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  1. Energy transactions: conventional power
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Latham & Watkins LLP’s ‘extremely knowledgeable’ practice, which is led by David Kurzweil in New York and David Schwartz in Washington DC, provides ‘exceptional service’ and ‘always goes above and beyond’. Within M&A, the team handles generation and transmission assets: Schwartz and Kurzweil advised a large Spanish utility owned by UIL Holdings on its purchase by Iberdrola to create the $13bn power and utility company, Avangrid, while Kurzweil and fellow New York attorney Paul Kukish acted for Energy Capital Partners III in its purchase of a 15% stake in Dynegy. The team has much experience in high-profile project finance, for which ‘superstarJeffrey Greenberg in Los Angeles is recommended.

Bracewell LLP’s practice is particularly strong in large-scale M&A involving utilities and power generation facilities. New York-based practice head John Klauberg advised Great Plains Energy on its $12.2bn purchase of Westar Energy, while the Houston-based Ryan Holcomb acted for Entergy in its $948m acquisition of the 2GW Union Power Station near El Dorado, Arkansas. The team also handles projects: Stuart Zisman (Houston) advised Tenaska on the development and purchase agreement with Brownsville Public Utilities Board regarding a proposed 800MW power plant in Brownsville, Texas.

M&A and private equity investment are Kirkland & Ellis LLP’s key strengths. The largely Houston-based team, which was particularly busy on the sell side in 2016, has a broad range of power clients, and acted on numerous transactions worth billions of dollars. Andrew Calder advised Energy Future Holdings on its own sale, and the sale of its stake in Oncor Electric Delivery, to NextEra Energy for $18.7bn; other clients include Exelon and Questar. Doug Bacon and Adam Larson joined from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP and Vinson & Elkins LLP respectively. Rhett van Syoc is recommended.

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IP specialist Finnegan detail how their collaborative approach makes for a unique culture which is designed to allow them to work with clients in a way which is cognizant of the challenges facing all companies today.

Project finance is the key pillar of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP’s practice, which is strong on the lender and the sponsor side. The New York-based team also handles project acquisitions and disposals: widely recommended power expert William Bice advised Entegra TC on the $948m sale of the 2GW Union Power Station to Entergy. Daniel Michalchuk advised lenders including MUFG Union Bank on their $1bn development financing of Invenergy’s 1.5GW Lackawanna Energy Center in Pennsylvania. Jonathan Green and Daniel Bartfeld are also recommended.

Since publication, Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP has subsumed the legacy practice of Chadbourne & Parke LLP, which is headed by Rohit Chaudhry and the ‘awesomeKeith Martin in Washington DC. Chaudhry acted for Macquarie Infrastructure Partners in the acquisition and $445m financing of the 940MW Lordstown Energy Center in Ohio. New York-based Howard Seife advised NextEra Energy on its $18.4bn acquisition of Energy Future Holdings (EFH) and EFH’s stake in Oncor Electric Delivery. Other clients include Ullico, AES and Atlantic Power Corporation. Noam Ayali is also recommended.

Mark Weitzel in San Francisco and Blake Winburne in Houston head Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP’s practice, which grew in 2016 via lateral hires from Andrews Kurth Kenyon LLP and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, among other firms. Asset transactions and project finance are the team’s key strengths; Weitzel and New York’s Tara Higgins assisted Energy Investors Funds with the financing of a 700MW power plant in Indiana, and Winburne advised LS Power on its purchase of two Illinois power plants from NRG Energy.

Sidley Austin LLP’s practice is especially strong in M&A, though project finance, power purchase agreements (PPAs) and restructuring are also areas of expertise. New York-based Nicholas Grambas acted for Aboitiz Power in its $1.2bn purchase of a 66% interest in a 604MW power plant and a 40% stake in a 1.3GW power plant, both based in the Philippines; the team also assisted with financing the transaction. Irving Rotter, also in New York, and Ayaz Shaikh in Washington DC advised Macquarie Capital (USA) on its loan to IMG Midstream Power for a power project portfolio financing.

Providing ‘significant strength in depth, sector experience and value for money’, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP’s ‘top-notch’ practice is led from New York by David Lieberman, who ‘resolves complex issues and successfully completes difficult transactions’. The team is adept at M&A, capital markets and lender-side project finance: ‘outstanding, experienced team leader’ Brian Chisling advised ITC Holdings on its $11.3bn sale to Fortis, and Alexandra Kaplan acted for lenders including CIBC in a $1.6bn bridge facility for Algonquin Power & Utilities’ $2.4bn purchase of Empire District Electric.

M&A, capital markets work, project finance and restructuring are strengths of Sullivan & Cromwell LLP’s practice, which is led from New York by M&A specialist Joseph Frumkin and private equity expert George Sampas. Frumkin advised UIL Holdings on its purchase by Iberdrola in the $18bn merger that created Avangrid, and acted for Pepco Holdings in its $6.6bn acquisition by Exelon. The team acts for pipeline owners too, advising Columbia Pipeline Group on its $13bn purchase by TransCanada. Project finance clients include Morgan Stanley and Crédit Agricole.

Arthur Scavone and Miami-based Christian Hansen lead White & Case LLP’s team, which handles M&A, acquisition finance and project finance. John Reiss and Washington DC-based Daniel Hagan and counsel Jane Rueger advised Fortis on its $11.3bn purchase of ITC Holdings, while ‘superstarElena Millerman acted for Beal Bank USA and Jefferies in a $360m loan to Panda Sherman Power to refinance its 758MW energy centre in Sherman, Texas. ‘Very hands-on, practical’ energy M&A expert Michael Shenberg is ‘deeply experienced’. Named attorneys are based in New York except where indicated otherwise.

M&A, PPAs and project development are key strengths of Baker Botts L.L.P.’s department. The ‘incredibly knowledgeable, responsive’ William Lamb in New York, a ‘seasoned’ power expert who heads the practice with Washington DC-based Elaine Walsh, advised Westar Energy on its $12.2bn sale to Great Plains Energy. Jay Ryan (Washington DC) and Michael Didriksen (New York) advised ITC Holdings on the development of the 1GW Lake Erie HVDC transmission line. Other clients include ConEdison Solutions and Engie Energía Chile. ‘Cost-effective, quick and smart’ finance expert Martin Toulouse is based in New York.

Peter Hanlon and Nicholas Politan head Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP’s department out of New York. They are supported by Dallas-based Robert Little, who advised Luminant Holding Company on its $1.6bn purchase of two gas-fueled power plants from La Frontera Ventures. As well as handling large-scale M&A involving renewable and conventional power projects, the firm is strong in project finance: Hanlon assisted Berkshire Hathaway Energy with obtaining a $2bn loan for corporate purposes, and for the activities of its subsidiaries. Evercore Partners is another client.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP’s team, which is led by Washington DC-based Lance Brasher, is particularly active in project finance and M&A, though it also handles PPAs and financial restructuring. Michael Rogan acted for Dynegy in its $3.3bn acquisition, with Energy Capital Holdings, of Engie North America’s fossil electric generation portfolio, while the Toronto-based David Armstrong assisted the lead arrangers with a $780m construction and working capital loan for Tenaska Energy’s 925MW Westmoreland power plant.

Vinson & Elkins LLP is commended for its ‘seamless, efficient coordination’, ‘highly involved partners’ and ‘confident, capable associates’. ‘Business-focused, effective negotiatorTrina Chandler in Houston ‘understands the details of every transaction’ and heads the practice, which is particularly strong in M&A. Chandler advised Riverstone Holdings on its acquisition of Talen Energy for $5.2bn, including debt. The team also handles project finance; Oncor Electric Delivery and Goldman Sachs are representative clients. The ‘exceedingly smart, knowledgeable, calm and articulateMaritza Okata in New York is noted for her Latin America experience.

Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP’s practice, which is especially active in project acquisitions, is headed by Benjamin Clark in Houston and Thomas Warren, with support from Dorothy Franzoni and Ram Sunkara. On the capital markets side, Herbert Short advised Goldman Sachs on its $1.5bn private placement for Basin Electric Power Cooperative. The team also handles PPAs for blue-chip clients such as Microsoft. Other clients include Con Edison Development and Energy Power Partners. Named attorneys are based in Atlanta except where indicated otherwise.

The ‘quick’, ‘very responsive’ team at Jones Day has ‘significant industry knowledge’ and a ‘deep bench’; M&A and capital markets are its chief strengths. Of counsel Robert Joseph in Chicago advised the Public Service Company of Colorado on its $250m bond issuance, while Atlanta-based Lizanne Thomas acted for Southern Company in its $425m purchase of PowerSecure International. In Washington DC, Danielle Varnell is a ‘wonderful negotiator with bottomless knowledge’ and Gerald Farano is also recommended; and in Chicago, of counsel Peter Clarke specializes in public utilities.

McGuireWoods LLP is particularly strong in M&A, though it also handles PPAs, project finance and capital markets work. Praised for its responsiveness and ‘dedicated, holistic attitude’, the team is headed by Richmond-based Joanne Katsantonis, who acted for Dominion Resources in its $4.4bn acquisition of Questar. Baltimore’s Brian Kelly and Houston’s Matthew Kapinos are ‘supportive and positive’. Project finance specialist Peter Butcher joined the Pittsburgh office from Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, and Timothy Callahan joined from Paul Hastings LLP.

M&A and sponsor-side project finance are Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP’s key strengths. Boston-based Richard Filosa and Marc Reardon are the key partners and together advised LS Power on its sale of West Deptford Energy Holdings to various buyers. Reardon advised Advanced Power Services on the financing of its 1.1GW power plant in Dover Valley, New York. ‘Experienced, responsive, business-minded’ of counsel Neeraj Arora joined in Los Angeles in February 2016 from Latham & Watkins LLP. Senior associate Michael Müller is also recommended.

Project finance and acquisition finance are the cornerstones of Paul Hastings LLP’s ‘responsive’ practice, which is commended for its ‘draftsmanship and deep knowledge’. New York-based corporate finance specialist Cathleen McLaughlin frequently handles cross-border work and assisted Hidroeléctrica Huanchor with obtaining a $274m loan for the development and operation of the 20MW Central Hidroeléctrica Rucuy hydropower plant in Peru. Robert Kartheiser is also recommended.

Shearman & Sterling LLP’s team specializes in project and acquisition finance, particularly for lenders. Gregory Tan assisted the lenders and arrangers with financing the $4.7bn purchase of Cleco Corporate Holdings by investors including Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets. The practice also handles project acquisitions and disposals: Robert Freedman, who heads the group with Patricia Hammes, advised Fortress Investment Group on the sale of its interests in the Kingsburg and Goal Line generation facilities. Named attorneys are based in New York.

Project acquisitions and sponsor-side project finance are Baker McKenzie LLP’s team’s main areas of activity. Practice head James O’Brien in Chicago advised J-Power USA on its $173m acquisition from Dynegy of the remaining 50% of Illinois’ 1.5GW Elwood power plant, making the client the plant’s sole owner. New York-based Mark Tibberts assisted Ohio Valley Electric with refinancing $100m of tax-exempt bonds. Other clients include Calpine, Eosol Energy and Greenleaf Energy Holdings.

Capital markets work is Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP’s key strength, though the team also handles financial restructuring and project acquisitions. Richard Cooper, Adam Brenneman and Sean O’Neal assisted Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority with restructuring $9.5bn of debt, while on the M&A side, Chantal Kordula advised First Reserve on its purchase of the 130MW La Bufa wind farm in Mexico. All named attorneys are based in New York.

Clifford Chance excels in project finance, although it also handles project acquisitions. It is particularly active in emerging markets, most often in Africa and Latin America. The Washington DC-based Lori Bean advised lenders including OPIC and Standard Bank on financing the $500m 192MW Amandi power plant in Ghana. Much of its Latin American work is lender side and involves renewable energy projects.

DLA Piper LLP (US)’s team is headed from New York by Joseph Tato and Andrianne Payson. The practice expanded significantly in 2016, welcoming, among others, project finance experts Gregory Smith from Allen & Overy LLP and Timothy Moran, Philip Corsello and Vanessa Wilson from Sidley Austin LLP; Smith, Moran and Wilson are based in Washington DC, Corsello in New York. The practice is most active in project acquisitions and finance; clients include Exelon Generation.

The ‘very good’ team at Dentons is particularly strong in PPAs, project acquisitions and project finance. New York-based senior counsel Robert Schmicker acted for Marubeni Power International in its sale to Osaka Gas of a 25% stake in the 725MW St Charles Energy Center. Washington DC-based practice head Clinton Vince handles project development, regulatory advice and litigation; project finance expert Andrew Schifrin in New York is also recommended.

Hogan Lovells US LLP’s transactional power clients include NRG Energy and Contour Global. The team, which is headed by Brian Chappell in Baltimore, is active in project finance as well as M&A, and handles cross-border mandates. The Washington DC-based Keith Larson advised two lender syndicates on the $1.1bn financing of GNPower Dinginin’s 668MW power plant on Luzon Island, the Philippines, and on the $1.1bn financing of GNPower Kauswagan’s 554MW power plant on Mindanao Island, also in the Philippines.

Elizabeth Thomas and Eric Freedman head K&L Gates’ largely Seattle-based practice, which is strong in PPAs and EPC contracts. It also handles project acquisitions and David Benson assisted Montana-Dakota Utilities with its purchase of the $220m 108MW Thunder Spirit wind project from Allete Clean Energy. Charlotte-based John Allison advised Pioneer Transmission on the delivery of transmission towers for, and construction of, a 65-mile transmission line in Indiana.

Reed Smith LLP is particularly active in PPAs and project finance, and provides strong regulatory support. Clients include Montauk Energy Capital. Nicolle Snyder Bagnell and Craig Enochs head the practice from Pittsburgh and Houston respectively. ‘Super-responsive, relatable and creative’ project development and finance specialist Brendan McNallen made partner in the Chicago office in January 2016.

The New York-based Jeffrey Meyers leads the team at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP; its strengths are commodity transactions, commercial contracts and project acquisitions. Richard Madris acted for institutional investors advised by JPMorgan in the acquisition of the 322MW Pio Pico Energy Center in California from Ares EIF Group. Other clients include Energy Power Partners and Exelon Generation.

Winston & Strawn LLP is particularly active in project acquisitions and project finance. The New York-based Jonathan Birenbaum advised Argo Infrastructure Partners on its purchase and $215m financing of a 49.9% stake in the 200MW Black Hills power plant in Colorado. He also acted for Hawaiian Electric in its $85m acquisition of the 60MW Hamakua power plant. The San Francisco-based Joseph Karp leads the team.

Project finance is the lynchpin of Andrews Kurth Kenyon LLP’s practice, which is also strong in EPC contracts. Vera Rechsteiner in Washington DC and Mark Thurber in Houston are the key names. Thurber assisted Energia del Caribe as sponsor with EPC and transportation agreements regarding a power plant in Mexico intended to serve Guatemala. Other clients include NRG Energy, Duke Energy and Calpine. Houston’s Timothy Unger heads the practice.

The Houston-based Thomas Moore leads Mayer Brown’s practice, which handles M&A involving power generation and transmission clients. The team has a very strong line in Latin American project finance and Christopher Erckert, who splits his time between New York and Washington DC, advised InterChile on obtaining a loan for a $1.3bn project involving several new transmission lines in Chile. Paul Forrester (Chicago), Robert Goldberg (Houston) and project finance specialist Barry Machlin (Chicago) are also recommended.

McDermott Will & Emery LLP’s team, which has strong tax capabilities, is headed by Miami-based Philip Tingle, supported in New York by Madeline Tully. Renewables-related power work is the department’s calling card: in this space it handles fund formation, tax equity structuring, project acquisitions and PPAs. Clients include Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse. Joel Hugenberger and David Mathus in New York are also recommended.

Corporate and commercial work are strengths of Sullivan & Worcester LLP’s practice, which also advises clients on securities matters. Washington DC-based Merrill Kramer advised US Grid, a developer of energy micro-grids, on various joint ventures, acquisitions and private placements. New York-based Hayden Baker assisted Cube Hydro Partners with its purchase and upgrade of four hydroelectric North Carolina power plants from Alcoa Power Generating. Elias Hinckley in Washington DC heads the department.

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