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  1. Competition and antitrust
  2. Leading lawyers

Leading lawyers

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The benchmark for competition law in Canada’, Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP has a ‘deep and broad practice with strong experience in heavily scrutinized cases’. Led by ‘superb lawyer’ Brian Facey, the group also includes experienced specialist Jason Gudofsky and ‘standout partners’ Robert Kwinter and Julie Soloway - all of whom are based in Toronto. Among the firm’s recent work, Facey continued to advise Holcim on divestment matters as part of its C$50bn global merger with Lafarge. In one of 2016’s most closely followed merger review cases, Soloway acted as Canadian counsel to Office Depot in its attempted $6.3bn merger with Staples, which was eventually abandoned following a US court ruling that the union would be anti-competitive. On the contentious side, Kwinter and Navin Joneja represented Visa as a co-defendant in a class action relating to credit card interchange fees, which involves litigation in five Canadian provinces.

Top of the list for thorny problems’, Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP brings a ‘practical and solution-focused approach to difficult issues’. The firm scores highly for its ‘market-leading bench strength’ and its ‘very strong depth across the area’. Department head George Addy is ‘without peer’ and alongside litigator Sandra Forbes successfully represented Mars Canada in criminal proceedings relating to alleged price-fixing in Canada’s chocolate confectionery market. Among the group’s transactional highlights, Addy and the ‘pragmatic and knowledgeable’ Adam Fanaki handled several headline pharmaceutical merger reviews, including advising Teva on its $40.5bn acquisition of Allergan’s generic pharmaceutical business. Mark Katz is ‘up there with the very best’ and advised United Technologies on issues relating to its $9bn sale of Sikorsky Aircraft to Lockheed Martin. John Bodrug provides advice that is ‘practical and not overly prescriptive’.

Stikeman Elliott LLP is widely regarded as ‘one of the best competition law firms in Canada’. Group head Paul Collins is highly active in merger review and is also a favourite for foreign investors in Investment Canada Act matters; he and Michael Kilby are advising US-based Lowe’s Companies on its C$3.2bn acquisition of Rona. In another high-profile review, Collins is advising Allergan on the $40.5bn sale of its generics business to Teva. Susan Hutton is also recommended for transactional matters and advised Canexus on its acquisition by Superior Plus, which involved in-depth competition reviews by the Canadian Competition Bureau and the US Federal Trade Commission. Litigator Katherine Kayis the lawyer you want in your corner’ and is advising several De Beers defendants in a series of multi-jurisdictional competition class actions across Canada relating to the alleged price-fixing of gem-grade diamonds. Counsel Lawson Hunter QC is a ‘dean of Canadian competition law’. All named partners operate out of Toronto, except for Ottawa-based Hutton.

Bennett Jones LLP fields ‘experts with deep knowledge in the area’ who are valued for their ‘excellent relationships with regulators’. Toronto-based Randal Hughes is ‘highly knowledgeable with good business as well as legal acumen’ and chairs the ‘first-class group’ alongside Washington DC-based Melanie Aitken. The team also includes litigator John Rook QC and Andrew Little, who recently returned from a two-year secondment as general counsel of the Competition Bureau - both are based in Toronto. In an M&A highlight, Aitken advised Canadian Pacific Railway on its $31bn unsolicited bid for Norfolk Southern - the offer was ultimately withdrawn. In a headline example of the team’s litigation prowess, Hughes successfully represented Itwal Limited in the chocolate price-fixing case.

McCarthy Tétrault’s practice has a comprehensive national footprint, with its leading names split between its Toronto and Montreal offices and a significant presence also in Calgary. Toronto-based department head Donald Houston is a ‘safe pair of hands for difficult cases’ and with Montreal-based Dominic Thérien advised Molson Coors on the Canadian aspects of its C$12bn acquisition of the Miller beer portfolio outside of the US. Also in Toronto, Oliver Borgers is ‘among the best’ and focuses on foreign investment review, national security issues and merger clearance; he was recently part of the team that advised Kraft Foods on its $60bn merger with Heinz. Madeleine Renaud is a high-profile figure in the Montreal market and is particularly sought after for cartel investigations and competition litigation.

Reliable, knowledgeable and professional’, McMillan LLP is a ‘group you can depend on’. Neil Campbell is ‘one of Canada’s elite competition lawyers’ and recently advised US-based WhiteWave Foods on the Canadian competition aspects of its $550m acquisition of Vancouver-based Sequel Naturals. James Musgrove chairs the group alongside Campbell and acted for Rogers Communications in its acquisition with BCE of Glentel. On the litigation side, class action defence specialist David Kent is highly regarded for complex cartel cases. Casey Halladay is also recommended and is regularly called upon to advise on merger reviews, investigations, investment reviews and antitrust litigation. All named partners are based in Toronto.

In 2016, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP redeployed two partners into its Toronto-based competition practice to broaden the scope of the work it undertakes. Trade expert Riyaz Dattu and litigator Lawrence Ritchie bring valuable anti-corruption experience to the group. The ‘absolutely fantasticMichelle Lally chairs the department and is regarded as a ‘leader in the competition space’. Lally successfully represented TPG Capital in its acquisition of a majority stake in Cirque du Soleil, which triggered ministerial review and required approval from both the Minister of Industry and the Minister of Canadian Heritage. Also in Toronto, Peter Glossop advised Canadian Oil Sands on Suncor Energy’s original hostile takeover bid and its successful C$6.6bn amended offer. On the contentious side, litigator Mahmud Jamal and Peter Franklyn represented NEC in proposed class actions in British Columbia and Ontario alleging price-fixing of optical disk drives.

Efficient, responsive and knowledgeable’, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP is valued for its ‘sensible and pragmatic approach to difficult issues’. Anthony Baldanza is ‘experienced and extremely client-oriented’ and chairs the group alongside the ‘very capable’ Huy Do - both are based in Toronto. The firm handles a significant number of merger review cases and Baldanza recently represented Recall Holdings in its A$2.6bn acquisition by Iron Mountain, which resulted in a negotiated consent requiring certain divestments. The team also acted on a string of high-profile contentious matters; most notably, class action specialist Laura Cooper defended Toshiba in a cartel class action relating to alleged anti-competitive behaviour in the lithium ion batteries market.

The ‘calm, professional and knowledgeable’ group at Goodmansdelivers on its promises’, say clients. Group head Calvin Goldman QC is ‘without qualification the finest competition lawyer in Canada’ and sources say that his arrival in 2014 ‘propelled the practice to quality’. Goldman recently advised Mark Anthony Group on the C$350m sale of certain assets to Ambev. The team also includes counsel Richard Annan, the ‘excellent’ Michael Koch and new arrival Howard Wetston QC, former chair of the Ontario Securities Commission, who joined as counsel in 2016.

Norton Rose Fulbright bolstered its competition practice in 2015 through the hires of Linda Fuerst from Toronto’s Lenczner Slaght LLP and Ottawa-based regulatory specialist Martin Masse from McMillan LLP. Among the group’s recent highlights, Toronto-based department head Kevin Ackhurst and Montreal-based Thierry Dorval advised Rona on its C$3.2bn acquisition by Lowe’s Companies - Ackhurst led on Investment Canada Act matters, while Dorval was the competition lead. The firm is also active in competition litigation and Montreal’s Eric Lefebvre is advising Ventilex on the Competition Bureau’s investigation into bid-rigging in the tendering of private sector ventilation contracts.

Torys continues to increase its share of high-profile merger cases. In a recent highlight, Dany Assaf was instructed by DuPont to advise on the Canadian aspects of its $130bn merger with Dow Chemical. Omar Wakil heads the group with Assaf and acted for Saudi Aramco on the local law issues arising from its $3.1bn joint venture with Lanxess. Competition litigation head Linda Plumpton is a ‘very strong lawyer’ and alongside Wakil and Assaf is representing five separate clients in the Canadian aspects of global cartel investigations relating to allegations of anti-competitive activity in the automotive parts market.

Baker McKenzie provides ‘timely and efficient advice’ under the leadership of group head Arlan Gates. Merger review, investigations and compliance advice are the main pillars of the practice, and the team regularly collaborates with the firm’s global competition group to counsel multinational clients on competition issues. Highlights included advising Hospira on obtaining Canadian clearance for its $17bn merger with Pfizer.

Focused on clients’ needs and goals’, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP is, according to one source, more ‘thoughtful, thorough and responsive than its peers’. In 2016, the firm boosted its competition group in Toronto through the hire of ‘diligent, efficient and creative litigator’ Davit Akman from Gowling WLG. Toronto-based department chair Robert Russell is advising Loblaw on ongoing issues arising from its C$12.4bn acquisition of Shoppers Drug Mart.

Mining specialist Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP acted on a diverse spread of cases in 2015/16, with energy, real estate and tourism all strong areas of activity. Chris Hersh heads the competition group and advised Wakefield & Cushman on the local aspects of its merger with DTZ.

DLA Piper (Canada) LLP’s competition practice is led out of Vancouver by Kevin Wright, and is also represented in the firm’s Toronto and Calgary offices. Wright is representing Renesas Electronics in pan-Canadian class actions alleging collusion in the smart card chip market.

At Dentons, Edmonton-based Barry Zalmanowitz QC is ‘calm, cool and collected’ and chairs the practice alongside Toronto-based Sandy Walker, who has ‘substantial experience and policy depth in foreign investment review’. Zalmanowitz and Walker advised Shaw Communications on the competition issues related to its C$1.6bn acquisition of Mid-Bowline Group, and its subsidiary Wind Mobile. Toronto-based litigator Adam Goodman is ‘extremely knowledgeable with good judgment’.

Litigation boutique Lenczner Slaght LLP continues to win plum roles on high-stakes competition litigation. In a highlight example, Tom Curry represented Apple Canada in a price-fixing class action relating to the price of e-books.

WeirFoulds LLP acts on the full spread of competition matters but really shines in contentious matters due to the strength of litigator Nikiforos Iatrou. Iatrou recently represented Kobo in its application to the Competition Tribunal challenging a consent agreement between the Commissioner of Competition and e-book publishers.

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