has wide experience of advising on cases involving parallel antitrust and regulatory review processes.

We have broad experience in the rapidly evolving area of foreign investment. We regularly manage FDI analysis and processes on deals across multiple jurisdictions, assessing the sensitivities of the activities at stake, ensuring filings are executed in a coordinated and consistent manner and assisting our clients with the negotiation of commitments or conditions that can be imposed by governments, in all cases working with trusted local counsel where appropriate.

In advising our clients, we seek out risk-based, practical strategies to meet their commercial objectives and defend their commercial interests.  We are also known for our hands on Partner led approach, which clients frequently endorse.  

We are also one of the very few international law firms with an in-house team of economists and believe that robust commercial antitrust advice must be grounded in solid economic assessment from the outset. Our fully integrated legal and economics expertise mirrors teams fielded by competition authorities, and clients consistently identify this as a crucial differentiating factor that adds significant value across the board, but particularly in complex matters.

Website: www.ashurst.com

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