Clifford Chance, Freshfields win key roles on Porsche’s VW merger

Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Hengeler Mueller have picked up lead roles advising on the merger of German car companies Volkswagen (VW) and Porsche.

Wolfgang Richter

Wolfgang Richter

Clifford Chance, led by Frankfurt partners Wolfgang Richter and Johannes Perlitt, is advising its long-standing client VW. The instruction comes after Richter last year advised the company on other strategic M&A matters, including the sale of VW’s Brazilian truck business to MAN and VW’s purchase of Scania Group.

Freshfields continues to work with its long-standing client Porsche, which is already a majority shareholder in VW. Two years ago the firm advised Porsche when it upped its stake in VW (26 March 2007). However, a team at Hengeler Mueller, led by Duesseldorf-based Andreas Austmann, picked up a role as co-advisor to the company.

A source close to the deal cited the Hengeler Mueller instruction as stemming from the changed role of the Porsche family shareholders in the new business, meaning that Freshfields was unable to advise Porsche on all aspects.

Freshfields Frankfurt partner Thomas Buecker is advising Porsche SE, which is comprised of the Porsche business as well as its majority stake in VW. A team from Freshfields’ Vienna office, which is understood to be led by partner Guenther Horvath, is advising the Porsche family shareholders.

The two car companies agreed to the deal last week following months of negotiations and the exit of Porsche chief executive Wendelin Wiedeking.

Under the deal, which is expected to be completed by 2011, additional shareholders will include the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and the government of the German federal region of Lower Saxony. It is understood that these entities are being advised by Shearman & Sterling and CMS Hasche Sigle respectively.