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A leader in the Canadian marketplace’, Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP’s balance of transactional and regulatory expertise marks it out as a ‘top-class banking group’. The firm’s comprehensive national network combines with its international outposts in New York, London, Riyadh, Al-Khobar, Manama and Beijing to ensure its client roster comprises some of the best-known banks both domestically and abroad, including RBC, MUFG and TD Bank. In Toronto, financial services lead and regulatory co-head Paul Belanger is an instantly recognizable name for banking matters and oversees a group that is well versed in the full spread of syndicated loans, project finance, asset-based lending, debt capital markets and structured finance matters. Among the Toronto office’s recent work, Michael Matheson advised RBC on a financing connected to CPPIB’s C$1.1bn acquisition of a 50% stake in a portfolio of office properties from Oxford Properties. On the regulatory side, the ‘fantastic’ Dawn Jetten advised Wells Fargo on the Canadian aspects of its acquisition of GE Capital’s commercial distribution finance and vendor finance platforms. In Calgary, Michael McIntosh QC had a banner year and advised high-profile corporate borrowers on several headline mandates, including assisting Cenovus Energy with a C$10.5bn bridge loan. In Montreal, Sébastien Vilder acted for Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ on the C$825.5m project financing of the Niagara Region Wind Farm project. The group also benefits from the expertise of senior specialist Michael Harquail, newer partner Simon Finch and regulatory rising star Elizabeth Sale in Toronto and Michael Birch in Vancouver.

According to satisfied clients, ‘few firms come close’ to McCarthy Tétrault’s banking team. In particular, its ‘deep and experienced bench’, ‘very pragmatic approach’ and ‘solid sector expertise’ all find favour. The firm advises lenders and borrowers, and acts for a string of leading Canadian and international banks (including BMO, CIBC, Deutsche Bank and HSBC Bank of Canada) as well as many major corporations. In Toronto, group co-head Barry Ryan has ‘seen it all and knows it all’; he advised a syndicate of underwriters on Manulife Financial’s $1bn offering of senior notes in Taiwan. On the regulatory side, Ryan advised emerging fintech player Goldmoney on matters relating to its bullion-based internet platform. Also in Toronto, the increasingly prominent Justin Lapedus acted on several of the group’s highest-profile deals over the past year, including advising Samsonite Canada on a $2.4bn debt financing connected to its acquisition of Tumi Holdings. Toronto-based structured finance specialist Marc MacMullin jointly heads the group and is a ‘safe pair of hands’. Other key figures in the Toronto team include the ‘extremely strong’ Richard Higa, project finance expert Stephen Furlan and Gordon Baird. Michel Deschamps is a highly regarded counsel in Montreal.

Traditionally known for acting on behalf of major corporate borrowers, Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP continues to strengthen its lender-side reputation. ‘I was so pleased with the firm’s knowledge and reasonableness when it acted for my client,’ said a source, ‘that I engaged it to represent the bank I work for’. In Toronto, corporate finance partner Carol Pennycook is a ‘giant in the area’ and handles a diverse spread of acquisition finance, project finance, structured finance and capital markets matters. Bank-side specialist Joel Scoler is regarded as a ‘top choice for complex cross-border issues or difficult negotiations’; he advised Scotiabank and a syndicate of lenders on the $475m financing of ABC Group’s acquisition by Cerberus Capital. Derek Vesey is ‘always available to hit any deadline set for him’ and acted as Canadian counsel to JPMorgan Chase and the lending syndicate regarding a $4bn loan provided to Lions Gate Entertainment to fund its acquisition of Starz. Other names in Toronto include Nicholas Williams, who is recommended for energy and infrastructure deals, and Scott Hyman. In Montreal, Sébastien Thériault acted for Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec in its C$1.9bn investment in SNC-Lavalin, which included a loan of C$1.5bn.

Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP’s ‘efficient and responsive group’ impresses with its ‘strong dedication to client needs’. Following the arrivals of new partners Gary Cochrane and Scott Sangster – both joined the Calgary office in 2017 from Dentons – the firm fields a truly national practice that is also represented in Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver; the finance practice also benefits from international platforms in Johannesburg and London. In Toronto, John Torrey is a high-profile lawyer with ‘strong experience and knowledge’; he advised Scotiabank on a $2.2bn bridge financing facility and a C$700m revolving facility to Emera – up-and-coming partner David Ferris and David Johnson worked with Torrey on that deal. Also in Toronto, group lead Jon Holmstrom is an ‘excellent lawyer’ and advised Enercon Canada on a C$825.5m non-recourse project financing of its Niagara Region Wind Farm project. In Montreal, Marc Novello is highly recommended and advised the lenders on a C$2bn revolving credit facility to PSP Investment Board. On the borrower side, Novello advised CGI on a C$1.5bn revolving credit facility. The group also benefits from the expertise of financial institutions head Stephen Clark and project finance expert Brian Kelsall in Toronto, and Xeno Martis is another key name in Montreal.

Norton Rose Fulbright’s ability to plug into an extensive national and global network is a major draw according to clients, with one reporting: ‘the breadth of the firm, within Canada and internationally, allows us to place one phone call to receive knowledgeable answers specific to any given industry or jurisdiction’. In Calgary, Richard Borden is a byword for complex energy-related transactions and led the firm’s finance advice to RBC, and the syndicate of lenders, in TransCanada’s $10.3bn bridge financing to support its acquisition of Columbia Pipeline Group. David Lemieux is a leading figure in the Montreal team and alongside of counsel Martin Thériault advised SNC-Lavalin on several finance transactions, worth over C$7bn, related to its £2.1bn acquisition of WS Atkins, including a C$1.5bn limited recourse loan from CDPQ Revenu Fixe. In 2016, the practice bolstered its Toronto arm with the hire of capital markets and structured finance specialist Elana Hahn from Dentons; she recently advised Waterfall Asset Management as subordinated lender on a securitization acquisition financing. Other recommended partners include Vancouver-based David Bain (‘very experienced, quick to respond, helpful in resolving difficult situations’), Toronto-based David Amato (‘extremely knowledgeable with a reasoned approach to resolving issues’) and Montreal’s Arnold Cohen (‘a strong business partner’).

Stikeman Elliott LLP specialises in major borrower-side engagements, particularly mining and aviation deals. However, it also advises lenders, with CIBC, Deutsche Bank and National Bank all on the firm’s books. Daphne MacKenzie heads the banking and finance group in Toronto and advised Centerra Gold on the financing of its acquisition of Thompson Creek Metals, which involved a $325m credit facility and a $781.5m amended stream facility. Toronto-based corporate finance partner Jennifer Legge advised GFL Environmental on a C$610m senior secured term loan and a C$340m senior secured revolving credit facility to support its C$800m acquisition of the Matrec solid waste division from TransForce. In Montreal, Sterling Dietze and Robert Carelli paired up to advise Air Canada on its C$1.2bn refinancing transaction, which included a C$1.1bn senior secured credit facility. On the lender side, Montreal group lead Howard Rosenoff acted as Canadian counsel to SunTrust Bank on a $335m credit facility provided to Xplornet Communications. Other high-profile names in the team include Peter Hamilton and Craig Mitchell - both are based in Toronto. The firm also has an impressive second line of up-and-coming partners, with Toronto’s Aaron Fransen highlighted as ‘very strong in the finance area’.

Dedicated, solution-oriented and knowledgeable’, Torys’ banking and finance practice ‘knows how to get a challenging deal past the line’. The group, which has platforms in Toronto, Calgary and New York, acts for domestic and international lenders and corporate borrowers on the full spread of finance transactions, with particular strength in debt finance deals. Toronto-based Adam Delean co-heads the debt finance group and advised Orion Mine Finance on providing a $325m construction financing – together with Resource Capital Funds – to Lydian International for its Amulsar gold project. Also in Toronto, project finance specialist Scott Kraag advised BMO and a syndicate of lenders on the C$275m financing of the Belle River Wind Project. Calgary debt finance head Kevin Fougere is ‘up there with the best’ and represented a syndicate of 12 lenders, led by RBC, on the amendment of Seven Generation Energy’s reserve-based credit facility from C$850m to C$1.1bn to support its C$2.1bn acquisition of oil and gas assets from Paramount Resources. Fougere also advised a CIBC-led syndicate on a C$760m acquisition financing to Tundra Energy Marketing related to its purchase of the Saskatchewan Pipeline System from Enbridge. Project finance head Jonathan Weisz and regulatory banking lead Blair Keefe are also recommended - both operate from the Toronto office.

Widely acclaimed for its ‘highly responsive and client-focused service’, Bennett Jones LLP is ‘excellent in all factors’. Toronto-based group co-lead Steven Lutz is ‘very knowledgeable about the industry and key trends affecting the client’s business’ and advised Gateway Casinos & Entertainment on a cross-border refinancing of existing debt and a concurrent acquisition financing, worth a combined C$920m. Aviation finance specialist Patrick Brennan jointly heads the group from Calgary and acted for Chorus Aircraft Leasing on the purchase, financing and leasing of four aircraft. Calgary is also the seat of high-profile banking and finance partner Philip Backman QC, who recently advised North West Redwater Partnership on a C$8.5bn project financing of the construction of a refinery in Alberta.

Borden Ladner Gervais LLP distinguishes itself through its ‘top-flight service’ and ‘first-class work product and responsiveness’. From Vancouver, Donald Bird heads a national group that counts an impressive volume of major banks among its clients, including BMO, HSBC Bank Canada and Scotiabank. In Toronto, Gus Karantzoulis had a strong year, notably advising Scotiabank on acquisition financing of C$550m to Cara Operation to support its purchase of Groupe St-Hubert, and he also advised Scotiabank – as agent and co-lead arranger – on Cineplex’s refinancing of C$550m credit facilities. The Montreal office ‘strives to ensure that the quality of workmanship is high’ and houses senior sector specialist Kenneth Atlas and Vincent Frenette, who ‘despite being a relatively young professional has seen it all and always has a solution’.

Alberta stalwart Burnet Duckworth & Palmer LLP advises corporate borrowers and lenders on financings in the energy field, with experience in a wide range of acquisition finance, project finance, structured finance, debt capital markets and syndicated loan transactions. Kathy Pybus heads the sizable group, which also includes senior figure John Wilmot and Sunil Joneja. Among its recent highlights, the firm advised Canadian Natural Resources on its C$1.8bn note offering and it also advised Madalena Energy on the partial sale and financing of its Argentine shale properties to Pan American Energy.

Lawyers at Dentons provide ‘solid, practical advice without getting too bogged down in the legal intricacies’. Heidi Clark, a department manager in the Toronto office, has ‘excellent knowledge’ and advised joint venture partner Greystone Managed Investments on acquisition financing for its purchase of land from Toronto Port Lands. In another set of highlights, Toronto-based Dennis Wiebe acted as local counsel to Canadian Chartered Bank, as agent for a syndicate of 20 banks, on a $3.5bn credit facility to Element Financial; he also advised Canadian Chartered Bank as agent on a $2.5bn credit facility to ECN Capital in connection with Element Financial’s corporate reorganization. Joey Mastrogiuseppe leads the banking and finance team of the firm’s Montreal office.

Toronto-based Goodmans has a diverse banking practice that advises lenders and borrowers across a comprehensive spread of acquisition finance, asset-based lending, project finance, structured finance and regulatory matters. It also leverages its market-leading restructuring team to advise on finance matters related to major bankruptcies and reorganizations. Senior name Jean Anderson is a ‘remarkable lawyer’ and advised Clearwater Seafoods on a new C$335m senior secured credit facility and a concurrent $250m notes issuance. David Nadler is also a key contact and advised Sienna Senior Living on a C$105m credit facility provided by BMO. In another headline mandate, Jeffrey Citron advised Cineplex on increased credit facilities totalling C$550m. Other representative clients include AMP Solar Group, TD Bank and Scotiabank.

McMillan LLP had a particularly strong showing in debt capital markets over the past year, but the firm also packs a punch in syndicated lending, financial restructuring, acquisition finance and asset-based lending. Recent highlights include advising Teck Resources on the Canadian aspects of its $1.2bn private placement of senior unsecured notes. It also acted for Semafo regarding a $120m amended credit facility with Macquarie Bank. Other representative clients include Bank of Canada, CIBC and Great Panther Silver. Jeffrey Rogers is recommended in Toronto, while John Morrison is a key contact in Vancouver.

In 2016, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP hired two financial services partners from Dentons: Martha Martindale joined in Vancouver, while real estate finance specialist Yan Besner joined in Montreal. Chris Bennett heads the financial services team from Toronto and has a strong focus on project finance. The group also has expertise in traditional lending, acquisition finance, structured finance and debt capital markets. Among its recent highlights, Montreal-based corporate finance partner Etienne Massicotte advised TD Securities and a syndicate of lenders on a C$175m term credit facility and a secured C$150m revolving credit facility provided to a subsidiary of MTY Food Group to support its acquisition of Kahala Brands. In Toronto, Kevin Morley and Laurie Barrett are senior figures on the team.

Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP’s practice advises both lenders and corporate borrowers on banking and finance deals. Examples of the former include Michael Wunder advising BMO and a syndicate of lenders on a $340m amended senior secured credit facility to Student Transportation. In terms of the latter, group co-head Marc Mercier advised Harley-Davidson Financial Services on a $765m five-year credit agreement with a syndicate of lenders. David Budd, who splits his time between Toronto and Vancouver, and Toronto-based Alison Manzer are also recommended. The firm launched a new Calgary office in 2016, which was recently boosted by the arrival of financial services specialist Kenton Rein from Stikeman Elliott LLP.

The ‘very prompt and client-oriented’ borrower-focused group at DLA Piper (Canada) LLP provides ‘very good service’. In particular, Toronto-based Eric Belli-Bivar is singled out for his ‘great availability at all times’ and his ‘good disposition towards the client’. Belli-Bivar recently advised Broadspectrum Canada on the Canadian aspects of the refinancing of an A$548m multi-currency, syndicated credit facility provided by Westpac. Montreal-based Marc Philibert chairs the Canadian finance group and along with Belli-Bivar advised Allied Group on a C$25m multi-currency credit facility with National Bank of Canada. Other representative clients include Altus Group, IOU Financial and RBC.

Gowling WLG’s broad sector coverage of banking and financial institutions combines with its diverse national network – which encompasses well-staffed platforms in Alberta, British Columbia, Montreal and Ontario – to ensure a steady stream of finance-related mandates. Among its recent highlights, financial institutions group lead for the Calgary office Elizabeth Burton advised the lenders on a C$160m syndicated financing to a multi-province borrower to support its going-private transaction. In Toronto, Lilly Wong advised CIBC World Markets and Scotiabank as joint lead arrangers of credit facilities to Capstone Power. Toronto is also the seat of national group lead Mark Ledwell.

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