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Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Real estate investment trusts (REITs)
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading lawyers
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading lawyers

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Who Represents Who

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REITs are a sweet spot for Clifford Chance’s US arm and its broad expertise encompasses equity and debt, and listed and non-listed REITs. Led jointly by US corporate finance lead Jay Bernstein and tax specialist Richard Catalano, the New York-based group is particularly sought after for its experience in mortgage and specialty finance REIT offerings. Among the firm’s recent work, it acted in two of the four completed REIT IPOs in 2017, including advising Safety, Income and Growth on its IPO and concurrent private placement worth a combined $250m - Kathleen Werner and Catalano led that work. In another headline, Andrew Epstein and Bernstein assisted the underwriters with KKR Real Estate Finance Trust’s $241.6m IPO. Larry Medvinsky, Jason Myers and ‘future starJake Farquharson are also names to note.

A ‘star in the field’, Goodwin’s REIT practice spans the full spread of equity and debt offerings, IPOs, M&A deals and joint venture transactions - it also packs a punch in regulatory matters. Group co-chair Gilbert Menna is ‘a great operator, with unrivaled knowledge of the industry’ and is regarded by many as a pioneer in the REIT arena. Menna recently advised Mid-America Apartment Communities on its acquisition of Post Properties, which created a public multi-family REIT with a combined value of $17bn. He also assisted Monogram Residential Trust with its $3bn acquisition by a new fund led by Greystar Real Estate Partners. Other key contacts include Boston-based group co-head Ettore Santucci and New York partner Yoel Kranz. In 2017, Marc Lazar joined the Boston office from Ropes & Gray LLP.

Hogan Lovells US LLP finds favor for its ‘deep and experienced bench’ and its ‘broad knowledge in all aspects of the REIT market’. Particularly admired for its strong experience in IPOs - it has acted as either issuer’s or underwriters’ counsel on four of the five largest REIT IPOs in history - it also shines in M&A, joint ventures and corporate governance matters. The sizeable Washington DC-centered team counts several market leaders among its ranks, including group head David Bonser (‘strong industry knowledge combined with a great worth ethic’) and tax specialist Prentiss Feagles. Highlights included Bonser advising JBG Companies on its merger with Vornado Realty Trust, to create the largest public real estate company in Washington DC. Stuart Barr acted for Hilton Worldwide on corporate and tax matters concerning the spin-off of its global real estate portfolio into a new REIT, Park Hotels & Resorts. Other respected senior names are Cameron Cosby, Michael McTiernan and Bruce Gilchrist. The team also fields an impressive line of younger partners, which includes Matt Thomson and newly promoted partners Stacey McEvoy and Leslie Reese.

The ‘responsive, creative and efficient’ practice at Latham & Watkins LLPknows how to get a deal across the line’. The group routinely acts across the full life cycle of REIT matters, including initial organization, partnership roll-up transactions, corporate spin-offs, public offerings, M&A and compliance issues. The global group is co-chaired by Michael Brody, held up by some as ‘the best tax expert in this space’, Julian Kleindorfer and Ana O’Brien - they teamed up with Orange County-based counsel David Wheeler to advise Digital Realty on its $7.6bn acquisition of DuPont Fabros Technology. Brody and Kleindorfer also advised Global Logistics Properties on its $1.1bn acquisition of the US logistics portfolio of Hillwood Development Company. Lewis Kneib and San Diego-based Michael Sullivan are also recommended. Named lawyers are based in Los Angeles, unless otherwise stated.

Trusted Advisor - with Finnegan

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

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP’s group, which clients highlight as ‘a top choice for complex or innovative transactions’, routinely acts for every type of REIT, including equity, mortgage, hybrid, special purpose, public and private REITs. New York-based group co-chair David Goldschmidt is ‘extremely creative’ and advised American Capital on the $3.4bn sale (excluding American Capital Mortgage Management) to Ares Capital Corporation and also on the sale of American Capital Mortgage Management to American Capital Agency. David Polster, who co-leads the group from Chicago, assisted GIC with its $1bn joint venture with Paramount Group to acquire 60 Wall Street. The group is also co-led by Los Angeles-based Meryl Chae, Palo Alto’s Gregg Noel and New York-based Harvey Uris. Sought after tax specialist John Rayis, who works out of Chicago and Los Angeles, is now of counsel.

A ‘first port of call for sophisticated or "first of a kind" transactions’, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz’s ‘cutting-edge’ practice is led jointly by noted sector specialist Robin Panovka and Adam Emmerich. REIT M&A provides the bulk of the work and the New York-based group is regularly involved in headline transactions, such as its recent advice to Regency Centers on its combination with Equity One to form a $15.6bn REIT. The team also acted for Cousins Properties in its merger with Parkway Properties and the simultaneous spin-off of the Houston-based assets of both companies, which created two publicly-traded REITs with a combined asset value of $7bn.

Efficient, business savvy and knowledgeable’, DLA Piper LLP (US)’s REIT practice is composed of ‘specialists in their fields’. Most notably, Raleigh-based Robert Bergdolt is ‘a nationally recognized expert in private REITs’ and heads a team that is particularly well known for its experience in the formation of public non-traded REITs. Bergdolt acted for an impressive raft of high-profile clients over the past year including Blackstone REIT. New York-based rising star Kerry Johnson had a banner year and led on several significant deals, such as handling Highwoods Properties’ $300m senior notes offering. REIT tax lead Robert Le Duc, who splits his time between Minneapolis and Chicago, is ‘a prominent name’.

Greenberg Traurig, LLP’s ‘extremely deep’ team scores high marks for its ‘very strong industry knowledge and service levels’ under the leadership of New York-based practice lead Judith Fryer. Among Fryer’s recent work, she advised public non-traded REIT, NorthStar Real Estate Income II, on its combination with NorthStar Real Estate Income Trust and a select portfolio of Colony NorthStar’s assets and liabilities to create a REIT with approximately $5.5bn in assets. Fryer, together with ‘preeminent specialist’ Alice Connaughton, who is based in Washington DC, assisted Industrial Property Trust with its $1.7bn IPO. Other highlights include New York’s Joseph Herz advice to Rodin Global Property Trust on its $1.2bn offering. Real estate chair Robert Ivanhoe, who also operates from New York, is another key figure in the group.

In 2017, Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP bolstered its practice by hiring tax counsel Aresh Homayoun in its Washington DC office - he was formerly associate general counsel at Fannie May. The firm handles a significant share of work in this area and is well known for representing private and public REITs, and other real estate funds, in a wide range of corporate and finance transactions. Group co-lead Lauren Prevost has a strong profile and, with Seth Weiner, advised Cole Credit Property Trust V on a $1.5bn follow-on offering; the duo are based in Atlanta. Co-head Heath Linsky, who is also based in Atlanta, had an active year, which included supporting Carter Validus Mission Critical REIT on the $750m sale of a data center portfolio and advising Steadfast Income REIT on a $460.8m joint venture with Blackstone REIT.

Proskauer Rose LLP’s practice, which handles the full range of corporate and finance transactions, has a strong record in advising non-traded REITs. It is also noted for its supplementary expertise in tax and private equity. Seasoned specialist Peter Fass jointly leads the real estate capital markets group with Steven Lichtenfeld - both are based in New York. Lichtenfeld recently acted for New York REIT in the sale of a 48.7% stake in One Worldwide Plaza to SL Green Realty and RXR Realty, in a deal that valued the property at $1.7bn. Michael Choate is a senior name in Chicago and advised Global Net Lease on its $3.1bn merger with American Realty Capital Global Trust II. New York’s Leslie Loffman is highly regarded for tax matters.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP advises on a wide range of M&A, capital markets and finance matters for a broad client base, which includes REITs, private equity funds and financial institutions. Blackstone is a trophy client and a multidisciplinary team recently advised Blackstone-owned Invitation Homes on its $1.8bn IPO - which was the second-largest IPO by a REIT in history - and also on its $20bn merger-of-equals with Starwood Waypoint Homes. In another headline transaction, the firm handled Blackstone Real Estate Partners VIII’s $1.1bn acquisition of a portfolio of 64 senior living properties from HCP and its joint venture with Brookdale Senior Living to own and operate the portfolio. Real estate head Gregory Ressa, corporate partner Brian Stadler and tax specialist John Hart are the key contacts - all are based in New York.

Acclaimed as ‘the best in Boston for REIT work’, Sullivan & Worcester LLP finds favor for its ‘in-depth knowledge of the industry’ and its ‘strong tax team, which is an invaluable resource’. The firm, which has strong experience in the public REIT market, advised on a string of debt and equity offerings over the past year - it is also active in M&A and corporate governance matters. Group co-chair Ameek Ashok Ponda is ‘exceptional for tax issues’ and advised Equinix on its $3.6bn acquisition of 29 data center buildings from Verizon Communications. Ponda also teamed up with the ‘excellentNicole Rives and newly promoted partner Lindsey Getz to advise Government Properties Income Trust on its $1.4bn acquisition of First Potomac Realty Trust and its $516.5m equity offering and $300m debt offering. Louis Monti ¬¬¬- a ‘go-to person for real estate work’ - co-leads the Boston-based practice.

Venable LLP is widely lauded as ‘the best on Maryland law’, with many sources asserting ‘no other firm comes close’. Indeed, the Baltimore-centered team’s specialist expertise in Maryland corporate legislation translates into an impressive market share of both publicly traded and publicly registered, non-traded REITs formed under Maryland law, with major Wall Street firms quick to highlight the practice as ‘a first choice for referrals in this area’. The group is co-chaired by James Hanks (‘dean of the Maryland bar’ and ‘extremely steeped in the law and issues’), Sharon Kroupa (‘combines good technical skills with good commercial judgment’) and Patricia McGowan. It also benefits from the expertise of the ‘solution-orientedChristopher Pate. Clients include Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Hudson Pacific Properties and Vornado Realty Trust.

Responsive and practicalBallard Spahr LLP scores highly for its ability to ‘dig in on Maryland law issues’. Baltimore-based Charles Moran and Douglas Fox are ‘true experts on Maryland law’ and co-lead the team alongside Craig Ganz in Phoenix. Highlights included advising Silver Bay Realty Trust on the Maryland law aspects of its $1.4bn acquisition by an affiliate of Tricon Capital Group. City Office REIT, HCP and Mack-Cali Realty are also clients.

Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP’s group has a strong emphasis on capital markets matters under the joint leadership of eminent tax expert George Howell and transactional specialist David Wright - both are based in Richmond. Washington DC-based Robert Smith is another key contact and recently advised Annaly Capital Management on two capital raises worth a combined $1.5bn. In another highlight, Richmond’s Mark Wickersham advised Summit Hotel Properties on a $170.8m follow-on offering. Richmond-based counsel James Davidson is also recommended.

In 2017, King & Spalding LLP boosted the Houston arm of its REIT practice with the hires of transactional real estate partners David Runnels, Darren Inoff and Jason Peters from Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP. The practice has a diverse focus, which encompasses M&A, corporate finance transactions and structuring matters - for public and private REITs. Atlanta’s Spencer Johnson co-heads the group and, together with ‘very strong’ Atlanta-based tax partner Peter Genz, acted as special REIT counsel to Deltic Timber on its merger with Potlatch. Anthony Rothermel, who splits his time between New York and Atlanta, and New York-based John Wilson co-lead the practice alongside Johnson.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP’s impressive recent record in REIT M&A is supported by strong skill sets in capital markets, corporate governance and tax matters. The firm routinely acts for major REITs, including CareTrust REIT and Ventas, and it also advises investors. Among its highlights, REIT M&A specialists Sarkis Jebejian and Michael Brueck teamed up with corporate heavyweight David Fox to advise Equity One on its $15.6bn stock-for-stock merger with Regency Centers. Real estate partner Jonathan Schechter is also a key contact and assisted Starwood Property Trust with its $767m acquisition and financing of a medical office portfolio.

Technically accurate, extremely responsive and business-savvy’, Morrison & Foerster LLP stands out for providing ‘great legal and business advice, which helps to make a deal happen’. David Slotkin, who co-leads the Washington DC-based group, is ‘a creative problem solver and true subject matter expert’; he recently advised Jernigan Capital on multiple equity offerings totaling $267.5m. The ‘knowledgeable and business-minded’ Justin Salon co-heads the department and advised Education Realty Trust on its $500m at-the-market offering. Lauren Bellerjeau is also recommended.

Capital markets work is a mainstay at Paul Hastings LLP, but the New York-based practice also has robust expertise in REIT M&A and corporate governance issues. The team’s broad client base is composed of REITs, underwriters and investors including Citigroup, Carey Watermark Investors and Lexington Realty Trust. Highlights included Yariv Katz advising Altair Commercial Real Estate Lending Fund, as the largest stockholder of TPG RE Finance Trust, on TPG REIT’s IPO. Securities and capital markets chair Michael Zuppone heads the group.

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP’s ‘highly responsive and accurate group’ stands out for its ‘exceptional service’. The team regularly advises REITs and underwriters on public and private offerings, and also excels in REIT formation and tax issues. Transactional specialist and firm chairman Joseph Shenker is ‘a cut above’; he and capital markets specialist Robert Downes advised Clipper Realty on its $68.1m IPO. Arthur Adler is ‘very experienced’ and acted for Alexander’s on the $500m CMBS refinancing of an office condominium unit in New York. Other notable clients include Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Forest City Enterprises and Vornado Realty Trust.

Vinson & Elkins LLP continues to raise its profile in the REIT area and acted on a significant volume of debt and equity offerings, M&A transactions and restructurings over the past year. Richmond office managing partner Daniel LeBey is a key name and advised NorthStar Realty Finance on a three-way merger with NorthStar Asset Management Group and Colony Capital. In New York, David Freed assisted TPG RE Finance Trust with its $233m IPO. The national practice also benefits from the expertise of Washington DC-based partners Gregory Cope and Christopher Green.

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