Weil sneaks Sagard work away from CC and Latham

Weil Gotshal & Manges

‘ Paris office has muscled in on longstanding Clifford Chance and Latham & Watkins client Sagard Private Equity Partners, landing its first instruction for the Franco-Canadian private equity house.

Private equity star David Aknin advised Sagard on the management buyout of French logistics group Compagnie Européenne de Prestations Logistiques for €170m (£118m).

The Paris-based partner, who left Linklaters to join Weil in November 2003, is one of the most active private equity partners in Europe; he counts Axa, Apax, Candover, Montague and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co as clients.

The mandate is a coup for Aknin because historically Sagard has had very strong ties with former Ashurst private equity rainmaker Thomas Forschbach, who quit the City firm’s Paris arm last September to join Latham & Watkins.

Weil scooped the mandate to advise Sagard because Aknin met principal Frederic Stolar last year on Sagard’s joint acquisition, with the Faiveley Group, of Sab Wabco for €516m (£358.3m) (The Lawyer, 1 November 2004). On that deal, Sagard was advised by Forshbach, with Aknin acting for Faiveley.

Stolar said Sagard had relationships with a number of law firms, but he declined to disclose which ones. “We used Weil because they were available and of high quality,” he added.

Commenting on Sagard’s decision to instruct his rival Aknin on the Compagnie buyout, Forschbach said: “I would have been delighted to help [Sagard], but private equity houses use more than one law firm and Sagard is no exception. We continue to get a fair share of Sagard’s work.”

Sagard also farms out legal work to Clifford Chance Paris partner Marcus Billam, who has a longstanding relationship with the French private equity house. Billam said: “We do quite a lot for Sagard, but we can’t do everything.”

Royal Bank of Scotland, which provided the financing on the deal, was advised by Linklaters, while Compagnie instructed Philippe Rosenpick of CMS Bureau Francis Lefebvre.