Gide trio quits firm for boutique venture

A trio of senior corporate partners from Gide Loyrette Nouel’s Paris office have teamed up with a former Gide partner to launch a new M&A boutique.

Antoine Bonnasse, Youssef Djehane and Jean-Emmanuel Skovron will launch BDGS Partners along with former colleague Antoine Gosset-Grainville, who is currently deputy managing director of state-run financial body the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC).

The quartet are joined initially by two junior partners, Gide associate Max Baird-Smith, who is dual-qualified in England and France, and Mathilde Damon, who is currently head of legal for the Agence des Participations de l’Etat (the French Government Shareholding Agency).

BDGS will formally launch at the start of April, with Gosset-Grainville joining the firm in May.

Djehane told The Lawyer that the quartet had decided to launch the venture after studying the market and seeing an opportunity for a boutique. He added that they believed it was the first time “for many years that four senior lawyers have set up a small independent firm”, pointing out that many recent boutique launches have involved younger lawyers, or a single senior partner from a larger practice.

He said the team wanted to get closer to clients. “Clients view this initiative in a very positive way. I think the clients appreciate the entrepeneurial approach behind this,” Djehane added.

The firm will focus on M&A, restructuring and strategic partnerships but will also advise on issues such as corporate governance, litigation, competition and regulatory law. The founding partners plan to increase BDGS to 10 partners over the next two years. A team of associates is also expected to join the boutique.

“The real challenge for us here is to be very careful with our growth,” said Djehane. “We feel like the ratio of one partner to one associate is the right one in this market and we want to be in control of our growth.”

The founding partners have led a number of major deals, particularly for the French state. In 2005 Bonnasse and Skovron advised the government on the partial privatisation of Electricité de France (EdF) (31 October 2005). Skovron and Djehane were both involved on the merger between Gaz de France and Suez, first announced in 2006 before completing in 2008 (6 March 2006).

More recently, Skovron advised La Banque Postale on the establishment of a new bank for local authorities, the Société de Financement Local, which has been set up as part of the recapitalisation and restructuring of Franco-Belgian bank Dexia. At CDC, Gosset-Grainville was also involved in the Dexia restructuring.

The team’s clients also include IBM, Novartis, railway operator SNCF, Vivendi, and a number of significant financial institutions.

The news follows the recent departure of Gide corporate partners Serge Tatar and Renaud Rossa to boutique Lacourte Balas Raquin (8 March 2013) and that of property partner Erwan Le Douce-Bercot to Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (7 March 2013).