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  1. M&A: upper mid-market and premium deals, £250m+
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Simon Marchant leads the highly regarded team at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, in which Will Lawes, Edward Braham and London managing partner Julian Long are recommended. Graham Watson, India expert Pratap Amin and senior associate James Scott acted for First Reserve during its acquisition of a subset of Crompton Greaves’ international power transmission and distribution division. The department also assisted Canada Pension Plan Investment Board with its purchase of a 40% stake in Glencore Agricultural Products. Charles Hayes made partner in May 2016.

Linklaters LLP’s ‘phenomenal’ department, headed by Stuart Bedford, counts BP, Carlyle Group and Rio Tinto among its clients. Richard Godden and James Inglis acted for The Economist Newspaper on Pearson’s sale of its 50% stake in the company. Nick Rumsby and Charles Jacobs advised SABMiller on its £71bn takeover by AB InBev, the third-largest such deal in history. Iain Wagstaff and Aedamar Comiskey are recommended. Private equity specialist Ben Rodham joined the team in January 2016.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (UK) LLP’s ‘diligent, reliable’ department provides ‘excellent service with very short response times’, and gives ‘very practicable advice’. Michael Hatchard and Scott Simpson head the practice, which includes Hilary Foulkes, who advised Merck KGaA on its $17bn purchase of Sigma-Aldrich, and Japanese speaker Scott Hopkins, who acted for Nikkei in its $1.3bn acquisition of FT Group from Pearson. The team assisted Ball Corporation with its recommended offer to acquire Rexam’s outstanding shares for $8.4bn. Other clients include Mitsui Sumitomo and Mylan.

Slaughter and May’s ‘client-focused, solution-driven’ team acted for Royal Dutch Shell on its £35bn acquisition of BG Group. Andrew Jolly assisted Cable & Wireless Communications during its £3.5bn takeover by Liberty Global. Nigel Boardman and Paul Dickson are ‘market leaders in all respects’, and Oliver Wareham is ‘particularly strong’. Andy Ryde is also very active in the space. Stephen Cooke and Roland Turnill lead the practice, which saw three lawyers promoted to partner in May 2015: Robert Innes, Chris McGaffin and Sally Wokes.

Allen & Overy LLP acts for a number of leading companies, such as GlaxoSmithKline, 20th Century Fox and Thomson Reuters. Edward Barnett advised Coca-Cola Iberian Partners on its $11bn merger with Coca-Cola Enterprises and Coca-Cola Erfrischungsgetränke, while Richard Hough assisted Tullet Prebon during its $1.1bn merger with ICAP. The ‘pragmatic, very responsive and technically excellent’ Richard Browne heads the department, in which Richard Evans, Annabelle Croker and Africa expert Simon Toms are also recommended. Seth Jones re-joined the team after two years on secondment at the UK Takeover Panel.

Clifford Chance’s ‘outstanding’ practice saw some reshuffling, with Nicholas Rees returning from the Moscow office, Caroline Sherrell moving to White & Case LLP, and recent partnership promotions for Gareth Camp, Graham Phillips and Katherine Moir. Mark Poulton heads the department, whose clients include Johnson Matthey and the Canary Wharf Group. ‘Very experienced and skilful negotiator’ Spencer Baylin is ‘creative and commercially aware’, and the ‘logical, persistent’ Nicholas Hughes ‘manages complicated international transactions efficiently and effectively’.

Stephen Wilkinson and Ben Ward head the ‘practical, reliable, conscientious and respectful’ team at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, in which the ‘fantastic, totally client-focused’ Mike Flockhart is especially recommended for takeovers. He and Greg Mulley advised Polyus Gold International on a $9bn hostile takeover offer by Sacturino. Gavin Davies is also recommended, Mark Geday and Tomasz Wo´zniak returned from international secondment in the autumn of 2015, and Caroline Rae made partner in May 2016. Chris Haynes moved to Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.

Simon Beddow heads the team at Ashurst, which also includes recommended lawyers Dominic Ross, Karen Davies, Richard Gubbins and Tom Mercer; Gubbins and Mercer are ‘very strong technically, very commercial and always available’, and advised Vedanta Resources on the $2.3bn merger of Vedanta Limited and Cairn India, two of its subsidiaries. Other clients include RBS and Merlin Entertainments. James Wood, who ‘delves into details and sees the wider picture simultaneously’, joined from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP in May 2015.

Commended for its ‘timely, detailed advice’, CMS advised Johnson & Johnson on the $1.9bn sale of Cordis in the UK and Ireland to Cardinal Health; Sandra Rafferty led the deal. Andrew Sheach acted for Skrill Group on its $1.2bn reverse takeover by Optimal Payments. Stuart Blythe and Martin Treagus are also recommended. Charles Currier heads the department, in which Nick Blair made partner in May 2016, and which hired Jonathan Woolf, formerly managing counsel at BP, in November 2015.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP has ‘global experience, particularly in emerging markets’. Michael McDonald acted for MBK Partners on its $6.4bn purchase of Homeplus and its subsidiaries from Tesco. Tihir Sarkar, who is praised for his ‘experience and responsiveness’ and for ‘the confidence he instils’, assisted Dhabi Group with Warid Telecom (Private)’s merger with Pakistan Mobile Communications. Sam Bagot and Simon Jay are recommended, as is ‘rising star’ Dan Tierney, an associate with ‘judgement far beyond his years’.

Hogan Lovells International LLP’s ‘exemplary’ practice handles ‘incredibly complex and demanding transactions’, and its recent experience mirrors the firm’s strength in TMT, technology, insurance and financial institutions, though it is also active in the energy sector, where Andrew Briggs advised Alstom on the €12.4bn disposal of its energy business to GE. Ben Higson heads the practice, in which Maegen Morrison is highly recommended. The promotion to partner of Richard Diffenthal and John Connell at Hogan Lovells International LLP helped offset the departure of Sarah Atkinson, who is now at Bryan Cave, and of David Levin, who joined Nekton Group.

Ian Martin heads Macfarlanes LLP’s team, which provides ‘a very good level of service’. Graham Gibb advised Altria, the largest shareholder in SABMiller, on the latter’s takeover by AB InBev; he and Nicholas Barclay advised Visa on its purchase of Visa Europe, for an upfront value of €16.5bn. Recent client wins include Exor, AVIC and International Game Technology. Luke Powell, Stephen Drewitt and the ‘user-friendly, commercialJames Dawson are also recommended.

Raj Karia’s ‘speedy, effective’ department at Norton Rose Fulbright continued to expand its energy capabilities by hiring Kimberley Wood from Vinson & Elkins RLLP in May 2015. The ‘calm, controlled and very experienced’ Chris Pearson and the ‘approachable, commercialPaul Whitelock advised Sacturino on its hostile $9bn takeover of Polyus Gold International. Robin Brooks and Chris Randall give ‘very sound, pragmatic advice’; Jill Gauntlett is also recommended. Clients of the practice include BHP Billiton, Orange, Trinity Mirror and Santander.

Among a number of changes at Shearman & Sterling LLP, the UK- and US-qualified Frank Miller joined from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP and Matthew Powell became a partner in January 2016, at the same time as private equity specialist Ben Rodham moved to Linklaters LLP. Jeremy Kutner and department head Laurence Levy acted for Liberty Global on its $8.2bn acquisition of Cable & Wireless Communications; other clients include ArcelorMittal and Engie. George Karafotias is also recommended.

Baker McKenzie LLP displays ‘in-depth knowledge’ and gives ‘commercial, well-tailored advice’ under practice head Michael Herington; Jannan Crozier made partner in July 2015, and James Thompson and Joanna Hewitt joined from Linklaters LLP and Olswang LLP respectively in November 2015. Leveraging the firm’s multi-jurisdictional capabilities, Tim Gee advised Unilever on its acquisition of Procter & Gamble’s Camay and Zest businesses, including a large factory in Mexico City. Charles Whitefoord is widely recommended.

Latham & Watkins’ practice, which is jointly led by Nick Cline and Martin Saywell, recently attracted various new clients, including VimpelCom, Aon and Ernst & Young. Richard Butterwick advised Sorin on its $2.7bn merger with Cyberonics to create LivaNova. Notable team changes included energy expert Simon Tysoe joining from Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, Andrew Macklin returning to London from the Doha office, and Robbie McLaren and Farah O’Brien being made up to partner.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP’s ‘fantastic’ practice, which is particularly strong in private equity transactions, combines ‘top-shelf knowledge, industry awareness and an efficient team’. Adam Signy has ‘oceans of knowledge and experience wedded to unique awareness and charisma’; he advised Groupe Fnac on its recommended €558m offer for Darty. Michael Wolfson and Alvaro Membrillera are also recommended. In January 2016, Wheatly MacNamara made partner and James Connor was promoted to counsel.

Tim Emmerson’s department at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP counts Apollo Global Management, APR Energy and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board among its clients. Richard Morrissey advised the target on Nokia’s €15.6bn offer to purchase all of Alcatel-Lucent’s issued shares. Vanessa Blackmore advised Concordia Healthcare Corporation on its $3.5bn acquisition of Amdipharm Mercury from Cinven-controlled entities. Ben Perry and Nikolaos Andronikos are recommended; Perry and Emmerson advised APR Energy during its £165m takeover by Apple Bidco.

Travers Smith LLP’s ‘efficient, commercial’ practice is appreciated for the level of ‘personal commitment from key partners’. Practice head Spencer Summerfield, who is ‘one of the best M&A lawyers in the City’, acted for Pace on its £1.4bn sale to Arris. Philip Cheveley and the ‘smart, straight-talking, sure-footed’ Andrew Gillen advised Steinhoff International on its planned takeover of Home Retail Group. Other clients include Micro Focus and Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Partners. Ian Shawyer, Jon Reddington and Anthony Foster are also recommended.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges’ recent work includes Peter King acting for HNA Group on its CHF2.73bn purchase of Swissport from PAI Partners. Practice head Michael Francies worked closely with the firm’s Budapest office in advising GE Capital on the sale of its European fleet business to Arval Service Lease, as well as on the sale of its Hungary-based banking subsidiary, Budapest Bank, to Corvinus Nemzetkozi Befektetesi. James Harvey made partner in January 2016.

White & Case LLP’s ‘excellent’ practice is jointly led by Ian Bagshaw, Richard Youle and Allan Taylor. Infrastructure expert John Cunningham is ‘able to effectively marshal the experts in any jurisdiction in a short period of time’; he advised Wren House Infrastructure on its $550m purchase, via a joint venture with Gas Natural Fenosa, of a 25% stake in the latter’s subsidiary company Global Power Generation. Guy Potel joined from Hogan Lovells International LLP in June 2016.

Robert Bishop and Jon Kenworthy lead the department at DLA Piper, which counts London Stock Exchange Group, Mondeléz International, H.I.G. Capital and Babcock International among its clients. Bishop assisted Discovery Communications with its £950m buyout of the remaining 49% shares in Eurosport. TES Global, W. W. Grainger and Orkla are recent client wins. Jonathan Lisle moved to Crowell & Moring in October 2015.

Greenberg Traurig Maher LLP’s ‘business-minded, down-to-earth’ department is commended for its ‘quick turnaround of documentation’. Paul Maher, who is ‘a skilled negotiator with a commercial mindset’, jointly leads the team with the ‘solution-oriented, proactive’ Fiona Adams, who is ‘very good at coordinating large, complex transactions’, and ‘promptly delivers high-quality advice’. Henrietta Walker is also recommended. The practice is particularly strong in the biotech, telecoms and manufacturing sectors; clients include AstraZeneca and GKN.

The ‘fantastic’ practice at Jones Day advised Goldman Sachs, as shareholder, on Barbon Holdings’ sale to Carlyle; the deal was led by Vica Irani, who has ‘very good industry knowledge’. Michael Weir and Raymond McKeeve advised Amdipharm Mercury on its $3.5bn divestiture by Cinven to Concordia Healthcare. Benedict O’Halloran went in-house to Securitas Direct Veritas Group in September 2015; Weyinmi Popo subsequently moved to Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe (Europe) LLP. Giles Elliott and Leon Ferara head the practice.

Michael Goldberg’s practice at King & Wood Mallesons recruited Laura Brunnen from Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson (London) LLP, which helped offset Richard Lever’s move to Goodwin. The ‘superbAndrew Wingfield, who ‘displays excellent attention to detail’, advised Intermediate Capital Group on the £550m sale of its stake in Quorn Foods to Monde Nissin. Rob Day shows ‘excellent technical skills, commercial acumen and strategic awareness’.

Mayer Brown International LLP’s team, which ‘quickly familiarises itself with very complex documents’, acts for clients such as Brookfield, Entertainment One and Unilever. The ‘quick, tenaciousKate Ball-Dodd co-heads the team with Jeremy Kenley. ‘Excellent tacticianRobert Hamillshows great composure under pressure’. Connor Cahalane made partner in January 2016, while private equity expert Perry Yam and energy specialist Mathew Kidwell joined from Reed Smith LLP and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius UK LLP, respectively.

Simmons & Simmons’ department head Giles Dennison acted for longstanding client Anite during its £388m recommended takeover by Keysight Technologies. Colin Bole advised Evercore Partners International and J.P. Morgan Cazenove, as financial advisers and sponsors to ICAP, on ICAP’s merger of its global hybrid voice-broking and information business with Tullett Prebon. ‘Expert coordinatorEdward Baker gives ‘practical, valuable advice’, and has ‘fantastic knowledge of precedents’.

Addleshaw Goddard LLP’s ‘very responsive, very thorough’ practice is led by Andrew Rosling, who acted for Diageo in its sale of Gleneagles Hotel to Ennismore. The ‘strategic, determinedNick Pearey assisted GVC Holdings with its winning £1.1bn bid to acquire Digital Entertainment. Other clients include ECI Partners, Britvic and Tate & Lyle. Chris Taylor is ‘pragmatic, thoughtful and effective’.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld’s practice co-heads Sebastian Rice and Daniel Walsh advised VimpelCom on the $4.5bn sale of its 51% stake in Omnium Telecom Algeria to Fonds National d’Investissement. Rice also acted for Test World Oy on the English law aspects of its sale to Millbrook Proving Ground. Clients include PJSC Lukoil and ExxonMobil, reflecting the firm’s strength in energy, oil and gas. The ‘very calm, tenacious and persuasive’ John LaMaster is recommended.

Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP’s ‘diligent, highly professional’ practice is particularly strong in real estate transactions. Michael Anderson and Benjamin Lee head the team, which counts Blackstone, TPG, Carlyle and Resolution Properties among its clients. The ‘commercialAdam Bogdanor gives ‘clear, robust advice’, and has ‘strong all-round knowledge’; he acted for Banque Fédérative du Crédit Mutuel in its acquisition of GE’s equipment finance and receivable finance businesses in France and Germany.

Paul Claydon leads the ‘very responsive, very open and straightforward’ team at Covington & Burling LLP, which is particularly strong in the life sciences and technology sectors, and can draw on ‘excellent’ ancillary support covering tax and employment law. ‘Outstanding talentGregor Frizzell is ‘efficient, business-savvy and technically sound’; he assisted AstraZeneca with its $575m purchase of Takeda’s respiratory medicines business. The ‘always availableJames Halstead is also recommended.

Dentons’ ‘pragmatic’ team combines ‘business acumen, commercial awareness and value for money’. It counts Essence Digital, Minmetco and World Fuel Services Corporation among its clients and is notably strong in the energy sector; Nigel Webber assisted Petronas with its acquisition of a 15.5% stake in the Shah Deniz gas field. Richard Barham and Nicholas Plant are recommended, as is practice head David Collins.

Chris Haynes joined Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP from Herbert Smith Freehills LLP in March 2016. Charlie Geffen leads the department, which has particular strength in the technology, healthcare, energy and real estate sectors; its clients include Amazon, Lone Star, HP and Kennedy Wilson Europe. Jonathan Earle acted for Markit on the acquisition of three companies: CoreOne Technologies, DealHub and Information Mosaic.

King & Spalding International LLP is ‘excellent on all counts’. ‘Exceptionally commercial’ practice head William Charnley acted for Promethean Investments on its acquisition of all of Sofa Brands International’s outstanding equity. Markus Bauman advised Delivery Hero Holding on various acquisitions, including the $589m purchase of Yemeksepeti. Senior associate Ilan Kotkis shows ‘clarity of thought, great ability to elucidate very complex issues, and brilliant contract-negotiation skills’.

Paul Hastings LLP’s ‘commercial, patient’ team recently acted for clients such as MoneyGram, Ares and Cabot Credit Management. Ronan O’Sullivan heads the practice, in which Garrett Hayes and senior associate Matthew Poxon are recommended; Hayes acted for China Cosco Holdings Company on its $750m acquisition of Piraeus Port from the government of Greece. O’Sullivan and Poxon advised City Football Group on its partnership with a consortium of Chinese investors led by China Media Capital, which will, along with CITIC Capital, co-invest $400m in the client.

Clients receive ‘a highly personalised partner-client experience’ from Proskauer Rose LLP’s ‘superb’ team, which is particularly active in the transport, infrastructure and energy sectors. The department advised Environmental Resources Management Group on its $1.7bn sale to Omers Private Equity. Steven Davis heads the practice. Matt Rees and James Howe joined from Simmons & Simmons and Kirkland & Ellis International LLP, respectively, in the summer of 2015.

Thomas Thesing and the ‘practical, no-nonsenseStephen Blackshaw lead Sidley Austin LLP’s department, which welcomed Sava Savov, Fatema Orjela and private equity specialists Erik Dahl and Christian Iwasko from Kirkland & Ellis International LLP in March 2016. ‘Wise, thoughtful problem-solverMark Thompson advised Första AP-fonden as part of a consortium that acquired Fortum’s Swedish electricity grid business for €6.6bn. Jonathan Wallace joined Ernst & Young Global in August 2015.

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP specialises in US-law transactions. Philip Boeckman, who ‘makes even the most fiddly transactions seem like child’s play’, and the ‘extremely responsiveDavid Mercado are key figures along with the ‘outstandingGeorge Stephanakis, who ‘knows the US rules inside-out’. Boeckman acted for Gala Coral Group on its $3bn merger with Ladbrokes and assisted Spirit Pub Company during its £1.4bn acquisition by Greene King.

Will Pearce and John Banes head Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP’s team, which gives ‘exemplary advice’ and shows ‘exceptional professionalism’; Pearce, who has ‘exceptional, in-depth knowledge of all elements of the UK Takeover Code’, advised Dialog Semiconductor on its $4.6bn bid for Atmel Corporation. European counsel Simon Little joined from Shearman & Sterling LLP.

American International Group, HarbourVest Partners, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and new client Dover Corporation instruct Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s ‘proactive’ team. ‘Highly experienced’ practice head David Innes combines ‘responsiveness, technical strengths and strong commercial sense’. He advised TA Associates on its acquisition of a majority stake in Access Technology Group. Geoffrey Burgess, E Raman Bet-Mansour and Katherine Ashton are also recommended.

Kirkland & Ellis International LLP lost Sava Savov, Fatema Orjela, and private equity specialists Erik Dahl and Christian Iwasko to Sidley Austin LLP in March 2016, but hired Stuart Boyd from Linklaters LLP in June 2016. Gavin Gordon and Valerie Goldstein acted for TPG Growth on its buyout of Frank Recruitment Group. Carl Bradshaw and Aprajita Dhundia made partner in October 2015.

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP’s department, which is headed by Stuart Harray and Mark Stamp, is ‘instrumental to driving complicated deals to completion’. Stamp advised Revlon on its acquisition of CBB Beauty. Highbridge Principal Strategies is a recent client win. Special counsel Daniel Wayte is ‘a skilled, insightful negotiator’ and senior associate Sarah Ullathorne has ‘excellent legal knowledge’.

Morrison & Foerster (UK) LLP’s ‘first-class’ practice provides ‘thoughtful, insightful’ advice. The team acted for Korn Ferry on its $452m acquisition of Hay Group, and advised Advanced Computer Software Group during its £725m takeover by Vista Equity Partners. ‘Very experienced’ department head Graeme Sloan is noted for his strength in handling ‘complex cross-jurisdictional M&A’. Andrew Boyd and Gary Brown joined from Latham & Watkins in March 2016.

JPMorgan and PetroRio are clients of Vinson & Elkins RLLP’s practice, which reflects the firm’s strength in the energy and natural resources sectors. Jeff Eldredge, who co-heads the department with Alex Msimang, has been assisting Albright Capital Management, as part of a consortium, in the take-private transaction of APR Energy. François Feuillat’s move to Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP was offset by the arrival of Paul Dunbar from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP.

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