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Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP is ‘at the top of the list for competition law’, according to one client. The group particularly impresses with its ‘understanding of internal urgencies’ and its ‘strong knowledge of what is "market"’. Lawyers are highlighted as ‘professional, bright and solution-oriented’, with group head and ‘competition star’ Brian Facey praised as an ‘excellent relationship manager, who brings together top-quality teams for all projects’. The firm has a broad practice, with expertise across the full spread of merger clearance, foreign investment review, investigations and contentious matters. The group, already one of Canada’s largest, was further boosted by the recent partner promotions of Joshua Krane, Kevin MacDonald and ‘rising star’ Cassandra Brown. On the transactional side, Facey advised Bell Canada on the competition aspects of its C$3.9bn acquisition of Manitoba Telecom Services, and he also advised Agrium on its multi-jurisdictional $36bn merger of equals with PotashCorp. In another cross-border mandate, Jason Gudofsky acted for Syngenta in its $43bn acquisition by ChemChina. In the investigations arena, Navin Joneja represented Penguin Random House in an inquiry into alleged anti-competitive conduct in the e-book market. Robert Kwinter and Julie Soloway are also recommended. All named lawyers are based in Toronto.

The competition practice at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP is ‘by far and away the best’ and its work is ‘truly outstanding’, say clients. Comprising ‘especially responsive lawyers’ commended for their ‘extraordinary knowledge and experience’, the group is considered a ‘dependable choice for complex cases’. In a recent example, it advised the Canadian Real Estate Association as an intervener in abuse of dominance proceedings brought by the Commissioner of Competition against the Toronto Real Estate Board. The case, which is the first contested abuse of dominance proceeding in Canada in over a decade, was jointly led by ‘dean of the competition bar’ George Addy and ‘extremely effective litigator’ Sandra Forbes. Elsewhere, the ‘simply superb’ Adam Fanaki advised Iron Mountain on the divestiture of assets in the US and Canada to Arkive following its $2bn acquisition of Recall Holdings. John Bodrug is also a senior name and alongside Fanaki advised McKesson on its C$3bn acquisition of Rexall and Rexall Pharma Plus from Katz Group. The practice also benefits from the expertise of experienced partners Mark Katz, who is ‘outstanding in advising on criminal investigations’, and Anita Banicevic; Jim Dinning is a ‘name to watch’. All named lawyers are based in Toronto.

Stikeman Elliott LLP’s ‘classy team’ scores highly for the ‘invaluable top-tier experience’ of its key names and for its ‘extremely strong industry knowledge’. Group lead Paul Collins is highly sought after for merger clearance, foreign investment review and general compliance advice; he and ‘up-and-coming partner’ Michael Kilby recently advised Lowe’s on the competition aspects of its C$3.2bn acquisition of Rona Canada. Ottawa-based senior counsel Lawson Hunter QC is a high-profile figure and a ‘reference in the competition area’; he and Ottawa-based Susan Hutton advised PotashCorp on its multi-jurisdictional $36bn merger with Agrium. The group also excels on the contentious side, under the leadership of competition litigation head and ‘heavy-hitterKatherine Kay. Kay is defending HarperCollins before the Competition Tribunal in a closely watched case concerning the alleged violation of the civil competitor collaboration provisions. In another significant piece of ongoing litigation, Eliot Kolers is representing Hudson’s Bay in a case brought by the Competition Bureau regarding advertising practices. Named partners are based in Toronto except where otherwise stated.

The competition group at Bennett Jones LLP provides ‘responsive, practical advice based on knowledge of the client’s business’. In particular, Toronto-based Randal Hughes is an ‘expert in his subject area’ and jointly leads the practice alongside the ‘very impressive’ Melanie Aitken, who exclusively practices Canadian law from the firm’s Washington DC office. Among the group’s recent highlights, Hughes successfully represented Apple in the Competition Bureau’s investigation into its iPhone agreements with Canadian wireless carriers. On the merger review side, Aitken advised G&K Services on competition issues relating to its $2.2bn acquisition by Cintas. Toronto-based John Rook QC is a highly respected litigator and advised the Commissioner of Competition in his application against the Toronto Real Estate Board alleging abuse of market dominance.

McCarthy Tétrault’s diverse group handles a varied mix of merger filings, criminal and civil investigations, foreign investment reviews and competition litigation. Toronto¬-based Donald Houston heads the national group and alongside 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. However, the firm’s highest-profile merger filing was arguably on behalf of Enbridge in relation to its C$37m combination with Spectra Energy - the highly regarded Oliver Borgers in Toronto led that deal. On the investigations side, Houston is advising Leon’s and The Brick in their ongoing defence of misleading advertising claims brought by the Commissioner of Competition. Montreal-based Madeleine Renaud Ad E is recommended for competition litigation.

One of the best teams in the market’, McMillan LLP is ‘very knowledgeable and experienced in competition law matters’. Among the names to note, competition and trade co-chair Neil Campbell has a pre-eminent reputation in the area and recently acted with Mark Opashinov to successfully represent SABMiller in the Canadian review of its $107bn transaction with AB InBev, as well as Molson Coors’ subsequent acquisition from AB InBev of the rights to various Miller brands. Elsewhere, Casey Halladay and associate Joshua Chad advised Williams Canada on the C$1.4bn sale of its Canadian natural gas liquids midstream businesses to Inter Pipeline. Other key partners include competition co-chair James Musgrove, who is a ‘true expert’ and advertising co-chair Daniel Edmondstone. All named partners are based in Toronto.

Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP leverages its sterling M&A practice to advise on a steady stream of merger filings, but it also routinely handles foreign investment reviews, civil and criminal investigations, competition litigation and compliance matters. Michelle Lally is a ‘market force’ and alongside newly appointed competition, trade and foreign investment law chair Shuli Rodal advised Microsoft on the Canadian aspects of its $26.2bn acquisition of LinkedIn – significantly, the firm was also engaged by LinkedIn to provide Canadian Competition Act advice on the transaction. In another headline merger case, Peter Franklyn acted as local counsel to ChemChina in its $43bn multi-jurisdictional acquisition of Syngenta. Peter Glossop and senior associate Kaeleigh Kuzma are also recommended. All named lawyers are based in Toronto.

Responsive, knowledgeable, with a deep level of experience’, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP’s competition group provides ‘reliable counsel’. Group co-chair Anthony Baldanza ‘brings legal analysis from the theoretical to the practical with ease and speed’ and has a broad practice with a strong record in advising on merger clearance, criminal matters (including cartels) and foreign investment law. Huy Do jointly chairs the group and recently advised Groupe St-Hubert on its C$537m acquisition by Cara Operations. In 2016, the highly rated Antonio Di Domenico rejoined the firm as partner following a two-year stint as counsel to Canada’s Commissioner of Competition. All named partners are based in Toronto.

The ‘very solid practice’ at Goodmans may be smaller than many of its competitors’ but nevertheless provides ‘top-notch expertise and bang for the buck’, say clients. In particular, group chair Calvin Goldman QC brings a ‘wide range of experience, expertise and insight’ to his role. In a major coup, Goldman was engaged by Spectra Energy to advise on its C$37bn merger with Enbridge. On the behavioural side, he represented Vancouver Airport Authority in defending an application brought by the Commissioner of Competition alleging abuse of dominance. Richard Annan offers a ‘strong base of knowledge about government workings and substantive expertise’.

Norton Rose Fulbright houses a ‘timely and efficient’ competition group, which provides ‘thoughtful and practical advice’. Kevin Ackhurst heads the national team from Toronto and recently acted with Toronto-based litigator Michael Brown to advise Avis Budget Group in a misleading advertising investigation opened by the Commissioner of Competition, which resulted in a consent agreement. On the merger review side, Montreal-based Thierry Dorval advised Groupe Filgo on its C$1.5bn combination with Sonic.

Traditionally better known for its merger prowess, Torys’ cartel and behavioural practice has increased its market profile of late. In a highlight example, ‘very strong’ competition co-lead Omar Wakil successfully represented TMX Group in an investigation into potential abuse of dominance in the securities data market. Among the firm’s recent merger cases, Wakil advised Parkland on its acquisition of the majority of the Canadian business and assets of CST Brands. Competition co-lead Dany Assaf and competition litigation head Linda Plumpton are also recommended.

At Baker McKenzie, group head Arlan Gates is a key name for merger control and foreign investment notifications, investigations and compliance matters. The group routinely works hand-in-hand with the wider firm’s global competition team to advise on the local aspects of multi-jurisdictional matters.

A ‘strong performer’, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP’s ‘deep bench’ and ‘very knowledgeable lawyers’ are big draws for clients. Robert Russell chairs the group and is acting with the ‘very savvy and knowledgeable’ Davit Akman to represent Loblaw in a Competition Bureau investigation into potential abuse of dominance. Toronto-based vice-chair Subrata Bhattacharjee is also recommended.

Under the leadership of Toronto’s Chris Hersh, Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP’s competition group handles a broad scope of merger matters, investigations, foreign investment issues and litigation. Highlights included advising Kirkland Lake Gold on its combination with Newmarket Gold and advising Thompson Creek Metals on its $1.1bn acquisition by Centerra Gold.

DLA Piper (Canada) LLP has a comprehensive competition practice but is particularly active in investigations, cartel cases and class actions. Vancouver-based department chair Kevin Wright is advising Furukawa Electric in civil class actions brought in British Columbia, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Quebec arising from the global investigation into an automotive parts cartel.

Dentons’ competition group attracts praise for its ‘very strong experience in the oil patch’ – its broad industry expertise also encompasses agribusiness, mining, electricity, TMT and retail, among other areas. Edmonton-based Barry Zalmanowitz QC has ‘very good judgment’ and jointly chairs the national team alongside Toronto-based Sandy Walker; together they advised Katz Group on the competition aspects of its C$3bn sale of Rexall Health to McKesson ¬¬– Bennett Jones LLP acted as co-counsel on the work.

Litigation boutique Lenczner Slaght LLP acts on significant volume of high-stakes competition law cases. Among its recent work, Tom Curry represented Fujitsu in proposed class actions in Ontario and British Columbia relating to allegations of price fixing in the electrolytic capacitors market.

At WeirFoulds LLP, litigator Nikiforos Iatrou is highly regarded for contentious competition matters; he continues to represent Kobo in the highly contentious e-book price-fixing litigation.

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