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  1. Telecoms and broadcast: transactional
  2. Leading lawyers

Leading lawyers

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Covington & Burling LLP further strengthened its telecoms and broadcast practice with the arrival in 2014 of Robyn Polashuk, who joined the Los Angeles office from Greenberg Traurig, LLP. Polashuk brings her expertise in all issues concerning the licensing and distribution of television networks and programming content, to a practice that is noted for its expertise in media transactions. In an illustration of her work in this area, Polashuk advised The Walt Disney Company on a comprehensive renewal agreement between the client and DirecTV, and acted for the NFL Network on the negotiation of carriage agreements with various distributors. In other highlights, a team including Mace Rosenstein, co-chair of the media, internet and technology industry group, and Yaron Dori, who has over 20 years of experience acting for telecoms, technology and media corporations, are advising Altice on its acquisition of US cable operator Suddenlink; and communications and media specialist Jennifer Johnson assisted broadcasting giant CBS with the distribution of all CBS-affiliated television stations on its newly developed digital platform. Other key clients include Hulu, Univision Communications, and Berkshire Partners.

Latham & Watkins LLP owes much of its outstanding reputation to its experience handling transformative deals in the telecoms, broadcast and satellite space. Recent highlights include advising Time Warner Cable on all aspects of its proposed merger with Charter Communications and Bright House Networks, and assisting Thales on its bid for the construction of one of the world’s largest satellite constellations for OneWeb, a Channel Islands-based satellite internet service provider. The firm has also been heavily involved in the FCC’s Advanced Wireless Services and Broadcast spectrum auctions. Other key clients include Comcast Corporation, Cox Communications, Sirius XM, the NFL Players Association, and JPMorgan, which the team routinely advises at all stages of their transactions. The practice’s heavy hitters include joint department heads James Barker and James Gorton, Matthew Brill - who serves as the global chair of the firm’s communications law practice - and TMT specialist John Janka.

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP acts for an impressive number of major media and telecoms companies, family-controlled groups, private equity investors and underwriters, including Amazon, AMC Networks, Tribune Company, Helios Investment Partners, and Verizon. M&A specialists Jeffrey Rosen and Michael Diz assisted Verizon with the $10.5bn sale of its local wireline operations in California, Florida and Texas to Frontier Communications. In another highlight, the practice advised the controlling shareholders in The Madison Square Garden Company on the spin-off of the client’s live sports and entertainment businesses. In another 2015 highlight, Richard Bohm advised an independent committee of the Board of Directors of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia on its $365m sale to Sequential Brands. Bohm and Michael Gillespie jointly lead the ‘outstanding’ TMT department, which also includes the ‘absolutely terrificJonathan Levitsky, William Regner and Jeffrey Cunard.

Hogan Lovells US LLP’s ‘exceptional, unique and hardworking team’ combines formidable regulatory capabilities with an outstanding reputation in transactional matters, where it regularly acts for private equity and venture capital investors, wireless and satellite operators, technology developers and manufacturers. In a recent highlight, the firm advised Columbia Capital, a global private equity firm that that focuses on technology and telecoms opportunities, on its acquisition of Big Data company Verato. Lead partners in this matter were Randy Segal and Trey Hanbury, who are respectively based in the firm’s Northern Virginia and Washington DC offices. Segal, a specialist on satellite and space systems, was called on to advise OmniEarth, a growing geospatial solutions and information services company, on the launch of its satellite constellation, which included providing transactional corporate and commercial assistance. On the media front, the practice acted for 21st Century Fox on the sale of STATS to Vista Equity Partners and on its purchase of Los Angeles-based online advertising technology company True(X) media. Other key individuals include the ‘extremely knowledgeableSteven Kaufman, Ari Fitzgerald, and Michele Farquhar, who are all based in Washington DC, which saw the arrival of unmanned aircraft systems expert Lisa Ellman from legacy McKenna Long & Aldridge.

Clients single out Jenner & Block LLP for its ‘complete package of regulatory, M&A, litigation and appellate expertise, and for its client service.’ In two key deals in 2015, the predominantly Washington DC-based team advised Charter Communications on a sale-and-swap transactions with Comcast, which marks one of the largest horizontal cable transactions of this decade; and assisted Japanese telecom giant SoftBank and Sprint with a proposed merger with T-Mobile. Other key clients include Fox Sports and Fox Sports Digital, the latter of which the group advised on its acquisition of assets from online sports start-up StraightCast Media, including its ‘Gridiron Grunts’ mobile app. Communications and technology specialist Nancy Libin joined the group, which now counts 11 partners, including department heads Samuel Feder, John Flynn and Carissa Coze, as well as Luke Platzer and Los Angeles-based Jolene Negre.

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP’s telecoms practice particularly stands out for its corporate capabilities, which encompass commercial contracts, corporate and project financings, and M&A. A large proportion of the practice’s workload stems from the satellite and space industry; Washington DC-based Dara Panahy and New York-based Peter Nesgos lead on these matters and are experts in aerospace and communication. The practice’s wider client base includes telecoms operators, broadband providers, lenders and investors such as Vodafone, Bharti Airtel, LightSquared, Verizon, HSBC, and JPMorgan. Former department head Glenn Gerstell joined the National Security Agency as general counsel.

Paul Hastings LLP’s telecoms and broadcast team works regularly and closely with the firm’s M&A, private equity, and leveraged finance departments. The practice is particularly known for its work in the field of digital media; it has advised Media General on a number of acquisitions, including the client’s strategic investments in The Audience and Federated Media. The firm is also assisting Collective Digital Studio with its $240m merger with German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1’s Studio71 operation to create a new global multi-channel network. Other key deals include various acquisitions for LIN Media and advising Allbritton Communications on the $985m sale of its equity interests in Perpetual Corporation and Charleston Television to Sinclair Broadcast. Key figures include Eric Greenberg, Tara Giunta, Sherrese Smith and David Hernand, who joined the firm’s Los Angeles office from Cooley LLP.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP’s client base includes multinational telecoms companies such as Ericsson, global private equity firms such as Oak Hill Capital Partners, and financial institutions including Merrill Lynch. The firm is particularly known for its cable industry expertise; it regularly acts for clients such as Cable & Wireless Communications and Time Warner Cable, most recently advising the former on its $1.85bn acquisition of Columbus International. In other highlight deals, satellite specialist Patrick Campbell advised Intelsat on its minority investment in OneWeb and on its strategic distribution agreements, while Bruce Gutenplan advised the investors of ExteNet Systems on the $1bn recapitalization of the wireless service provider’s business. Corporate partners and cable experts Ariel Deckelbaum and Robert Schumer are also recommended.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP combines communications law expertise with a track record in corporate structuring, national security reviews and antitrust approvals for clients from the television, radio broadcast, cable, satellite, mobile, internet and terrestrial and undersea fiber optic areas. In an illustration of its track record in the fiber optic space, Ivan Schlager, John Beahn, and Joshua Gruenspecht led on Pamplona Capital Management’s $150m investment in fiber optic network service provider Lumos Networks. Another highlight saw the trio of partners advise Time Warner Cable on its proposed Charter Communications. In a further demonstration of the practice’s expertise in M&A, it advised Veritas Capital on its acquisition of Emergency Communications Network (ECN).

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP’s Howard Chatzinoff heads the New York-based TMT transactional team, a subgroup of the firm’s corporate department which is best known for its expertise in cross-border transactions, spin-offs, IPOs, debt and equity offerings and restructurings. In a notable highlight, Fred Green advised Verizon on its proposed $4.4bn acquisition of AOL. The group also advised DirecTV on its sale to AT&T for $48.5bn, which was one of the most prominent and publicized M&A deals in the sector. Other highlights saw Michael Aiello advise Media General on Nexstar Broadcasting Group’s $4.1bn buyout offer and advise JPMorgan Securities as financial adviser to Frontier Communications Corporation’s acquisition of AT&T’s incumbent exchange operations in Connecticut, which also involved advising on the related bridge financing senior notes offering. Other clients include AMC Entertainment, CBS, Wells Fargo and Univision Communications. Private equity and M&A specialist Michael Lubowitz also comes highly recommended.

With a track record in the TMT sector spanning more than 30 years, Wiley Rein LLP has accumulated a reputation for its ‘very wide-ranging knowledge of telecommunications law and regulations and FCC issues’. Its 80-lawyer team includes a former FCC chairman, five former FCC commissioners, a former FCC general counsel, two former FCC chiefs of staff, and a former FCC bureau chief. One of the firm’s key clients is AT&T, which Jennifer Hindin and telecoms group chair Michael Senkowski assisted with its $48.5bn acquisition of DirecTV. In another highlight, the practice acted as FCC counsel to Fortress Investment Group and JPMorgan Chase on their $6.8bn acquisition of LightSquared through a restructuring and bankruptcy exit. Other key individuals include media group head Kathleen Kirby and telecoms specialist Robert McDowell. Of counsel Shawn Chang recently joined the firm from the United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce, where he worked as the chief democratic counsel on communications and technology policies. In 2015 Dominic Bodensteiner joined Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP and Todd Stansbury left the legal profession.

Though primarily known for its standout litigation and regulatory practices, Arent Fox LLP fields a team with strong transactional capabilities within the telecoms and broadcast space, including Michael Hazzard and practice head Alan Fishel, who routinely acts for telecoms and technology companies in on commercial agreements and recently advised Internet2, a not-for-profit networking consortium on various commercial contracts and agreements. In another highlight, Stephanie Joyce assisted DecisionQ, a data analytics company that creates customized data analytics and predictive modeling softwares, in a number of transactions. Other key clients include the American Library Association, the Computer and Communications Industry Association, Securus Technologies, and Twilio.

Palo Alto-based technology expert John Martin heads Baker Botts L.L.P.’s ten-partner practice, which acts for a prominent client roster that includes Barclays Capital, Mediacom Communications and Starz Entertainment. In a noteworthy highlight, New York-based Frederick McGrath and Renee Wilm recently advised Liberty Media on the spinoff of former subsidiary Liberty Broadband and on Liberty Broadband’s $4.3bn investment in Charter Communications.

Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP combines extensive knowledge of the communications sector with outstanding corporate and finance credentials. The practice acts on a wide range of strategic and corporate matters, and has particular strength in providing strategic advice and guidance on issues arising from political programming guidance. In an illustration of corporate finance capability, the practice recently advised the joint book-running managers and co-managers on the proposed merger between Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications. Key figures include Angela Collins and managing partner Chérie Kiser.

Washington DC-based John Feore leads Cooley LLP’s five-partner practice, which regularly acts for commercial broadcasters and media companies, including Meredith Corporation, on a variety of transactional mandates. In 2015, Kevin Mills and Michael Basile assisted the client with its acquisition of ABC affiliate WGGB-TV, advised on its $86m acquisition of the broadcast assets of WALA-TV, and on its involvement in the sale of KASW-TV, a CW-affiliated television station, to Nexstar Broadcasting. In another highlight Basile acted for Digity Media on its $264m sale to Alpha Media.

The highly regarded Robert Townsend leads the New York-based team at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, which regularly advises telecoms companies on M&A, securities offerings and a variety of complex financing transactions. Notable clients include Cable One and CBS Corporation. A recent highlight saw Stephen Burns advise Crown Castle on the $1.6bn sale of Australian subsidiary CCAL to a consortium of investors including Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets. The practice acted for the same client on the $1bn purchase of Quanta Fiber Networks from Quanta Services. George Schoen and Craig Arcella are also recommended.

Todd Daubert heads Dentons’ 23-lawyer telecoms and broadcast practice, which includes eight partners. Victor Boyajian acted for Synchronoss Technologies on the $60m purchase of personal cloud assets from F-Secure and advised Scanadu on a $35m series B financing for medtech company i9n. The merger with McKenna Long & Aldridge in July 2015 has added to the firm’s footprint.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP’s TMT practice covers a wide range of telecoms and media related corporate transactions and financings for clients including investment banks and private equity, and hedge funds. In a private equity highlight, telecoms sector head Andrew Lipman advised M/C Partners on its $50m investment in Everstream Solutions, a Cleveland-based provider of fiber services. Catherine Wang assisted Crown Castle, a provider of shared wireless infrastructure, with its $1bn acquisition of Quanta Fiber Networks, and Ulises Pin advised Columbus Networks on its $1.8bn sale to Cable & Wireless Communications. The promotion of Timothy Bransford and Frank Lamancusa has taken the Washington DC-based practice to nine partners.

Robert Freeman heads Proskauer Rose LLP’s ten-partner media and entertainment practice, which has an extensive track record negotiating and structuring distribution deals across traditional and emerging content platforms. Recent highlights include advising Time Warner Cable, which the team has represented for more than 15 years, on its agreement with Charter Communications for the carriage of SportsNet LA, the exclusive regional network for the Los Angeles Dodgers; and advising Soccer United Marketing, an affiliate of Major League Soccer, on the sale of its YouTube channel KickTV to Copa90, a soccer-focused content company based in the UK.

Headed by satellite expert Brian Weimer, Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP’s communications team is assisting Charter Communications with securing state and local franchise approvals its proposed multibillion-dollar merger with Time Warner Cable. Weimer also led on Charter’s acquisition of several cable systems from Bright House Networks, while Paul Werner provided advice on platform development and deployment to Snapchat.

The core of Steptoe & Johnson LLP’s telecoms and broadcast practice is located in Washington DC, led by Pantelis Michalopoulos. In an illustration of its transactional credentials, the team advised Netflix on interconnection agreements with Comcast, Charter Communications, Time Warner Cable, Verizon and AT&T, and advised the client on its opposition to Comcast’s proposed merger with Time Warner Cable. Other representative clients include DISH, Artel, and Neustar. Stephanie Roy, Christopher Bjornson, and Markham Erickson are highly recommended, as is New York-based Michael Vatis. Alan Cohn, who recently served as the former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security’s office of strategy, planning, analysis and risk, joined the firm in April 2015 as of counsel.

Since its establishment in August 2011, Telecommunications Law Professionals has established a foothold as a well-regarded telecoms boutique, regularly assisting clients including broadband service providers, wireless industry associations, financial institutions, equipment manufacturers, mobile application developers, and hi-tech start-ups. In a recent highlight, team head Carl Northrop advised LocusPoint Networks on multiple broadcast license acquisition transactions, and acted as federal counsel alongside Michael Lazarus on General Communication’s investments in the Alaska Wireless Network. The practice has also been acting for new client Lend Lease on various matters. Other clients include the Competitive Carriers Association, PRWireless and Columbia Capital. Regulatory expert Ash Johnston is also recommended.

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