Denis Fontaine-Besset, a former student of HEC, has had an exceptional career as a financier and lawyer over four decades. With his first employer, the Oil civil contracting firm ETPM, he quickly became a specialist in the taxation of joint venture companies. He then worked for nine years at Arthur Andersen, which he loved for being “collegial”, and then at Banque Worms, which had just been nationalised and was undergoing a strategic review. He then joined Crédit Commercial de France, which became HSBC France, where he demonstrated his mastery of the structuring of major investments, complex tailor-made financing and leasing operations by working with players in the shipping industry and leading multinationals. His experience as a lawyer led him to Orrick Rambaud Martel, where he continued to exercise his talents in the field of maritime and aeronautical financing. In 2010, Hervé-Antoine Couderc invited him to join Sarrau Thomas Couderc, which became STC Partners. In April 2023, he became a partner at Couderc, Dinh et Associés.
“ A TENOR IN FINANCE ”
Portrait by Michel Faure, Journalist & writer
“As a young student, I was interested in finance, not law”, admits Denis Fontaine-Besset. But one requires the other, and it was by becoming a legal and tax advisor at Arthur Andersen that this financier also became a lawyer. He loves mathematics, adores translating a tax rule into figures, but also holds literature in high regard. Taxation offered him this compromise and this balance, which allows him to combine the rationality of reasoning with the subjectivity of situations.
This likeable Proustian appreciates the technicality of major financial operations where the imagination can give full value to the solutions proposed. He also nurtures contact with his clients, who he helps to manage their professional and personal projects.
Denis Fontaine-Besset knows his new firm’s partners well, in particular Hervé-Antoine Couderc, with whom he worked at Andersen in the 1980s, as well as Emmanuel Dinh, a long-standing friend. “It’s nice to find people you really like, with whom you share the same values, who have a team spirit. For me, joining them is not a change, but a continuum.”
In his spare time, Denis Fontaine-Besset likes to sing. He is fortunate to have a beautiful tenor voice that allows him to belong to two choirs and occasionally to perform at festivals, while taking the opportunity to perform solo sometimes. “Singing requires technique and concentration”, he says, “but the result is always a great pleasure. A bit like work, really.”