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  1. Merger control
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The six partners and 40 associates in Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP’s antitrust team handle the full range of cross-border merger clearance matters in cooperation with the firm’s European and global competition practice. The firm has advised on significant domestic and global transactions of late, including assisting Google secure global antitrust clearance as part of its sale of Motorola Mobility to Lenovo Group. In another highlight, Mark Leddy and Leah Brannon acted as counsel to Coca-Cola in its acquisition of an equity stake in Monster Beverage Corporation. The firm was also involved in ‘a real game changer for M&A’, as described by The Telegraph, representing GlaxoSmithKline in securing global antitrust clearance for its multibillion-dollar three-part transaction with Novartis. Mark Nelson, Brian Byrne and the former deputy director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, George Cary, are the key partners. Jeremy Calsyn is also noted. Michael Lazerwitz in New York retired as partner and became senior counsel in early 2015. All attorneys are based in Washington DC except where noted otherwise.

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP’s antitrust and competition group works closely with the M&A department, representing clients in a variety of industries in US and cross-border transactions. Recently, the group advised Citigroup on the sale of its OneMain business to Springleaf Holdings in an all-cash transaction. In another highlight, the firm provided merger clearance advice to global media and technology company Comcast in connection with its acquisition of start-up firm FreeWheel Media, headquartered in Silicon Valley. Michael Sohn (‘highly regarded’) and Arthur Burke advised software solutions provider Blackbaud on its approximately $160m acquisition of MicroEdge. Healthcare services provider Symbion sought out the firm to assist with its $792m purchase by Surgery Partners. Stephen Pepper went to Greenberg Traurig, LLP. Litigator Ronan Harty heads the department.

Dechert LLP’s US antitrust practice, which operates across 13 offices, continues to be active on large and complex deals, among them 15 transactions worth more than $1bn. ‘Very good lawyerPaul Denis took the lead in securing FTC clearance for the $9.4bn merger of Albertsons and Safeway. In another highlight, James Fishkin was part of the team advising Dollar Tree on its $8.5bn acquisition of Family Dollar, two of the largest discount merchandise store chains in the US. The group also represented Fibertech in its sale to Lightower, which turned two leading independent providers of fiber optic cables in the Northeast into a Northeast and Mid-Atlantic powerhouse. Philadelphia-based George Gordon and Michael Weiner in New York head the department. Craig Falls was promoted to partner, and trial lawyer Steven Bizar joined the firm’s Philadelphia office after leaving Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney. Since publication, Ethan Litwin joined from Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP.

With a ‘high level of industry knowledge’, Jones Day provides ‘very practical guidance’ in the area of merger clearance. In the past year, the team was involved in more than 150 complex cross-border transactions, including acting as antitrust counsel to appliance manufacturer Electrolux in its ultimately unsuccessful attempt to purchase the appliances business of General Electric for $3.3bn; the DOJ filed a lawsuit to block the acquisition in a rare example of a litigated merger case. David Wales, the firm’s global leader of antitrust and competition law, assisted Procter & Gamble with the merger of its 43 hair care and cosmetics brands with beauty products manufacturer Coty. Another highlight saw the firm represent DirecTV Group in the antitrust aspects of its approved acquisition by AT&T. The firm added Newell Rubbermaid and Carlyle Group to its client roster. Peter Love is recommended for his ‘great enthusiasm’; Craig Waldman is ‘incredibly smart and pragmatic’; and of counsel Phillip Proger is an ‘excellent attorney’. Joe Sims has retired.

From its offices in New York, Washington DC and Palo Alto, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP handles merger clearance matters as part of large, complex transactions. Its client roster includes LafargeHolcim, Lorillard and JPMorgan Chase. Recently, the firm assisted Office Depot with its proposed sale to Staples, against which the FTC filed a complaint seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to challenge the merger; this action is currently being contested by Staples and Office Depot. In another highlight, Kevin Arquit and Sara Razi acted for Dutch retailer Ahold in connection with its announced merger of equals with Delhaize Group, a transaction that is expected to be completed by mid-2016. Peter Thomas in Washington DC and Peter Guryan represented NXP Semiconductors in a merger with Freescale Semiconductor. Arquit and Reilly head the department, which recently lost Joseph Tringali to retirement. Except where otherwise noted, all attorneys are based in New York. Since publication, Matthew Reilly has moved to Kirkland & Ellis LLP.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is a ‘very good antitrust firm’, according to sources. The department, headed by New York-based Clifford Aronson and Washington DC-based Steven Sunshine, handles some of the most high-profile merger cases, most typically for clients in the technology, energy, manufacturing, financial services, healthcare and life sciences industries. Specialty healthcare company Endo International sought out the team to assist with the $1.6bn sale of American Medical Systems’ men’s health business to Boston Scientific. Other clients in this sector include Hospira, Valeant and Becton Dickinson. The group also represented consumer finance company Springleaf Holdings in its acquisition of OneMain Financial. Aronson is recommended.

The Washington DC-based practice at Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP fields 40 antitrust partners and represents clients in a considerable number of complex and high-profile merger-related matters. The list of clients includes AT&T, BP and Cisco. Another prominent client is General Electric, which the firm advised on its $13.6bn acquisition of Alstom, the planned but unsuccessful $3.3bn sale of its appliances business to Electrolux, and the $20bn-$25bn sale of real estate assets worldwide to acquirers such as Wells Fargo and Blackstone. Recently promoted partner Michael B Bernstein acted for Boston Scientific in its $1.6bn acquisition of American Medical Systems’ urology portfolio from Endo. Jonathan Gleklen heads the firm’s antitrust and competition department. Peter Levitas and Richard Rosen are also noted.

The level of service at New York firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP is ‘fantastic’, according to clients. The antitrust group handles contentious work and cartel-related matters but is mostly known for its involvement in merger clearance cases. Practice head Christine Varney, a former US assistant attorney general for antitrust and a former commissioner of the FTC, ‘gives clear, concise answers’. Active clients include Delhaize Group, Unilever and British American Tobacco. In a particularly complex and challenging matter, the group acted for Mylan in antitrust issues regarding its $5.6bn acquisition of Abbott Laboratories’ non-US developed markets specialty and branded generics business. The firm also assisted Anheuser-Busch InBev with antitrust issues regarding its $107.7bn acquisition of SABMiller. Julie North is now focusing on antitrust regulatory clearance after spending many years as a litigation partner.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP’s antitrust team includes many attorneys with experience working at the US government enforcement agencies, affording it additional insight in representations before the FTC, DOJ and state attorneys general. It is also well versed in many foreign jurisdictions. The group handles a large number of transactions each year, most notably for companies in the healthcare, energy and hi-tech sectors. In the FTC’s fiscal year ending in September 2015, the firm filed more than 200 Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) notifications. As an example, it represented Charter Communications in its proposed $55bn acquisition of Time Warner Cable. In another highlight, the team provided regulatory guidance to Danaher in its acquisition of water filtration systems producer Pall Corporation. Chicago-based James Mutchnik is the firm’s key antitrust partner. Mark Kovner and Ian Conner in Washington DC are noted. Since publication, Matthew Reilly has joined from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP.

Latham & Watkins LLP’s team, which in the US includes 25 partners and counsel, has had an active and successful year in the merger control arena. It often works closely with its colleagues in London, Brussels, Hong Kong and Tokyo, and earns praise for being ‘very responsive to clients’ needs’ and doing ‘an excellent job’. By way of example, the team advised Allergan on its $73bn sale to Actavis, one of the largest global M&A deals of 2015, which created one of the largest pharmaceutical companies worldwide. Amanda Reeves in Washington DC and Joshua Holian acted for online travel booking firm Orbitz Worldwide in its $1.6bn sale to Expedia. Michael Egge in Washington DC is ‘incredibly knowledgeable and practical’, and Hanno Kaiser is considered a ‘brilliant attorney’. Jason Cruise in Washington DC was promoted to partner, while Marguerite Sullivan began a two-year tenure in the firm’s Brussels office. Al Pfeiffer and Christopher Yates serve as the department’s global chairs. All attorneys are based in San Francisco unless otherwise stated.

Sidley Austin LLP is ‘among the very best firms when it comes to representing clients trying to get deals cleared by the DOJ and the FTC’, according to sources. Forty-five partners are spread across offices in Washington DC, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Palo Alto. The firm acted for AT&T in the antitrust aspects of its $48.5bn acquisition of DirecTV, creating the largest pay-TV provider in the US. The group also handled all regulatory clearances for Cobra Electronics in connection with its acquisition by Monomoy Capital Partners II. Former FTC general counsel William Blumenthal has ‘all the institutional knowledge to deal with the agencies’ and ‘avoids expensive dead ends’. Blumenthal co-heads the practice with San Francisco-based Marie Fiala, Joel Mitnick in New York and John Treece in Chicago. ‘Smart and practicalKen Glazer is also recommended. Karen Kazmerzak, a former FTC attorney, was promoted to partner. All attorneys are based in Washington DC except where stated otherwise.

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP shows ‘commercial understanding’ and brings ‘real strength of experience in US merger requirements’. Operating out of offices in New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles and Palo Alto, the team handles matters in all areas of antitrust. In the merger clearance arena, Steven Holley represented Kraft in its merger agreement with Heinz, a transaction worth $55bn. He also acted for Alcatel-Lucent in its acquisition by Nokia. Yvonne Quinn assisted Bright House Networks in its pending three-way merger agreement with Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable in order to create an $80bn cable company.

M&A powerhouse Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz fields an antitrust team of five partners and several other attorneys, and is experienced representing clients before the DOJ, the FTC, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, state attorneys general and foreign antitrust enforcement authorities. The New York-based firm’s client base is diverse but there is a tendency towards financial institutions, energy, media, hi-tech and telecoms. Joseph Larson represented Expedia in its acquisition of Orbitz Worldwide, while David Schwartz acted for Pfizer in connection with its planned $190bn combination with Allergan, which if successful will be the second-largest M&A deal on record. Ilene Gotts handled work for Visa, Mallinckrodt and Charter Communications, and was also involved in National Geographic Society’s sale of its media business to a joint venture between National Geographic Society and 21st Century Fox. Damian Didden and Nelson Fitts are also noted.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP has an ‘excellent team’ that includes several attorneys who used to work for government antitrust agencies. It advises many clients in the electronics, healthcare and life sciences sectors. Practice head Steven Newborn, a former director of litigation at the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, has a ‘very good reputation’ in the field and is ‘easy to follow’; he recently represented medical device company Biomet in the antitrust review of its divestiture to rival Zimmer Holdings, a transaction worth $13.4bn. Also involved in the matter was the recommended Steven Bernstein, a former assistant director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition. The group advised Actavis on its purchase of Allergan and continues to represent the new company in various deals. Jeffrey Perry and Ann Malester are also noted. All mentioned attorneys are based in Washington DC.

Baker Botts L.L.P. handles a steady flow of merger clearance work, often as part of cross-border transactions. Oilfield services company Halliburton retained the firm to assist with antitrust issues surrounding its $34.6bn acquisition of Baker Hughes, with Sean Boland, Paul Cuomo and Thomas Fina taking the lead. Another client is Israel Chemicals, which owns the exclusive mineral rights for the Dead Sea. Stephen Weissman, a former deputy director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, rejoined the firm, and now co-chairs the US antitrust practice with John Taladay. The lawyers mentioned are all based in Washington DC.

Complex merger review makes up a significant part of Covington & Burling LLP’s antitrust practice. The firm handles work for a range of clients, but it has special expertise in relation to life sciences, technology, and privacy and data security. Recently, the group secured an important victory for Expedia in its $1.6bn acquisition of Orbitz, with Thomas Barnett and Anne Lee acting as lead partners. Highly regarded Deborah Garza represented Steel Partners Holdings in the sale of Arlon to Rogers Corporation, obtaining HSR clearance without a second request. Other key clients include Facebook and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP’s antitrust group is known for its ‘pragmatic approach and good understanding of the regulatory environment’. Headed by the recommended Paul Yde, it has seen an upsurge in deals triggering scrutiny by the DOJ, the FTC, state attorneys general and foreign regulators. Yde and counsel Mary Lehner advised global drinks can maker Rexam on the merger control aspects of its $6.35bn takeover by US competitor Ball Corporation. Intel is another major client. Tom Ensign is also noted.

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP’s ‘top-notch’ team is especially known for its ‘insightful merger clearance advice’. Recent work includes acting as counsel to Interline Brands, a portfolio company of Goldman Sachs and P2 Capital Partners, in its takeover by Home Depot. Media General and New Mountain Capital are two other key clients. ‘Well-respected’ global antitrust chair Bernard Nigroprovides specific, practical advice’; other key partners include Richard Park and New York-based Nathaniel Asker.

Hogan Lovells US LLP’s team has ‘deep experience in navigating the regulatory environment’. Practice head Janet McDavid and Logan Breed represented SABMiller in its agreed $120bn takeover by AB InBev, which, if successful, will be the fourth-largest M&A transaction in corporate history. In another highlight, McDavid, Joseph Krauss and New York-based senior adviser Rachel Brandenburger assisted rail transport company Alstom with US, EU and global antitrust issues related to the sale of its power businesses to General Electric. Its clients also include IBM and British American Tobacco. All attorneys are based in Washington DC unless stated otherwise.

With a sizeable group in Chicago and additional strength in Washington DC and Houston, McDermott Will & Emery LLP has a substantial US antitrust team, with a focus on merger clearance. The firm stands out as one of the premier healthcare firms in the US, representing a large number of hospitals and biotech and pharmaceutical companies. The group successfully acted for Impax Laboratories in connection with its acquisition of Tower Holding, including several operating subsidiaries. Antitrust all-rounder Michelle Lowery, who divides her time between Chicago and Los Angeles, was promoted to partner. Raymond Jacobsen Jr heads the antitrust and competition department, and Jon Dubrow is noted.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP’s ‘fantastic’ team fields ‘good people with a broad range of deal experience’, such as Willard Tom, a former FTC general counsel. The group has a presence in Washington DC, New York, Boston, Philadelphia and California and is still in an expansion phase following the arrival, in late 2014, of almost 30 attorneys from the defunct Bingham McCutchen, which also brought a large number of new clients, such as Sumitomo Rubber Industries. New York-based Harry Robins, who heads the practice, represented eBay in the sale of its e-commerce business to Permira and Sterling Partners. Scott Stempel and Leiv Blad are the other key partners in the department. Frank Hinman left the firm in early 2016.

Clients are ‘happy with the antitrust services provided’ at Shearman & Sterling LLP. Department head Beau Buffier and Washington DC-based Heather Kafele successfully represented online real estate company Zillow Group before the FTC in relation to its $3.5bn acquisition of competitor Trulia. Jessica Delbaum is recommended for her ‘flexibility and depth of knowledge’. Albemarle and Sun Pharmaceuticals are other notable clients. All named lawyers are based in New York unless noted otherwise.

Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati is ‘doing a great job’ in merger clearance, according to sources. The team has extensive government experience: Susan Creighton is a former director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, while Mark Rosman served as a trial lawyer at the DOJ. The firm has obtained favorable agency reviews of proposed mergers for many high-profile clients, for example Coca-Cola and Google.

The bulk of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP’s antitrust team is based in Washington DC, with additional attorneys working in the firm’s New York office. The group handles high-profile merger clearance matters for an illustrious client base, which includes Microsoft, Eli Lilly and Getty Images. Practice head Charles Rule and Andrew Forman advised Salix Pharmaceuticals on its $15.8bn sale to Valeant. Jonathan Kanter is another key partner.

Cooley LLP’s 22-strong antitrust group is recommended for being ‘extremely pragmatic and responsive’. With offices in Washington DC and California, the firm handles merger clearance mainly for clients in the automotive, hi-tech and life sciences industries. Jacqueline Grise acted for NetScout Systems, a provider of network performance management products, in its $2.6bn acquisition of the communications business of Danaher. Practice head Howard Morse, Francis Fryscak in Palo Alto and Marc Schildkraut are recommended.

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s antitrust team advises a range of clients in a range of industries on the antitrust issues pertaining to transactions, with a focus on the healthcare sector. Representing pharmaceuticals developer Lannett in its acquisition of Kremers Urban Pharmaceutical is a case in point. The firm continues to work for Amazon and Toyota. Gary Kubek and Daniel Abuhoff head the antitrust team.

A beacon in cartel investigations, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP also represents companies under merger review, with a considerable number of clients seeking out the firm specifically for its expertise in this area. The group, which has a presence in Washington DC, Texas and California, represents companies in the hi-tech, energy, healthcare and telecoms sectors. Recently, it assisted AT&T secure clearance for its acquisition of DirecTV. Antitrust co-chair Sean Royall in Dallas and Adam Di Vincenzo in Washington DC are noted.

Linklaters LLP’s ‘top-notch’ competition and antitrust practice has strong expertise in cross-border mergers. A major client is Novartis, which the firm advised on the antitrust aspects of several high-profile transactions, including Thomas McGrath assisting with the sale of its flu vaccines business to CSL. Jeffrey Schmidt in Washington DC ‘puts complex issues into simple language’, and counsel Antonia Sherman is hailed as a ‘Hart-Scott-Rodino guru’. The firm’s cartel expertise was boosted with the arrival of Douglas Tween, formerly of Baker McKenzie LLP.

Morrison & Foerster LLP obtains merger clearance for a considerable number of clients, particularly those operating in the life sciences, financial services and hi-tech industries. Jonathan Gowdy advised Pinnacle Entertainment on the antitrust aspects of Gaming Leisure Properties’ proposed acquisition of its real estate assets for $4.75bn. The list of key clients also includes Fujifilm and Deere & Company. Head of department Stephen Smith is ‘always available to provide quick advice’.

With 16 partners in Washington DC, New York and Boston, Ropes & Gray LLP’s antitrust group obtains merger clearance for clients in various industries, with a focus on health services, pharmaceuticals and the chemical industry. As an example, the firm advised Synageva BioPharma in its sale to Alexion Pharmaceuticals. Counsel Deidre Johnson in Boston serves as the head of the firm’s premerger notification practice. Jonathan Klarfeld and Michael McFalls are two other key partners.

Known primarily for its involvement in high-profile cartel investigations, WilmerHale also frequently handles merger clearance issues. Dual qualified in the US and Germany, Hartmut Schneider is ‘responsive and extremely knowledgeable’. He represented Springer Science+Business Media in obtaining global merger clearance in connection with the creation of a joint venture with most of the science and education division of Holtzbrinck Publishing. Molly Boast and Leon Greenfield are also noted.

Baker McKenzie LLP fields a team of ‘highly responsive’ antitrust lawyers. Lee Van Voorhis, head of the North America antitrust and competition group, has ‘excellent technical knowledge’. He successfully defended Phoebe Putney Health System and Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in a lawsuit brought by the FTC challenging a proposed combination with Palmyra Park Hospital. Darrell Prescott in New York has ‘excellent analytical skills’.

Bracewell LLP’s antitrust group has a strong focus on merger clearance, although it also handles contentious matters. Department head Daniel Hemli in New York recently represented Duke Energy, the largest US electric power holding company, in the sale of its non-regulated Midwest commercial generation business to Dynegy. Casey Low joined Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP.

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