United States > M&A/corporate and commercial > M&A: large deals ($1bn+) > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings
Index of tables
M&A: large deals ($1bn+)
- Michael Aiello - Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
- Adel Aslani-Far - Latham & Watkins LLP
- Frank Aquila - Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
- Scott Barshay - Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
George Bason -
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
John Bick -
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
- George Casey - Shearman & Sterling LLP
- Rodgin Cohen - Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
Howard Ellin -
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
- Adam Emmerich - Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
- David Fox - Kirkland & Ellis LLP
- Joseph Frumkin - Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
- Mark Gerstein - Latham & Watkins LLP
- Mark Greene - Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
- Richard Hall - Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
- David Katz - Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
Lou Kling -
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
- Victor Lewkow - Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
- Martin Lipton - Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
Lee Meyerson -
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
- Jeffrey Rosen - Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
- Steven Rosenblum - Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
- Faiza Saeed - Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
- Robert Schumer - Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
- Robert Schwenkel - Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP
- Daniel Wolf - Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP has an ‘enormous stable of Fortune 100 clients’ and ‘goes back decades with blue-chip industrial companies’. The firm is ‘outstanding’, has ‘experts in all aspects of M&A’ and delivers ‘high-quality services in a very timely manner’. Its association with strategic acquirers and major corporates has served it well during a period when bulge-bracket private equity transactions have not been as prevalent as in previous years. Despite its conservative international approach, with a single overseas office in London, the firm maintains an impressive track record in cross-border and multi-jurisdictional transactions. In 2015, it advised on a multitude of headline and high-value deals. It advised Anheuser-Busch Inbev on its $100bn offer for SABMiller, in what would be one of the largest M&A deals in history. In another headline-grabbing matter, it advised Heinz on its $60bn merger with Kraft Foods, creating The Kraft Heinz Company, the third-largest food and beverage company in North America. In addition, it represented Precision Castparts in its $37.2bn acquisition by Berkshire Hathaway, the largest-ever acquisition by the Warren Buffet led firm. The firm was also appointed by Shell to advise on its $70bn acquisition of BG Group. Faiza Saeed has handled a series of headline deals in 2015, and led on the Precision Castparts sale. Robert Townsend is co-head of the M&A practice and has advised Johnson & Johnson on a series of major transactions. Head of the international practice Mark Greene is ‘outstanding and has deep experience in M&A’ and a mighty reputation in cross-border deals, as does Richard Hall, who is head of M&A for EMEA. Andrew Thompson is ‘excellent at managing large public company M&A and provides guidance on every aspect of significant transactions’. Jonathan Davis, Aaron Gruber and Keith Hallam were elevated to the partnership in January 2015. The departure of former co-head of the corporate department Scott Barshay, who joined Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP in 2016, is a significant loss.
The M&A team at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP does not have the headcount of some of its competitor practices, but its supreme financing and capital markets expertise and its strong presence in the key global financial centers of New York, London and Hong Kong make it a leader for complex and cross-border mega deals. This position is further supported by a growing standing in Latin America through its Sao Paulo office, and by its notable tax and regulatory expertise. It is widely recognized for deals in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors, as well as in financial services, commodities, energy, consumer products and retail. In 2015, the firm advised healthcare benefits company Aetna on its $37bn acquisition of Humana, and it represented Baker Hughes in its $38bn acquisition by Halliburton. In another major deal, it advised Emera, the energy and services company, on its $10.4bn acquisition of TECO Energy. It also advised PartnerRe on its $6.9bn acquisition by Exor, the Italian investment company controlled by the Agnelli family, and had previously advised the client on its proposed but terminated $11bn merger with AXIS Capital. George Bason is global chairman of the M&A practice and was the lead partner on the Baker Hughes matter. John Bick heads the corporate department and is global head of M&A. Louis Goldberg is another senior name, and is especially well known for transactions in the financial services sector. He and Bick advised Morgan Stanley on the sale of its Global Oil Merchanting business to Castleton Commodities International. John Amorosi is an influential member if the team and has been pivotal to the development of the firm’s private equity practice. Phillip Mills is also highly respected. Former head of the M&A department David Caplan left private practice and joined a new investment company headed by Comcast’s former CFO Michael Angelakis. Washington DC’s John Reynolds is a recognized authority in Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) matters. Other clients include AstraZeneca, ExxonMobil, Pepsi, Syngenta, Tyson Foods, Citigroup, and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Latham & Watkins LLP combines having ‘high-end and top-quality partners’ with being ‘a much bigger firm’ than many of its competitors and consequently having a higher deal volume than most. The firm’s geographic spread in the US includes notable strength in key locations such as New York, Chicago, Houston and the West Coast, and its extensive international network ensures it is well placed to advise on cross-border deals. It has a broad array of corporate, financial institution and private equity clients, and provides industry experience in areas such as energy, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, to name a few. In 2015, the firm represented pharmaceutical and medical device company Allergan on its $73bn acquisition by Actavis, a white knight acquirer; this followed the firm’s successful defense of the client against a $53bn unsolicited takeover by Valeant Pharmaceuticals and Pershing Square Capital Management. Orange County’s Cary Hyden and Michael Treska and Los Angeles’ Paul Tosetti led the advice to Allergan. Led by Charles Ruck and Scott Shean in Orange County, the firm also advised Allergan on the $40.5bn sale of its global generics business to Teva Pharmaceuticals. From Houston, the firm advised Access Midstream Partners on its $50bn merger with Williams Partners. Led by ‘accomplished practitioner’ and noted energy M&A specialist William Finnegan in Houston, the firm advised Energy Transfer Equity on Energy Transfer Corp’s proposed $37bn acquisition of the Williams Companies, a deal which later looked under threat due to uncertainty in the energy market. Fellow Houston partner Sean Wheeler also has a ‘great practice’ in energy M&A, and New York lawyer Adel Aslani-Far is one of the firm’s most active partners in major deals. Washington DC’s Paul Sheridan and Daniel Lennon - who has close ties to The Carlyle Group - have excellent reputations. Mark Gerstein and Bradley Faris in Chicago and David Allinson in New York are global co-chairs of the M&A practice.
Even with its gargantuan private equity clients Blackstone and KKR having a relatively quiet 2015, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP remained at the heart of a blockbuster M&A year. The firm was active across all key sectors, from retail and real estate to financial services and healthcare, and also handled a number of marquee cross-border transactions. Highlights included advising Walgreens Boots Alliance on its $17.2bn acquisition of Rite Aid, and assisting KeyCorp with its announced $4.1bn acquisition of First Niagara Financial Group, which would be one of the largest bank mergers since the financial crash of 2008. In another headline deal, the firm advised Dell and private equity giant Silver Lake on Dell’s $67bn acquisition of EMC; Palo Alto’s Richard Capelouto - a long-time adviser to Silver Lake and one of the leading M&A and private equity lawyers on the West Coast - was lead partner. New York-based Mario Ponce has had a formidable run in M&A and led advice to Office Depot in its proposed $6.3bn acquisition by Staples. Alan Klein is a big name in the team and is a regular adviser to Microsoft and many other blue-chip companies. Robert Spatt has made an impression on a series of landmark deals in recent years and, in 2015, he advised Weight Watchers on its headline partnership with Oprah Winfrey. Brian Stadler is a top name in real estate and REIT transactions and, in 2015, he advised Rockwood on its $6.2bn merger with Albemarle. William Curbow is another key member of the team, as is Lee Meyerson, who heads the M&A group and the financial institutions practice. Meyerson was lead partner on the KeyCorp transaction. Other clients include Sumitomo Life Insurance and Tyco.
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP’s depth and breadth of resources enables it to operate within the middle market as well as handle the bulge-bracket deals for which it is best known. ‘A preeminent name in the highest-end matters’, it houses market-leading teams and practitioners in its offices around the world, and has a notable reputation in relation to hostile M&A, takeover bids and proxy contests. In 2015, the firm advised the independent members of the board of directors of Time Warner Cable (TWC) on TWC’s $78.7bn acquisition by Charter Communications, having previously advised on TWC’s proposed but terminated $45bn merger with Comcast and an earlier unsolicited bid by Charter Communications of $61bn. The firm has a significant presence in the technology sector and, in 2015, in what was the largest technology deal in history, the firm advised EMC Corporation on its $67bn acquisition by Dell. It also advised on the second-largest technology transaction ever, representing Broadcom in its $37bn acquisition by Avago Technologies; and it represented SanDisk in its $19bn acquisition by Western Digital. In the pharmaceutical and life sciences sectors, it advised Hospira on its $17bn acquisition by Pfizer, and Merck on its $17bn acquisition of Sigma-Aldrich. New York’s Stephen Arcano has built ‘quite a track record’ in M&A, including hostile bids, and led the advice in relation to the TWC - Charter Communications deal. Palo Alto-based Kenton King is regarded as one of the leading M&A names on the West Coast and was the lead partner on the Broadcom and SanDisk deals. Paul Schnell is highly regarded for cross-border deals, including those involving Latin America. Eileen Nugent, Howard Ellin and Peter Atkins in New York, Brian McCarthy in Los Angeles and Charles Mulaney in Chicago are also notable names, as is New York-based of counsel Lou Kling.
Sullivan & Cromwell LLP has a ‘long roster of industrial and Fortune 100 company clients’ and an ‘extremely strong presence in the banking sector’. It is very much associated with large-scale transactions, regularly working on behalf of both longstanding blue-chip clients and newly acquired clients. As an example of the latter, it advised Israel’s Teva Pharmaceuticals on its $40.5bn acquisition of Allergan’s global generics business. In other marquee deals, the firm advised Kraft Foods on its $55bn merger with Heinz, and assisted AT&T with its $67bn acquisition of DirecTV, a transaction with a significant Latin America component. The firm has an outstanding reputation for financial institutions M&A, but it is also active in deals in the healthcare, telecoms, consumer products and energy sectors. In a key insurance sector deal - one of the largest financial institutions deals since the financial crisis - the firm represented ACE in its $28.3bn acquisition of Chubb; Rodgin Cohen was lead partner on the deal. New York’s Francis Aquila is a ‘constructive problem solver’ and ‘intense about keeping up with everything’; he is noted for his record in the consumer products sector and was the lead partner on the Kraft Foods deal. Joseph Frumkin is ‘very impressive’ and was the lead partner on the AT&T and Teva Pharmaceuticals transactions. Matthew Hurd and Keith Pagnani have built estimable reputations for deals in the pharmaceuticals and life sciences sectors. Los Angeles-based Alison Ressler is one of the biggest names on the West Coast for M&A deals.
Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz is the ‘gold standard’ in M&A thanks to its broad and experienced team of specialists and its unrivalled record in large and complex transactions. In contested deals, proxy battles and activist defense matters, the firm is without rival. It advised Charter Communications on its $78.7bn merger with Time Warner Cable, and Halliburton on its $34.6bn acquisition of Baker Hughes. In addition, it represented Chubb in its $28.3bn acquisition by ACE - one of the largest-ever insurance sector M&A deals. Veteran deal-maker Martin Lipton is ‘impressive’, ‘amazing’, ‘sharp as a tack’, ‘one of a kind’, and ‘astonishingly graceful and polished’. Adam Emmerich has ‘first-class execution and expertise’. David Katz is a regular adviser on headline transactions, as are Edward Herlihy, Andrew Nussbaum and Steven Rosenblum. Daniel Neff and Andrew Brownstein are also highly rated. Igor Kirman is a ‘thinker’ and adept in ‘tough situations where he is focused on finding a solution for both sides’.
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP has an outstanding reputation for cross-border deals, particularly those involving Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and over recent years it has continued to increase its prominence in domestic deals. It is widely acknowledged as a global leader in antitrust and this expertise was put to use in its role as counsel to Family Dollar in its $9.3bn sale to Dollar Tree, which included the successful defense of a hostile bid by Dollar General Corp based on antitrust grounds. Transactional IP is another area of strength, and the firm advised several West Coast technology clients on deals involving the sale of IP assets. It also represented Actavis in its $70.5bn acquisition of Allergan, in which Actavis appeared as a white knight following a repelled hostile bid by Valeant and Pershing Square. It also advised Medtronic on the completion of its $49.9bn acquisition of Ireland-based healthcare company Covidien. This was one of a series of inversion deals completed by large US corporates in 2015 and further illustrates the firm’s standing in this area. In another headline cross-border deal, the firm advised OCI on the $8bn sale of its North American, European and global distribution business to CF Industries. In the technology sector - an area of strength for the practice - it advised Western Digital on its $19bn acquisition of SanDisk. New York partner Victor Lewkow is a ‘great M&A attorney’. Christopher Austin has a strong reputation among corporates, financial institutions and asset managers, as does Paul Shim, who is a ‘fantastic M&A and private equity lawyer’ and works closely with TPG. Ethan Klingsberg is another key name and has worked on a range of recent deals, most notably on behalf of West Coast technology companies; Benet O’Reilly is widely acclaimed for healthcare deals. Glenn McGrory is also noted for technology deals and cross-border transactions involving European corporates. Other clients include American Express, Coca-Cola, Google, Home Depot, Medtronic and Western Digital.
Kirkland & Ellis LLP has made huge strides in the M&A sector over the last five years, as evidenced by the fact that it is no longer perceived as purely a private equity firm, but rather one that is just as closely associated with blue-chip corporates and strategic acquirers. It is noted for middle-market transactions all the way up to large public and private M&A, and ‘provides an outstanding level of service across a broad range of criteria’. ‘The attorneys are extremely knowledgeable in their respective areas of expertise and advice is always timely and efficient’. Clients also appreciated the firm’s ‘practical and knowledgeable approach to both legal and business issues’ and its ability to really understand their businesses and industries. Accordingly, the lawyers ‘never lose sight of customer service and the importance of developing a long-term partnership between themselves and their client’. In 2015, the firm represented 3G Capital and Heinz in the $55bn merger of Heinz and Kraft Foods to create The Kraft Heinz Company, the third-largest food and beverage company in North America. In another headline deal, the firm advised Baxalta on the $30bn unsolicited takeover bid by Shire. It also advised Molson Coors on its $12bn agreement with Anheuser-Busch InBev to buy SABMiller’s 58% stake in MillerCoors. The firm’s growing reputation in strategic M&A was matched by further headway in private equity buyouts, where it continued to develop its reputation from that of a largely middle-market-focused firm to one that routinely advises big buyout sponsors such as KKR, Apollo and Blackstone. For a firm that did not originate in New York, it has developed a truly impressive standing in the US’s principal financial center. David Fox is one of the biggest names in the market, as is Daniel Wolf, who - along with Scott Falk - headed the team that advised on the Baxalta matter. Sarkis Jebejian is another impressive figure, and he advised Nextar Broadcasting on its $4.1bn unsolicited bid for Media General. William Sorabella, also in New York, led the advice on The Kraft Heinz Company matter mentioned above. Scott Falk is a key figure in Chicago and Andrew Calder is a big name in Houston, especially for private equity houses.
Over recent years, few firms have made as clear progress in M&A as Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP. Much of the credit for this goes to the chairman of the corporate department, Michael Aiello, who has established himself as a genuine market leader and a near ubiquitous presence in substantial and complex transactions. The team has an enviable base of long-terms clients, but is also routinely sought out by new clients to advise on bet-the-company deals. As an example, it advised Dow on its $130bn all-stock merger of equals with DuPont. In addition, JAB Holding Company turned to the firm for advice on its $13.9bn merger agreement with Keurig Green Mountain, in which the JAB-led investor group will acquire Keurig. Other notable instructions included advising Willis Group Holdings on its $18bn merger of equals with Towers Watson, and Sanofi on its exclusive negotiations with Boehringer Ingelheim over a $25bn asset swap. The firm’s investment in its West Coast operations has led to roles in a multitude of technology transactions, including a series of deals for Intel, which it recently advised on its $16.7bn acquisition of Altera. Keith Flaum and Richard Climan are big names in Silicon Valley. Market-leading practices in tax and bankruptcy law means the firm is well positioned to advise on inversions and other tax-driven transactions as well as distressed M&A. Aside from the aforementioned Aiello, the firm has an impressive team of practitioners on the East Coast, including Frederick Green, Howard Chatzinoff and Jackie Cohen. Matthew Gilroy is ‘very knowledgeable and responsive’, ‘delivers practical advice’ and is ‘able to effectively lead deals and coordinate across multiple practice areas’.
Debevoise & Plimpton LLP provides an ‘outstanding service’ and is a ‘top firm with top people who are very capable of handling the largest, most complex transactions’. Clients appreciate the ‘prompt advice that is useful in real-world settings’ and the firm’s focus ‘on the issues that are important’ and on ‘anticipating questions before they are asked’. It handles a good balance of private equity and strategic M&A and has improved its position in both. Cornerstone private equity client Clayton, Dubilier & Rice was not active in the buyout arena in 2015, but the firm still had a blockbuster year on behalf of private equity sponsors such as Apollo Global Management, Stone Point Capital, Kelso & Company and J.C. Flowers. Corporate clients include Amazon, International Paper, Johnson & Johnson, Nestlé, Pernod Ricard and Verizon Communications. The firm is especially well known for its M&A record in healthcare, technology, media and telecoms, insurance and asset management. The firm represented the Dolan family as controlling stockholder of media and telecoms company Cablevision Systems in its $17.7bn sale to Altice, the Netherlands-based telecoms company. In addition, it advised CPP Investment Board on its $12bn acquisition of GE Capital’s sponsor lending business, including Antares Capital, a prominent lender to US-based middle-market private equity sponsors. The talented team features the hugely experienced Jeffrey Rosen, who was a key figure in the CPPIB matter. He was also lead partner on Verizon Communications’ $10.54bn sale of certain wireline assets to Frontier Communications. The ‘thoughtful, smart and savvy’ William Regner is commended by clients for his ‘fundamental deal work’ and is noted for his record in the asset management and TMT sectors. Gregory Gooding is another standout figure in M&A transactions and acts across multiple industries, including financial services. Paul Bird is a senior member of the M&A team and has a formidable record in both strategic M&A and private equity buyouts. Andrew Bab and Kevin Rinker are leaders in healthcare, while Michael Diz is an up-and-coming member of the group. All named attorneys are based in New York.
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP is a ‘bet-the-company type of shop’ and ‘the best firm out there’, according to one client. When the ‘matter is serious - material in either an economic or strategic sense - it is top of the list’. The team is ‘responsive, business savvy and contextually sensitive’ and has a ‘tremendous amount of specialized resources’. It is building its standing in both strategic M&A and private equity buyouts, and is noted for its expertise in shareholder activism, unusually representing both activist investors and companies defending against activism. This is partly based on the firm’s close association with the hedge fund community. The firm has also demonstrated expertise in tax-driven transactions, including inversion deals. It has an established record in deals within the media, technology and entertainment sectors, and is also frequently involved in consumer product, retail, energy and REIT-related transactions. In the private equity space, the firm continues to advise some of the biggest sponsors, including Apollo Global Management. In 2015, it advised Time Warner Cable on its $78.7bn merger with Charter Communications, having previously represented the company in its proposed stock-for-stock merger with Comcast, a deal that was eventually terminated. It also advised Italian investment company Exor on its $6.9bn acquisition of Bermuda-based reinsurer PartnerRe. The chair of the corporate department is the ‘legendary’ Robert Schumer. He is backed by an impressive team of senior and up-and-coming practitioners, including co-head of the M&A group Toby Myerson, deputy chair of the corporate department Ariel Deckelbaum, and Brian Finnegan, a frequent adviser to Apollo. Justin Hamill is an emerging name who is ‘thoughtful, business savvy and tough, and will go to war for his clients and works all hours’. Matthew Abbott is ‘exceptionally talented’, ‘extremely business minded’ and ‘a pleasure to work with’. The recruitment of the ‘ubiquitous’ Scott Barshay from Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP in 2016 represents a huge boost to the firm. Barshay has advised on many of the biggest deals in the market.
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP has a broad corporate client base, which is becoming increasingly global as a result of a concerted effort to grow its international presence in London and elsewhere. It also has a notable roster of fund clients, which includes the likes of Lone Star and Investcorp, and is frequently used by major banks, such as Goldman Sachs, Lazard and UBS. In 2015, the firm advised the Williams Companies on the $50bn merger between Williams Partners and Access Midstream Partners. Following the merger, the firm advised Williams on its $13.8bn acquisition of all the outstanding common units of Williams Partners that it did not already own. Furthermore, it represented Williams in its $37.7bn sale to Energy Transfer Equity, an MLP that owns and operates natural gas and crude oil pipelines. Further illustrating its expertise in high-value, complex and cross-border deals, the firm advised Towers Watson on its $18bn merger of equals with Willis Group Holdings. The new Willis Towers Watson company is to be based in Ireland. Longstanding client Lone Star brought the firm into several sizeable transactions, including its $7.6bn acquisition of Home Properties, a multifamily REIT. The firm has a genuinely national and international practice, including a number of West Coast clients, one of which is Tenet Healthcare, which it advised on its $4.2bn joint venture with private equity sponsor Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe to combine the short-stay surgery and imaging center assets of Tenet Healthcare and United Surgical Partners International. New York’s Barbara Becker and Washington DC’s Stephen Glover are among the senior members of the team, along with New York-based Eduardo Gallardo and seasoned figure Dennis Friedman, who are noted for their experience in defending against shareholder activism. Dallas-based Jeffrey Chapman is key to the Lone Star relationship, and Jonathan Layne is one of the most prominent M&A attorneys in Los Angeles.
Shearman & Sterling LLP has a long history in the M&A space and, while best known for high-value domestic and cross-border transactions, it is also active in the middle market. Clients praise the ‘excellent level of service’ and the ‘exceptional combination of business understanding and to-the-point legal advice’. It also combines ‘first-class partner leadership with strong associates’ and ‘appropriate support from international offices’, and ‘staffs projects efficiently and appropriately’. In 2015, it advised long-term client Dow on the $5bn sale of its chlor-alkali businesses, centering on 52 facilities in 25 countries, which included a carve-out, an equity exchange offer, a debt exchange, and a public merger. In another high-value transaction, it advised Altice on its $17.7bn acquisition of Cablevision Systems, creating the fourth-largest cable operator in the US. This deal followed the firm’s representation of Altice in its ultimately unsuccessful bid for Time Warner Cable. Head of the global M&A group George Casey is a ‘valuable and trustworthy senior adviser’ and ‘a strong, no-nonsense dealmaker with a well-deserved reputation as one of the leading New York M&A lawyers’. Scott Petepiece, the head of the firm’s New York M&A group, is ‘without a doubt one the best M&A professionals’, according to a client, who regards him as an ‘exceptionally good negotiator’ and ‘a great lawyer with a strong business sense and an ability to get things done regardless of how challenging the situation is’. The firm further strengthened its M&A bench strength in New York by hiring Robert Masella from Clifford Chance. Masella is prominent in technology M&A. In addition, the firm hired Waajid Siddiqui, an experienced M&A lawyer, from Hogan Lovells US LLP. Since joining the firm, Siddiqui has advised GE Capital on the sale of certain finance platforms to Wells Fargo for $32bn. New York-based Robert Katz is another key name, as is the firm’s senior partner Creighton Condon. Steve Camahort and Michael Kennedy in San Francisco are often engaged in the headline deals that emanate from the West Coast.
White & Case LLP demonstrated its eminent M&A credentials in 2015 with a sequence of impressive domestic and cross-border transactions. The firm’s global standing and resources, coupled with its efforts to further develop its New York M&A and private equity capabilities, has served it well. Clients highlight its ‘business-minded attorneys who understand the larger transactional context when analyzing and advising on various issues’. One client says that the firm is ‘the best at listening to what we want to accomplish and efficiently executing’ the transaction. While having the ability to negotiate hard, clients also praise the firm’s appreciation of reputation and market perception. The firm is also noted for its leading CFIUS expertise and its record in M&A transactions involving carve-outs and restructurings. Notably, it represented US health benefit giant Anthem in its $54.2bn acquisition of Cigna, a deal which illustrates the firm’s capabilities in high-value transactions as well as its particular expertise in certain industry sectors, of which healthcare is one; John Reiss (the global head of M&A) and Daniel Dufner led a team that featured antitrust, IP, tax, employment, compensation and benefits, banking and disputes practitioners. In another headline deal, the firm advised Zimmer Holdings on its $13.35bn acquisition of Biomet, one of the world’s leading medical device manufacturers. Other key members of the team include the immensely experienced Morton Pierce, co-global head of the private equity practice Oliver Brahmst, and head of the Americas corporate and M&A practice Gregory Pryor. Nazim Zilkha is regarded as a ‘true partner’ to clients, a ‘fantastic’ attorney who ‘understands’ what clients are looking to accomplish in each transaction. New York’s Michael Shenberg is ‘a very hands-on, practical lawyer, who does an excellent job finding appropriate compromises to achieve an agreement’. He has ‘very deep experience in the energy M&A area’ and ‘is extremely sensitive to clients’ needs’. All mentioned partners are based in New York.
Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP is ‘top notch’, ‘superb’, ‘practical’, ‘creative’, ‘terrific on all fronts’ and is ‘highly responsive’. It has ‘excellent business acumen’ and ‘seasoned M&A professionals’ that are of the ‘highest caliber’. Although it has a smaller M&A team than some of its competitors, the firm is frequently engaged in large and complex transactions, and 2015 was an active year for both public company M&A and large-cap private equity transactions. The pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors continue to be fertile ground for the firm, with highlights including advising Humana on its proposed $37bn sale to Aetna. The deal was announced after an intense period of negotiations with several different bidders. In addition, the firm represented CVS Health in its $1.9bn agreement to acquire Target’s pharmacy and clinic business. The media sector is another industry in which the firm has an established record and, in 2015, it advised Media General on its $2.4bn proposed acquisition of Meredith Corporation to create Meredith Media General, a deal which looked fragile in early 2016 following Nexstar Broadcasting’s attempt to acquire Media General. The negotiations were led by co-head of the M&A group and media M&A expert Philip Richter, who was also the lead partner on the Humana transaction and is viewed as ‘outstanding’. In addition, the firm has an impressive record in tech M&A, in part thanks to its longstanding relationship with private equity giant Permira’s technology group. Indeed, private equity remains a core component of the M&A practice and, in 2015, the firm advised Permira and CPP Investment Board on their $5.3bn acquisition of software company Informatica. The deal was led by Robert Schwenkel, the co-chair of the firm’s corporate department and global head of M&A and private equity. Steve Epstein is another key member of the team, and Brian Mangino is ‘excellent’, ‘incredibly knowledgeable’, ‘easy to work with’ and has ‘extensive cross-border experience’. Former co-head of the M&A group David Shine joined Paul Hastings LLP, and John Sorkin, a frequent counsel to financial advisers on M&A deals, joined Ropes & Gray LLP.
With established positions in North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia Pacific, Hogan Lovells US LLP is frequently sought out to advise on large and complex cross-border transactions as well as headline domestic deals. In 2015, it advised General Electric on the sale of its global real estate equity and debt portfolio to Blackstone and Wells Fargo for $27bn. This was the largest real estate M&A transaction since 2007 and was part of GE’s much publicized strategy to refocus on its core industrial businesses. As part of this process, the firm also advised GE on the $9bn sale of its healthcare finance businesses to Capital One Financial. Further illustrating the firm’s expertise in cross-border deals, it advised a consortium of Audi, BMW and Daimler on the $3.1bn acquisition of digital mapping business HERE. Key partners include Washington DC lawyer and head of the corporate practice for the Americas Joseph Gilligan, and New York and Washington DC-based global head of the M&A practice William Curtin. Washington DC’s Warren Gorrell is also highly respected and was the lead partner on GE’s sale of its global real estate equity and debt portfolio. Other clients include 3M, ExxonMobil, Dell, News Corp, Lockheed Martin, 21st Century Fox, Google, Office Depot and Deutsche Telekom.
When it comes to deal volume, Jones Day is virtually without equal, and is consistently ranked top by number of deals in various M&A leagues tables. While much of this activity is in the middle market, the firm is also frequently engaged in large-cap and mega deals. The team is ‘very responsive’ and ‘good value for money’, and the ‘senior talent is very strong’. The team also ‘consistently provides excellent client service’ and the ‘lawyers often voluntarily go above and beyond the call of duty’. Moreover, the ‘advice is always spot on for the industry’, as the firm is attuned to clients’ ‘business and organizational needs’ and the ‘legal advice reflects these realities’. And despite being such a large firm, it provides ‘coordinated support across disciplines, geographies and deal structures’. In 2015, it advised on a series of headline deals. In the energy space, where it has a notable standing, it advised MPLX and Marathon Petroleum on MLPX’s $20bn acquisition of MarkWest Energy Partners; the lead partner on this was Houston-based Jeff Schlegel, who co-heads the global energy practice and is ‘responsive’, ‘knows the industry’, has a ‘good bedside manner with lay clients’, and ‘knows what to fight for and what is not important’. In another standout deal, the firm represented Procter & Gamble in its complex $12.5bn agreement to merge 43 beauty brands with Coty in a Reverse Morris Trust transaction; New York-based M&A practice leader Robert Profusek led on the deal and is ‘practical’, ‘effective’ and has a ‘preeminent M&A mind’. In other deals valued in excess of $1bn, it advised Southern Company on its $12bn acquisition of AGL Resources, and represented clients such as Lam Research, Koch Industries, Reynolds American, Exelis, Atmel Corporation and Polypore International. The ‘strong and deep’ department also includes key figures such as New York’s Randi Lesnick, Atlanta-based Bryan Davis and Daniel Mitz in Silicon Valley. Cleveland’s Peter Izanec is a ‘brilliant lawyer’ with a ‘wealth of knowledge and experience in deal making’, and understands his clients’ ‘business, tolerance for risk and the way they prefer to do deals’. New York’s Andrew Levine is an ‘excellent lawyer and a key resource on less traditional deals, including joint ventures and those involving minority rights’. He is ‘not afraid to challenge clients’ thinking and offer new ideas’. Robert Kennedy and Brien Wassner joined Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP.
In May 2015, Sidley Austin LLP launched a new office in Century City, Los Angeles, with the hire of Dan Clivner from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP and six other partners. This, along with expansions in Palo Alto, New York, Houston, Boston and Washington DC, cements the firm’s place as genuine proposition right across the US. From its heartland of Chicago, it represents a multitude of Fortune 1000 manufacturing and industrial clients, and, in December 2015, it represented Keurig Green Mountain in its $13.9bn acquisition by an investor group led by JAB Holding. In another substantial deal, it advised Catamaran Corporation on its $12.8bn sale to UnitedHealth Group. In addition, it represented long-term client General Electric in a series of transactions, including the sale of its sponsor finance business and a bank loan portfolio to CPP Investment Board. Real estate and REITs are another area of strength, and the firm advised Starwood Waypoint Residential Trust on its $7.7bn stock-for-stock merger with Colony American Homes. Chicago-based Thomas Cole is the elder statesman of the practice and often advises on many of the firm’s most significant transactions. Also in Chicago are Paul Choi, who is noted for spin-offs, and Brian Fahrney. In New York, Michael Gordon is an ‘out-of-the-box strategic thinker’ and recommended for public company and real estate deals. San Francisco partner Sharon Flanagan is ‘very strong in general public company SEC matters’.
Bracewell LLP’s excellence in energy and financial institutions M&A has kept it very active in transactions above $1bn. The firm provides an ‘A-plus’ service: its ‘response times are excellent’, the ‘business acumen and industry knowledge are unparalleled, the teams are strong and the service is good value’. For one client, it is the ‘go-to firm for complex transactions’. In addition to handling large-cap deals, it also operates in the middle market - not only in energy and financial services but also in real estate, technology and other sectors. Despite the collapse of commodity prices in 2015, the firm’s M&A practice remained very active, and in addition to representing a series of big and well-capitalized strategic acquirers, including MLPs, it represented a number of private equity sponsors taking advantage of distressed situations and company sellers looking to raise cash in a tough climate. A large proportion of the M&A practice is located in Houston, with smaller teams in New York and Dallas. Big energy clients include Houston-based Kinder Morgan, the largest energy infrastructure company in North America; Duke Energy, the largest electric power holding company in the US; and major independent power producer Talen Energy. Apache Corporation and Phillips 66 are also key clients. On the fund side, the firm represents Alinda Capital Partners on a regular basis and, in 2015, it advised the client and its co-seller on the $1.89bn sale of SourceGas Holdings to Black Hills. Also in 2015, the firm represented Kinder Morgan in its $3bn acquisition of Hiland Partners from its founder Harold Hamm and certain Hamm family trusts. In addition, it advised Duke Energy on its $2.8bn sale of its non-regulated Midwest commercial generation business to Dynegy. On the financial institutions front, it advised CBFH, the holding company of Community Bank of Texas, on its acquisition of MC Bancshares. Gregory Bopp is one of the biggest names in energy M&A and has a ‘talent for working complex deal structures to creatively solve business objectives’. Alan Rafte is ‘one of the most knowledgeable oil and gas transaction lawyers around’ and is ‘bright, creative and business minded’. Bopp and Rafte are based in Houston, as are William Anderson, Gary Orloff, Cleland Dade, Jason Jean and Roxanne Almaraz. New York’s John Klauberg is a formidable M&A lawyer and Dallas-based Sanford Brown is widely recognized for his expertise in financial institutions M&A.
Dechert LLP is commended by clients for ‘big-ticket, high-value investments and exits’, and delivers a ‘superb, value-add advice with tremendous acumen and industry knowledge’. The ‘terrific’ team is always ‘available with timely advice whenever needed’. It is well known for its expertise in complex, highly regulated industries, and is notably strong in life sciences and financial services. In 2015, the firm represented MWI Veterinary Supply in its $2.5bn acquisition by AmerisourceBergen Corporation and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Roscoe Acquisition Corp. Continuing to be active on behalf of private equity clients and their portfolio companies, it advised Court Square Capital Partners and Fibertech Holdings on the $1.9bn all-cash merger of Fibertech Holdings Corp and Lightower Fiber Networks. Chair of the global corporate and securities group Mark Thierfelder is ‘a truly superb M&A lawyer who you want in the trenches with you’. Jonathan Kim, Derek Winokur and ‘terrific M&A lawyer’ Christian Matarese are also key names in New York. Philadelphia partner Stephen Leitzell is another senior name and was lead partner on the MWI Veterinary Supply transaction. Philadelphia’s Henry Nassau is chair of the firm’s corporate and securities group, and fellow Philadelphia lawyers William Lawlor, Carmen Romano and Geraldine Sinatra are also names to note.
Mayer Brown’s sizeable US practice, coupled with its international profile and network, ensures that it continues to be sought out for substantial domestic and cross-border transactions. The ‘service and capability is top flight’, it is ‘practical and collaborative’, and it is ‘a true value add for most deals’. Clients say it excels in ‘upper middle-market and thornier deals, where its capabilities are most valued’. The firm has an especially strong reputation in the financial services sector as well as in energy, chemicals and life sciences. In 2015, it advised Wells Fargo on its $32bn acquisition of GE Capital’s commercial distribution finance and vendor finance platforms and part of its corporate finance business. In addition, the US team had a pivotal role when the firm represented Yum! Brands in the spin-off of its China business to create two independent and publicly traded companies, Yum! China and Yum! Brands. The transaction enables Yum! China to focus on its China growth, with Yum! Brands building its KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell brands worldwide. Real estate is another core strength of the firm and, in 2015, it advised Prologis on its $5.9bn acquisition of the real estate assets and operating platform of KTR Capital Partners, in what was one of the largest real estate deals of the year. Other clients include ACE, Capital One Financial, Caterpillar, ConocoPhillips, Dow, Macquarie, Mitsui & Co., Sumitomo Corporation of America, and Walton Street Capital. Chicago lawyers William Kucera and Jodi Simala are co-chairs of the M&A practice in the Americas. Kucera is ‘smart and incredibly hard working, but without the nonsense, pretense or pomp’. He ‘brings with him an A-team that delivers a top-tier service in a collaborative and practical way’. Other key partners include fellow Chicago lawyer Marc Sperber, who leads the firm’s relationship with Dow. New York’s Philip Brandes also has an excellent reputation.
The ‘top-tier’, ‘best-in-class’ and ‘excellent’ Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP is incredibly ‘responsive’ and ‘knowledgeable’ and is ‘able to get up to speed on transactions as efficiently as any firm.’ Knowledge of clients and the industry in which they operate ‘makes negotiations a much smoother process due to the firm’s focus on the key issues’. The firm further augmented its presence in public and private M&A in 2015 with the hire of Robert Kennedy and Brien Wassner from Jones Day. Both have a strong record in strategic M&A and private equity buyouts, with Wassner noted for his experience in energy and infrastructure deals. The two join a practice that covers both middle-market and large-cap transactions, and which is frequently engaged in cross-border deals involving Latin America, Asia and Europe. Naturally for a firm that has a worldwide reputation for project and infrastructure finance, the M&A team is also often instructed on energy, power, natural resources and infrastructure deals. In 2015, the firm advised New York-based commercial property and investment firm Cushman & Wakefield on its announced $2.04bn merger with DTZ, the real estate business backed by major buyout fund TPG. In another substantial transaction, a team led by Charles Conroy advised oil exploration and servicing company Nabors Industries on the $1.4bn merger of its completion and production services unit with oil field services provider C&J Energy Services. Private equity is a burgeoning area for the practice and, in 2015, a group led by John Franchini, who is a ‘great lawyer’ and ‘always available’, advised Switzerland-based Partners Group as part of a consortium that acquired the passenger terminal at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport from Porter Aviation Holdings.
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP continued to build on its acquisition of a substantial M&A team from the now defunct Bingham McCutchen in 2014. The firm is ‘fantastic’, ‘response times are fast’, it ‘has a strong understanding of the industry’ and ‘understands the business objectives’ of clients. It also has a ‘broad range of deal experience’ and gives ‘top-flight advice’. Technology and healthcare M&A are two areas of particular growth for the group. Life sciences, pharmaceuticals, energy, financial services and real estate are also areas of considerable strength. In healthcare, the firm advised managed-care organization Health Net on its $6.8bn sale to Centene. In technology, it represented Raytheon Company in its $1.9bn acquisition of Websense from Vista Equity Partners and the combination of Websense with Raytheon Cyber Products, creating an array of defense-grade solutions for the cybersecurity market. In the life sciences space, the firm advised clinical stage biopharmaceutical company Acerta Pharma on the $4bn sale of a majority stake to AstraZeneca. In foreign inbound transactions, which is another area of strength, the firm advised UK-based communications and events company UBM on its $972m acquisition of US trade show organizer VSS-AHC Consolidated Holdings (also known as Advanstar Communications). The firm operates a genuinely national practice in the US, covering east to west coasts. Philadelphia’s Richard Aldridge and Boston’s Laurie Cerveny head the practice, which includes fellow Boston lawyers Steven Browne and John Utzschneider. New York-based Jonathan Morris, Steven Navarro and Floyd Wittlin are also highly regarded, and James Loss is a key figure in Orange County, especially on the private equity side. Philadelphia’s Benjamin Wills has the ‘ability to work well’ with clients and ‘recommend paths and solutions that are workable and cognizant of the goals of the organization’.
Morrison & Foerster LLP’s ‘level of service is top notch, both in terms of responsiveness and also in terms of the quality of the advice’. In particular, the ‘business acumen is high and business needs are taken into account, making the advice practical and useful’. Overall, it is ‘consistently a top performer’ and ‘a great resource, particularly for highly technical issues’. The firm is best known for its work in the technology sector, but beyond that, real estate and REIT deals are a growing area, especially from its New York and Washington DC offices. Energy, life sciences and healthcare are also key strengths. In 2015, the team advised Henry Nicholas, the co-founder and former CEO of Broadcom, on Broadcom’s headline $37bn acquisition of Avago Technologies, one of the largest-ever technology deals. It also represented VMware on Dell’s $67bn acquisition of VMware’s parent company EMC; VMware is a publicly traded company, and the deal involved EMC issuing tracking stock in VMware. The firm was also engaged by VMware to advise on its joint venture with EMC to create a new cloud services business. San Francisco’s Robert Townsend and Eric McCrath are co-chairs of the global M&A group along with Spencer Klein in New York and Lawrence Yanowitch in Northern Virginia. Townsend is an ‘extremely talented senior M&A lawyer with broad experience across all types of transactions’ and is ‘great at navigating the board through all the issues’. Palo Alto’s Charles Comey and San Francisco’s Michael O’Bryan are also highly regarded, and the latter is described as ‘a very seasoned M&A lawyer with a depth of technical expertise’. Other clients include AmREIT, Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners and SoftBank.
Proskauer Rose LLP is ‘excellent’ and its ‘responsiveness and quality of service are top’, with clients ‘consistently relying on the firm to provide advice on complex transactions’. A ‘top performer’, it routinely advises on transactions valued in excess of $1bn, which includes deals in the real estate, healthcare, retail, sports and gaming sectors. With the firm’s further expansion internationally, most notably in London, it is gaining additional exposure to private equity sponsors, sovereign wealth funds and international corporates. It recently represented AccorHotels in its $2.9bn cash and stock acquisition of FRHI Holdings, the parent company of the Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel brands; New York-based Jeffrey Horwitz was lead counsel on the deal. In another high-value transaction, the firm represented long-term healthcare client Celgene in its $7.2bn acquisition of Receptos. In the REIT space, it advised American Realty Capital Healthcare Trust on its $2.6bn sale to Ventas; New York’s Daniel Ganitsky, who led the deal, is regarded as an ‘excellent’, ‘hands-on’ and ‘trusted adviser’. Los Angeles managing partner Michael Woronoff and New York’s Ron Papa co-head the global M&A department.
Ropes & Gray LLP is best known for its supreme private equity practice, but its record in strategic M&A continues to grow steadily. The arrival of seasoned M&A specialist John Sorkin from Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP is another step in this direction. The firm’s standing in the life sciences, pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors and in intellectual property law has helped it achieve significant roles in a series of big-ticket transactions. Data privacy and restructuring-driven transactions are also key strengths. The firm advised Ireland-based Shire on its proposed $30bn acquisition of Baxalta, the developer of products for the treatment of hematology and immunology; Boston’s Christopher Comeau led the advice. The firm also advised Pfizer on its $17bn acquisition of injectable drugs and infusion technologies company Hospira. Clients recognize the firm as ‘a clear leader in private equity’ with the ‘best sponsor leveraged finance practice in the US’. Boston’s Julie Jones is a ‘go-to public M&A lawyer’ who ‘understands how boards think and how investors can work with companies to build constructive partnerships’. Co-head of the M&A group Jane Goldstein is now principally located in New York and has helped to give the firm additional M&A strength in the city, where Othon Prounis is also a key name. Boston’s Paul Kinsella is prominent in life sciences.
Vinson & Elkins LLP is a ‘terrific law firm’ and ‘one of the best in the energy industry’, and it is ‘head and shoulders above many of the other firms’, according to one client. Other key sectors for the firm include chemicals, retail, manufacturing and industrials. A growing proportion of the M&A practice is driven by private equity sponsors. In 2015, the firm advised Targa Resources Partners and Targa Resources Corp in connection with the $7.7bn acquisition of Atlas Pipelines Partners and Atlas Energy; the deal involved two simultaneous public M&A transactions and a sizeable public company spin-off. Houston partner and co-head of the M&A group Keith Fullenweider is known for energy M&A and private equity, and is ‘quick, knowledgeable and organized’, and a ‘good businessman’ as well as lawyer. Co-head of the energy transactions and projects practice John Connally is also a ‘standout’ practitioner according to clients, with New York’s Mike Rossenwasser recognized as a leader in energy M&A, especially in the MLP space. Other notable clients include Breitburn Energy Partners, TPG Capital, Riverstone Holdings, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Southwest Airlines, Devon Energy and White Deer Energy.
Allen & Overy LLP has a streamlined M&A practice in New York which is held in high regard, and it is considered among the leading UK-based firms operating in the US M&A market. Cross-border deals are its natural forte. Eric Shube, head of the firm’s US M&A practice, had a leading role advising Spain’s Coca-Cola Iberian Partners on its headline $22bn merger with US publicly listed bottling company Coca-Cola Enterprises Limited and the private German bottling company Coca-Cola Erfrischungsgetränke. The transaction created the UK-based Coca-Cola European Partners, now the world’s largest independent Coca-Cola bottler. Fellow New York partner Peter Harwich is known for TMT deals and recently advised Computer Sciences Corporation on its plan to separate into two publicly traded companies.
Baker McKenzie LLP is ‘excellent’ when it comes to ‘quality and speed of service’, and clients praise the firm for its ‘strong involvement and commitment to projects’ and for operating as ‘a core team member’. These characteristics, as well as the firm’s ubiquitous presence around the globe, make it a ‘priority choice in cross-border M&A transactions’. It is also increasingly active in pure domestic deals, and has notable strength in the pharmaceutical, energy, mining and technology sectors. Led by the increasingly prominent Olivia Tyrrell, it advised Baxter International on the spin-off of its bioscience business into a separate publicly traded company, Baxalta. This was one of the largest spin-offs in North American corporate history, with Baxalta having a market capitalization of in excess of $21bn. Leading technology M&A specialist Matthew Gemello led the group that advised Symantec on the international aspects of the separation and $8bn sale of Veritas to a consortium led by The Carlyle Group. Chicago’s Michael DeFranco headed the team that advised FedEx on its $1.4bn acquisition of GENCO. Chicago-based Craig Roeder and Jakub Telpy have ‘demonstrated excellent performance’ in M&A transactions along with ‘strong involvement and commitment’.
Baker Botts L.L.P. is a giant in energy M&A and advised on a multitude of $1bn-plus transactions in 2015. It advised the conflicts committee of Williams Partners on its $50bn merger with Access Midstream Partners, a deal which closed in February 2015. In addition, it represented Halliburton in its $34.6bn acquisition of Baker Hughes, and advised Regency Energy Partners, a large-cap MLP, in connection with its $18bn merger with Energy Transfer Partners. Houston-based Kelly Rose, David Kirkland and Joshua Davidson have each built up an impressive records in bulge-bracket transactions, with Davidson particularly active in MLP deals. The firm is also building its practice in New York and diversifying into non-energy areas.
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP has a principal focus on middle-market clients, although this does not prevent it from advising on a multitude of big-ticket deals. It also has a strong reputation in the activism and proxy contest space, where it represents both shareholder activists and corporates, and its standing in this area was further enhanced by the lateral hire of Richard Brand from Kirkland & Ellis LLP in 2015. He links up with co-chair of the corporate and M&A department Christopher Cox, who is another experienced figure in activism situations and a regular adviser to life sciences, pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device companies. In 2015, Cox represented Salix Pharmaceuticals in its $15.6bn sale to Valeant Pharmaceuticals. Aly El Hamamsy is another key member of the team and represented CPP Investment Board in connection with CPPIB Credit Investments’ $12bn acquisition of Antares Capital’s sponsor lending portfolio. Co-chair of the corporate team William Mills is another senior member of the practice and is noted for his healthcare expertise.
Clifford Chance is well positioned for cross-border mandates and has a highly credible New York M&A team. The firm holds the ‘gold standard for responsiveness’, and lawyers are ‘always available and ready to do what it takes to respond to clients’ needs’. The team is ‘totally service-oriented’, ‘practical’, ‘business-oriented’ and has ‘strong energy sector knowledge’, particularly in the Latin American markets. In 2015, it was heavily engaged in inbound transactions, and advised CM International Holding, the Singapore-based investment arm of China Minsheng Investment, on its $2.2bn acquisition of global property and casualty insurer and reinsurer Sirius International Insurance Group from White Mountains Insurance Group. In addition, it represented regular client Mondelēz International as a major shareholder in Keurig Green Mountain in the $13.9bn acquisition of Keurig by JAB Holding Company, and it advised American Tower Corporation on its $1.1bn acquisition of the Nigerian telecommunications tower business of Bharti Airtel. New York’s David Brinton is ‘extremely responsive, has in-depth M&A experience and extensive knowledge about the energy sector’. He is ‘a commercial and business-oriented lawyer’ that ‘understands the business considerations for transactions as well as the finer legal points and focuses on identifying the issues that matter’. Brinton is recognized for his record in Latin America transactions. Other key partners include the immensely experienced John Healy, who has an impressive record in public M&A and deals in the finance and healthcare sectors. Sarah Jones is New York and UK qualified and has close connections to notable clients such as Mondelēz. Benjamin Sibbett is recognized for healthcare, media and information services deals and represents clients including McGraw Hill Financial and Pfizer. Clients also applaud the depth of the team, including the high-quality associates. Robert Masella joined Shearman & Sterling LLP.
Covington & Burling LLP is ‘premier and outstanding in all areas of M&A, including transactional and financing’, and one client says that it ‘exceeds the performance of every other top-tier firm with whom I’ve dealt’. A sizeable proportion of the firm’s M&A work is on behalf its illustrious life sciences clients, with much of the remainder centered on financial services, sports and energy, and also technology, media and entertainment, which were growth areas for the firm in 2015. In life sciences, the firm assisted Allergan with several deals, including its $2.1bn acquisition of Kythera Biopharmaceuticals. It also advised Forest Laboratories on its $1.1bn acquisition of Furiex Pharmaceuticals. In technology and media, it advised Luxembourg-based Altice on its $9.1bn acquisition of a 70% stake in Suddenlink, the seventh-largest US cable operator. New York’s Scott Smith and Washington DC’s Catherine Dargan head the M&A practice, which includes New York-based JD Weinberg, a prominent financial services M&A specialist. Frank Conner and Michael Reed in Washington DC are also recognized for financial services M&A as well as other areas. Since publication, New York-based David Schwartzbaum has joined from Greenberg Traurig, LLP.
Greenberg Traurig, LLP is regularly engaged in big-ticket M&A in addition to a sizeable volume of mid-market deals. The firm represents a range of US-based and overseas corporates, and has a flourishing practice on behalf of financial advisers. In 2015, the firm advised Blackstone Advisory Partners, as lead financial adviser to packaging business Rock-Tenn Company, on Rock-Tenn’s $16bn merger with MeadWestvaco Corporation. It also represented JPMorgan Chase, as sole financial adviser to PetSmart, in relation to PetSmart’s $8.7bn sale to a private equity consortium led by BC Partners. In the corporate sphere, the firm advised Platform Specialty Products on its $3.5bn acquisition of Arysta LifeScience, and represented Teva Pharmaceuticals in its $2.3bn acquisition of Mexican drug company Representaciones e Investigaciones Médicas. Healthcare, life sciences and pharmaceuticals are key sectors for the firm, as are gaming, media and entertainment, real estate and transport. Dennis Block is the senior chairman of the firm’s global M&A practice and a big name in the market, as are Chicago’s Peter Lieberman and Miami-based global corporate and securities chair Gary Epstein. Since publication David Schwartzbaum has joined Covington & Burling LLP.
O’Melveny & Myers LLP is noted for its strength in technology transactions and cross-border deals involving Asia, and continued to handle major deals. It is also recognized for its record in the media, life sciences, industrial and energy sectors. The firm has genuine M&A strength on both coasts, and is widely acclaimed for its expertise in contested transactions. In 2015, it advised Dealertrack Technologies on its $4bn sale to Cox Automotive, and it represented BB&T Corporation in its $1.8bn agreement to acquire National Penn Bancshares. In cross-border deals involving Asia, the firm advised WuXi PharmaTech on its $3.3bn merger with New WuXi Life Science and WuXi Merger, a wholly owned subsidiary of New WuXi. Paul Scrivano is a key member of the team and was part of the advisory team on the Dealertrack and BB&T transactions. Scrivano was named head of the global M&A and private equity practice in December 2015, and splits his time between New York, San Francisco and Silicon Valley. The New York team was bolstered by the arrival of Tobias Knapp from Jenner & Block LLP in 2015. Former chair of the global M&A and private equity practice Steven Tonsfeldt joined Cooley LLP.
Paul Hastings LLP has continued its upward trajectory in headline M&A. In 2015, it hired David Shine as head of the New York M&A practice from Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP. Shine is a recognized name in high-value deals, particularly within the healthcare, life sciences and technology sectors. In addition, the firm recruited Samuel Waxman to the New York office from Shearman & Sterling LLP. Waxman is noted for his record in technology M&A and has deep knowledge of intellectual property driven transactions. These two hires follow a period of concerted growth for the firm on the West Coast, where several big names have joined in recent years. Technology M&A is a particular strength of the firm in the US and globally. On the cross-border side, the firm recently advised Fosun International, the largest privately owned conglomerate in China, on its acquisition - as a member of a buyer consortium backed by TPG Capital - of Cirque Du Soleil for $1.4bn. In addition, the firm represented major operators of the Taco Bell and Buffalo Wild Wings franchised restaurants on the sale of a majority stake to Partners Group. David Hernand is a pivotal figure in Los Angeles, as is fellow Los Angeles lawyer Robert Miller; San Diego’s Carl Sanchez is global chair of the M&A practice.
Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP’s ‘overall service level is very high’, with the lawyers praised for their responsiveness and for being ‘deal-savvy, very strong at partner level and supported by a very capable tax group’. The firm has built out its nascent Houston office with the relocation of Jon Lyman from London and the hires of Michael Niebruegge from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, Michael De Voe Piazza from Bracewell LLP and Angela Olivarez from Jones Day. It is increasingly involved in $1bn-plus transactions, and recently it advised Centerview Partners, financial adviser to Salix Pharmaceuticals, on the $15.8bn merger of Salix and Valeant Pharmaceuticals. It also advised FIS on its announced agreement to acquire financial software company SunGard for $9.1bn. New York-based department heads David Boston and Steven Seidman are recommended. Also in New York, chairman Thomas Cerabino is ‘extremely strong, responsive and practical; he gets quickly to the heart of the matter, avoids histrionics and gets the deal done’. Other key advisers include Laura Delanoy, Rosalind Fahey Kruse and Russell Leaf, in addition to senior partner Jack Nusbaum, ‘rising star’ Adam Turteltaub and New York and Houston based Bruce Herzog. Robert Langdon exited for Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP’s Palo Alto office.
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati has a virtually unrivalled record in technology M&A. In 2015, the firm represented Altera Corporation in its $16.7bn sale to Intel. In early 2016, the firm advised Microchip Technology on its $3.56bn definitive agreement to acquire Atmel. This was the result of an alternative proposal made by Microchip to Atmel’s board of directors, following Atmel’s previous agreement to be acquired by Dialog Semiconductor in September 2015. Though principally operating from the West Coast, the firm has a genuinely national and international profile.