Bredin Prat comes out on top as Vivendi begins to sell off assets

Law firms have started to cash in on beleaguered French conglomerate Vivendi's fire sale of its assets, with Slaughter and May's French best friend Bredin Prat emerging as the winner.
Vivendi announced that it was to start chipping away at its e19bn (£12.07bn) debt mountain on 30 August this year with two asset disposals, together worth more than e470m (£298.6m). In separate deals, Vivendi is selling its 50 per cent stake in internet portal Vizzavi to joint venture partner Vodafone for e142.7m (£90.7m) and its French publishing companies L'Express-L'Expansion, L'Etudiant and Comareg to publisher Socpresse for around e330m (£209.7m). Bredin Prat's Paris office advised Vivendi on both disposals.
The Vizzavi deal was run out of London, with Macfarlanes leading the Vivendi legal team and working alongside Bredin Prat. The publishing deal was completed in France, with Bredin Prat leading for Vivendi and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer's Paris office acting for Socpresse.
Linklaters led a four-firm team advising Vodafone on the Vizzavi deal. Vizzavi has sites in eight European countries, each with its own legal personality. Linklaters covered five of the countries through its offices in London, Paris, Germany, Portugal and Spain. Linklaters Italian ally Gianni Origoni Grippo & Partners was brought on board, as was its former Dutch alliance partner De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek and Greek firm M&P Bernitsas. De Brauw was part of Linklaters' old 'Alliance' network, but voted against a merger with the magic circle firm in April.
Bernitsas has worked with Linklaters in the past, but is not allied in any way. The Greek firm appeared on this deal because it had worked for Vizzavi before when the company set up in Greece through another joint venture with Greek mobile operator Panafon. But Vizzavi was new to Linklaters, as Stephen Scott's legal team at Vodafone originally worked on setting up the company in-house.
Linklaters corporate and Vodafone relationship partner Iain Fenn explained why the company had brought the firm on board for this deal. “The original joint venture had to be unwound and it's more complicated to unwind a joint venture than it is to put it together,” he said. “Also, Vizzavi has grown from being in one country to being in eight, so there was work to be done in the different jurisdictions.”