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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > London > Corporate and commercial > M&A: upper mid-market and premium deals, £250m+ > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



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  1. M&A: upper mid-market and premium deals, £250m+
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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Renowned for its multi-jurisdictional M&A capabilities, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP’s practice combines world-class transactional strength with a full-service offering, fielding impressive corporate tax, competition and employment teams. The department is best known for its high-profile public M&A work across a wide range of sectors, but is also noted for its experience in private M&A, complex joint ventures and carve-outs. It is headed jointly by Piers Prichard Jones – who advised London Stock Exchange Group on its proposed $28bn merger with Deutsche Börse and on its defence against a takeover offer by Intercontinental Exchange – and Jennifer Bethlehem, who acted for Boehringer Ingelheim on its €20bn asset swap with Sanofi. Simon Marchant acted for AB InBev on its £78.4bn acquisition of SABMiller, constituting the largest-ever takeover of a London-listed company. Stephen Hewes has remarkable experience in technology-sector M&A; he assisted SoftBank Group with its £24.3bn purchase of ARM Holdings – the largest-ever acquisition of a European technology company. He also advised Hewlett Packard Enterprises on the spin-off and merger of its non-core software assets with Micro Focus International. Natasha Good is also recommended for M&A in the TMT sector. Recently promoted partner Charles Hayes acted for Formula One on its $4.4bn sale to Liberty Media. Edward Braham, managing partner Julian Long and Alison Smith, who is especially strong in the retail, consumer and healthcare sectors, are also recommended. In 2016, Will Lawes and Mark Rawlinson departed to go in-house at Lazard and Morgan Stanley, respectively. Ben Spiers joined Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP.

Linklaters LLP’s ‘very impressive’ practice is known for its strength in public M&A, and its expertise in complex work such as reverse takeovers and demergers. Clients describe its responsiveness, business acumen, strength in depth and value for money as ‘excellent’. Financial services, high-end retail, technology and telecoms are key sector strengths; the department is also noted for its experience in the mining sector. In the finance space, Roger Barron and Simon Branigan advised Deutsche Börse on its proposed £21bn merger with London Stock Exchange Group, while on the retail side Iain Fenn, Owen Clay and Nick Garland assisted Home Retail Group with its £1.4bn takeover by J Sainsbury. Other retail mandates include Charles Jacobs’s advice to Steinhoff International Holdings on its £597m acquisition of Poundland Group. Barron and Jessamy Gallagher advised National Grid on the sale of a 61% stake in NGGD, its £13.8bn UK gas distribution business, to a consortium of infrastructure investors. Ian Hunter made partner in April 2016; he and David Avery-Gee acted for Glencore International on the £2.5bn sale of 40% of its agricultural business to Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, and on the sale of a further 10% of the business to British Columbia Investment Management Corporation for $625m. The department’s other clients include Nestlé, Visa Europe, AXA and BP. Iain Wagstaff and Richard Godden are also recommended. Private equity specialists David Holdsworth and Stuart Boyd joined Kirkland & Ellis International LLP in May 2016.

The ‘outstanding, highly responsive’ team at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (UK) LLP has ‘absolute control of transactions in numerous jurisdictions’, and is commended for its ‘perfect combination of legal and commercial advice’. The practice is headed by Michael Hatchard and Scott Simpson, who is praised for his ‘in-depth M&A expertise and business acumen’. Though active in a wide variety of sectors, the team had a particularly good year in manufacturing and retail: Hatchard acted for Ball on its $8.4bn purchase of Rexam, and advised both companies on the sale of $3.4bn-worth of their assets and operations in Europe, Brazil and the US to Ardagh Group. Hilary Foulkes acted for BA Glass on its joint acquisition, with CVC Capital Partners, of Anchor Glass Container from KPS Capital Partners, while Lorenzo Corte advised F.I.L.A. (Italy) on its purchase of Daler-Rowney and its $357m merger with Space. In the TMT space, Scott Hopkins acted for Nikkei on its $1.3bn purchase of Financial Times Group from Pearson; Michal Berkner assisted one of the founding shareholders of 888 Holdings with its proposed $1.4bn purchase of digital entertainment; and Simpson and Berkner advised Nokia (Finland) on its $16.6bn merger with Alcatel-Lucent (France). Sandro de Bernardini made partner in April 2016; he, Simpson and Lorenzo Corte acted for LetterOne Holdings on its $200m investment in Uber Technologies, its $1.6bn purchase of E.ON E&P Norge from E.ON Beteiligungen, its $5.8bn acquisition of RWE’s oil and gas unit, and its $725m sale of DEA UK Holdings to Ineos. The department’s other clients include Coty, 21st Century Fox and Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding. Richard Youle arrived from White & Case LLP in May 2017.

Slaughter and May fields a team of ‘technical experts’ that provides ‘value for money’, ‘great industry knowledge’ and ‘detailed reasoning where necessary’. Praised for its ‘terrific strength in depth’, the ‘proactive, reliable’ practice ‘makes molehills out of mountains’, ‘handling complex matters’ in a wide variety of sectors. Many of the practice’s largest matters in 2016 were in the TMT space: Steve Cooke advised ARM Holdings on its £24.3bn purchase by SoftBank Group, which was the largest-ever acquisition of a European technology company, while Andrew Jolly assisted Cable & Wireless Communications with its £3.6bn purchase by Liberty Global. The practice also handled a significant TMT demerger, with John Papanichola advising esure Group and Group on the latter’s spin-off from the former. Other TMT clients include Vodafone and Reliance Communications. In the biotech space, Martin Hattrell advised Shire on its $32bn merger with Baxalta. In another high-profile mandate, Gary Eaborn assisted Tata Steel with various sales of its UK operations, including the sale of its Clydebridge and Dalzell steel facilities to the Scottish government, and the sale of its subsidiary Longs Steel UK to Greybull Capital. He also acted for Dätwyler on its £615m takeover offer for Premier Farnell. The ‘calm, experiencedRoland Turnill is ‘highly intelligent, and works well with other advisers and client teams’; he heads the practice with Andy Ryde. William Underhill, Tim Boxell, Craig Cleaver, the ‘excellentVictoria MacDuff (who made partner in May 2016) and senior statesman Nigel Boardman are also recommended. Murray Cox and Paul Mudie also made partner in May 2016.

Allen & Overy LLP attracts praise for its ‘very high level of service’ and ‘practical advice’, as well as its ‘detailed market knowledge’ and ability to provide ‘strong technical support across a broad spectrum of sectors and specialist areas’. Public M&A is a high-profile strength of the practice, which counts TMT, energy, financial services and consumer goods as key sectors of expertise. David Broadley is ‘always one step ahead of his clients and ahead of the pack’; he, Seth Jones and the ‘quick-thinking, commercial’ Simon Toms, who is ‘cool under pressure’, acted for 21st Century Fox on the corporate, regulatory and competition aspects of its £11.7bn purchase of a 61% stake in BSkyB; the move would give the company full ownership of BSkyB. Also in the TMT space, Toms, Andrew Ballheimer and Tom Levine acted for VimpelCom on its formation of a €21.8bn joint venture with CK Hutchison Holdings, to create Italy’s largest mobile operator. Asahi is a major client of the practice in the consumer goods space: Richard Hough advised it on the €2.6bn purchase of the Peroni and Grolsch businesses in Italy and the Netherlands, and on its €7.3bn acquisition of SABMiller’s former businesses in various Eastern European countries from AB InBev. The department’s other clients include Aviva, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, Visa Europe and Thomson Reuters. ‘Pragmatic’ practice head Dominic Morris is singled out for his ‘wide range of expertise’. Also recommended are the ‘very personable, efficient’ Daniel Fletcher, who has ‘strong technical knowledge’, Gillian Holgate and Annabelle Croker.

Clifford Chance’s practice, which frequently handles complex, multi-jurisdictional public M&A, provides ‘a top-rate service in all respects’. Headed by Mark Poulton, the practice counts financial services, TMT, healthcare, life sciences, consumer goods and retail as key sector strengths, in addition to expertise in insurance, where clients include Legal & General; Hilary Evenett has ‘strong insurance M&A expertise’. Babcock, Johnson Matthey, GKN and Cambian are all clients of the practice. The ‘extremely knowledgeable, approachable’ Joel Ziff is ‘very responsive, and provides practical, high-level advice’. Spencer Baylin, Tim Lewis, David Pearson and global corporate head Guy Norman continue to be industry leaders; Norman and Katherine Moir acted for AB InBev on its £71bn purchase of SABMiller, and Moir, acting alongside Steven Fox, advised Informa on its £1.18bn purchase of Penton Information Services. Pearson and Lee Coney acted for Patron Capital on its £1.8bn acquisition of Punch Taverns, while Ziff and Gareth Camp advised SkyePharma on its £441m merger with Vectura Group, with the merged group valued at £1bn. Robert Crothers is also recommended. Moir and private equity expert Christopher Sullivan made partner in May 2016, and public M&A expert James Bole was made up to partner in May 2017. Patrick Sarch left in December 2016 to join White & Case LLP.

The ‘very responsive, relationship-driven’ team at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP is a ‘go-to firm for corporate advice’; it blends ‘best-in-class legal advice, pragmatic commercial judgement, the utmost professional integrity and a clear understanding of clients' objectives and motives’. TMT, energy and, increasingly, pharmaceuticals (where clients include originators and generics) are key sector strengths of the department, which handles a high volume of public and private M&A. It also has impressive regulatory expertise: James Palmer and the ‘responsive, hands-on, knowledgeable’ Malcolm Lombers advised the Panel on Takeovers and Mergers on SoftBank Group’s undertakings following the latter’s £24.3bn purchase of ARM. Public M&A specialist Mark Bardell, who has years of experience working at the Panel, is ‘technically and commercially skilful’; he, Lombers and Stephen Wilkinson assisted Sky with its £18.5bn acquisition by 21st Century Fox. The ‘reliable’ Alex Kay is ‘great to deal with’; he, Palmer and Charles Howarth acted for British American Tobacco on its $49.4bn acquisition of Reynolds American. In the energy space, Anna Howell and Steven Dalton advised E.ON on the $1.72bn sale of its North Sea oil and gas business to Premier Oil; Howell also assisted BP with its first significant investments in Mauritania and Senegal, via the acquisition of $1bn-worth of interests in Kosmos Energy’s offshore gas exploration blocks. The department’s other clients include Reliance Communications, Bharti Airtel, Claris Lifesciences and Wesfarmers. Mike Flockhart and Gavin Davies are also recommended. Private equity specialist James Macarthur joined Weil, Gotshal & Manges (London) LLP in May 2016, and Gillian Fairfield retired in May 2017.

Ashurst’s ‘technically creative, very commercial, solution-focused’ department ‘navigates tricky situations very well’. It frequently assists financial institutions, blue-chip corporates and natural resources and infrastructure clients with public and private M&A, and has been increasingly busy with reverse takeovers: Nick Williamson advised the publicly listed Shanks Group on its €482m purchase of Van Gansewinkel Group. The ‘very experienced, commercial, friendly’ James Wood is ‘top-drawer’, a ‘pleasure to deal with’, and ‘finds creative solutions to difficult issues’. He acted for M&G Investment on its acquisition of equity and debt interests in Alliance Medical, and on its subsequent disposal of the company to Life Healthcare. In the projects and infrastructure space – a key area of expertise for the firm – global corporate head Robert Ogilvy Watson acted for China General Nuclear Power on its investment in the £18bn Hinkley Point nuclear project, while Tom Mercer and the Madrid-based María José Menéndez advised Abertis Infrastructure on its €948m purchase of a 50% stake in Chile’s Autopista Central toll road, making Abertis the road’s sole owner. Karen Davies and ‘senior statesmen’ Adrian Clark and Simon Beddow are recommended. TMT experts Nick Elverston and Amanda Hale joined from Herbert Smith Freehills LLP in April 2016. Richard Gubbins retired in 2017.

Having undergone significant expansion following its merger with Nabarro LLP and Olswang LLP, CMS saw its M&A capabilities bolstered by the arrival of 20 M&A partners from the legacy firms. Real estate-related corporate work is one area that has grown stronger for the department post-merger, particularly in the hotels space: the ‘experienced, approachable yet toughLouise Wallace assisted LSREF3 Atlas Holdings with its sale of the entirety of Atlas Hotels Group’s business and portfolio to London & Regional Properties for over £500m. Energy is an area in which the practice consistently performs impressively: Charles Currier and Sandra Rafferty acted for Quad Gas Group on its purchase of a 61% stake in National Grid’s £13.8bn UK gas distribution business. In another key energy deal, Doug Land acted for longstanding client SSE on its £621m sale of a 16.7% stake in Scotia Gas Networks to Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, and on its £355m sale of a 49.9% stake in 350MW Clyde wind farm to Greencoat UK Wind and GLIL. Other energy clients include BP and RWE. The ‘excellent, experiencedGary Green is ‘a great person to have on your team’. From Nabarro’s legacy practice, Iain Newman, healthcare specialist Warren Taylor and start-ups expert John Finnemore are recommended, while key figures from Olswang include Mark Bertram, Katie Nagy de Nagybaczon and Paul Guite. Heineken International, Redefine International and Care UK are all legacy Nabarro clients; Time Warner, BBC Worldwide, Sony and Dentsu Aegis were brought over by Olswang, which was well known for its strength in TMT. Other sector strengths include financial services, healthcare and life sciences, infrastructure and consumer products.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP’s ‘extremely diligent, commercial and highly skilled’ department is praised for its strength in depth and ‘incredible mix of talent and expertise’. ‘Getting the job done on time and with the right results’, the practice is also commended for its value for money. Tihir Sarkar, who is noted for his ‘leadership, experience and depth of knowledge’, acted for Dhabi Group on the merger of its subsidiary Warid Telecom (Private) with Pakistan Mobile Telecommunications to create a $500m entity that serves more than 50 million customers in Pakistan. Simon Jay and Sam Bagot acted for The Coca-Cola Company on the merger of Coca-Cola Enterprises, Coca-Cola Iberian Partners and Coca-Cola Erfrischungsgetränke to create the €28bn Coca-Cola European Partners. Bagot and Michael McDonald acted for Barclays on its $790m sale of Barclays Risk Analytics and Index Solutions to Bloomberg. The practice also assists financial advisers to corporate parties involved in complex, high-profile M&A: Jay advised The Raine Group on SoftBank Group’s successful £24.3bn bid to acquire ARM. On the energy side, McDonald and Sarkar acted for Qatar Investment Authority, as member of a consortium of investors, on the consortium’s acquisition of a 61% stake in National Grid’s £13.8bn UK gas distribution business. Other clients of the department include Loxam and Amundi. Michael Preston is also recommended.

Counting energy, technology, financial services, real estate and insurance as key sector strengths, Hogan Lovells International LLP’s ‘superb’ practice is commended for its ‘high level of service and attention to detail’, as well as for its ‘responsiveness, business acumen, pragmatism and value for money’. Steven Bryan – who is praised for his ‘strong energy industry knowledge’, as well as for his ‘transactional expertise and communication skills’ – advised Brookfield Business Partners on its purchase of an 85% stake in Greenergy, and Brookfield Infrastructure Partners on the sale of its gas distribution network business in Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man to Ancala Infrastructure. Clients also single out Andrew Pearson as ‘very commercial, extremely bright and committed’, as well as being ‘friendly and confident even when times get tough’. He acted alongside Meagen Morrison for SABMiller on its £71bn sale to AB InBev, and assisted both companies with various divestments, including SABMiller’s €2.6bn sale of its Peroni, Grolsch and Meantime businesses to Asahi. Morrison and John Connell are praised for their ‘quality advice, significant commitment and commercial approach’. They are recommended alongside Georgy Kalashnikov, who relocated from the firm’s Moscow office, and ‘bright, engaged, committed and completely client-focused’ senior associate Fergus Gallagher, who is ‘great with people, a pleasure to work with, and clearly has a bright future’. Guy Potel left for White & Case LLP in May 2016, and Amit Nayyar joined Shoosmiths LLP three months later.

The ‘very responsive, pragmatic and extremely creative’ team at Macfarlanes LLP handles public and private M&A across a wide range of sectors, including TMT, retail, hotels and leisure, energy and financial services. The ‘outstandingGraham Gibb, who ‘always provides thorough, commercial and well-reasoned advice’, ‘grasps complex situations quickly’; he and Nicholas Barclay acted for Visa on its €21.2bn purchase of Visa Europe. In the TMT space, Luke Powell acted for L3 Communications on its £252m acquisition of MacDonald Humfrey (Automation), while Matthew Blows advised e2v Technologies on its £620m purchase by Teledyne Technologies. Verizon Communications is another TMT client. On the retail side, Justin Hope assisted Intu Properties with its acquisition of the remaining 50% stake in Merry Hill shopping centre from QIC. Practice head Ian Martin acted for certain members of Formula One’s senior management on the $4.4bn sale of the company to Liberty Global. Howard Corney, who heads the department’s Africa practice, is ‘very reassuring, experienced and available’. Senior partner Charles Martin is ‘impressive’; senior associate Richard Burrows is an ‘excellent co-ordinator’. Charles Meek is also recommended. Financial services and media expert James Dawson left in August 2016 to go in-house at Roseland Services.

Norton Rose Fulbright’s practice, which is headed by Raj Karia, is very strong in the energy, natural resources, infrastructure, insurance financial services sectors. The ‘calm, experiencedStephen Rigby acted for Hermes GPE on its acquisition of a 17% stake in Southern Water, while oil and gas expert Geoff Peters advised BP on the merger of its Norwegian subsidiary BP Norge with Det Norkse Oljeselskap to create Aker BP. In an illustration of its work for financial advisers involved in big-ticket M&A, Paul Whitelock advised HSBC and Citi Global Markets on Conforama Investissement’s £660m offer for Darty. Barclays is another bank client; Alan Bainbridge and Kevin Cron advised it on the proposed sell-down of Barclays Group’s 62% stake in Barclays Africa Group, which is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. On the corporate real estate side, Mark Lloyd Willams acted for TH Real Estate on its €250m sale of three shopping centre portfolio companies in Italy and Spain to a joint venture between TPG Capital and Partners Group. Corporate finance expert Jon Perry relocated from the firm’s Hong Kong office in September 2016; the following month, private equity expert David Marshall joined the London office from RPC, while Charez Golvala and of counsel Alexandra Neovius joined the practice in June 2017 as a result of Chadbourne & Parke (London) LLP’s absorption by Norton Rose Fulbright. Senior associate Keith Law is commended for his ‘attention to detail’ and his ‘commitment to clients’.

The team at Shearman & Sterling LLP frequently handles multi-jurisdictional, high-value M&A. It is well known for its excellent grasp of UK and US corporate law: Frank Miller, who acted for Sompo Holdings on its $6.3bn purchase of Endurance Specialty Holdings, is dual qualified, as is George Karafotias, who splits his time between London and New York. Karafotias assisted Ardagh with its $3.4bn acquisition of various manufacturing assets and support locations in Europe, Brazil and the US from Ball; he also acted for ArcelorMittal on a joint venture with one of Votorantim’s subsidiaries to create a Brazilian steel producer with an annual crude steel capacity of 5.6m tonnes. Laurence Levy heads the practice and acted alongside Jeremy Kutner for Liberty Global on its €8.2bn acquisition of Cable & Wireless Communications. Energy and infrastructure are strengths of the firm: Levy and the Abu Dhabi-based Matthew Powell advised Engie and International Power on the $1.5bn sale of a stake in Indonesia’s Paiton power plant to Nebras Power and Mitsui & Co, while Karafotias assisted State Grid International Development with its purchase of a 24% stake in Independent Power Transmission Operator from Greece’s largest power producer, Public Power Corporation. The department’s other clients include GE Aviation Systems and Société Générale. Paul Strecker re-joined the London team from the Hong Kong office in September 2016.

Frequently acting for high-profile clients on large public and private M&A, Baker McKenzie’s department is strong in a variety of sectors, including infrastructure, manufacturing, consumer goods, healthcare and life sciences. Having worked at the Takeover Panel on a two-year secondment, Helen Bradley is well placed to handle public M&A: she assisted Cardtronics with the redomiciliation of its parent company from Delaware to the UK via a merger, as well as advising Cardtronics on its listing on NASDAQ. She also acted for Walgreens Boots Alliance on the sale of its local wholesale pharmaceutical business, Alliance Healthcare Russia OOO, to listed Russian cosmetics retailer 36.6. In another healthcare mandate, practice head and private M&A expert Jane Hobson acted for ICU Medical on its $900m purchase of Hospira Infusion Systems, Pfizer’s global infusion therapy business. Energy and construction were fertile areas of work in 2016: Peter Strivens and Jannan Crozier advised Emerson Electric on three separate billion-dollar-plus transactions, including the $4bn carve-out and sale of its Network Power business to Platinum Equity, while Tim Gee and David Scott assisted LafargeHolcim with numerous disposals in various jurisdictions, including the CHF564m sale of its 65% stake in Lafarge Vietnam to Siam City Cement. Scott made partner in July 2016. The practice was bolstered by several lateral hires in 2017: Melanie Howard, TMT expert Will Holder and energy, mining and infrastructure specialist David Duncan joined from Clifford Chance, King & Wood Mallesons and Allen & Overy LLP, respectively.

The ‘proactive, exemplary’ department at DLA Piper has ‘great bench strength’ and offers ‘valuable advice’. It is well known for its TMT expertise, though it also acts for high-profile clients in sectors including energy, financial services and transport. The ‘incredibly responsive, thoughtful’ and ‘very experiencedRobert Bishop is ‘pragmatic, commercially savvy’ and ‘a brilliant negotiator’; he heads the practice with Jon Kenworthy, who advised GetTaxi on a $300m investment into the client by Volkswagen Group. Managing director Charles Severs, who ‘always ensures that services are delivered as promised’, assisted ARM Holdings with its $350m purchase of Apical, while Mark Chivers advised NTT Data on its $3.1bn purchase of Dell Services. In the energy sector, Jon Hayes acted for General Electric on its €1.5bn acquisition of LM Wind Power. The ‘first-classAnu Balasubramanian is ‘very knowledgeable on representations, warranties and standard market practice’, and ‘gets complicated transactions done on time’. Robert Salter, who is strong in public M&A, is also recommended.

Latham & Watkins’ practice is rated for its strength in depth, which enables it to consistently handle large-scale public and private M&A, frequently for US-headquartered multinationals. In the energy and infrastructure space, department head Nick Cline acted for Emerson Electric on its acquisition of Permasense, and assisted Brundage-Bone Concrete Pumping with its purchase of Camfaud Concrete Pumps, Premier Concrete Pumping and South Coast Concrete Pumping. He also advised ACCO Brands on its €296m acquisition of Esselte Group. Robbie McLaren’s highlights in the pharmaceuticals space included advising Amphenol on its $1.3bn acquisition of FCI Asia, and assisting Baxter International with its $625m purchase of Claris Injectables. He also acted for Momondo Group on its $550m acquisition by Priceline. Richard Butterwick has been very active in UK public M&A: he advised RPC Group on its £261m purchase of British Polythene Industries, and assisted Adecco Group with its takeover of Penna Consulting. Simon Tysoe is also recommended, especially for energy and infrastructure matters: he acted for Hancock Prospecting Pty and Buckeye Partners on large-scale M&A. Edward Barnett arrived from Allen & Overy LLP in January 2017.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP’s practice had a particularly active 2016 in the manufacturing and retail sectors. Adam Signy and Clare Gaskell acted for Melrose Industries on its $2.8bn purchase of Nortek, and Signy assisted Groupe Fnac with its £914m acquisition of Darty. Derek Baird advised Office Depot on the sale of its European business to Aurelius Group. In the energy space, Alvaro Membrillera acted for Gestamp on the sale of its solar energy business, which is valued at $1bn, to funds managed by KKR. Membrillera is also active on the buy-side for private equity clients including KKR, which he advised on various acquisitions in the TMT, leisure and energy sectors. In January 2017, Wim de Vlieger made counsel, and ‘heavyweight’ public and private M&A expert Ben Spiers, who has particular experience in the TMT sector, joined from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP. Michael Wolfson relocated to the New York office in October 2016.

Travers Smith LLP’s ‘very strong’ practice ‘covers all the key areas of due diligence and transactional work, including commercial, IP, competition, employment and real estate aspects’; it is also commended for ‘successfully managing legal advisers across multiple jurisdictions’. TMT and infrastructure are particular sector strengths: Jon Reddington and practice head Spencer Summerfield – who are ‘solution-oriented, seek commercial outcomes and don’t get too caught up in legal technicalities’ – acted for Micro Focus International on its $8.8bn merger with HPE Software, and assisted Breedon Group with its £336m purchase of Hope Construction Limited. In the retail space, Andrew Gillen and Philip Cheveley acted for Steinhoff International on its £1.2bn takeover bid for Home Retail Group and on its subsidiary Conforama Investissement’s £660m takeover bid for Darty. The department’s other clients include Pinewood Group, UK Mail Group, Wireless Group and McColl’s Retail Group. Anthony Foster (‘a safe pair of hands’) is also recommended.

The team at Weil, Gotshal & Manges (London) LLP acts on a range of cross-border M&A, spin-offs and joint ventures for public and private companies. Mike Francies acted for General Electric on its $30bn sale of GE Capital’s Commercial Distribution Finance, North American Vendor Finance and Corporate Finance platforms to Wells Fargo. Francies also provided assistance with several large US-led matters for clients including Nortek and Ceridian. Peter King assisted Singapore Exchange with its £78m takeover of Baltic Exchange. On the private equity side, Jonathan Wood acted for Advent International on its £222m public takeover offer for Brammer. The firm’s other M&A clients include HNA Group, Elementis, Iron Mountain and Orange. James MacArthur, who is particularly experienced in the real estate and infrastructure sectors, joined in January 2017 from Herbert Smith Freehills LLP.

White & Case LLP’s ‘excellent, very responsive’ department, counts financial services, energy and technology as key sector strengths. Patrick Sarch, who arrived in January 2017 from Clifford Chance and who has particular experience acting for financial institutions, heads the practice jointly with Ian Bagshaw. Bagshaw and Caroline Sherrell assisted Avast Software with its $1.3bn purchase of AVG Technologies. The department is increasingly active in the healthcare space: Bagshaw and John Cunningham acted for Bupa on its £835m acquisition of Oasis Healthcare from Bridgepoint. The practice also acts for financial advisers in high-profile transactions: Philip Broke and Jacqueline Evans assisted Mizuho Securities, financial adviser to SoftBank Group, with the latter’s £24.3bn acquisition of ARM. Other clients of the team include Hikma Pharmaceuticals, HSBC, Deutsche Bank and Brammer. Guy Potel, who has significant experience in public M&A and fintech transactions, is also recommended. Richard Youle left to join Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (UK) LLP in May 2017.

Dentons fields an ‘incredibly responsive’ team that frequently handles high-value, multi-jurisdictional M&A; it is ‘hugely impressive’ in its ‘speedy provision of accurate, commercially sound advice’. Clients also praise the team for its ‘high-quality, very professional service’ and its ‘high-end industry exposure’, especially in the energy and manufacturing sectors. Nigel Webber acted for PT Pertamina on its $13.8bn joint venture with Rosneft to develop a refining and petrochemical complex in East Java, while Martin Kitchen advised ONGC Videsh on its $2.2bn purchase of shares in Vankorneft. Other energy clients include Statoil, Tenaga Nasional Berhad and World Fuel Services. David Collins heads the group, which welcomed private equity expert Stephen Levy from Pinsent Masons LLP and corporate real estate specialists Jayne Schnider and Jonathan Cantor from Irwin Mitchell and Nabarro LLP, respectively. Darren Acres is ‘incredibly commercial, pragmatic and responsive’.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP is noted for its combination of ‘strong M&A capabilities’ with ‘very strong financing skills’. Jonathan Earle, who is especially strong in public M&A, acted for William Hill on its proposed £4.6bn merger with Amaya, and on its $385m investment in NYX Gaming. Nigel Stacey assisted Avnet with its £691m offer for Premier Farnell, and advised UPS on its €525m acquisition of Marken. The ‘pragmatic, thoughtful and responsiveNick Tomlinsonpulls everything together quickly and cost-effectively’; he acted for Investcorp on its $271m purchase of 3i’s debt management business. Also recommended are Charlie Geffen who heads the practice, and Mark Sperotto.

Providing ‘very good service throughout very difficult and complex negotiations’, Greenberg Traurig, LLP’s ‘highly commercial, responsive’ practice is ‘good value for money’. Pharmaceuticals, chemicals, industrials and telecoms are key sector strengths of the team, whose client base largely comprises public companies. The ‘outstandingPaul Maher, who heads the practice with Fiona Adams, ‘manages charm and brutality with equal dexterity’; he and Adams acted for Rentokil Initial on its joint venture with Franz Haniel & Cie to create a leading European workwear and hygiene services provider with an annual revenue of €1.1bn. Maher also advised AstraZeneca on the $975m sale of its small-molecule antibiotics business to Pfizer. The ‘very hardworking’ Kate Eades ‘balances legal risks with commercial concerns’; Henrietta Walker and Gary Cooper are also recommended. Michael Goldberg and David Fitzgerald, who handle public and private M&A and are especially strong in real estate-related corporate work, arrived from King & Wood Mallesons in January 2017.

Jones Day’s ‘excellent’ practice counts real estate, life sciences, industrials, defence and aerospace as key sector strengths, in addition to having a strong track record in financial services; in an illustration of its track record in the financial services arena, Giles Elliott advised Altium on its merger with GCA Savvian to form GCA. Department head Leon Ferera, who is noted for his experience in public M&A, assisted General Electric with its purchase of Rapidscan Pharma Solutions, and advised the Euronext Paris-listed Essilor International on its acquisition of MyOptique Group. On the real estate side, Anna Cartwright and Alex Millar acted for DV4 on its formation of a £1.4bn joint venture with APG Asset Management and Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment to create a London home rental business. Elliott advised Goldman Sachs International on the merger of its student housing platform with The Wellcome Trust’s £560m iQ student housing portfolio to create Vero Group, a £2bn student housing business. TMT is also an area of activity for the practice; Vica Irani acted for Guardian Digital Communications on its $1.2bn purchase of Airwave Solutions.

The seven-partner practice at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP is frequently involved in multi-jurisdictional mergers and private equity transactions, with an emphasis on acting for financial institutions. Ben Perry, Nikolaos Andronikos and practice head Tim Emmerson acted for Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking Division on its sale of 197 million shares in Hastings Group Holding to Rand Merchant Investment Holdings; on its acquisition of control of Northgate Information Solutions from KKR; and on its acquisition of a minority interest in LeasePlan. Managing partner Richard Pollack advised Rhône Capital on its $1.2bn purchase of Zodiac Pool Holding from a Carlyle Group-affiliated fund. Other clients of the department include Alcatel-Lucent, Stryker and AB InBev. John Horsfield-Bradbury made partner in January 2017; he has experience in high-profile M&A, debt and equity capital markets and corporate finance. European counsels Oderisio de Vito Piscicelli and Joram Lietaert Peerbolte are also recommended.

Traditionally strong in the financial services, real estate, retail and consumer goods sectors, Addleshaw Goddard’s department has been increasingly active in the energy space, especially oil and gas. Angus Rollo acted for BP on the sale of its Belfast fuel terminal to Puma Energy; he also advised PA Resources on the sale of its North Sea oil and gas interests to Petrogas, and on the sale of its Tunisian offshore and onshore oil and gas interests to ETAP. On the financial services side, Nick Pearey assisted Lloyds Banking Group with its £1.9bn acquisition of MBNA from Bank of America. Yunus Seedat and Andrew Rosling head the practice, which was joined by Elvan Hussein and Anna Nerush in 2016 from Allen & Overy LLP and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius UK LLP, respectively.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld’s ‘responsive, solution-oriented’ department, which is especially strong in energy and TMT, has ‘great business acumen’ and an ‘impressive ability to formulate simple solutions to complex issues’. It frequently handles ‘complex transactions in emerging markets’ and transactions involving Russia; Artem Faekov and the ‘attentive, detail-orientedDavid Sewell (who is ‘impressive in structuring complex transactions quickly and efficiently’) acted for USM Holdings on the $740m sale of its stake in Group to PJSC MegaFon. Sebastian Rice, who heads the practice with Daniel Walsh, acted for UFG Private Equity Fund III on its acquisition of a 25% stake in Animaccord Animation Studio. Harry Keegan, Vance Chapman and energy expert John LaMaster are recommended.

Primarily known for its strength in corporate real estate, Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP’s practice is active in other sectors including TMT, manufacturing and utilities. Real estate expert Chris de Pury assisted China Life Investment Holding and Brookfield with their £346m purchase of the corporate structure that owned Aldgate Tower. Other real estate clients include Secure Income REIT and Go Native Holdings. Murdoch Currie acted for Playtech on its acquisition of Consolidated Financial Holdings for up to $120m, while Benjamin Lee, who heads the practice with Michael Anderson, advised BCA on its £105m purchase of Paragon Automotive. On the utilities side, John Bennett acted for Thames Water on the £99m sale of its retail business for non-household customers to Castle Water, and Nicholas Myatt assisted Ancala Partners with its £79m takeover offer for Dee Valley Group.

Philip Boeckman leads the team at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, which has a strong line in complex, multi-jurisdictional public and private M&A. He acted for Gala Coral Group on its £2.3bn merger with Ladbrokes, advised Punch Taverns on its £1.8bn sale to Vine Acquisitions, and assisted Braas Monier Building Group with its sale to Standard Industries. George Stephanakis advised Luxottica Group on its $49bn merger with Essilor International, assisted Zodiac Aerospace with its €8.5bn merger with Safran, and acted for Delhaize Group on its $29bn merger with Royal Ahold. Alyssa Caples advised British American Tobacco on its $49.5bn acquisition of the remaining 58% stake in Reynolds American, and David Mercado acted for Banco Santander on its purchase of Citigroup’s consumer credit card, consumer brokerage and retail banking businesses.

William Charnley is the key partner at King & Spalding LLP; he is supported by Ilan Kotkis, who made partner in November 2016. The firm’s clients, which range from emerging companies to listed corporations to financial institutions, include Baxter Healthcare, Novelis, Oxford Industries and UPS. Markus Bauman joined Goodwin in November 2017.

Commended for its ‘all-round strength’ and for being ‘always focused on achieving the transaction objectivesMayer Brown International LLP’s practice frequently handles multi-jurisdictional M&A for high-profile clients. It is strong in the life sciences, financial institutions, TMT, energy and natural resources sectors: Kate Ball-Dodd and Richard Smith advised for Universal Coal on takeover offers by various parties, including Ichor Coal and Coal of Africa, while Richard Page assisted CITIC Telecom International CPC with its acquisition of the telecoms assets of Linx Telecommunications. Ball-Dodd heads the practice with Jeremy Kenley, who advised AEW Europe and Teacher Retirement System of Texas on their purchase of Festival Place shopping centre in Basingstoke. ‘Calm, excellent negotiatorRobert Hamill, who is ‘good at supervising teams of lawyers’, acted for Village Roadshow on its £30m purchase of Countrywide Property Investments (UK). Other clients of the department include Entertainment One, Moody’s, Unilever and Wells Fargo.

Paul Hastings LLP’s department counts financial services, hospitality, healthcare and life sciences as core sector strengths. It frequently acts on matters involving investment from US or Asian clients; practice heads Ronan O’Sullivan and Garrett Hayes acted for Filtration Group on its £220m acquisition of Essentra’s Porous Technologies, and Hayes advised China Cosco Holdings on its purchase of 51% of the shares in Piraeus Port Authority. On the technology side, O’Sullivan assisted Computer Sciences on its investment in eBecs, and acted for Dexcom on its purchase of Nintamed. Other clients of the department Aalto Invest Holding, City Football Group and Jacobs Engineering Group. Senior associate Matthew Poxon is also highly recommended.

Praised for its ‘terrific industry knowledgeProskauer Rose LLP’s practice is headed by Steven Davis, who ‘understands the market very well’. He acted for new client Crowe Horwath on its purchase of BaxterBruce and Instratus. Other clients of the team include Lion Capital and ghd. Eleanor Shanks, who is praised for her ‘professionalism, technical knowledge and ability to understand clients’ needs’, arrived from Dentons in September 2016; an expert in private equity, she ‘always gets the job done, and beyond all expectations’. The ‘pragmatic, knowledgeableAndrew Wingfield and the ‘tireless, personableRob Day (who ‘combines excellent commercial and legal skills’) joined in October 2016 from King & Wood Mallesons.

Simmons & Simmons’ ‘very strong’ practice, which is headed by Giles Dennison, counts financial services, TMT and life sciences as particular sector strengths. Its capabilities in the asset management space, particularly involving real estate, are also noted; Arthur Stewart acted for Intertrust on its €557m purchase of Elian Group, while Edward Baker advised Growthpoint Properties on its €186m purchase of a 27% stake in Globalworth Real Estate Investment. The ‘very goodColin Bole advised Sanne Group on its $127m acquisition of IFS, a Mauritius-based provider of fund and corporate administration services. Asset management and life sciences expert Jocelyn Ormond assisted Avery Dennison with its £18m investment in PragmatIC Printing. Mark Curtis, Jason Daniel, Charles Mayo and Isabella Roberts are also recommended. Senior partner David Parkes, who is strong in retail, energy and African markets, arrived from King & Wood Mallesons in February 2017, offsetting the departure of Julian Perlmutter, who left to go in-house at Kairos Communications in May 2016.

Covington & Burling LLP is also ranked.

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP’s department is led by Will Pearce and corporate finance expert John Banes; clients have included Dialog Semiconductor, Verisk Analytics, Imperial Tobacco and Ball. As well as frequently acting for blue-chip corporates on large-scale M&A, the team acts for financial advisers in high-profile M&A. Highlights included acting for the financial advisers, sponsors and underwriters to Ladbrokes on its £2.3bn merger with Gala Coral, and to Just Retirement Group on its £1.7bn merger with Partnership Assurance Group.

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s ‘commercial, client-focused and technically strong’ practice is headed by private equity expert David Innes; he acted alongside James Scoville for Canada Pension Plan Investment Board on its $1.1bn purchase of Ascot. ‘Very good negotiatorKatherine Ashton, who is dual qualified in the UK and the US, acted for HarbourVest Partners on its £807m purchase of SVG Capital’s entire investment portfolio. The group also has ‘considerable knowledge and skill in negotiating, drafting and supporting complex and challenging transactions in Africa’: Geoffrey Burgess, who is an ‘exceptional transactional lawyer with pragmatic business sense’, advised Helios Investment Partners on its purchase of a 60% stake in Telkom Kenya. Other clients include American International Group, AmTrust Financial Services and MBIA Insurance.

Commended for its ‘excellent level of service’, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP’s ‘proactive, client-oriented’ team counts energy, natural resources and technology as key sector strengths. The ‘very commercial, insightful and pragmatic’ Stuart Harray is a ‘constructive negotiator with wide commercial and legal knowledge’; he leads the department alongside the ‘outstanding’ Mark Stamp, who assisted Terra Firma on its sale of AWAS to Dubai Aerospace Enterprise. Harray advised EIG Global Energy Partners on its sale with Centrica of their joint venture company. Transport specialist James Cameron advised AWAS and its owners Terra Firma and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board on the $4bn sale of 90 aircraft to Macquarie Group. Special counsel Daniel Wayte ‘thinks through highly complex structure and documentation issues without losing sight of the commercial objectives’.

Graeme Sloan heads the ‘experienced, effective and trustworthy’ practice at Morrison & Foerster (UK) LLP; he advised ORI Healthcare Fund on its $100m investment in Kymab, and acted for SoftBank on its £24.3bn acquisition of ARM Holdings. The ‘professional, positive, quick’ Andrew Boyd ‘speedily assimilates difficult concepts and comes up with meaningful, deliverable action plans that fulfil the commercial objectives’. He and Gary Brown assisted Cherokee Global Brands with its $96m purchase of Hi-Tec Sports.

Sidley Austin LLP’s ‘outstanding’ practice is ‘always prompt, and provides wise, sound advice’. The ‘pragmatic, result-oriented, focused and knowledgeable’ team is noted for its experience in real estate and asset management, and has a strong track record in financial services, insurance, healthcare and life sciences. Practice head and ‘very tough negotiatorThomas Thesing, who gives ‘honest advice’, advised PRA Group on its purchase of DT Partners for PLN175m. The ‘very calm, down-to-earth and extremely commercialMark Thompson is a ‘brilliant negotiator’, and ‘understands the details and the big picture’; he assisted Mid Europa Partners with its sale of Alpha Medical to Unilabs. Other clients include eBay and HNA Group. Senior associate Lyndsey Laverack is widely recommended.

Though renowned for its strength in the energy sector, Vinson & Elkins RLLP’s department is also active in telecoms and corporate real estate. It frequently handles high-value multi-jurisdictional matters, often involving emerging markets; Alex Msimang advised Woodside Petroleum on its $350m acquisition of ConocoPhillips’ interests in Senegal, and assisted Statoil with its $2.5bn purchase from Petrobras of a 66% stake in Brazil’s Carcará oilfield. On the real estate side, Robert Dixon acted for Club Company (Group) on its purchase of Woodbury Park in Devon. Jeffrey Eldredge heads the team, which saw Shaun Lascelles and Simon Rootsey join in October 2016 from Ashurst and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (UK) LLP, respectively.

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