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Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP houses an ‘A-star competition practice’, which is admired for providing ‘practical solutions’ and delivering a ‘high-level product’. The national group, which comprises platforms in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec, covers all the bases in competition law, with strong expertise in merger review, foreign investment issues, investigations and litigation. Brian Facey, highlighted by many as a ‘market leader’, chairs the practice and advised Agrium on its multi-jurisdictional $36bn merger of equals with PotashCorp. He is also advising Essilor International on its €46.2bn merger with Luxottica Group. In another high-profile merger case, Julie Soloway successfully obtained Canadian clearance for The Washington Companies’ $1.2bn acquisition of Dominion Diamond. On the contentious side, Robert Kwinter and Navin Joneja are acting as antitrust counsel to Visa Canada in a multibillion-dollar class action alleging conspiracy in the setting of interchange and merchant fees. Cassandra Brown is an ‘up-and-coming’ competition specialist. Randall Hofley, who is best known for his focus on contentious competition matters, is currently serving a two-year term as the general counsel and senior enforcement adviser at Competition Bureau Legal Services. All named lawyers are based in Toronto.

Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP receives rave reviews for its ‘extremely deep bench’ and its ‘knowledgeable and responsive lawyers’, who provide ‘practical legal advice with solid business grounding’. The Toronto-based group fields specialist expertise across the spread of merger, cartel and monopolization cases, as well as litigation and foreign investment matters. Department chair George Addy brings a ‘unique perspective from his experience as the head of the Competition Bureau’ and, alongside Charles Tingley, advised Alimentation Couche-Tard on the complex review of its $4.4bn acquisition of CST Brands and its subsequent $750m sale of a portion of CST Brands’ Canadian assets to Parkland Fuel. On the litigation front, Sandra Forbes ‘really knows the subject matter’ and is representing the Canadian Real Estate Association (as intervener) in abuse of dominance proceedings brought against the Toronto Real Estate Board. On the investigations side, Adam Fanaki — ‘a very skilled lawyer’ — is representing a retailer in a high-profile investigation into the alleged price-fixing of commercial bread products. Other recommended names are sector specialist John Bodrug; Anita Banicevic (‘one of the leaders of the competition bar’); Mark Katz (‘great experience’); and next generation lawyer Jim Dinning (‘strong business mindset’).

Top-tier competition shop’, Stikeman Elliott LLP is ‘head and shoulders above the rest’, according to some. Highlighted as ‘extremely strong on the litigation side’, due in no small part to ‘first-class competition litigator’ Katherine Kay, the group also excels in major merger reviews, complex behavioural matters and foreign investment work. High-profile department head Paul Collins is a ‘sophisticated operator’ and acted with Ottawa’s Susan Hutton to advise Bayer on its headline $66bn acquisition of Monsanto. In another transactional file, Collins is advising Airbus on its partnership with Bombardier and Investissement Québec for the C Series aircraft program. On the investigations front, the ‘increasingly prominent’ Eliot Kolers is representing Sobeys in the Bureau’s investigation into alleged price-fixing in the bread market. In a headline contentious case, star litigator Kay is representing CIBC in a set of class actions brought against several banks and credit card companies alleging anti-competitive conduct in the setting of interchange fees. Michael Kilby, who advised Cheung Kong Property Holdings on its C$2.8bn acquisition of Canadian Reliance Home Comfort, is also recommended. Named partners are based in Toronto unless otherwise stated.

Bennett Jones LLP impresses with its ‘deep team of excellent people’ and ‘superb expertise in energy and natural resources-related matters’ — it also has strong experience in the TMT and life sciences sectors. The department is considered by some as ‘tier one on the litigation side’, with group co-chair Randal Hughes highly regarded for both contentious and non-contentious matters. Hughes recently acted as Canadian counsel to Apple in the Bureau’s investigation into Apple’s iPhone agreements with Canadian wireless carriers. In a key transactional highlight, Washington DC-based department co-chair Melanie Aitken advised Time Warner on the Canadian aspects of its $85.4bn acquisition by AT&T. John Rook QC is a ‘very strong litigator’ and represented Panasonic in a seminal case regarding indirect purchaser actions. The firm also benefits from an impressive line of younger specialists, including Adam Kalbfleisch and ‘absolutely terrific’ recently promoted partner Emrys Davis.

McCarthy Tétrault’s competition group sent out a statement of intent through its recent hiring spree, with sources asserting ‘the team has totally reinvented itself in the last six months’. In March 2018, the arrivals of Jason Gudofsky, who now leads the department, and Debbie Salzberger from Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP ‘provided a turbocharge to the practice’. In July, Nikiforos Iatrou also joined from WeirFoulds LLP. Other key names in the increasingly prominent team include competition litigation head Donald Houston , transactional specialist Oliver Borgers and ‘very strong Montreal-based expert Madeleine Renaud Ad E. Among its key merger review files, it advised Rayonier Advanced Materials on its C$1.1bn acquisition of Tembec. It also advised Bass Pro Group on its $5.5bn acquisition of Cabela. On the contentious side, it is representing Credit Suisse in class actions in Ontario and Quebec arising from an alleged conspiracy in foreign exchange transactions. Named partners are based in Toronto unless otherwise stated.

McMillan LLP’s group is noted for ‘punching above its weight in the competition area’ and has a ‘terrific record in competition litigation’. It is also strong in merger clearance, cartel investigations, foreign investment review, and marketing and advertising issues. High-profile specialist Neil Campbell is a ‘very smart guy and ‘great to work with on a file’ and chairs the department alongside ‘great lawyer’ James Musgrove. The team also benefits from the senior expertise of class action expert David Kent (‘as fine a litigator as you will find in Canada’) and ‘great merger lawyer’ Casey Halladay. Halladay recently advised the sellers on the sale of a majority stake in Montreal-based apparel company Joseph Ribkoff to Novacap. Named partners are based in Toronto.

Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP’s practice is well weighted between merger reviews and behavioural matters. In terms of the latter, department chair Shuli Rodal and competition and investigations lead Christopher Naudie represented Enterprise Rent-a-Car in class proceedings arising from the Bureau’s investigation into pricing and marketing practices in the rental car market. In a high-profile merger file, Peter Glossop advised Corus Entertainment on its attempted C$200m disposal of French-language specialty channels Historia and Séries+ to Bell Media — the deal was ultimately blocked by the Commissioner of Competition. In another complex merger file, Peter Franklyn advised Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) on the Canadian aspects of its sale of Trayport Holdings to TMX Group and the related acquisitions by ICE of Natural Gas Exchange and Shorcan Energy Brokers. Senior specialist Michelle Lally and newly promoted partner Kaeleigh Kuzma are also recommended. Named partners are based in Toronto.

Torys LLP climbs a tier on the back of excellent feedback, with sources commending its ‘highly sophisticated and knowledgeable lawyers’ and ‘great connections to high-ranking government officials’. On the transactional front, practice co-chair Omar Wakil (‘among the best in the business’) advised Husky Injection Molding Systems, Berkshire Partners and OMERS Private Equity on the $3.8bn sale of Husky to Platinum Equity. Elsewhere, group co-chair Dany Assaf (‘always on point and extremely responsive’) acted as Canadian counsel to Thomson Reuters on the $17bn sale of its financial and risk business to Blackstone. On the contentious side, competition litigation head Linda Plumpton (‘a very fine litigator who just keeps getting better’) is representing Air Canada in proposed class actions concerning allegations of anti-competitive conduct in the supply of tickets for air travel between the US and Canada. All named lawyers are based in Toronto.

FASKEN’s national practice is led jointly from Toronto by Huy Do and seasoned specialist Anthony Baldanza, and also has robust platforms in Montreal and Vancouver. On the transactional side, Baldanza, Do and ‘rising star’ Antonio Di Domenico advised BASF on its €5.9bn acquisition of significant parts of Bayer’s seed and non-selective herbicide businesses. On the contentious side, it continues to represent RBC in litigation concerning the alleged overcharging of interchange fees.

Goodmans’ competition practice was recently boosted by the arrival of counsel David Rosner from Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP. The group, which is led by experienced expert Calvin Goldman QC, has a growing profile for both merger review and behavioural work, with its record in contentious matters particularly impressing. Most notably, Goldman teamed up with Julie Rosenthal and Michael Koch to defend Vancouver Airport Authority in litigation brought by the Commissioner of Competition alleging abuse of dominance. The ‘excellent’ Richard Annan is also recommended.

Pragmatic and responsive’, Norton Rose Fulbright scores highly for its lawyers’ commitment to ‘regularly go beyond the call of duty’. Toronto-based Kevin Ackhurst heads the national competition practice. In Montreal, litigator Eric C. Lefebvre ‘knows the law inside out’ and is representing a client in an investigation into bid-rigging in the tendering of private sector ventilation contracts for residential high-rise buildings.

Baker McKenzie’s group, which handles a broad mix of merger control, foreign investment matters and investigations, provides a ‘responsive and knowledgeable service’. Department lead Arlan Gates, who ‘possesses broad and deep knowledge’, recently advised a private equity player on obtaining Canadian merger and foreign investment clearance for its acquisition of a Canada-headquartered company.

Borden Ladner Gervais LLP routinely advises on merger reviews, cartel-related matters and abuse of dominance cases. Toronto-based Robert Russell chairs the national practice and successfully represented a major retailer in an abuse of dominance investigation. Toronto-based vice-chair Subrata Bhattacharjee is also a key contact.

At Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP, sector specialist Chris Hersh is recommended for his broad competition practice, which spans transactional, regulatory and contentious matters — including criminal investigations. Among his recent highlights, Hersh advised Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors on the Canadian aspects of its sale of a portfolio of real estate assets to Mapletree Investments.

A leader in Western Canada’, Dentons’ competition practice is valued for its ‘practical and business-focused advice’. Led jointly by Vancouver-based Barry Zalmanowitz QC (highly experienced and client-friendly’) and Toronto’s Sandy Walker (an ‘Investment Canada Act specialist and very knowledgeable about government workings’), the team covers all the bases in competition law, with solid skill sets in transactional and behavioural matters. Clients include Bayer, Cenovus and Suncor Energy.

DLA Piper (Canada) LLP is well known for its strong foothold in Western Canada, with competition chair Kevin Wright and key competition litigator David Neave both based in Vancouver. Neave is representing Air Canada in a class action in Saskatchewan alleging that certain airlines conspired to fix baggage fees.

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