Photo, Dieter Schmitz

Dieter Schmitz

Partner
Baker & McKenzie LLP

Biography

Dieter Schmitz has practiced international business law in Baker McKenzie’s Chicago, Berlin and Frankfurt offices for his entire legal career. Dieter has been ranked and recognized in Chambers Global, Chambers USA, Acritas Stars, and The International Who’s Who of Mergers & Acquisitions Lawyers. He has advised countless companies on their cross-border investment and expansion — and has been lead counsel for many clients on their "largest M&A transaction ever". 

Practice Focus

Dieter’s practice principally involves advising US and foreign clients on acquisitions, divestitures, joint ventures, strategic alliances, and other international transactions. The transactions involve companies in a wide range of product and service sectors. Because of Dieter’s international background and German fluency, nearly all of these transactions are cross-border in nature — principally between the United States and Europe.

Representative Legal Matters

Dieter's selected transactional experience is as follows, the first 10 of which represented the respective client’s "largest M&A transaction ever":

  • Ecolab Inc. – Acquisition by this NYSE company of Nalco Holding Company (NYSE) with operations in 150 countries (USD 8.3 billion).
  • Bemis Company, Inc. – Acquisition by this NYSE company of the Food Americas operations of Alcan Packaging, a business unit of Rio Tinto plc (USD 1.2 billion) and the follow-on divestiture ordered by the US Department of Justice.
  • SwissairGroup AG – Acquisition by Gate Gourmet AG of Dobbs International Services, Inc. and Dobbs International (UK) Limited from Viad Corp. (USD 790 million).
  • Gardner Denver, Inc. – Acquisition by this NYSE company of Thomas Industries Inc. (NYSE) with operations in over 20 countries (USD 734 million).
  • Prestige Brands Holdings, Inc. – Acquisition by this NYSE company of 17 over-the-counter healthcare brands from GlaxoSmithKline plc (USD 660 million).
  • AgraQuest, Inc. – Sale of this US biotech company to Bayer CropScience, a member of the Bayer AG group (USD 500 million), selected by 2013 M&A Advisor for Healthcare and Life Sciences "Deal of the Year" Award.
  • Zen-Noh Grain Corporation - Acquisition by this Japanese owned company from Bunge Limited (NYSE) of 35 US grain elevators (USD 300 million) and the follow-on divestiture ordered by the US Department of Justice.
  • American Hotel Register Company - Acquisition of Woleco Hotel Supplies Ltd. from Hunter Amenities International Ltd. (Pan-Asia Business).
  • Willamette Management Associates, Inc. - Sale to Citizens Financial Group Inc. (NYSE).
  • Turtle Wax, Inc. – Acquisition by this US company of the European car care business of Sara Lee/DE N.V.
  • Ecolab Inc. - Acquisition by this NYSE company of Purolite Corporation (USD 3.7 billion) noting this is Ecolab's second largest M&A transaction ever with the largest being the Nalco deal above.
  • Starbucks Corporation – Acquisition by this NASDAQ company of a controlling interest in Beijing Mei Da Coffee Co. Ltd., the operator of 60 Starbucks retail stores in Beijing and Tianjin, People’s Republic of China.
  • SwissairGroup AG – Acquisition by SR Technics of the former B-1 bomber manufacturing facility from Boeing in Palmdale, California, to establish a maintenance, repair and overhaul facility, hailed by California Governor Davis as "the largest investment by a foreign company in California in a decade."

Professional Honors

  • Recognized as a "Star Lawyer" in North America by Acritas
  • Ranked lawyer for Corporate/M&A, Illinois, Chambers USA, 2014-2016
  • "Foreign expert" in Germany and the US for Corporate/M&A, Chambers Global, 2012-2013
  • Ranked lawyer, The International Who’s Who of Merger & Acquisition Lawyers, 2012
  • Awardee, Christifideles Award, Chicago Archdiocese, 2012
  • "Leader in Corporate/M&A: Overseas Counsel," Chambers Global, 2011
  • Highly recommended for M&A transactions, The Legal 500 US, 2010
  • Profiled lawyer, Chicago Lawyer

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest - Member of Board, Executive Committee, Strategic Planning Committee
  • St. Athanasius School Board - Chairman (2 years), Member (4 years)

Corporate Responsibility

Dieter is active in many international organizations. He has been a long-time member of the board of directors of the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest, and serves on its Strategic Planning Committee. Over the years, he has held various leadership positions for international issues with the Chicago Bar Association, the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, and the Greater Chicago Chapter of the United Nations Association - USA.

On the civic and charitable front, Dieter is a long-standing member of the board of directors of the Juvenile Protective Association, a 125-year old social welfare agency founded by Jane Addams. He also launched and has chaired for over 12 years at Baker McKenzie the Chicago office’s Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign, which has been extended to all North American offices. The father of four children, he served on the St. Athanasius School Board, including two years as Chairman. Dieter has been a mentor and financial sponsor for various African-American high school students through Link Unlimited. As an Eagle Scout, he has been an Assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 912 in Evanston, Illinois. In 2014-2015, along with subsequent updates, he led the development with about 2000 collective pro bono hours by 150 volunteers of the Homeless Youth Handbook, a 250-page and on-line resource for homeless youth (www.homelessyouth.org) and those who support them in the State of Washington (with Starbucks) and the State of Minnesota (with Ecolab), which can be viewed here.  

Admissions

  • Illinois~United States (1984)

Education

  • DePaul University College of Law (LL.M. Taxation) (1990)
  • University of Munich (1985)
  • Northwestern University School of Law (J.D., cum laude) (1984)
  • University of Freiburg (1981)
  • University of Notre Dame (B.A., magna cum laude) (1980)
  • University of Innsbruck (1978)

Languages

  • English
  • German

Previous Offices

  • Berlin
  • Frankfurt

Dieter’s publications have addressed various aspects of international business transactions. Some of the articles have focused on licensing and franchising in the European Community and have been published in The International Lawyer and The Business Lawyer. He is a co-author (in German) of a C.H. Beck multi-national publication on U.S. commercial law. He is the editor of Willkommen in Amerika, a Baker McKenzie handbook (in both English and German) on doing business in the United States. Dieter’s speeches have also covered many aspects of international business transactions, and have been sponsored by groups such as the American Bar Association, American Management Association, Association of Corporate Counsel, Berlin and Dresden Chambers of Commerce, The Economist General Counsel Roundtable, Federal Commissioner for Foreign Investment in Germany, Mergermarket, Minnesota Association of Corporate Counsel and Practising Law Institute. Dieter has been included in numerous publications and articles with respect to his international practice and transactions including AmLawDaily, Australian Financial Review, Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Deal Diary, Law 360, LegalWeek and Thomson Reuters.