Comment: The outstanding reputation enjoyed by P+P is based on two factors: the close ties of the transactional teams with the market-leading tax practice, as well as the entrepreneurial and highly commercial approach of its partners. Whether it be on private equity or real estate deals, the integrated advice given by the firm in the mid-cap sector has given the firm a remarkable market position over the years. The private equity practice advised on a string of deals for clients such as Equistone and EQT, both of which have been courted for years by other firms but without success. The firm surprised some competitors by its involvement in advising Piëch family members on the sale of their shares in Porsche SE. The transaction sheds light on the firm's strong ties to south German family entrepreneurs. It is an oft-overlooked part of the firm’s practice but an increasingly important one as older partners make way for younger counterparts in the hard-core transactional business. It thus comes as no surprise that the next generation is positioning itself in the market, not only in areas where the firm is traditionally strong, but also in corporate, where Dr. Wolfgang Grobecker and Dr. Eva Nase are increasingly present. This is having an effect on client work, e.g. public takeover bids (WCM, Müller-Medien) and even M&A, because clients trust the firm to handle the complex post-closing restructuring.
The collegial culture of the firm, together with the freedom given to individual partners, has traditionally meant that it has been particularly stable. But there were more departures than normal this year, albeit for different reasons. The sole Munich real estate partner, Dr. Wolfram Pätzold, left for Pinsent Masons, leaving a gap in that market which needs to be filled. One of the firm’s founders, Dr. Thomas Töben (lately of counsel), left for the new VC boutique Schnittker Möllmann in Berlin. The departure of Frankfurt partner Patricia Volhard (to Debevoise & Plimpton) was in a different league. She had a world-leading funds practice and, given the laborious attempts to bring Frankfurt up to a size where it can act as a useful counterweight to Berlin and Munich, it was a major disappointment. In late summer the tax and company succession practice landed Dr. Martin Liebernickel from PwC, bringing the firm one step closer to its goal of promoting private client advice in Frankfurt.
See also: ?Berlin, ?Munich.
Lawyers in Germany: 121
International network: Independent firm, yet very well connected with leading, often smaller specialist firms overseas.
Developments: The future development of P+P, as ever, depends on individual decisions made by autonomous partners. That has been remarkably successful over the years. For example the growth in inbound M&A from referral firms in the US and UK has for the most part been due to the networking efforts of M&A partner Dr. Frank Thiäner. The tectonic plates in the international market are shifting, however. That has primarily to do with the changing role of the German market after Brexit as well as the increasing attraction of Germany as a site of inward investment into Europe. There is thus an opportunity (and perhaps a necessity) for the firm to market P+P more actively abroad and that means more resources (i.e. partner time) being used for longer-term strategic goals. That P+P still struggles with this, however, can be seen in the venture capital practice, where development continues to unfold without any real plan and is mainly based on the reputation of Munich partner Christian Tönies. The result is that, while the VC market in Berlin is flourishing, P+P lacks an equity partner there.
The work over the past year outside of P+P’s normal mid-cap comfort zone has also demonstrated further potential. Be it the activity for prominent family companies or listed stock corporations, the firm is creeping into larger transactions. It is curious that this has not happened before and reflects perhaps the firm’s traditional approach of staffing transactions with individual corporate partners. But given the excellent reputation for cooperation between different areas, there would seem to be no reason not to replicate this within a practice group so that larger deals can be staffed.
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