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Regarded by some as ‘the best in the business’, Goodmans impresses with its ‘unrivalled strength in depth’ and ‘strong senior experience’. It is rare that a headline case proceeds without the firm’s involvement, due to its experience advising all major stakeholders in headline restructuring, recapitalization and insolvency matters. Among its key names, Jay Carfagnini ‘knows the law inside out’ and with Joseph Pasquariello represented Ernst & Young as CCAA Monitor in the protracted Nortel Networks restructuring. Robert Chadwick, who combines ‘strong technical skills with remarkable business sense’, paired up with Caroline Descours to advise Postmedia Network Canada on its recapitalization transaction under the CBCA. In a headline creditor mandate, Brendan O’Neill advised the ad hoc committee of noteholders in Pacific Exploration & Production’s successful $5.3bn restructuring. The group is also well versed in distressed M&A and O’Neill acted for the ad hoc committee of secured noteholders on its acquisition of the assets of Lightstream Resources through a CCAA sales process. Gale Rubenstein and Brian Empey are also experienced names, and Chris Armstrong is a rising star.

Great and getting better all the time’, Bennett Jones LLP is the talk of the market due to its ‘increasing visibility on the big cases’. The group also attracts praise for its ‘good bench strength’ and ‘extremely responsive lawyers’. The department is particularly admired for its strong bondholder-side practice but it also regularly represents debtors, DIP lenders and other participants in restructuring and insolvency proceedings. ‘Leading lightRichard Orzy jointly leads the national team from Toronto and alongside Kevin Zych advised the noteholders’ committee in Nortel Networks’ Canadian and US restructuring proceedings. In another highlight example of its bondholder prowess, Zych advised the ad hoc committee of unsecured noteholders in Tervita’s C$3.6bn recapitalization. Calgary-based co-chair Chris Simardprovides sound legal and business advice’, and Toronto-based junior partner Sean Zweig is a ‘future leader in the area’.

The ‘very strong’ national practice at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP is well known for advising Canadian and US banks and financial institutions on restructuring and insolvency matters. Among its key mandates in this space, Toronto-based national group lead Pamela Huff (‘a leader in her field’) and Calgary group head Kelly Bourassa advised the senior secured lending syndicate, led by Alberta Treasury Branches, on the C$1.5bn cross-border restructuring proceedings of the Sanjel group of companies. The team also routinely acts for debtors, creditors, acquirers of distressed assets and court-appointed officials. On the company side, Vancouver group lead William Kaplan QC advised CHC Helicopter Group on the Canadian aspects of its multi-jurisdictional restructuring. Bernard Boucher heads the group in Montreal.

Split between its Montreal and Toronto offices, Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP’s national group advises the full spectrum of debtors, creditors, lenders and court-appointed monitors on major restructurings. In Toronto, Jay Swartz is lauded as ‘among the best in the country’ and advised Crystallex International on its CCAA proceedings, and he and Robin Schwill advised Target Corporation on the winding down of Target Canada. Natasha MacParland is another key name in Toronto. In Montreal, Denis Ferland has a strong profile and with Christian Lachance is advising Mexx Canada on its restructuring proceedings, which involves the liquidation of over 95 stores located in eight provinces across Canada. Alvarez & Marsal Canada, HSBC Bank Canada and Hale Capital Partners are also representative clients.

McCarthy Tétrault’s national restructuring group is led out of Toronto by James Gage and also has experienced partners in Montreal and Calgary. Among its debtor-side highlights, Gage represented US Steel Canada in its CCAA restructuring, which involved $4bn worth of liabilities. Gage also acted alongside Toronto’s Barbara Boake to advise Morneau Shepell, as administrator of Nortel Networks’ Canadian registered pensions plans, in Nortel’s worldwide insolvency proceedings. Sean Collins heads the group in Calgary and advised FTI Consulting Canada as court-appointed monitor in Quicksilver Resources Canada’s C$523m CCAA restructuring, and he also acted for Ernst & Young as monitor in OmniArch Capital’s CCAA restructuring. Philippe Bélanger is the key contact in Montreal.

One of the best teams in the country’, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP’s restructuring group is staffed by ‘creative, commercial and tenacious lawyers’, according to clients. In particular, national chair Marc Wasserman is ‘very commercially savvy and understands the business context better than most lawyers’. Wasserman and fellow Toronto-based partner Michael De Lellis advised Tervita (as co-counsel with Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP) on its headline C$3.6m recapitalization transaction. Tracy Sandler is also recommended in Toronto and acted for FTI Consulting as the court-appointed monitor in Golf Town Canada’s cross-border CCAA proceedings. Sandra Abitan is a key contact in Montreal and alongside Wasserman advised BCBG Canada (the Canadian subsidiary of BCBG Max Azria Group, which filed for Chapter 11 protection in the US) on its filing under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA).

Stikeman Elliott LLP’s restructuring team is spread across its Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver offices, providing broad coverage, and has significant expertise in contentious proceedings. In Toronto, Ashley Taylor advised Essar Steel Algoma on its high-profile CCAA restructuring, which notably involved the monitor bringing an oppression action against a number of entities related to the company. Elizabeth Pillon heads the group in Toronto and advised Fairfax Financial and CI Investments, as holders of second lien debt of Golftown Canada and Golfsmith US, on their acquisition of the Canadian assets of Golftown through CCAA. Elsewhere, Montreal¬¬-based Guy Martel advised Raymond Chabot as CBCA liquidator of Construction Frank Catania & Associés. Other names to note include seasoned litigator David Byers, who is widely regarded as a market leader in Toronto, and Montreal restructuring lead Jean Fontaine.

A ‘strong player in the Canadian restructuring market’, Torys distinguishes itself through being ‘smart on the law but also very practical’. Lawyers are commended by sources as ‘subject matter experts’, with department lead Tony DeMarinis highlighted for his ‘deep experience in the area’. DeMarinis and David Bish (‘an industry expert with great customer service’) advised the Essar group of companies, as the sole owner of Essar Steel Algoma, on the latter’s restructuring proceedings. The ‘practical and user-friendly’ Scott Bomhof is a ‘strong relationship partner’ and along with Adam Slavens (‘great up-and-coming bankruptcy lawyer’) and Alison Bauer advised Ontario Power Generation on SunEdison’s restructurings in Canada and the US, including the purchase of power generating assets.

In 2016, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP boosted its team with the hire of Alex MacFarlane, formerly restructuring head for Gowling WLG’s Toronto office. MacFarlane ‘combines strong legal knowledge and technical skills with an understanding of the client’s objectives’. The firm has a strong record in advising court-appointed officials and also acts for creditors, lenders and debtors. In Calgary, Josef Krüger brings ‘invaluable experience in contentious matters’ and represented Hardie & Kelly as court-appointed monitor of Quattro Exploration and Productions and then as court-appointed receiver of Quattro. Montreal-based Marc Duchesne heads a team that also includes Robyn Gurofsky, who has ‘exceptional client management and negotiating skills’, and Patrick McCarthy QC, who is a ‘reference in the area’.

Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP’s increasingly prominent practice continues to invest and strengthen. Recent arrivals include Mary Buttery and Lance Williams, who both joined in Vancouver from DLA Piper (Canada) LLP. Toronto’s Ryan Jacobs acted on a series of high-profile mandates over the past year, including advising Connacher Oil and Gas on its C$277m CCAA restructuring. Group head Shayne Kukulowicz is also recommended.

Dentons scores highly for its ‘solid bench strength’, ‘clear understanding of complex legal issues’ and ‘practical approach to resolving conflict’. Montreal-based national co-chair Roger Simard is ‘collegial, practical and deeply experienced’ and teamed up with Montreal-based Ari Sorek as well as the firm’s Chicago office to advise Bluberi Group on its heavily contested cross-border CCAA filing. In Vancouver, John Sandrelli is highly rated and is representing the United Mine Workers of America 1974 Pension Plan in its $900m claim in the Walter Energy CCAA restructuring. David Mann jointly heads the group from Calgary and is also recommended.

The national group at Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP regularly advises lenders, debtors and investment funds on the full spread of receiverships, bankruptcies, liquidations, informal workouts and debt recovery matters. In Vancouver, John Grieve is highly regarded and advised Tervita (as co-counsel with Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP) on its C$3.6bn recapitalization and restructuring. In another debtor-side highlight, Toronto-based group chair Stuart Brotman advised menswear retailer Grafton-Fraser on its CCAA filing, which involved debt of C$100m. Also in Toronto, Aubrey Kauffman is ‘great to deal with’.

Gowling WLG sets itself apart through its ‘very good level of service’ and ‘great value for money’. In Calgary, Thomas Cumming is ‘very thorough and very responsive’ and with Toronto-based department lead Clifton Prophet advised Scotia Bank, as agent, and a syndicate of lenders on Northern Transportation’s CCAA proceedings. Senior name and referral favourite Derrick Tay is lauded as ‘an industry leader and go-to person in this area’; he and Prophet represented Ernst & Young as court-appointed monitor in the Essar Steel Algoma restructuring. In 2016, Toronto restructuring lead Alex MacFarlane joined Borden Ladner Gervais LLP.

A ‘great firm with capable people’, Norton Rose Fulbright’s lawyers provide ‘timely, insightful and reasonably priced advice’, according to sources. In particular, star name Howard Gorman QC is hailed as ‘the best in Calgary’; he represented the monitor in Gasfrac Energy Services’ joint CCAA and US Chapter 15 proceedings – as well as on the subsequent sale of certain fracking assets and related services to STEP Energy Services. In Toronto, Tony Reyes is a ‘very strong lawyer’ and advised the board of directors of Essar Steel Algoma on its restructuring proceedings. Sylvain Rigaud is a key contact in Montreal.

Thornton Grout Finnigan LLP focuses exclusively on litigation and restructuring work and receives a steady stream of matters from financial institutions, public companies, and officers and directors. Among the Toronto boutique’s highest-profile files, it acted as Canadian insolvency counsel for the UK pensions claimants as the largest single creditor in the Nortel Networks restructuring – DJ Miller, John Finnigan and Rebecca Kennedy led the work. Market-leader Robert Thornton represented US Steel in the CCAA proceedings of US Steel Canada.

At Aird & Berlis LLP, key contact Robb English has a strong track record representing financial institutions in domestic and cross-border insolvency proceedings. Steven Graff is also recommended.

Litigation and insolvency boutique Chaitons routinely advises Canadian and foreign financial institutions, suppliers, trade creditors and court-appointed officials in bankruptcy cases. Harvey Chaiton is a well known specialist in the area.

Among DLA Piper (Canada) LLP’s recent files, Calgary-based restructuring chair Brian Davison QC advised MacBain Properties, as the primary landlord for Sanjel, in Sanjel’s CCAA proceedings. Former national co-chair Mary Buttery and partner Lance Williams recently left in Vancouver for Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP. However, litigator Derek Bell recently joined in Toronto from Bennett Jones LLP and counsel Carole Hunter joined in Calgary from Burnet Duckworth & Palmer LLP.

McMillan LLP possesses a strong track record in the restructuring area and routinely acts for debtors, creditors and court-appointed officers in a wide range of insolvency-related matters. Toronto-based Andrew Kent is the name to note and advised private equity fund Catalyst Capital on its financial restructuring agreement with Pacific Exploration & Production.

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