A&O, Freshfields and Links advise on duo of French deals

A trio of magic circle firms have won roles on the multi-billion euro acquisitions of stakes in French companies Rhodia and SFR.

Allen & Overy (A&O) and Linklaters have been instructed by Vivendi and Vodafone respectively as the former acquires a 44 per cent stake in mobile operator SFR, valued at €7.95bn (£6.9bn).

Meanwhile, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has scooped an instruction from chemical group Solvay on its friendly bid for Rhodia. French independent Bredin Prat is acting for Rhodia on the €12bn cash offer.

The A&O team on the Vivendi deal is led by Paris-based partner Marcus Billam, who joined the firm just over a year ago from Clifford Chance (7 January 2010). Billam previously advised Vivendi on its takeover of Brazilian telecoms operator GVT while at Clifford Chance.

Partner Olivier Fréget is advising on antitrust and telecoms aspects of the deal alongside Bird & Bird’s Claude Lazarus. Lazarus was hired by Bird & Bird at the end of March from defunct US firm Howrey.

Linklaters’ team is led by Paris corporate partners Marc Loy and Marc Petitier, alongside London-based Iain Fenn and Paris competition partner Pierre Zelenko.

Gide Loyrette Nouel partner Laurent Modave is providing advice to Solvay on French tax issues, with Loyens & Loeff partner Christophe Laurent giving Belgian tax advice.

Meanwhile, Freshfields Paris partners Antoine Vignial and Alan Mason were instructed by Solvay general counsel Dominique Dussard. The Freshfields team also included Brussels-based partners Geert Verhoeven, John Davies, Laurent Garzaniti and Rafique Bachour.

Bredin Prat corporate partner Patrick Dziewolski is leading a team including fellow partners Matthieu Pouchepadass, Julien Gayral and Marc Pittie for Rhodia.