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Leading lawyers

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    • Kurt Sarno - Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP

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Strong senior experience’ combined with ‘total availability’ marks Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP as a ‘market leader both in terms of expertise and service’. Clients also say that ‘the depth of the corporate M&A team really impresses’, and the national practice comprises well-staffed platforms in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and Montreal. The firm’s international footholds in New York, London, Beijing and the Middle East (the latter through its relationship with Dr. Saud Al-Ammari Law Firm in association with Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP), add further depth and breadth and ensure a steady stream of cross-border mandates. The Calgary office had a strong year and acted on one of Canada’s headline deals of 2017: Ross Bentley, Jeff Bakker and Daniel McLeod advised Cenovus Energy on its C$17.7bn acquisition of assets from ConocoPhillips. Bentley also acted with Peter Keohane to advise Agrium on its $36bn merger with PotashCorp. In Toronto, ‘star partner’ Jeffrey Lloyd advised the special committee of the board of directors of Amaya on its proposed, but ultimately terminated, going-private transaction and associated 11-month strategic review. Also in Toronto, Chris Hewat acted for Canada-based OpenText in its $1.6bn acquisition of Dell EMC’s enterprise content division. Other senior partners include Toronto’s Michael Gans, Vancouver’s Bob Wooder and firm chair Brock Gibson QC, who splits his time between Calgary and Toronto. The firm also fields a strong second line of newer partners, including Toronto’s Kurt Sarno, who jointly leads the private equity group. In 2017, the firm bolstered its corporate and securities offering with the hires of Calgary-based Noralee Bradley from Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP and Toronto-based Alex Moore from Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP.

Undoubtedly in the top three’, Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP attracts superlative praise for its ‘depth of knowledge’, ‘practical and business-oriented advice’ and ‘strong understanding of the time sensitivity of files’. The firm’s ‘outstanding bench strength’ is also widely acclaimed and one client says, ‘many firms have first-class partners, but only a couple of firms have outstanding depth across all their core areas and Davies is one of them’. Offices in Toronto and Montreal are supported by a highly respected platform in New York, and the firm remains a leader in sophisticated, ‘bet-the-farm’ deals as well as cross-border transactions. In Toronto, Patricia Olasker is a ‘leading light’ and alongside Cameron Rusaw advised McKesson on its C$3bn acquisition of Rexall and Rexall Pharma Plus, and the ‘world class’ Vincent Mercier advised HP on its $1bn acquisition of the printer business from Samsung Electronics. However, the Toronto office’s highest-profile work was arguably acting for Canadian utility Fortis in its $11.3bn acquisition of ITC Holdings - James Reid led the deal. Among the Montreal office’s highlights, Richard Cherney advised Alimentation Couche-Tard on its $4.4bn acquisition, by way of merger, of CST Brands. In addition, Franziska Ruf advised CDPQ on a C$1.9bn investment in SNC-Lavalin to support its acquisition of WS Atkins. Peter Hong and senior figure William Ainley are also leading names - both are based in Toronto. In 2017, Toronto-based Alex Moore left to join Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP.

Lawyers at Goodmans are ‘pure class’ and ‘great to work with’, according to clients and competitors. Widely lauded for its ‘strong, service-oriented culture, which ensures that the client always comes first’, it is regarded by many as ‘second-to-none for responsiveness’. Based in Toronto, the firm’s single-site business model does not hamper its ability to garner plum roles in national and international transactions and its first-rate client base – which spans major private equity players, REITs and pension funds, among others – ensures a steady stream of headline multi-jurisdictional mandates. As a case in point, the firm recently acted for Vista Equity Partners in its C$4.8bn acquisition of Toronto-based DH Corporation. REIT-related work remains a core area of activity under the leadership of capital markets head and REITs specialist Stephen Pincus, who ‘finds solutions that blend risk avoidance and management with practicality and efficiency’; he advised Milestone Apartments REIT on its going-private transaction, following its $2.9bn acquisition by an affiliate of Starwood Capital Group. Pincus also acted for Acasta Enterprises in the first qualifying acquisition by a Canadian special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), which was a C$1.2bn acquisition of three companies. Elsewhere, Stephen Halperin and Neill May advised L'Oréal USA on the Canadian aspects of its $1.3bn acquisition of certain skincare brands from Valeant Pharmaceuticals. Other recommended partners include Robert Vaux, who advised Spectra Energy on its C$37bn acquisition by Enbridge, and high-profile corporate and securities partner Jonathan Lampe. In 2017, Shevaun McGrath moved to McCarthy Tétrault.

In 2017, McCarthy Tétrault boosted its cross-border offering with the launch of a New York office, managed by former Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP partner Mark Adkins – the firm also maintains a sizable platform in London. Domestically, its network comprises impressive offerings in the key regional centres of Calgary, Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto and Vancouver. In a highlight example of its national capability, a cross-office team led by Calgary-based John Osler QC and Toronto-based senior counsel Garth Girvan advised Enbridge on its C$37bn acquisition of Spectra Energy. In another dual-office headline, Toronto-based Andrew Parker and Montreal-based Philippe Fortier advised Molson Coors Brewing on its $12bn acquisition of SABMiller’s 58% stake in MillerCoors. Among its other noteworthy deals, ‘market-leader’ Graham Gow and Robert Hansen – both based in Toronto – advised Bluesky Hotels & Resorts on its C$2.1bn acquisition of InnVest REIT. Also in Toronto, David Woollcombe advised Fairmont Raffles Hotels International, Qatar Investment Authority and Kingdom Hotels on AccorHotel’s $2.6bn acquisition of Fairmont Raffles Hotels International. David Tennant is also recommended in Toronto, while Vancouver-based Richard Balfour and Cameron Belsher are revered as ‘the best in British Columbia’. In a pair of notable hires, new private equity co-lead Shevaun McGrath joined the Toronto office from Goodmans and Patrick Shea joined the Montreal office from Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP.

Among the very best in the market’, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP’s corporate and M&A practice is valued for its ‘consistently on-point advice’ and its ‘very solid business acumen’. The ‘extremely entrepreneurial’ team was boosted in 2016 with the arrival of Alan Hutchison, formerly global mining head at Dentons, into the firm’s nascent Vancouver office, while Niko Veilleux joined in Montreal from Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP. The ‘extremely talentedEmmanuel Pressman chairs the national corporate group and advised Constellation Brands on the C$1bn sale of its Canadian wine business to Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. He also acted as Canadian counsel to private equity giant TPG Capital in its $3.1bn acquisition of a 51% stake in Intel Security. Pre-eminent sector specialist Clay Horner teamed up with Pressman and corporate finance specialist Desmond Lee to advise WS Atkins on its C$3.6bn acquisition by SNC-Lavalin. M&A co-head Jeremy Fraiberg is ‘very sharp’ and advised Whistler Blackcomb Holdings on its $1.4bn acquisition by Vail Resorts. The group also calls on the expertise of Robert Desbarats QC in Calgary, and Montreal-based Robert Yalden. High-profile M&A partner Douglas Bryce was appointed national managing partner in 2017. Calgary-based securities partner Noralee Bradley moved to Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP. Named partners are based in Toronto except where otherwise stated.

Satisfied clients highlight Stikeman Elliott LLP as a ‘top-tier firm for sophisticated M&A’ due to its ‘top-level knowledge of the market’ and ‘great ability to keep up to date with area trends’. The group’s ‘broad and deep bench’ also impresses, with a ‘talented team of top-notch lawyers in all relevant practice areas’. Importantly, the department is well distributed across all key Canadian business centres, with sizable teams in Calgary, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver ¬¬– it also has international outposts in New York, London and Sydney. In Toronto, corporate chair John Ciardullo is a recognizable name for M&A and acted for Progressive Waste in its C$14.9bn acquisition by Waste Connections. He also advised Centerra Gold on its $1.1bn acquisition of Thompson Creek Metals. Toronto-based firm chair William Braithwaite is another sought-after name and advised PotashCorp on its $36bn merger with Agrium. In Calgary, Christopher Nixon represented InterOil in its successful defence of a proxy contest involving former CEO Phil Mulacek. In Montreal, John Leopold advised Marriott International on the Canadian aspects of its $13bn acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. The department also draws on the expertise of Simon Romano, Brian Pukier and respected senior figure Edward Waitzer in Toronto, and Sidney Horn in Montreal.

High-performing firmTorysholds its own with Magic Circle and Wall Street players’, according to clients, who draw particular attention to the firm’s ability to provide ‘international rather than just Canada-centric advice’ across a ‘broad range of strategic and governance matters as well as transactions’. Infrastructure and energy specialist Krista Hill acted for Alinda Capital Partners in the C$2.8bn sale of Reliance Home Comfort to Cheung Kong Property Holdings. ‘Creative problem-solver’ Matthew Cockburn ‘provides advice holistically, taking the time to understand the needs of the client’; he and Calgary partners Neville Jugnauth and Stephanie Stimpson advised CPPIB and its portfolio company Wolf Midstream on its C$1.4bn acquisition of a 50% ownership interest in Access Pipeline from Devon Energy. M&A co-head John Emanoilidis is a ‘strategic and practical thinker’ and advised OMERS on a C$400m investment in AltaGas to support its $8.4bn acquisition of WGL Holdings. In 2016, leading M&A specialist James Scarlett left to become chief legal counsel at Hydro One. Other recommended names include M&A co-head Cornell Wright and Karrin Powys-Lybbe, who splits her time between Toronto and New York. Named lawyers are based in Toronto except where otherwise stated. Since publication, Sharon Geraghty has left the firm to take a position as general counsel of Great-West Lifeco, and Peter Jewett has also left the firm.

The leader in Calgary for corporate and M&A advice’, Bennett Jones LLP stands out for its ‘excellent all-around service, with a focus on efficiency and responsiveness’. Energy is a notable sweet spot and it is widely regarded as ‘the gold standard for work related to the oil and gas industry’, but it also attracts praise for its ‘breadth of experience in unique areas that few firms can match’. In Calgary, David Spencer is a respected name and advised Columbia Pipeline Group on the Canadian aspects of its $13bn acquisition by TransCanada. Patrick Maguire has ‘wide-ranging knowledge and experience in all aspects of energy law’ and advised Devon Energy on the C$1.4bn sale of its 50% ownership interest in Access Pipeline to a portfolio company of CPPIB. Brent Kraus leads the group in Calgary and provides ‘timely service’; he acted as Canadian counsel to Waste Connections in its C$14.8bn merger with Progressive Waste Solutions. Other key names in Calgary include William Osler (‘exceptional business lawyer with the rare ability to give strong technical legal advice through a business lens’) and office managing partner Perry Spitznagel QC. Linda Misetich Dann heads the group in Toronto.

Dentons has a comprehensive national practice with platforms in Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver, as well as huge global network on which to draw. Calgary-based William Gilliland jointly leads the department and specializes in energy and natural resources transactions; he recently advised Capital Power on the acquisition of two gas-fired generation facilities in Ontario from Veresen. In another Calgary highlight, office managing partner Donald Leitch QC advised Geo-Jade Petroleum on its C$725m acquisition of Bankers Petroleum. However, the firm’s highest-profile recent deal was led from Edmonton, where Shawna Vogel advised Katz Group on the C$3bn sale of Rexall Health to McKesson. Calgary-based M&A co-lead William Jenkins and Montreal-based Charles Spector are also recommended. In 2016, former global mining head Alan Hutchison left the Vancouver office to join Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP.

Regarded ‘among the key corporate firms in Canada’, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP has a much-admired mining practice but also regularly handles deals in the financial services, TMT, life sciences and transport sectors. The firm’s geographical reach is also worthy of note: its six national offices across Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec are supported by bases in London and Johannesburg. Among the firm’s recent highlights, Montreal-based Diane Bertrand advised Agropur Cooperative, Canada’s largest dairy cooperative, on its acquisition of the assets of Scotsburn Cooperative Services. In Vancouver, Mike Stephens advised local fintech company TIO Networks on its C$304m acquisition by PayPal. Toronto-based corporate finance partner Jon Levin and Montreal-based Robert Paré are also recommended. In 2017, Jay Lefton joined in Toronto from Borden Ladner Gervais LLP and is commended for his ‘strong depth of experience, especially in cross-border technology M&A’.

The ‘highly responsive, commercially focused and knowledgeable’ group at Norton Rose Fulbright distinguishes itself through its ‘true effort to identify client needs and become part of the in-house team’. The department’s leading names are scattered across the firm’s six Canadian offices, giving it real reach geographically. In addition, its global network ensures it ‘can serve the broad range of client needs not just locally but internationally too’. In Calgary, senior partner Kevin Johnson QC and Marcus Archer advised Paramount Resources on the C$2.1bn sale of oil and gas assets to Seven Generations Energy. In Toronto, national firm chair and ‘future starWalied Soliman advised InnVest REIT on its C$2.1bn acquisition by Bluesky Hotels & Resorts. In Vancouver, Daniel Steiner advised Coastal Pacific Xpress on its sale to VersaCold Logistics Services, a portfolio company of KingSett Capital and Ivanhoé Cambridge. Among the other names to note, Calgary-based Justin Ferrara is praised for his ‘strong commercial instincts’ and ‘ability to just get things done’, Toronto office managing partner Terence Dobbin is ‘very experienced’ and Montreal-based Paul Raymond is also recommended.

Borden Ladner Gervais LLP’s ‘great industry knowledge’ and ‘client-focused service’ are praised by clients, who also highlight the corporate team’s senior lawyers as ‘very experienced and practical’. Among recent headline deals, Toronto-based James Elder worked with the firm’s market-leading power practice to advise Enersource on its multibillion-dollar merger with Horizon Utilities and PowerStream to create Alectra – and also on Alectra’s subsequent acquisition of Hydro One Brampton. In a headline cross-border deal, Elder and Montreal-based Neil Hazan advised HollyFrontier on the Canadian aspects of its C$1.1bn acquisition of Suncor Energy’s Petro-Canada Lubricants business. Toronto-based national team lead Paul Mingay is singled out as ‘highly active in the market’, while Vancouver-based Fred Pletcher is a ‘noted leader in the mining space’. In 2017, Toronto-based Jay Lefton left to join Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP.

Calgary-based ‘energy powerhouseBurnet Duckworth & Palmer LLP is ‘truly outstanding in oil and gas work’. The firm also routinely handles deals for an impressive array of transport, agriculture and private equity clients, and is active across M&A, going-private transactions and shareholder activism matters. William Maslechko is a ‘real force in the Alberta market’ and led the firm’s representation of Tourmaline Oil in its C$1.3bn acquisition of strategic assets located in the Alberta Deep Basin and the North East British Columbia Gundy area from Shell Canada. Managing partner Grant Zawalsky is also highly sought after and advised Whitecap Resources on its C$595m acquisition of oil assets in Saskatchewan from Husky Energy. In a closely watched takeover battle, Alyson Goldman acted for Savanna Energy Services in its ultimately unsuccessful defence of Total Energy’s hostile takeover bid. John Cuthbertson QC is also recommended.

At Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP, Toronto-based mining specialist Paul Stein is a high-profile name for M&A; he recently led the team’s advice to Thompson Creek Metals in its $1.1bn acquisition by Centerra Gold. In another headline mining deal, Toronto-based Jay Goldman advised Kirkland Land Gold on its merger with Newmarket Gold to form a new gold company worth C$2.4bn. The firm recently boosted its offering in Calgary with the hire of energy and technology specialist Josef Hocher from Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, while corporate finance and M&A partner Nicola Geary joined in Toronto from McCarthy Tétrault.

A ‘strong mid-level player’, Gowling WLG scores points for its ‘good ability to build lasting relationships’. The firm houses a diverse corporate offering, with notable skill sets in energy and natural resources, technology, life sciences and infrastructure. Vancouver-based Cyndi Laval heads the national group and acted for Exeter Resource in its C$240m acquisition by Goldcorp. In Toronto, Ian Palm advised General Electric Canada on BWXT Canada’s acquisition of the GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Canada joint venture. Other representative clients include Amica Mature Lifestyles, Franco-Nevada and Platinum Group Metals.

Toronto stalwart Aird & Berlis LLPpunches above its weight’, under the leadership of M&A and private equity chair Martin Kovnats. Among its recent highlights, Thomas Fenton led the team’s advice to Trevali mining in its $400m acquisition of a portfolio of zinc assets from Glencore.

Baker McKenzie’s huge global network attracts a steady stream of cross-border mandates. In a recent example, its Toronto office worked alongside its Zurich team to advise Allied World Assurance on its $4.9bn acquisition by Fairfax Financial. Sonia Yung is a key contact.

DLA Piper (Canada) LLPexceeds expectations’, according to clients, who highlight the firm’s ‘legally informed and practical advice’ and its ‘exceptional value for money’. Notable engagements included advising Partners Group on its C$272m acquisition of Axia NetMedia – Edmonton-based Canada managing partner Robert Seidel QC led the deal.

A ‘leader in the Quebec market’, Lavery, de Billy shines in the infrastructure, private equity and aeronautics sectors. In a recent headline deal, the firm advised BB&T on the Canadian aspects of its $500m acquisition of CGSC North America Holdings from Cooper Gay Swett & Crawford. Jean-Sébastien Desroches heads the business law group from Montreal.

In a major coup, McMillan LLP acted for Williams Canada on the C$1.3bn sale of its Canadian natural gas liquids midstream businesses to Inter Pipeline – a Calgary-based team that included Greg McIlwain led the work. Vancouver-based Leo Raffin is also recommended.

From its offices in Toronto and Oakville, Ontario firm WeirFoulds LLP acts on a wide range of M&A, private equity investments, joint ventures and share and asset purchases and sales. Toronto-based Michael Dolphin recently advised Lonestar West on its C$43m acquisition by Clean Harbors.

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