2012: CMS DeBacker enters the rankings for the first time. The practice is led by Vincent Dirckx, who took over as practice head from Cedric Guyot in early 2010.

"They created a climate of trust and confidence, they had good coordination with our in-house counsel working as one with our team and were very easily reachable... very client oriented and business minded," says a major client.

The firm has won some impressive mandates recently, most importantly being selected by Delhaize Group, Belgium's largest food retailer, for all its European M&A work. It recently advised Delhaize on its €1 billion acquisition of DeltaMaxi in the Balkans. The transaction was led by Dirkx and, later on, in close conjunction with the London office. It was an example of the firm's commitment in Eastern Europe (when other firms have pulled out) paying great dividends.

"The deal was very technical and complicated," says a client, "they assisted us for two years which is an unusually long time and from beginning to end it was superb. They did a great job in structuring the deal and in filtering interaction in the different jurisdictions".

Another high profile deal saw the firm advise Crédit Agricole in its €527 million acquisition of Centea Bank from KBC Bank. Another high value deal (though not as lead counsel) saw Dirckx act for Bureau Veritas on the Belgian aspects of its £450 million acquisition of Inspectorate form the 3i owner Inspicio Group.

Leading lawyers:
Vincent Dirckx