United States > Finance > Commercial lending > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings
Index of tables
Commercial lending: advice to borrowers
Commercial lending: advice to lenders
- David Brittenham - Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
- Byung Choi - Ropes & Gray LLP
- James Clark - Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP
- James Cooper - Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
James Cross -
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
- Angela Fontana - Sidley Austin LLP
- Michael Goldman - Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
Marc Hanrahan -
Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP
- Eric Leicht - White & Case LLP
- Linda Myers - Kirkland & Ellis LLP
- F William Reindel - Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP
Patrick Ryan -
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
- Jonathan Schaffzin - Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP
The ‘highly regarded’ team at Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP has a prolific practice acting for the lead arrangers in leveraged loan and acquisition loan transactions. The New York-based team has a wealth of excellent lending practitioners, with James Clark, Adam Dworkin, Michael Sherman, William Hartnett, Douglas Horowitz, Susanna Suh and Jonathan Schaffzin as just some of the key names. It noted a resurgence in corporate transactions and handled multiple headline deals, among which was advising the financing sources (administrative agent, lead arrangers etc.) on various loans related to Dollar Tree’s acquisition of Family Dollar; Sean Davis and Corey Wright led the advice. William Miller assisted Credit Suisse as administrative agent and lead arranger, and five other global banks as arrangers, with a $950m term B-3 loan and $3.6bn term B-4 loan for Albertsons, which helped finance its $9.2bn acquisition of Safeway. Although the firm is closely associated with banks, it also counts some non-bank lenders among its clients, including Jefferies Finance, which Jennifer Ezring advised - as administrative agent and lead arranger - on a $1.5bn credit facility for Epicor Software.
Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP’s New York-based team is ‘at the very top’ for lending work and provides an ‘excellent’ level of service. It has firm relationships with the major banks and is often a first choice for headline work. James Cooper - who ‘knows credit agreements and leveraged loans inside out’ - and Tatiana Lapushchik advised JPMorgan, Mizuho and Wells Fargo on a $36.4bn bridge credit facility and new and replacement terms, as well as revolving credit facilities in excess of $5bn, intended to finance Actavis’ acquisition of Allergan. Other standout matters included assisting Credit Suisse, Citigroup and Deutsche Bank, as agents and arrangers, with $3.2bn of senior secured credit facilities to part finance CPP Investment Board’s acquisition of Antares Capital; Michael Goldman led the advice. A loss for the firm was B. Robbins Kiessling’s retirement in December 2015, but his mantle as a key name for sports financing has been assumed by Stephen Kessing, who in 2015 advised on JPMorgan’s $1.1bn revolving credit facility available to all NBA teams. Its borrower practice is perhaps slightly overshadowed by its market-leading reputation for lender-side work, but in 2015 it handled several big-ticket matters. The ‘fantastic’ Paul Zumbro advised Barnes & Noble and Barnes & Noble Education on a five-year asset-backed revolving credit facility pertaining to the separation of the two businesses. The firm’s presiding partner Allen Parker and George Zobitz are other names to note.
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP’s ‘very versatile team is able to take on all types of financing’. Its lending practice is closely associated with banking clients, stemming in part from the firm’s longstanding relationships with JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley. Key lending mandates include the team’s advice to several financial institutions, as administrative agent and joint lead arrangers, on two highly leveraged consumer deals: the $4.5bn credit facilities provided to Galleria to finance the split-off of certain brands from Procter & Gamble and the related acquisition financing provided to Coty for the purchase of these brands; James Florack and Meyer Dworkin led the advice. Jason Kyrwood assisted several financial institutions, as lead arranger, joint book-runner and administrative agent, with a $12.8bn senior unsecured bridge loan to part finance Walgreens Boots Alliance’s acquisition of Rite Aid. Lawrence Wieman and Joseph Hadley are the mainstays of the borrower practice. Highlights included advice to Ford on amending and restating its existing revolving credit facility, which has an aggregate total of $13.4bn. Bradley Smith retired in 2015.
Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s exceptional borrower practice is largely built off its leading reputation in the private equity and fund formation space, and this is bolstered by an impressive roster of corporate clients. The highly regarded David Brittenham leads the New York-based team, which includes William Beekman, Paul Brusiloff, Jeffrey Ross and recently promoted partner Scott Selinger. The group is frequently entrusted to handle marquee transactions and advised on one of the largest private equity deals of 2015: the financing of CPP Investment Board’s $12bn acquisition of Antares Capital, GE Capital’s sponsor lending business. The firm is traditionally strong in the insurance, healthcare and TMT industries, and it attracted significant work in these sectors again in 2015, including: assisting Stone Point Capital with the financing of its equity investment in Alliant Insurance Services; advising Envision Healthcare on a $1bn senior secured term loan facility intended for the acquisition of Rural/Metro Corporation; and handling the financing of Activision Blizzard’s $5.9bn acquisition of Irish public company King Digital, which involved significant regulatory aspects and was subject to the rules of the Irish Takeover Panel.
‘Top-tier’ firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP’s ‘highly skilled’ and ‘very responsive’ team has a ‘market-leading share in the private equity’ space, with mega-funds Bain Capital, Blackstone and The Carlyle Group among its clients. It is singled out for its ‘terrific market knowledge’, ‘strong business acumen’ and ‘excellent service’. The ‘robust’ practice has an impressive geographical reach, with practitioners in offices on the east and west coasts as well as Houston and Chicago; debt finance practice head, the ‘extremely strong’ Linda Myers, is based in the latter. It primarily handles work on the borrower and sponsor side and its expertise spans large and middle-market transactions. The group has been kept busy advising on acquisition financing, with recent examples including its assistance to Golden Gate Capital with the financing of its $1.2bn purchase of Angus Chemical Company, which included a $505m cross-border term loan; San Francisco-based Samantha Good led the advice. The group often acts for Vista Equity Partners, and among its work for the client in 2015 was a team including Sonali Shah Jindal handling the $3.1bn financing of the $4.3bn take-private acquisition of TIBCO Software. The ‘very experienced’ partners, who are ably supported by some ‘exceptional associates’, also include Michelle Kilkenney and Christopher Butler, who are based in Chicago, David Nemecek in Los Angeles and Jason Kanner and Eric Wedel in New York.
Latham & Watkins LLP has an exceptionally broad practice, handling deals across the value spectrum. As well as routinely advising its premier banking clients on upper and middle-market lending, it is increasingly attracting work from non-traditional lenders in the middle market. Daniel Seale (who was appointed global co-chair in July 2015, taking over from Michèle Penzer who is now managing partner of the New York office) led a cross-border team advising Barclays, as agent and arranger, on financing related to Platform Specialty Products’ acquisitions of Chemtura AgroSolutions and Arysta LifeScience. Other highlights included assisting Citibank, as administrative agent and joint lead arranger, with a $4.5bn revolving credit facility for Halliburton pertaining to its acquisition of Baker Hughes; this was one of the largest financings handled by the Houston team. Scott Gottdiener works closely with Jefferies, and at the end of 2014 he advised the client, as agent and arranger, on financing in excess of $1.9bn provided to Thoma Bravo for its acquisition of Compuware. Key highlights on the borrower side included the Washington DC team advising Avago Technologies on the $19bn financing used for its $37bn acquisition of Broadcom. Its middle-market offering is primarily based out of its Chicago office, which was bolstered in 2015 by the arrival of three partners from Sidley Austin LLP. David Crumbaugh in Chicago and Los Angeles-based Andrew Fayé are also key names in the team. John Mendez retired in 2015.
The ‘exceptional’ team at Ropes & Gray LLP, which has ‘top-notch’ capabilities acting for both sponsors and borrowers, stands out not just for its ‘huge deal flow’, but also its ability to ‘make things happen’ and ‘drive a great outcome with the banks’. The team is split across the firm’s Boston and New York offices and has a ‘deep bench’, which includes Jay Kim, Byung Choi and Michael Lee; the trio stand out for their ‘fantastic level of creativity’ and ability to ‘persuade opposing counsel’. Recent deals include assisting Surgery Center, an H.I.G. Capital portfolio company, with structuring and obtaining $1.36bn of first and second lien financing to fund the acquisition of Symbion, which was handled by Stefanie Birkmann, and advising GT Advanced Technologies on a debtor-in-possession term loan facility, where Alexander Zeltser took the lead. The group’s work on the lender side, where Alyson Gal Allen is a key name, has evolved from its funds practice, and its reputation in the direct lending space was strengthened further in 2015 by the arrival of Joanne De Silva from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP. Highlights included its advice to MAST Capital Management and other financial institutions, as the majority lenders, on an out-of-court restructuring of SONIFI Solutions’ $350m term loan facilities. Steven Rutkovsky, Sunil Savkar and recently promoted partner Jason Serlenga are also recommended.
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP is lauded as a ‘true partner’ to clients and is a recognized name for both borrower and lender work, and it particularly stands out for its expertise in high-grade acquisition finance. The US practice is able to tap into the firm’s wider resources - which includes a presence in most of the world’s financial centers - to handle complex cross-border financings, and over the course of 2015 Brian Steinhardt frequently partnered with the firm’s London office to act for borrowers. In a notable example, he advised Apax Partners on the €730m financing of its acquisition of the Netherlands-headquartered Exact Software. Other highlights for Steinhardt included assisting Walgreens Boots Alliance with the financing of its acquisition of Rite Aid, which was especially notable as the borrower devised the terms prior to approaching the financiers. Also on the borrower side, James Cross handled the financing of Sterling Partners’ $925m acquisition of eBay Enterprise and Alden Millard advised on the financing of TeamHealth’s $1.6bn acquisition of IPC Healthcare. On the lender side, it acts almost exclusively for the arrangers on syndicated acquisition financings, and practice head Patrick Ryan was part of a team advising the joint lead arrangers and joint book-runners on providing a $2bn revolving credit facility and a $3.8bn term loan to Neptune Finco Corp., a subsidiary of Altice, which were used, in part, to finance Altice’s acquisition of Cablevision. Justin Lungstrum, William Sheehan, James Knight, Alexandra Kaplan and Washington DC-based Christopher Brown are also key names in the team. Named attorneys are based in New York except where otherwise stated.
White & Case LLP’s ‘entire team is top notch with a collective grouping of some of the best partners on the Street’ supported by an ‘extremely talented and deep bench’ and its ‘advice can make the difference between a dead deal and big deal’. On the lender side, where it has ‘an unrivaled bank finance practice’ and handles a preponderance of cross-border matters, highlights included advising administrative agent Deutsche Bank and six joint lead arrangers on a $3bn multi-currency revolving facility and a £3.3bn bridge term loan facility for Ball Corporation’s $6.9bn takeover bid for Rexam. The firm generates a high percentage of its work in the middle market and ‘top lawyer’ Scott Zemser led advice to Bank of America and Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith on a cross-border $660m term loan acquisition facility provided to Mitel US and a $50m revolving credit facility provided to Mitel Networks and Mitel US. Its borrower work included assisting Anthem with a $26.5bn bridge loan intended to part finance the $48.3bn acquisition of Cigna. Eric Leicht, who is the head of the firm’s Americas banking practice, has that ‘scarce combination of experience, technical expertise and common sense needed to consistently and efficiently structure, negotiate and close complex secured acquisition and other bank financings’. David Bilkis, the ‘fantastically consistent’ Jake Mincemoyer, the recently promoted David Ridley and the dual-qualified Alan Rockwell are other ‘standout’ names.
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP has a strong track record in borrower-side work and confirms its status as a go-to firm for large strategic financings. Headline matters included its advice to Actavis on the $40.2bn financing of its acquisition of Allergan, which involved practitioners across its US and European offices and also included debt and equity offerings. It has made a concerted effort in recent years to increase its roster of private equity clients, as evidenced by its recent work for TPG and Warburg Pincus; Meme Peponis led advice to the latter on the financing of its acquisition of a minority stake in Sterigenics, as well as assisting with the $1.2bn financing of its acquisitions of majority stakes in Universal Services of America and Guardsmark. Duane McLaughlin advised a consortium led by TPG and including Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and PAG on financing in excess of $1.1bn for acquiring DTZ and Cassidy Turley; McLaughlin then assisted with $1.4bn of debt financing for DTZ’s $2bn acquisition of Cushman & Wakefield. Amy Shapiro is another key name in the New York-based team.
The ‘outstanding’ Marc Hanrahan leads Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP’s eight-partner team, which grew from within in 2015 with the promotion of Jerome McCluskey. It is widely respected for the strength of its lending practice and receives a stream of work from financial institutions in relation to acquisition finance. In the second half of 2015, the firm closed a $1.9bn acquisition financing package on behalf of the lead arranger and initial purchaser, Credit Suisse, for Greatbatch and its subsidiaries; the dual-qualified Marcus Dougherty led the advice. Other highlights included Lauren Hanrahan’s advice to Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and HSBC on a $579m acquisition financing package for Nord Anglia Education, and Michael Bellucci’s advice to four financial institutions on $1.6bn of debt financing for Sterigenics. Albert Pisa is another name to note in the New York-based team.
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, which has built the cornerstone of its practice on serving private equity clients, is a real force on the borrower side of transactions. The ‘deep bench’ is ‘responsive, business savvy and contextually sensitive’ and is experienced across the breadth of financing methods. Recent highlights include advising Oak Hill Capital Partners on its $840m senior secured credit facility to finance the acquisition of Berlin Packaging; Eric Goodison led on that. In a particularly busy 12 months, Goodison was also instrumental in assisting Spectrum Brands with a $2.4bn multi-currency credit facility used to refinance bank debt and $300m of its outstanding bonds. Elsewhere, Thomas de la Bastide was part of a team handling an $800m senior secured term loan for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt pertaining to the acquisition of Scholastic’s educational, technology and services division. Gregory Ezring, Brad Finkelstein and Brian Kim are other stellar names in the team, which also acts for clients including Apollo Global Management and Silver Point Finance.
Proskauer Rose LLP’s team ‘compares favorably to the competition’ and is singled out for its work in the middle market and its ability to ‘add resources to its legal team as a deal requires’. The practice grew with the arrival of Los Angeles-based Sandra Lee Montgomery from the defunct Bingham McCutchen LLP, who joins a team headed by Stephen Boyko and the ‘exceptional’ Ron Franklin, who stands out for his experience in leveraged financing. Justin Breen advised on several matters for Ares Capital that spanned the value spectrum, including $800m in first and second lien credit facilities for American Seafoods and a $150m unitranche credit facility for Global Franchise Group. Highlights on the borrower side included its advice to Ascena Retail Group on its $1.8bn secured term loan B facility and $600m asset-based revolving credit facility, which was used in connection with its merger with ANN Inc. Steven Ellis, who co-heads the multi-tranche finance practice, is ‘extremely commercial’ and a ‘tremendous asset’. Vincenzo Lucibello was promoted to the partnership in 2015. Named attorneys are based in the firm’s Boston and New York offices, except where otherwise stated.
Shearman & Sterling LLP’s team ‘has a superior understanding of market precedents and delivers competitive, value-added service’. The largely bank-side practice ‘works with a broad range of lenders and can provide valuable insights into new trends and alternative solutions’; key clients include Barclays and JPMorgan. The firm is often sought out to advise on sponsor-backed M&A, and in 2015 Joshua Thompson led a cross-office team advising the administrative agent, as well as the joint lead arrangers and joint book-runners, on a $5.8bn and €3.5bn 364-day senior loan to finance GTECH’s acquisition of International Game Technology. In the second half of 2015, Maura O’Sullivan advised JPMorgan Chase as administrative agent on the high-profile spin-off transaction of Madison Square Gardens’ sports business. Pure play borrower practitioner Gus Atiyah, who splits his time between the firm’s New York and Washington DC offices, led advice to CVS Health on a $13bn bridge facility to finance its acquisition of Omnicare and, separately, a revolving credit facility. Jason White is recommended for high-grade acquisition financing and Michael Steinberg and Jonathan DeSantis are also noted names. The firm bolstered its structured finance practice with the hire of counsel Charles Thompson from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP in May 2015.
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP is recommended for its cross-border capability and its strength across borrower and lender mandates. Daniel Dokos, head of the firm’s global finance practice, and lawyers from the firm’s London office advised a consortium of nine banks, as arrangers, on a £1.25bn credit facility to refinance the existing debt of RAC, and to finance GIC’s acquisition of a stake in RAC. The group has a sizeable roster of borrower clients, ranging from large corporates to major PE houses, including General Electric, Genstar Capital and Brookfield Asset Management. Douglas Urquhart, head of the firm’s US practice, handled several financing matters for GE related to its plan to sell substantially all of GE Capital’s assets, and Andrew Colao assisted OMERS Private Equity with over $1bn secured multi-currency credit facilities to part finance the acquisition of Kenan Advantage Group and Kenan Canada GP. Allison Liff, Andrew Yoon, Morgan Bale and Dallas-based Courtney Marcus are other names to note.
Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP’s ‘strong’ team is valued for its ‘responsiveness’ and ‘perspective on the market’. It is highly regarded for work in the leveraged finance space and has a noteworthy practice acting for private equity sponsors, as evidenced by its advice to Permira Funds and the CPP Investment Board on obtaining the financing of its acquisition of Informatica, which was one of the highest-profile leveraged buyouts to take place in 2015; J Christian Nahr, who has a ‘practical approach’, led that advice. Practice head F William Reindel, a specialist in fund level financing, has a strong relationship with Goldman Sachs, and he and newly promoted partner Caroline Sandberg advised the client and its mezzanine loan funds on purchasing $150m of senior unsecured floating rate notes issued by Aspen Dental to finance American Securities’ purchase of the company. The firm’s commitment to further strengthen its commercial lending practice is evident in its hire of Julian Chung (‘diligent, thorough and addresses the issues that need to be addressed quickly’) from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP; Chung is tasked with developing the firm’s relationship with investment banks. In 2015, the firm also promoted Mark Hayek and Jan Sysel to partner. The ‘excellent’ Viktor Okasmaa is another name to note in the New York-based team.
The largely borrower-focused team at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP advised on several multibillion-dollar acquisition financing deals in 2015, including St. Jude Medical’s purchase of Thoratec Corporation, where Aaron Adams took the lead advising on a $3.7bn senior unsecured bridge facility commitment and a $2.6bn senior unsecured term loan facility. Joerg Esdorn receives a flow of work from Lone Star that spans the volume spectrum; recent matters include advising on a bridge facility in excess of $6.1bn for the $7.6bn acquisition of Home Properties. In late 2014, Los Angeles-based Linda Curtis handled the financing of AECOM’s $6bn acquisition of URS. Other notable highlights included the firm’s assistance to Hewlett-Packard regarding a $5bn delayed draw term loan facility, which part financed its acquisition of Aruba Networks and its subsequent separation into two public companies; Darius Mehraban led the advice. Individuals are based in the firm’s New York office unless otherwise stated.
Jones Day’s ‘solid team of seasoned lawyers’ provides a ‘superb’ level of service, impresses with its ‘global reach’ and ‘addresses business needs first before providing legal advice’. The team has a strong Midwest presence and is jointly headed by Chicago-based Robert Graves; New York-based Brett Barragate is the other practice head. The firm has a well-established borrower practice and acts for an impressive number of Fortune 500 companies and private equity clients. Notable highlights on the borrower side included its advice to Southern Company on $8.1bn of financing related, in part, to the acquisition of AGL Resources, and its assistance to Enable Midstream Partners with a $1.7bn five-year unsecured syndicated revolving credit facility. The group has made a concerted effort to grow its lender practice since the early 2000s and is a ‘good value proposition for middle-market transactions’. It is regularly sought out by KeyBank, and 2015 highlights include advising on a $700m senior unsecured term loan provided to The Cooper Companies. Other individuals singled out in the team include Boston-based John Casais, who is ‘solution-oriented’ and the ‘outstanding’ Katherine Ettredge in Dallas.
McGuireWoods LLP’s ‘excellent’ lender-focused practice is built upon the firm’s roots in Charlotte, which is an important banking center. In recent years, the firm has added to its strong bank practice (clients include Bank of America and Wells Fargo) with an increasing number of non-bank clients, such as Capital One and GE Capital. Charlotte-based Raj Natarajan was appointed practice head in the summer of 2015, taking over from Robert Cramer, who remains a key name in the team. The group has a notable strength in auto dealer transactions and recently Manley Roberts advised Bank of America, as administrative agent, lender and letter of credit issuer, and Merrill Lynch, as sole lead arranger, on over $1.2bn of senior secured, syndicated credit facilities for Sonic Automotive.
Paul Hastings LLP has an excellent track record advising lenders and borrowers. The group has a notable energy practice and in 2014 the firm advised the joint book-runners and joint lead arrangers on the financing of Apollo’s $2bn acquisition of Encana’s Bighorn assets. In late 2013, the firm assisted WH Group with obtaining $4bn in debt financing to fund its acquisition of Smithfield Foods. Los Angeles-based Jennifer Yount, who heads the finance and restructuring practice, and William Schwitter, who is the firm’s chair of leveraged finance, are the key names.
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP’s team, which primarily operates from its New York office, is highly regarded for its borrower-side work. The practice has a solid track record in the health sector and Steven Messina, in conjunction with the firm’s M&A and tax departments, led advice to Centene on acquisition financing for its purchase of Health Net, which included over $3.6bn of bridge and bank financing. Stephanie Teicher handled a flow of acquisition and bank debt financing work for Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, including assisting with the financing of its $15.8bn acquisition of Salix. Other high-profile matters included Sarah Ward advising Frontier Communications on financing its $10.5bn acquisition of wireline assets from Verizon Communications. Lending mandates included advising Morgan Stanley Senior Funding, as lead arranger, on a $2.1bn senior secured credit facility to finance Dialog Semiconductor’s $4.6bn acquisition of Atmel Corporation. Thomas Gowan retired in 2015.
Bracewell LLP distinguishes itself with its work in the energy financing sector, where it has notable expertise in the upstream space. An example of this was practice head Dewey Gonsoulin Jr advising Denbury Resources on obtaining a $3.5bn revolving credit facility. The firm’s core team works from its Houston office, but also includes New York-based Kristen Campana and Robin Miles; the latter handled several deals for clients operating in the midstream market, including advising Targa Resources on upsizing its existing credit facility. Non energy-related work accounts for around 25% of the group’s workload; an example was the ‘responsive’ Kate Day advising the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs on a $132m secured revolving credit facility and a $68m secured term loan. Highlights on the lender side included assisting JPMorgan Chase, as administrative agent, with a $750m unsecured revolving credit facility for Cameron International; Heather Brown led the advice. Stephanie Koo Song is also recommended.
DLA Piper LLP (US)’s ‘value is primarily in the breadth of knowledge and experience of its lawyers’ and it provides an ‘excellent’ level of service. It has an impressive mix of bank and also non-regulated lender clients, where it has made significant inroads in recent years. Recent work includes Jamie Knox advising Wind Point Partners on a $1.2bn first and second lien credit facility for its portfolio company, Novolex, for Novelex’s acquisition of Packaging Dynamics and refinancing existing debt; this was unusual as a non-regulated lender was involved alongside a syndicate of banks. The group has notable strength in the technology sector, where it counts Silicon Valley Bank as a client; a recent highlight was advising on a $50m recurring revenue line of credit, senior term loan and mezzanine term loan to Workfront; Matt Schwartz led the advice. The ‘extremely capable’ Troy Zander ‘prioritizes clients’ best interests’ and Brian Doyle is also recommended.
Dechert LLP has a strong pedigree for acting for direct lending financiers, particularly in the middle market. It is adept at handling restructurings and Scott Zimmerman advised a second lien steering group, as the second lien agent, on restructuring Edmentum’s equity and debt capital structure. The team is equally skilled advising banking clients, and Philadelphia-based Sarah Gelb led a team serving as drafting counsel to the lead lenders on the financing of CPP Investment Board’s acquisition of the Antares business platform. Jeffrey Katz is a key name on the borrower side, where the firm's clients include Bregal Partners and B&G Foods. Lending specialist Jay Alicandri is also recommended.
The core of the lending work at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP is for leading private equity clients, and it has a niche expertise in the junior capital space. Michael Jacobson, who leads the ‘outstanding’ team from the firm’s Chicago office, where the bulk of the team is based, is valued for his deep knowledge and strength in the middle market. The group handled several matters for asset management company Victory Park, which included advising on $300m of debt financing for AvantCredit and, separately, a second lien financing. In a rare foray into the upper middle market, New York-based Angela Batterson advised GE Antares Capital on a $1.3bn senior credit facility for NOVOLEX. Derek Ladgenski is recommended for his ability to ‘focus on the material aspects of each transaction’.
Mayer Brown primarily operates in the middle-market space, but will on occasion handle multibillion-dollar financings for borrowers and lenders. For example, it advised Whirlpool in late 2014 on two syndicated revolving credit facilities: a $2bn facility under a long-term credit agreement and a $1bn facility under a 364-day credit agreement; New York partners David Duffee and Adam Wolk led the advice. The pair subsequently advised Whirlpool and its subsidiaries on a $500m 364-day senior revolving credit facility. The team routinely handles work in the energy space, and individuals from the Houston team assisted the Royal Bank of Canada, as administrative and collateral agent, on refinancing Sanchez Production Partners’ $500m secured syndicated credit facility. Douglas Doetsch, who is based across the firm’s Chicago and New York offices, leads the team, which has grown laterally through the hires of Frederick Fisher in Chicago and Washington DC-based Andrew Young, who joined from Greenberg Traurig, LLP and K&L Gates respectively. It is a key name for Latin America financing and it bolstered this practice further in 2015 by opening a satellite office in Mexico City.
McDermott Will & Emery LLP has strong credentials in healthcare financing, where it features prominently on the side of borrowers. Los Angeles-based Gary Rosenbaum was part of a team handling a $750m senior unsecured revolving credit facility for healthcare company Premier, while Michael Boykins, who jointly heads the team with Rosenbaum, played a key role in assisting health insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida with refinancing a $500m revolving credit facility. The team has also done a lot of work with key private equity client H.I.G. Capital, including handling the financing of the acquisition of ATX Networks. Private equity-related work is an area the firm is looking to grow, as evidenced by its hire of former Kirkland & Ellis LLP attorneys Stephanie McCann and Kathy Schumacher in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
Sidley Austin LLP has a longstanding reputation for its work on behalf of lenders, but in recent years the practice has diversified, with Dallas-based Angela Fontana at the forefront of the firm’s efforts to develop its work on behalf of borrowers and sponsors. In Houston, Herschel Hamner advised Hunt Oil Company on a $1.7bn revolving credit facility and, on the lender side, assisted JPMorgan with a revolving credit facility in excess of $2.2bn for oil and gas service company Weatherford International. Other standout matters included the firm’s advice to General Electric on the financing aspects of the sale of its sponsor finance business and bank loan portfolio. Robert Lewis and Mark Kirsons in Chicago and Kelly Dybala in Dallas are other key names in the team, which was boosted by the arrivals of media and entertainment financing specialist Richard Petretti in Los Angeles and Houston-based Robert Stephens, who focuses on oil and gas, from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP respectively.
An exceptional reputation for corporate matters ensures Sullivan & Cromwell LLP receives a raft of high-profile mandates from major borrowers. The team, which is primarily based in New York but also includes Dennis Sullivan in the firm’s Washington DC office, grew from within in January 2016 with the promotion of Ari Blaut to partner. The practice, which dovetails with the firm’s market-leading capital markets team, advised Concordia Healthcare on financing related to its acquisition of Covis’ drug portfolio, which included a $575m term loan and a $125m revolving loan, as well as, on the capital markets side, an offering of unsecured senior notes; John Estes led the advice. Other highlights included Robert Downes and Robert Reeder advising MSG Networks on financing the spin-off of its sports and entertainment business.
Winston & Strawn LLP provides an ‘exceptional’ service for an array of lending clients operating primarily in the middle market, and stands out for its ‘great wealth of knowledge regarding market terms’. Highlights included advising BMO Harris Bank, as agent, on the financing for the acquisition of Ring & Pinion Service, which included revolver, term and working capital term loans, and assisting Wells Fargo with an asset-based revolving credit facility for Waste Pro USA, which included a ‘first-in last-out’ loan. The team is headed by Patrick Hardiman, Ronald Jacobson and New York-based Mats Carlston, and also includes James Snyder, who clients ‘trust and enjoy working with’. Individuals are based in Chicago except where otherwise stated.
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP strengthened its practice with the arrival of a sizable team from Bingham McCutchen LLP, including Edwin Smith (‘an absolute fount of knowledge’) in Boston and Thomas Mellor (‘always conducts himself with the utmost professionalism’) and Frederick Eisenbiegler in New York. Eisenbiegler is especially highly regarded for unitranche transactions, and at his previous firm he advised sole lead arranger GSO Capital Partners and affiliates of GSO Capital as lenders on a $425m split collateral unitranche loan for a regional waste collection services provider. Transactional finance practice head Marshall Stoddard Jr, who has extensive experience in technology transactions, led advice to HSBC Bank USA, as administrative agent, on a $600m senior secured revolving credit facility for Micron Semiconductor Products and Micron Technology, which includes an option to increase the facility by up to $200m.
Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP enters the ranking for the first time in recognition of the impressive work it has handled for its roster of borrower clients. Among this was its work during the second half of 2015 for Teva Pharmaceuticals, where it handled several financing transactions related to the acquisition of Allergan’s generic pharmaceuticals business, including a financing commitment in excess of $33.7bn and an agreement for a $27bn bridge term loan; William Hiller and Jeffrey Goldfarb led the advice. Hiller and Michael Zinder head the team, which recently brought Michael Niebruegge over to its Houston office from Bracewell LLP; Niebruegge is ‘well respected by energy bankers’.