Global firms win out as A&O replaces Freshfields; Bertelsmann opts for Linklaters over Hengeler

Allen & Overy's (A&O) Frankfurt office has bagged Eon as a new client, despite the firm's usual affiliation to the banks. A&O also acted for borrower mandates for Bertelsmann and TUI. The three loans, which were secured shortly before Christmas, were worth almost e20bn (£13bn).

Partner Neil Weiand led on all three transactions. “We're very often perceived as the banker's law firm, but if you've got a portfolio that's a bit more balanced, that doesn't do any harm either,” he said. “In relatively new offices like Germany, it's perhaps easier to also advise on the corporate side.”

The deals included one of last year's largest loans, the e15bn (£9.74bn) facility for German electricity and gas utility Eon, arranged by Barclays Capital, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Dresdner Bank, HSBC and JPMorgan Chase.

Advisory roles were highly coveted. A&O was also approached by a number of the banks pitching for roles, but it was Hengeler Mueller partner Thomas Cron who ultimately acted for the lead arrangers.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is understood to be a regular adviser to Eon, but on this occasion the energy company held a beauty parade for the financing.

Bertelsmann and TUI both cold-called Weiand, who said he had benefited from market recommendations. Bertelsmann, which closed a e1.5bn (£974.3m) facility with BNP Paribas, Salomon Brothers International and Commerzbank Aktiengesellschaft, is close to Hengeler. But it is understood that the media conglomerate was keen to try to broaden its adviser base. Linklaters Oppenhoff & Rädler advised the banks.

TUI regularly instructs Freshfields, but the firm was conflicted out since it acted for lead arrangers Barclays, Bayerische Hypo-und Vereinsbank, Salomon and WestLB.

Weiand said: “I think it's a significant step that we're recognised not only by the banks, but by top-tier German corporates, for whom it's a big step to try a new lawyer. Acting for the corporates sheds light from another perspective. It sensitises you to certain clauses in the documents.”