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  1. Telecoms and broadcast: transactional
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Covington & Burling LLP stands out for its high-profile transactional expertise and counts Univision, CBS and The Walt Disney Company as some of its key clients. Mace Rosenstein, who is co-chair of the firm’s media, internet and technology group, recently advised Altice on its $18bn acquisition of Cablevision Systems and its $9.1bn acquisition of Suddenlink. Other noteworthy names in the department include Yaron Dori, who advises across telecoms, privacy and consumer protection law; Robyn Polashuk in Los Angeles, who specializes in the licensing of television networks and programming across several platform types; and Jennifer Johnson, who is co-chair of the communications and media group and focuses on television-related matters, regularly acting for content distributors, broadcast companies and trade associations. Attorneys are based in Washington DC unless stated otherwise.

Powerhouse transactional firmLatham & Watkins LLP continues to advise the top telecoms, broadcast and satellite clients in the sector, with a roster that includes Verizon and Leap Wireless International; group co-head James Barker acted for the latter in its $3.8m merger with AT&T and the client’s sale of a Chicago 700MHz license for $420m. In other work, Barker and Matthew Brill advised Time Warner Cable on all elements of its merger with Charter Communications and Bright House Networks, including gaining Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval for the transaction; Brill is also advising LogMeIn on its proposed $1.8bn merger with Citrix Systems, which will combine the client’s join.me collaboration software with Citrix Systems’ GoToMeeting products. The practice works closely with the firm’s private equity and capital markets teams, recently assisting JPMorgan with Sirius XM Radio’s $1bn senior notes issuance. Other clients include The Carlyle Group, BC Partners and the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board. New York-based co-chair James Gorton is highly regarded in the field, and John Janka is recommended for radio spectrum issues and regularly represents satellite operators, broadband providers and broadcasters. The ‘exceptionalMatthew Murchison made partner in 2017. Attorneys are based in Washington DC unless stated otherwise.

Michael Diz and Jonathan Levitsky are key members of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s technology, media and telecoms department. The team handles domestic and international mandates within the telecoms, content production, distribution, broadcast, cable television and radio sectors, assisting with M&A, IP issues, tax and financing. Levitsky advised Discovery Communications on its purchase of shares in Lions Gate Entertainment Corp (Lionsgate) and its subsequent involvement in Lionsgate’s $4.4bn acquisition of Starz, while Diz and Jeffrey Rosen recently advised Verizon Communications on its $1.8bn acquisition of XO Communications’ fiber-based internet protocol and Ethernet networks; they also assisted the client with the sale of its California, Florida and Texas local wireline operations to Frontier Communications, totaling $11bn. Diz is also working with Richard Bohm in advising the Dolan Family as the controlling stockholders of Cablevision on its sale to Altice for $18bn, and as the controlling stockholders of The Madison Square Garden Company on the spin-off of Madison Square Garden’s live sports and entertainment businesses. Bohm and Michael Gillespie jointly chair the firm’s media and telecoms group, which also includes IP specialist Jeffrey Cunard. Other clients include Amazon.com, Twitch Interactive, Tribune Media Company and the independent committee of the board of directors of Viacom.

Hogan Lovells US LLP covers the whole gamut of telecoms transactions, working closely with the firm’s regulatory team to advise on spectrum auctions, joint ventures, cross-border commercial contracts and private equity investments. In a recent private equity highlight, Randy Segal, Richard Becker (both based in Northern Virginia) and Washington-DC based Trey Hanbury assisted Columbia Capital with its investment in satellite communications company Omnispace, and are also assisting with investments into big data analytics, telecom infrastructure and wireless positioning developers. Segal jointly leads the department with Washington DC-based satellite expert Steven Kaufman; Kaufman is part of the team assisting inflight internet and entertainment provider Gogo with multiple international transactions. Other noteworthy names include Michele Farquhar and Richard Horan, based in Washington DC and Northern Virginia respectively, who are advising Vodafone on the expansion of its presence in the US and into Latin America; the team is also advising the client on the sale of its telecoms expense management business to Tangoe. Unmanned aircraft systems practice co-head Lisa Ellman is highly regarded for her drone expertise and Ari Fitzgerald is also recommended; both are based in Washington DC. Alexander Maltas joined the Washington DC office from an in-house position at Cablevision.

Samuel Feder and John Flynn lead the Washington DC-based practice at Jenner & Block LLP, which recently finished its high-profile work for Charter Communications, securing the regulatory approvals for its merger with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks in what was one of the largest cable transactions in the market, totaling $90bn; Flynn and Feder also advised Cablevision on its $18bn acquisition by Altice. Other clients include SoftBank, which Leah Tulin and Feder are assisting with its attempt to obtain FCC approval for the restructuring of its business; and Searchlight, which Flynn is advising on the structuring and pending FCC approval of its $400m investment in Hemisphere Media Group. Ossia, Comcast Corporation and T-Mobile are also clients. Technology and communications specialist Nancy Libin is recommended for privacy matters and Internet of Things (IoT) issues; Carissa Coze and Jolene Negre, both based in Los Angeles, and Luke Platzer are also names to notes. Broadband and wireline expert Rebekah Goodheart joined in 2016 from the FCC and has notable expertise in net neutrality issues, competition policy and privacy matters.

Paul Hastings LLP’s clients rate its ‘deal-making abilities as truly top class’ and praise it as ‘one of the most knowledgeable teams in the broadcast and digital media space’. The Washington DC-based department utilizes individuals from the firm’s M&A, private equity, leveraged finance and privacy practices, and is led by ‘true deal-makerEric Greenberg. The department has been highly active in the spectrum auction field and recently acted for a number of clients in the FCC’s broadcast incentive auction, advising on multiple transactional and regulatory issues and also negotiating several channel-sharing agreements for the clients; Greenberg and ‘incredibly creative problem-solverSherrese Smith led the matter. Other key deals include Palo Alto-based Tiffany Lee advising Brocade Communications Systems on its $1.5bn acquisition of Ruckus Wireless and, in Los Angeles, David Hernand, who is recommended for media-related mandates, and of counsel Ron Ben-Yehuda assisting DreamWorks Animation with the sale of a stake in AwesomenessTV to Verizon.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP’s ‘superb’ practice is highly active in the private equity space and advises a client roster that includes Oak Hill Capital Partners and Crestview Partners. Washington DC-based ‘strategic-thinker’ and practice co-head Patrick Campbell is advising the latter on its $125m acquisition of a stake in Colorado-based broadband provider Wide Open West from Avista Capital Partners. Co-head Bruce Gutenplan in New York is praised by clients as ‘the best attorney in the tower industry’ and recently assisted TowerCo Holdings with the $244m sale of 253 wireless communications towers and related assets to Grain Infrastructure Fund II. Other highlights included acting for the Investors of ExteNet in its $1bn recapitalization, and handling Cable & Wireless Communications’ $1.9bn acquisition of Columbus International. Satellite work is also a key strength; Campbell is advising Virgin Galactic on multiple satellite launch services agreements and is acting for IntelSat in its joint venture agreement with SKY Perfect JSAT Group.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP’s two-partner team excels in communications matters, advising broadcast, mobile, satellite, cable, wireless and fiber-optic clients in corporate restructurings, national security issues and antitrust approvals. In a recent highlight, John Beahn and associate Joshua Gruenspecht acted for several clients, including 21st Century Fox, The Walt Disney Company, Scripps Networks Interactive and Viacom, in FCC proceedings relating to the cable set-top-box market. Beahn and Gruenspecht are also advising Al Jazeera Media Network on the termination of its US cable news channel Al Jazeera America, and Beahn and Ivan Schlager - who leads the firm’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) practice - advised Time Warner Cable on its $55bn acquisition by Charter Communications. In a demonstration of the firm’s cross-border capabilities, the team is advising Nokia on its $17bn acquisition of France-based telecoms equipment manufacturer Alcatel Lucent. Other clients include Spark New Zealand, Sprint Corporation and T-Mobile. All attorneys mentioned are based in Washington DC.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLPprovides the highest level of service’, with a ‘responsiveness and willingness that makes it a pleasure to work with’. The New York-based practice, led by Howard Chatzinoff, specializes in complex M&A; highlights included advising Evercore as financial adviser to CenturyLink in relation to CenturyLink’s $34bn acquisition of Level 3 Communications, assisting Verizon with its acquisition of IoT platform developer Sensity Systems, and advising Delta Topco on its acquisition by Liberty Media Corporation for $7.8bn. Michael Aiello is advising JPMorgan and Perella Weinberg as financial advisers to AT&T regarding AT&T’s $109bn acquisition of Time Warner, and is also acting for Media General regarding a proposed buyout offer from Nexstar Broadcasting Group, totaling $4.6bn. Other clients include CBS Corporation, Univision Communications and Providence Equity Partners. Noteworthy names include private equity specialist Michael Lubowitz, corporate partner Frederick Green, and technology and IP transactional expert Karen Ballack in Silicon Valley, who clients praise as ‘an excellent communicator and hard worker’.

Alongside its litigation and regulatory expertise, Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP continues to demonstrate strength in corporate finance thorough its work advising the joint book-running manager and co-managers of, respectively, the Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications merger and DreamWorks’ acquisition of Comcast Corporation, and representing Deutsche Bank as book-running manager of DISH Network’s $3bn convertible notes offering. The communications sector is a focus of the Washington DC-based team, which advises clients on IPOs, restructurings, competition strategies, antitrust issues, tax mandates and political programming matters. Managing partner Chérie Kiser regularly advises voice, video and data communications clients, and counsel Angela Collins is also recommended.

The Washington DC-based team at Cooley LLP is led by Michael Basile and former FCC commissioner Robert McDowell, who joined in late 2016 from Wiley Rein LLP and regularly assists commercial broadcasters and cable television companies, such as Cox Communications, The Weather Channel and CBS Affiliates Association. In a recent highlight, Basile advised Digity Companies on its $264m sale to Alpha Media; Basile is also working with Kevin Mills for Meredith Corporation in its proposed merger with Media General. The team is highly active in the spectrum space, advising clients on licensing issues and representing multiple television broadcasters in various spectrum auctions. Other noteworthy team members include senior counsel John Feore, Anne Swanson and David Wittenstein.

At Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, the well-regarded Robert Townsend leads the practice, which focuses on advising telecoms companies such as Rogers Communications and Crown Castle on M&A, restructurings, high-profile financing transactions, tax and IP issues. Eric Schiele and Faiza Saeed are advising Time Warner on its acquisition by AT&T; they are also assisting Yahoo! with Verizon’s $4.8bn acquisition of its operating business. Stephen Burns, Damien Zoubek and Johnny Skumpija are key names to note; Skumpija advised Cox Communications on a $1bn debt offering. All attorneys mentioned are based in New York.

DLA Piper LLP (US)’s ‘incredibly responsive, knowledgeable and proactive’ three-partner telecoms team, based in Washington DC, ‘receives top marks’ from clients, and was established in late 2016 following the arrival of the ‘tremendousMichael Senkowski, the ‘unbelievably reliableNancy Victory and the ‘fantasticEric DeSilva from Wiley Rein LLP. Senkowski and Victory jointly chair the group and both are recommended for their telephony and wireless work. The team is particularly recognized for its spectrum expertise; DeSilva advised AT&T on multiple spectrum licensing acquisitions and leasing deals and, while at her previous firm, Victory assisted Columbia Capital with the sale of a 700MHz spectrum license held by one of its investment companies to T-Mobile. The practice also utilizes the firm’s global footprint and Frank Ryan in New York is advising VimpelCom on network sharing agreements in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Russia. Other clients include Samsung, CTIA and TracFone Wireless.

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP is particularly prominent in the satellite and space industries; New York-based Peter Nesgos and Washington DC-based Dara Panahy are both highly regarded in the aerospace and communications sectors. Nesgos was recently part of the team which advised O3b Networks on its acquisition by SES. The team counts several telecoms operators among its clients, including NTT, Verizon, Telemar, Vodafone and Bharti Airtel. HSBC, JPMorgan and LightSquared are also clients. Other areas of expertise include M&A, financing transactions, wireless issues, submarine cable systems, internet matters, cellular tower sales, managed services arrangements and equipment supply contracts.

Kathleen Kirby and Ambassador David Gross jointly head the ‘excellent’ Washington DC-based practice at Wiley Rein LLP, following the departure of Michael Senkowski to DLA Piper LLP (US) in late 2016, along with Nancy Victory and Eric DeSilva. The team, which is ‘always available to help and finds practical solutions to even the hardest problems’, includes Richard Bodorff, who is advising Nexstar Broadcasting Group on its $4.6bn merger with Media General, and satellite specialist Jennifer Hindin, who assisted AT&T with its $49bn acquisition of DirecTV. Clients single out Thomas Navin, who acted for Xylem in its $1.7bn acquisition of Sensus and related spectrum assets. A recent highlight for Kirby was advising Liberman Broadcasting on the acquisition of various radio and television stations, and assisting the client with issues relating to Spanish language television network Estrella TV. Other clients include CBS Radio, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Alpha Media. Robert McDowell joined Cooley LLP and David Hilliard is now a senior counsel. James Bayes and Marnie Sarver retired.

At Arent Fox LLP, practice head Alan Fishel regularly handles matters for technology and telecoms clients, and is particularly recommended for his FCC experience and commercial agreement expertise. The Washington DC-based team advises broadband and telecoms providers, equipment manufacturers and cable companies. Stephanie Joyce is a key name to note and is experienced in advising on backbone and content service contracts. Michael Hazzard joined Jones Day.

The team at Dentons is spread across New York, Washington DC, Silicon Valley and Los Angeles and includes Washington DC-based practice head Todd Daubert, who has a background in engineering. Recent highlights for Daubert include advising Luxottica on the purchase of telecoms, broadband and communications services for its international offices and retail locations from AT&T, and assisting Nokia with multiple telecoms and technology transactions, including its acquisition of Alcatel Lucent and various 5G issues. XO Communications and T-Mobile are also clients. Other noteworthy names include real estate specialist Linda White in Chicago, New York-based technology practice head Victor Boyajian, and Joel Bock in Short Hills, New Jersey.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP’s ‘responsive, pragmatic and reliable’ team is led by the ‘excellent’ Andrew Lipman, who recently advised Consolidated Communications on its acquisition of Champaign Telephone Company, as well as the internal reorganization of its corporate structure, and led advice to US TelePacific in its acquisition of DSCI. The practice is also prominent in the private equity space and Lipman recently assisted Melody Capital Partner with several terrestrial and satellite investments; the team also advised the client on the FCC broadband spectrum auction. Other clients include Facebook, Crown Castle International and Level 3 Communications. Clients single out Timothy Bransford for his satellite focus, technology specialist William Wilhelm, telecoms expert Catherine Wang and Ulises Pin for his international expertise and undersea cable knowledge; Pin recently advised Cable Wireless Communications on its $7.4bn sale to Liberty Global. All attorneys mentioned are based in Washington DC.

Proskauer Rose LLP is recognized for its distribution deal experience, advising clients on the negotiation and structuring of contracts for traditional platforms (including cable and satellite) and emerging content platforms (including TV Everywhere and over-the-top video). The media and entertainment sector is also prominent for the firm, particularly sports work. A recent highlight was advising Discovery Communications on its investment into Group Nine Media, led by department head Robert Freeman and private equity specialist Lauren Boglivi. Freeman is also working with Michael Ellis in assisting Comtech Telecommunications with its $431m acquisition of TeleCommunication Systems. Other clients include Hulu, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Altice. The practice is based in New York.

Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP’s client base includes cable and broadband internet providers, satellite companies, social media networks and fiber-optic infrastructure providers; Iridium, Vizio, CTIA and Zayo Group are examples. Satellite expert Brian Weimer leads the Washington DC-based department and is advising OneWeb on multiple commercial and corporate issues, including raising finance. Further highlights include assisting Charter Communications with franchising issues and infrastructure matters; and Paul Werner and Century City-based Brian Pass are advising Snapchat on platform development and the client’s move to become a mass media content company. Ray Rutngamlug made partner in early 2016.

Steptoe & Johnson LLP has ‘excellent’ transactional strength and regularly advises on M&A and commercial issues, including merger oppositions. Department head Pantelis Michalopoulos advised DISH Network on its opposition to the merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable and is also assisting Netflix with its analysis of the proposed merger between AT&T and DirecTV. Markham Erickson is separately advising Incompas and Nvidia on the conditions for the merger between Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications. Other clients include Inmarsat and Spotify. Stephanie Roy is recommended for telecoms matters, New York-based Michael Vatis and of counsel Christopher Bjornson are key names to note, and clients single out Alfred Mamlet for his ‘wise, pragmatic and effective assistance’. Attorneys mentioned are based in Washington DC unless otherwise noted.

Washington DC’s boutique telecoms firm Telecommunications Law Professionals was established in 2011 following a breakaway from Paul Hastings LLP; it advises on M&A, spectrum purchases and sales, financing transactions, infrastructure contracts, backhaul arrangements, auctions and tower leasing agreements. Its client roster is an assortment of wireless carriers, broadcasters, financial institutions, equipment manufacturers, mobile virtual networks operators and new technology companies, including The Alaska Wireless Network, Triad Communications, CCA - Competitive Carriers Association and Columbia Capital. In a recent highlight, FCC expert Ashton Johnston advised Nova Wireless on its involvement in the FCC’s broadcast incentive auction. Johnston is also working with Michael Lazarus and highly regarded team head Carl Northrop in assisting NxGen Partners with issues relating to the development of new wireless backhaul technology, which will be used in the release of the small cell configuration of 4G and 5G services. Northrop and Lazarus are also advising PRWireless on spectrum-related transactions and roaming issues. All attorneys mentioned are based in Washington DC.

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