[CONTENU PARTENAIRE] Change is a law firm focused on corporate finance transactions and financial market law. It was co-founded by three lawyers (Nicolas Cuntz, Géraud Riom and Quentin Lagier) after experiences in French and international law firms as well as at the AMF. In this interview, Géraud Riom and Quentin Lagier detail the operation of the firm and its assets.
What is the genesis of the law firm Change?
Géraud Riom: The three founders of Change have twenty years of experience in French and international law firms based in Paris. We also met in a law firm with strong expertise in stock market law. Nicolas worked at the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), within the Issuers Department. Quentin and I have extensive experience in merger transactions and more generally in listed and unlisted company law.
During these past experiences, we were able to work on a large number of OPA-OPE (takeover bids), IPOs (IPOs) as well as in emblematic stock market files (EADS dossier, Muddy Waters/Casino, battle for control of Clud Med, rapprochement between Lafarge and Holcim).
We therefore turned very naturally to stock market law, that is to say, to the creation of a niche firm. He brings expertise in corporate finance transactions (mergers and acquisitions and fundraising), but also in regulation and stock market litigation, which is in our DNA.
What type of support do you offer in terms of stock market law?
GR: What sets Change apart is the human factor that drives us, in our relationships as well as in those with our customers. The small size of our firm allows us to be on the front line to offer them the best support. We advise SMEs and ETIs located in Paris or in the provinces (for example, to support them in their IPO), as well as French or foreign investors (family investors, funds, FIA) or large listed groups.
Large companies need expertise on specific regulatory topics. This support, sometimes over several months or years, is also useful in mergers and acquisitions involving listed companies, but also unlisted ones. We have also worked on cross-border cases (advising Antalis in the context of the takeover bid by Japanese KPP in 2020).
Finally, we defend our clients in litigation against AMF decisions, such as during stock market battles. We thus advised a foreign fund in the Veolia/Suez case, as well as the company Bourrelier Group (formerly Bricorama) in a case opposing it to a group of activist shareholders which led to the launch of a public buyout offer. We regularly intervene in conflicts between shareholders and we also have a real experience of shareholder activism campaigns.
Who are you talking to?
Quentin Lagier: We have intervened in AMF sanction procedures and in disputes relating to public offers. Our customers are mainly industrial. Nevertheless, we also advise professionals in the financial and management industry (banking sector, financial advisers and management companies). This in compliance with their ethical obligations, such as on the occasion of their reconciliation or corporate finance transactions/build-up.
In addition, we accept files that cannot be handled by large structures, which are more subject to conflicts of interest.. Our particularity is to assist frequently, on takeover bids or ECM operations (equity capital markets), our French colleagues or foreign firms that do not have stock market experience.
We have worked for certain activist or long-term funds. We also support all members (including the self-employed and employee representatives) sitting on boards of directors or supervisory boards, in the context of structuring operations.
In your opinion, what constitutes the added value of your law firm?
GR: We define ourselves as entrepreneurs, which allows us to be more attentive to managers, in particular SMEs and ETIs. We make sure to work as a close team, for the sake of efficiency and cost control.
QL: During the initial public offering of Haffner Energy, one of the main IPOs in France since the beginning of this year, we were, for example, asked quite early on about discussions with minority shareholders, and the conclusion of agreements to achieve the success of the operation in an innovative sector (hydrogen) and contributing to reindustrialisation.
We also recently intervened in the privatization of La Française des jeux (FDJ). The largest in France since 2015. We have supported associations of veterans, who constitute the second largest group of shareholders after the State, since the initial discussions to launch the operation aimed at obtaining the support of the founding associations. Our ability to intervene in files, conflicting or not and for very different clients, is a daily challenge, but also a real asset..
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