Takeover work beckons in Germany

Frankfurt-based Link laters & Schon is taking on two more assistants and plans to recruit three more by the end of the year in the wake of its involvement in Germany's first high-profile hostile takeover bid.

The firm, which now has four partners and eight assistants, recently helped steel company Thyssen deal with a hostile bid by rival Krupp. The two companies are now in the process of merging. It predicts that there will be be many more such bids in Germany.

Christoph von Teichmann, a partner at Linklaters' joint venture with local firm Schon Nolte Finkelburg & Clemm, said the firm had received a number of enquiries from companies which felt vulnerable to takeovers.

He said the office's ability to put together a team of German lawyers, combined with London lawyers with experience of hostile takeovers and Brussels lawyers to cover the EU competition law aspects of the bid, gave the office an advantage over domestic firms.

Matthew Middleditch, the London-based partner who worked on the Thyssen team, said: “Hostile takeovers are unheard of in Germany – German firms have less experience, so there are opportunities for us and other UK firms.”

He added that a German takeover code had recently been implemented which was “an abbreviated version” of the UK's code.

This means, said Middleditch, that there is “value added from an Anglo-German approach, when there are issues of interpretation of the code”.

Frankfurt-based Allen & Overy partner Tim Arnheim agreed that hostile takeovers were “not in the pysche of German corporate culture” and that English lawyers could pick up more German work.

But Mark Trapnell, a partner with Freshfields in Frankfurt, added: “If the market develops it will be fairly slowly.”