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United States > Tax > US taxes: non-contentious > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. US taxes: non-contentious
  2. Leading lawyers

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP is ‘top of the industry’ and ‘able to communicate sophisticated ideas without ego’. The group assists with mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, spin-offs, restructurings and securities offerings. In 2015, Lauren Angelilli and Christopher Fargo advised Anheuser-Busch InBev on its proposed $107.7bn acquisition of SABMiller, the three-way deal also involved the sale of SABMiller’s majority stake in the MillerCoors joint venture to Molson Coors. Along with Stephen Gordon, Angelilli also advised Heinz on its merger with Kraft Foods in a cash and stock deal totaling $60bn. Andrew Needham advised IBM on its divestment of its microelectronics business to global semiconductor supplier Globalfoundries. Michael Schler represented British American Tobacco in its $4.7bn investment into Reynolds American (RAI), following RAI’s $27.6bn acquisition of Lorillard Tobacco. In the only change to the tax team, Schler exited the partnership and became of counsel.

The ‘spectacularDavis Polk & Wardwell LLP has offices in New York, Menlo Park and Washington DC. Neil Barr is the co-head of the firm’s tax practice and advises on federal income tax matters, including cross-border M&A, dispositions, spin-offs and split-offs. Barr was a key player of the team that represented General Electric in the sale of most of GE Capital’s assets, as part of its plan to shrink its financial services arm. Another major deal that Barr and colleague Michael Mollerus played a significant role in was advising insurer PartnerRe in its acquisition of Exor. Fellow co-head of the department Avishai Shachar, also based in New York, advised leading oil and gas services supplier, Baker Hughes, when it was acquired by Halliburton in a $38bn deal. Another notable partner is Po Sit, who, along with Mollerus, acted for Emerson Electric on the spin-off of its Network Power business. In the Menlo Park office, Rachel Kleinberg was involved in one of the most significant deals of the year, advising Aetna on its acquisition by Humana for $37bn, one of the largest-ever deals in the healthcare insurance industry. Harry Ballan exited the partnership and became senior counsel, while tax specialist David Schnabel joined the partnership from Debevoise & Plimpton LLP.

Latham & Watkins LLP’s team is ‘dependable and accurate with its advice’ and was called upon frequently to assist with M&A deals over the past year, playing an active part in high-profile transactions in the technology, pharmaceuticals and healthcare sectors. The group was also active in the REIT space, and is noted too for its expertise in relation to MLPs, strategic restructuring, bankruptcy and insolvency. San Francisco-based Kirt Switzer is the global transactional tax practice chair and co-led the tax advice to Kythera Biopharmaceuticals in its $2.1bn sale to Allergan. Another key name is David Raab, a former global chair of the department; Raab led the tax advice to Avago Technologies in its $37bn acquisition of Broadcom, one of largest-ever technology deals. Pardis Zomorodi, who is ‘easy to work with and dependable’, acted for Excel Trust, a REIT, in the sale to Blackstone Property Partners. Samuel Weiner advised Avanir Pharmaceuticals on its sale to Otsuka Pharmaceuticals. Other key clients include KKR, The Carlyle Group and Hudson Pacific Properties. Another key name, Andrea Ramezan-Jackson, was promoted to partner in the Washington DC office.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP’s tax group advises on corporate finance, group planning and real estate, as well as M&A, capital markets and other transactional matters. It provides ‘an outstanding level of service’, which is led from the front by the ‘technical yet practical’ John Hart in New York. Hart’s highlights included advising Blackstone on the acquisition of General Electrics’ US and non-US real estate assets, valued at $23bn, and assisting Hilton Worldwide with its secondary offering of shares totaling $5.3bn. Marcy Geller assisted SunGard with its sale to Fidelity National, and advised KKR on its capitalization of Drawbridge Realty’s portfolio. Katharine Moir, tax head at the Palo Alto office, advised on the acquisition of EMC by Dell and private equity firm Silver Lake, which created the world’s largest private integrated technology company. Jonathan Goldstein acted on behalf of a number of private equity funds, most notably Hellman & Friedman’s oversubscribed eighth fund - its most successful to date - which raised $10.9bn in commitments in just a few months. Robert Holo advised Pamplona Capital on its $2.7bn acquisition of MedAssets, a healthcare performance improvement company.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP’s diverse tax practice works on major deals across a number of sectors. Washington DC-based tax co-head Eric Sensenbrenner advised Becton Dickinson on the $12.2bn acquisition of CareFusion, in its expansion into medication management and patient safety solutions. David Rievman was key tax partner advising Coca-Cola on its strategic partnership with Monster Beverage, with Coca-Cola buying a 16.7% stake in the energy drinks company for $2.15bn. Rievman advised Danaher on both its acquisition of Pall Corporation and the $2.6bn merger of its communications business with NetScout Systems in a Reverse Morris Trust transaction. David Polster, Pamela Lawrence Endreny and Fred Goldberg acted for Windstream Holdings in the successful tax-free spin-off of its telecoms assets into Communications Sales and Leasing, which is thought to be the only REIT focusing on leasing communication distribution systems. New York-based Stuart Finkelstein has taken over as co-head of tax team. Former tax co-head Matthew Rosen sadly passed away.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP’s tax team advised on blockbuster deals in the technology and life sciences sectors in 2015. Yaron Reich advised Google on its reorganization under new holding company Alphabet. Jason Factor was lead tax counsel to Actavis in its ‘white knight’ acquisition of Allergan, thwarting the attempted takeover by Pershing Square Capital Management and Valeant Pharmaceuticals; this acquisition was one of the largest healthcare deals ever. And Reich and Factor combined to advise medical and health services provider Medtronic on its $50bn acquisition of Covidien. Another notable transaction for the team, led by William McRae and Diane Wollman, was representing Family Dollar Stores in its sale to Dollar Tree for cash and stock in a $9.3bn deal. Erika Nijenhuis led the tax advice as the firm acted as counsel to itBit Trust Company in its proposal to become the first chartered and regulated virtual currency exchange. Other longstanding clients include Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and SABMiller.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP acts for clients in a range of sectors, from biopharmaceuticals to real estate. The firm opened a Houston office in 2014, which helped fuel steady growth in the tax practice over the course of 2015, particularly in relation to the energy sector. Highlights included advising Energy Future Holdings in what is the seventh-largest Chapter 11 case ever filed; Todd Maynes, Gregory Gallagher and Sara Zablotney are leading the tax advice. The firm also acted for Baxter International in the spin-off of its pharmaceutical business, Baxalta, a company specializing in hemophilia and other blood disorders. Further to this, the team was called upon to assist Baxalta in relation to an attempted $30bn hostile takeover by Dublin-headquartered Shire; Dean Shulman and Mike Carew led the tax advice. The team also advised Caesars Entertainment Operating Company on its Chapter 11 bankruptcy and related debt restructuring, with William Levy taking a leading role. There have been three new additions to the tax department: Mike Beinus and Brett Willis joined the Los Angeles office, while Benjamin Schreiner joined in New York - all three from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.

In one of the most publicized M&A deals in the communications space, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP represented Time Warner Cable in its $78.7bn merger with Charter Communications. Jeffrey Samuels was the key tax partner in the Time Warner Cable deal, as he was in the firm’s representation of Burger King Worldwide in its $11.4bn acquisition of Canadian coffee and donuts chain Tim Hortons. The new company will be the third-largest fast-food chain worldwide, rebranded as Restaurant Brands International. David Sicular was a key part of the team advising Towerbrook Capital Partners on its acquisition of women’s fashion retailer J. Jill. Richard Bronstein worked with Virtu Financial, a technology-enabled liquidity provider, in its public offering of 19m shares of class A common stock.

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP’s ten-partner tax group was very active in capital markets and M&A deals in 2015. Head of the tax group Ronald Creamer assisted Advance/Newhouse Partnership in the three-way merger among its subsidiaries, Bright House Networks, Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable. David Hariton, who worked with Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo in the past year, is recommended, as is Andrew Mason. Eric Wang rejoins the New York office as partner following a stint in the London tax office.

Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz’s practice focuses on finance and restructuring, private equity, spin-offs and securities offerings. Highlights included assisting Motorola Solutions in its strategic partnership with private equity firm Silver Lake, which saw a $1bn investment for technology-led public safety solutions. In another key matter, the firm represented Ann Inc., a group of specialty apparel stores for women, in its sale to Ascena Retail Group. In both of these deals, Deborah Paul led the tax advice. Jodi Schwartz was instrumental in two real estate deals: advising Gramercy Property Trust as the REIT merged with Chambers Street Properties, and acting for Washington Prime Group in its purchase of Glimcher Realty. Other key attorneys in the department are Eiko Stange and Joshua Holmes.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP is recommended for its ‘excellent ability’ in the complex area of tax. Marc Silberberg specializes in M&A and structuring and was involved in major deals in the media space: he led the tax advice to DirecTV in its sale to AT&T, creating a greater presence across mobile, video and broadband platforms, and he assisted Verizon with tax matters relating to its $4.4bn acquisition of AOL. Stuart Goldring, whose ‘strength is his technical tax knowledge, but with the ability to communicate in common language that can be understood by others’, advised The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company on tax matters related to its Chapter 11 filing. Kenneth Heitner and Mark Schwed acted for MGM Resorts International in the formation of a controlled REIT, into which it transferred ten of its Las Vegas properties. Another notable deal that Heitner was involved in was advising Intel on its purchase of Altera. Heitner and Martin Pollack chair the tax, executive compensation and benefits department.

Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP added a number of funds to its client roster in 2015. The team advised Magnetar Capital on its strategic capitalization of Finacity Capital Management, and a team led by Richard Nugent acted for Mercuria Energy Group in its $800m acquisition of JPMorgan Chase’s physical energy and commodities business. Other highlights included representing Procter & Gamble in a Reverse Morris Trust transaction involving the split-off and merger of 43 of its beauty brands with Coty. In the pharmaceutical sector, practice head Linda Swartz advised Salix Pharmaceuticals on its sale to Valeant Pharmaceuticals. In April 2016, David Miller moved to Proskauer Rose LLP.

The ‘responsive, committed, creative and engagedDebevoise & Plimpton LLP’s diverse tax practice has experience in air travel, banking, communications, energy and insurance, and is led by Burt Rosen. Rosen and Gary Friedman advised Italian investment company Exor on tax and insurance matters relating to its $6.9bn acquisition of Bermudan reinsurer PartnerRe. Peter Furci led the team in two key deals: assisting Verizon with its sale of wireline operations to Frontier Communications in a $10.54bn deal, and representing the Dolan Family in its sale of New York cable television company Cablevision to Altice. Seth Rosen and Robert Stafferoni withdrew from the partnership and became of counsel. David Schnabel joined Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP.

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP’s ‘cohesive team’ were extremely active in M&A, asset management and private equity deals in 2015. Led by the ‘smart, insightfulAlan Kaden, the team assisted private equity firm Permira, along with a consortium of investors, on its acquisition of eBay Enterprise from the internet auction giant. It also advised Humana on the $37bn sale to Aetna in a cash and stock deal that saw the third and fourth biggest health insurers in the US join forces. David Shapiro led tax advice to Interline Brands in its sale to Home Depot. Robert Cassanos chairs the New York tax team and Michael Alter another notable name.

Mayer Brown’s tax practice provides expertise in relation to the banking, energy, insurance and real estate sectors, with a focus on facilitating capital markets transactions. The ‘expert and user-friendlyJason Bazar led the tax team that advised Altice on its agreement to buy Cablevision; this was the second deal the tax team advised on for this client, having also served as special tax counsel in Altice’s purchase of a 70% stake in the regional broadband provider, Suddenlink. Bazar also led the team that advised Citibank Global Markets, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo Securities as underwriters on a $10bn medium-term note program for Agricultural Bank of China. Another highlight was acting for Envestnet in its $650m acquisition of Yodlee, a technology and applications platform; Lee Morlock in Chicago was the lead tax lawyer.

McDermott Will & Emery LLP has a ‘very prompt and thorough’ tax practice that has particular expertise in relation to healthcare, energy and telecoms. Lowell Yoder heads the federal and international tax practice, and Jane Wells May heads up the state and local tax practice; both are based in the Chicago office. Other notable lawyers in the department are Damon Lyon in Chicago and David Noren in Washington DC. There were three additions to the Dallas office, with Todd Welty, Mark Thomas and Laura Gavioli joining as partners from Dentons. Clients include IBM, Procter & Gamble, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs.

Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP tax team ‘possesses remarkable acumen’ and ‘remarkable knowledge of the oil and gas sector’, and regularly advises the likes of ExxonMobil, National Oilwell Varco and Total. Highlights from 2015 included advising POLITICO in its joint venture with Axel Springer to acquire website and weekly newspaper European Voice and conference business Development Institute International; leading the tax advice was head of US tax John Allender. William Bowers represented VHA as it acquired the total assets of University HealthSystem Consortium. Robert Phillpott led the tax advice to Tesoro Logistics on its merger agreement with QEP Midstream Partners. Other prominent tax attorneys in the practice are Los Angeles-based Richard Kornblith, and Joy Ellis in Dallas.

Paul Hastings LLP’s tax practice has expertise in finance, real estate and energy. The head of the practice is Andrew Short, who led the tax advice to Brack Capital Real Estate in the formation of its first private REIT, which will focus on multifamily residential properties. The team also represented Gabelli Asset Management, handling tax planning and structuring for the tax-free spin-off of the institutional research and hedge fund management arm of publicly traded securities investment company GAMCO Asset Management. Another matter was advising Hotel Lotte Co on its $805m acquisition of the New York Palace Hotel. A team led by Alexander Lee advised DreamWorks Animation SKG on the tax implications of its sale of a 25% stake in Awesomeness TV to the Hearst Corporation for $81m.

Sidley Austin LLP’s team has a ‘practical and commercial approach’, provides ‘great value’ and is noted for its work with MLPs. Sharp Sorensen co-heads the national tax practice from Chicago and led a team that assisted Catamaran Corporation with its sale to UnitedHealth Group for $12.8bn. Another notable transaction the team was involved in was the planned but terminated agreement for General Electric to sell its appliances business to Electrolux for $3.3bn, with Suresh Advani and Karen Hayes advising GE. Laura Barzilai and Robert Kreitman head the practice in New York, while Edwin Norris is in charge of the tax group in the Los Angeles office.

White & Case LLP’s tax practice provides ‘sensible and smart solutions’ and is experienced in energy, media, communications and private equity. It is also experienced in the healthcare sector, which has been a notable source of work of late. For instance, the team advised Anthem on the $54bn acquisition of Cigna, and acted for Zimmer Holdings in its $13.5bn acquisition of Biomet; William Danzler was key in both matters. Changes to the team included Washington DC-based Kim Boylan being appointed global head of the practice, and Stephen Weerts and Michael Lebovitz both joining the Los Angeles office from DLA Piper LLP (US).

Clifford Chancecombines good business sense with strong technical knowledge’. The team has a broad spread of clientele in the banking, insurance, automotive and real estate industries, with practice chair Richard Catalano (‘highly competent’) among those with a special focus on REITs. He led a team acting as co-adviser and tax counsel to Chambers Street Properties in its $5.7bn merger with Gramercy Property Trust, a deal which created one of the largest industrial and office net lease REIT. David Moldenhauer is also recommended.

Silicon Valley-based Fenwick & West LLP’s tax team specializes in advising on M&A, joint ventures and transfer pricing, particularly within the technology space. The active M&A market has meant a busy year for the team, which has also worked on a number of deals involving inversions. Highlights included advising Dropbox on its purchase of CloudOn, representing Facebook in its acquisition of digital media-processing platform QuickFire, and advising Symantec’s sale of Veritas Technologies to The Carlyle Group for $8bn. David Forst is the leader of the tax practice; transfer pricing specialist James Fuller is also recommended.

The ‘excellent’ lawyers at Morrison & Foerster LLPput their clients first and are always available when needed’, and provide advice on local, state and federal tax issues. Thomas Humphreys and Remmelt Reigersman acted for Bank of America as special tax counsel as the bank exchanged 400m shares of its common stock for preferred stock and trust preferred securities. Humphreys and Reigersman also advised the official creditors’ committee regarding Energy Future Holdings’ $40bn bankruptcy. The department has offices in New York, where practice heads Craig Fields and Humphreys are based; San Francisco, Sacramento, San Diego, and Denver, where David Strong, co-head of federal tax, is based.

O’Melveny & Myers LLP’s tax partners on the East Coast focus on tax relating to securities and M&A transactions, with a strong focus on the renewable energy sector. On the West Coast, there is a focus on cross-border M&A, particularly on behalf of clients in the sports, media, private equity and technology industries. The New York team advised Entegra Power Group and several of its subsidiaries on its Chapter 11 filing; Mark Caterini led. Los Angeles-based Luc Moritz was the key attorney advising on tax structuring when the firm represented media company Lionsgate in a co-financing deal with Hunan TV & Broadcast Intermediary Co. Jeff Walbridge chairs the practice.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP has an active fund formation, capital markets and M&A-focused practice. The team represented Telenor, a public Norwegian telecom company, in connection with the $23.8bn combination of Telenor and Altimo’s interests in Russian telecom company VimpelCom with Ukrainian telecom company KyivStar, creating the newly formed VimpelCom Ltd. The team also advised French oil company Total on its investment in Amyris, a US biofuel development company. Charles Cardall is the chair of the department and works out of the San Francisco office. The team has also recently provided tax advice to Goldman Sachs, Yahoo! and Thomson Reuters.

Shearman & Sterling LLP assists in developing tax-efficient structures for acquisitions, dispositions, joint ventures, financings and hybrid securities. A notable highlight was advising Liberty Global on its acquisition of Virgin Media in a cash and stock transaction worth $23bn, resulting in the world’s largest broadband communications group; New York-based practice head Laurence Bambino led the tax advice along with Robert Rudnick and Ethan Harris in Washington DC. Bambino was also involved in the advice to Dow in a Reverse Morris Trust transaction that allowed it to separate a portion of its chlor-alkali and downstream derivatives businesses and merge these with Olin Corporation. Also advising on this matter was Douglas McFadyen.

Steptoe & Johnson LLP provides a ‘high level of service’, according to sources. It acted as tax counsel to Equinox, a health and fitness company, in relation to its spin-off transaction, with the new company valued at $1bn; Washington DC-based Mark Silverman and Gregory Kidder led on this. Other clients the team provided tax advice to in 2015 included Marvel Entertainment, Nestlé Holdings and MetLife. The department also has a presence in Los Angeles, New York and Phoenix. Lisa Zarlenga and Robert Rizzi are the practice chairs.

Andrews Kurth LLP typically advises clients in the energy sector, and has expertise in relation to publicly traded partnerships and tax-exempt investing. It is also experienced in relation to REITs. Highlights included Robert McNamara and Thomas Popplewell assisting Enterprise Products Operating with its public offering of $2.75bn senior unsecured notes; McNamara and practice head Thomas Ford advising Green Plains Partners on its $172m IPO; and Ford, Allison Mantor and Angela Richards advising Sunoco LP in relation to its acquisition of Susser Holdings Corporation from Energy Transfer Partners.

Baker McKenzie LLP’s tax practice covers tax planning, M&A, state and local tax (SALT) and e-business tax. Christine Agnew Sloan chairs the North American tax planning and transactions practice. SALT specialists Maria Eberle and Lindsay LaCava joined the firm’s New York Office from McDermott Will & Emery LLP, while former Treasury adviser Alexandra Minkovich joined the Washington DC office as of counsel.

The ‘very reliable’ practice at DLA Piper LLP (US) covers M&A, private equity and real estate. Co-chairs of the transactional practice are Palo Alto-based Stacy Paz, who ‘knows how to get the deal done’, and Gerald Rokoff in New York. Key highlights included acting as tax counsel to Van Tuyl Group in its sale to Berkshire Hathaway in an $8bn deal, and advising Arbor Private Investment Company on the sale of various portfolio companies, including Gold Standard Baking, Truco Enterprises and Midland Container. Paz was instrumental in handling these matters. Thomas Geraghty joined as partner from Kirkland & Ellis LLP and is based in Chicago.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP has a strong transactional tax practice advising on M&A, capital markets and real estate acquisitions and dispositions. Romina Weiss was lead partner representing Sequential Brands as it acquired Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia in a $353m deal. Another highlight was advising The Ryland Group on its $5.2bn merger with Standard Pacific Group to create the fourth-largest homebuilder in the US; Hatef Behnia led on that. New York-based Jeffrey Trinklein heads the department, and another key partner is Scott Knutson.

Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP advises on M&A and joint ventures in a diverse range of sectors, and in 2015 acted for clients in healthcare, media, real estate and transport. Based in New York, practice chair Andrew Braiterman and Alexander Anderson assisted AMC Networks with its buy-in of a 49% stake in BBC America for $200m. Significant deals for Greenbriar Equity were among the firm’s key matters, with the team representing it in its $200m of financing to Irish aircraft leasing firm AerGen Aviation, and in its sale of Grakon Holdings to Industrial Growth Partners.

Patricia Sweeney, former tax chair at Miller & Chevalier Chartered, focuses on the technicalities of tax policy. Other key members of the team include David Zimmerman and Layla Asali, who together advised Assured Guaranty, the largest private mortgage insurer in the US, on its $810m acquisition of Radian Asset Assurance.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP’s tax team advises on public and private M&A, joint ventures and capital markets transactions, often within the energy and life sciences sectors. Notable matters included acting as tax counsel to Chelsea Therapeutics International in its merger with Lundbeck, and advising Independence Blue Cross on its corporate restructuring. In 2014, the firm’s tax practice grew significantly thanks to the addition of 16 lawyers from Bingham McCutchen, including Washington DC-based Joshua Brady, who is deputy leader of the practice. Sheri Dillon and Jennifer Breen also joined the Washington DC office, arriving from Vinson & Elkins LLP and Mattel respectively. Barton Bassett, who splits his time between San Francisco and Palo Alto, is the practice leader.

Proskauer Rose LLP specializes in REITs and fund formation matters, but it also advises on the tax aspects of M&A transactions. A team led by Richard Corn recently acted for Celgene in its $7.2bn purchase of Receptos. Amanda Nussbaum, who is an ‘extraordinarily bright and an exceptional lawyer’, led the team that advised longstanding client Ascena Retail Group on its merger agreement with ANN Inc. in a cash and stock agreement worth $2bn. Jamiel Poindexter led the tax advice to Lexington Partners in its acquisition of 14 portfolio companies from One Equity Partners in a $2bn deal. Ali Fawaz was promoted to partner in the New York office. In April 2016, David Miller joined from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP.

Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP frequently advises on M&A deals as well as hedge fund, investment fund and real estate matters. The team advised Albertsons and an investment group led by Cerbius Capital Management in relation to Albertsons $9.2bn merger with Safeway. Alan Waldenberg, who co-chairs the tax group, and Noah Beck were the key members that led the team. Representing Oxford Properties Group, the team advised on a joint venture with Related Companies regarding the financing and equity investment for the development and lease of the Hudson Yards site in New York; Philippe Benedict led the team. Shlomo Twerski is also co-chair and is based in New York.

Sullivan & Worcester LLP’s Boston-based practice specializes in REIT structuring and guidance on local, state and federal tax issues. ‘Excellent technicianAmeek Ashok Ponda, director of the tax department, advised on a number of key real estate deals, including acting as counsel to Ovation Acquisition I in its acquisition of a utility transmission and distribution business from Energy Future Holdings relating to EFH’s ongoing Chapter 11 restructuring. Ponda also advised American Tower on its agreement to acquire rights to 11,000 wireless communication towers from Verizon in a $5.1bn deal. David Nagle heads the team and is also based in the Boston office.

Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP has an active state and local tax practice as well as handling federal and international tax issues. Mark Smith and Jerome Libin are practice head and practice chair respectively, and both are based in Washington DC. The team advised DUMAC on a number of specialized investment transactions and tax structuring; Atlanta-based Reginald Clark led. Other clients include Comcast, Kraft Foods and Time Warner Cable. Jeffrey Friedman in Washington DC and Eric Tresh in Atlanta advise on SALT issues, while Washington DC-based Ellen McElroy specializes in federal taxes and corporate transactions. Amy Nogid joined the New York office as counsel, while Hanish Patel joined the Atlanta office as a senior associate from Deloitte.

Thompson & Knight LLP is ‘technically competent and understands clients’ needs very well’ and has a focus on oil and gas tax solutions, energy M&A, private equity fund formation and SALT. John Cohn heads the department, which represented EnCap Investments in connection with the fund formation and fundraising of EnCap Fund X, which raised $6.5bn in investment for upstream oil and gas production. Other clients include Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Lafarge North America and Natural Gas Partners. Roger Aksamit is based in Houston, while the ‘extremely knowledgeable and client-focused’ David Wheat is based in Dallas.

Winston & Strawn LLP’s tax practice is led by Chicago partner Amit Kalra, who was lead tax attorney in SunEdison’s yieldco spin-off, TerraForm Power. The Chicago office is also home to John Lorentzen and has a focus on energy, project development and finance. The New York office is headed by Edmund Cohen and Mitch Moetell, who represents investment banks in transactional matters. Since publication, Andy Ratts moved to Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP.

Baker Botts L.L.P. has an energy and technology focus to its practice and in 2015 handled a number of standout deals in these sectors. It represented the conflicts committee of Williams Partners in relation to the $50bn merger with a subsidiary of Access Midstream Partners; Mike Bresson was lead lawyer. Another highlight was advising Halliburton on its $35bn merger with Baker Hughes; under the terms of the agreement, Halliburton will acquire the outstanding shares of Baker Hughes for cash and stock; Don Lonczak and department chair Richard Husseini led the advice.

Chadbourne & Parke LLP’s team provides ‘an excellent level of service’ to clients that include major public companies, hedge funds and private equity firms, and it is highly recommended for its work in project finance. William Cavanagh is head of the tax department and acted as lead partner on two of the key engagements in 2015: representing hedge fund GLG Partners in its acquisition of Man Group, and advising Fortune Brands on its sale of Acushnet/Titleist Golf to Fila Korea for $1.2bn. Other notable matters involved clients Macquarie, JPMorgan and GE Energy Financial Services. Eli Katz and Keith Martin, who work in New York and Washington DC respectively, are recommended.

Covington & Burling LLP’s practice advises on transactional tax planning and structuring for multinational businesses. Chair of the tax group is Washington DC-based Daniel Luchsinger. The team advised GE Capital Aviation Service (GECAS) on the $1.7bn acquisition of Milestone Aviation Group, and also acted for Steve Ballmer in his $2bn purchase of the LA Clippers basketball franchise. Rob Heller was co-lead lawyer in both transactions, with Emin Toro and Jeremy Spector co-leads in the GECAS and Clippers deals respectively.

Dechert LLP has a national and international tax practice that specializes in acquisitions, divestitures, restructurings, distressed debt and offshore investment funds, particularly in the fields of real estate and life sciences. The chair of the practice, New York-based Daniel Dunn, was the lead lawyer in assisting Wells Fargo in relation to purchasing commercial real estate loans valued at $9bn in the US, UK and Canada from GE Capital Real Estate, as part of an overall transaction worth $23bn. Michael Rufkahr in Washington DC was lead lawyer advising underwriter Credit Suisse on the securitization of mortgage loans acquired from GE Finance.

Hogan Lovells US LLP’s tax team has a national and international presence and deals in a broad spectrum of taxation issues, in particular matters involving real estate and REITs, restructuring, investment funds, capital markets and M&A. Practice head Siobhan Rausch, Todd Miller, Prentiss Feagles and Scott Lilienthal, all of whom are based in Washington DC, are ‘good listeners that offer practical advice’. Miller led tax advice to Orbital Sciences Corporation in its merger agreement with Alliant Techsystems to create a new aerospace and defense developer, Orbital ATK; the deal was unique in its use of a ‘forward’ Morris Trust tax structure. Lilienthal led tax advice to CBS in relation to a series of investment grade notes offerings in 2015 totaling $3.5bn.

Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP’s tax team provides a ‘phenomenal service’ and focuses on M&A, capital assets and restructurings. The firm has a wide client base in entertainment, real estate, fashion and private equity. Howard Rothman is head of the department and Maria Jones is recommended as ‘superb and responsive’. Barry Herzog advised the first lien noteholders in the Caesars Entertainment Operating Company’s bankruptcy; Herzog helped negotiate a plan to distribute the debtor’s casinos into a REIT. Herzog is involved in another high-profile bankruptcy, leading advice to the ad hoc group of holders of second lien notes issued by Energy Future Intermediate Holding, a subsidiary of Energy Future Holdings.

Loeb & Loeb LLP’s practice has a strong focus on nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations, charitable foundations, estates and high-net-worth individuals, with emphasis on estate planning for individuals in the creative and entertainment industries. Leah Bishop, who works out of the Los Angeles office, is co-chair and specializes in charitable giving and tax-exempt organizations. Bruce Wexler shares chair responsibilities and is based in New York; he focuses on trusts and estates. Jason Lilien joined the department from Zuckerman Spaeder and Marcus Owens and Diara Holmes joined the Washington DC office from Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered.

The practice at West Coast-based Munger, Tolles & Olson covers M&A, real estate transactions, private equity and restructuring. Highlights of 2015 included advising Berkshire Hathaway on its acquisition of Precision Castparts, a manufacturer of metal components, in a $37.2bn deal, and advising Lazard as financial adviser to The Ryland Group in relation to Ryland’s merger with Standard Pacific, creating the fourth-biggest home builder in the US. The team also assisted Air Lease Corporation with its $2.8bn capital raise and its $928m IPO. Other clients include MGM Resorts International and DreamWorks Animation SKG. Robert Dell Angelo, Samuel Greenberg, Stephen Rose and David Goldman are key lawyers in the Los Angeles office.

Roberts & Holland is a New York-based boutique dealing with all tax and tax-related matters, including corporate, SALT, employee benefits, executive compensation, real estate, debt restructuring and tax-exempt organizations. Clients range from US and foreign publicly traded companies to investment banks, insurance companies and pension funds. Stuart Gross handles corporate taxation, real estate and restructuring. Lary Wolf is recommended.

Ropes & Gray LLP’s team advises on all types of domestic and international tax issues, including planning and structuring cross-border transactions. It also has expertise in tax-exempt matters and represents universities, hospitals and large private foundations. Christopher Leich and Elaine Murphy head the department from the Boston office. Highlights included advising Cubist Pharmaceuticals on tax matters relating to its $9.5bn acquisition by Merck; David Saltzman led the team. Lee Allison led advice to private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners as it bought a minority stake in Pabst Brewing Company; Oasis Beverages was the majority purchaser in a deal totaling $700m. Lucas Rachuba departed the department for Ernst & Young.

Seyfarth Shaw LLP specializes in real estate activities such as REITs, joint ventures and development. There is also a focus on the nonprofit sector and services for tax-exempt organizations. Highlights included advising longstanding client Mack-Cali Realty Corporation on a joint venture with Mills Corporation for an entertainment, recreation and office complex to be built in New Jersey. Steven Meier acted for Inland Real Estate Group as tax and securities counsel in the implementation, distribution and maintenance of real estate securities investment programs, with total offerings expected to be around $1bn. Rita Abro, Joshua Lake and Greta Staat all joined the department as associates in 2015.

The Houston-based tax team at Vinson & Elkins LLP advises on REITs, transactions, SALT, and employee benefits and plans, often working with the firm’s clients in energy sphere, which include numerous MLPs. Practice head George Gerachis and John Lynch, who is recommended, handled two of 2015’s key matters: advising Occidental Petroleum on all tax aspects of its spin-off of its California gas and oil assets into a separate company, and advising Targa Resources Corporation and Targa Resources Partners on the acquisition of Atlas Energy and Atlas Pipeline Partners in a simultaneous merger of the four companies. Miriam Burke retired and Sheri Dillon went to Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP.

Bracewell LLP’s team advises on tax matters pertaining to private equity, restructurings, cross-border transactions and real estate infrastructure, for clients based mainly in the energy sector. New York-based Elizabeth McGinley heads the practice, which recently welcomed Robert Jacobson in Houston and Abraham Reshtick in New York from Vinson & Elkins LLP and Ropes & Gray LLP respectively. Key matters in 2015 included advising Kinder Morgan on its acquisition of Hiland Partners in a $3bn deal, with Gregory Bopp leading the team, and McGinley assisting Duke Energy with the sale of its Midwest Commercial Generation Business to Dynegy for $2.8bn.

The Pittsburgh-based team at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney handles state, local and federal taxes, matters relating to nonprofits, and international tax issues. Recent mandates included advising a European-based fabric manufacturer on the structure of its US operations to minimize tax in three jurisdictions. The team also assisted TV One, a joint venture between Radio One and Comcast, with employee benefits, partnership tax and corporate securities. Mitchell Horowitz, who specializes in civil tax controversies and is a former senior trial attorney for the IRS, now chairs the practice alongside Bruce Booken.

Goodwin Procter LLP has ‘great lawyers and a big practice’, which is chaired by ‘high-quality tax lawyerNeal Sandford out of Boston along. Recent highlights included Sandford advising Paramount Group on its IPO of 131m shares of common stock, the largest IPO in the REIT industry since it was first established. The team also advised private equity firm TA Associates on the tax aspects of leveraged buyouts of NorthStar Financial and SkinnyPop Popcorn; Howard Cubell led the advice.

The tax practice at Irell & Manella LLP overlaps with the transactional teams handling real estate, IP, entertainment and aviation matters. Of counsel Elliot Freier heads the practice from Los Angeles and led the tax advice to Guggenheim Securities in the initial purchase of $340m of debt securities offered by Dick Clark Productions, which are backed by intellectual property and revenue from shows such as the Billboard Music Awards. Freier also advised SONIFI, a company that offers digital solutions to the hospitality industry, on a $100m debt-for-equity exchange and capital structure enhancement. Kyle Kawakami is a notable name and is based in Newport Beach.

Ivins, Phillips & Barker has offices in Los Angeles and Washington DC and focuses on tax and estate planning, corporate tax and employee benefits. Eric Fox is the managing partner and has expertise in corporate and international taxation, and controversy. Rosina Barker advises on tax and securities law, and employee benefits and executive compensation. Former partner Robert Wellen was appointed associate chief counsel (corporate) at the IRS.

Linklaters LLP’s team advises on US and international tax matters and frequently handles M&A, private equity, investment funds, capital markets and real estate transactions. Gordon Warnke heads the global tax practice, which was recently boosted by the arrival of restructuring and insolvency lawyer Margot Schonholtz in New York from Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP. Schonholtz led advice to Wells Fargo, as administrative agent for the first lien creditors, regarding the Chapter 11 of Sabine Oil & Gas. Operating out of Washington DC, Jasper Howard is another key partner in the practice, and he led the tax advice to Occidental Petroleum in its proposed separation of its California assets into a separate entity.

Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP’s practice covers all tax matters, with a focus on business tax and planning for growth businesses. Other specializations include real estate and executive compensation. Charles Beaudrot and Timothy Pollock head the department - Beaudrot having rejoined the practice following several years as chief judge of the Georgia Tax Tribunal. Beaudrot and Anthony Boggs assisted Cole Corporate Income Trust with the tax aspects of its merger with Select Income REIT in a $3bn transaction. Boggs led advice to Coalition America Holdings Company and a number of its subsidiaries in the sale of equity interests to a private equity firm.

Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP is best known for its work relating to the formation of REITs and in the area of nonprofit and charitable organizations. Key matters in 2015 included acting as special REIT tax counsel to Health Care REIT (now Welltower) in its acquisition of HealthLease Properties REIT, a publicly traded Canadian REIT with properties in Canada and the US; Joseph Howe led on this. Practice head James Joseph was lead partner as the team served as primary counsel to LeanIn.Org, the nonprofit founded by Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg; the team assisted with tax matters relating to operating issues.

Baker & Hostetler LLP’s practice has a focus on state and local tax, private wealth, nonprofit organizations, executive compensation and transactional tax issues. Notable recent work includes advising a longstanding US-based client on tax structuring and post-acquisition structuring related to its acquisition by a multinational food ingredient company. Another matter involved advising a client on restructuring prior to an IPO. The 70-strong team is headed by Paul Schmidt, who handles tax controversy as well as international and transactional tax. James Mastracchio departed for Dentons, while associate Sarah Ma left for Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP.

Choate, Hall & Stewart’s Boston tax practice has four partners and assists clients with M&A, joint ventures, restructuring, debt financing and real estate matters. Its clients mainly come from the biopharmaceutical, healthcare, technology, equipment manufacturing and private equity fields. Louis Marett is head of the department and played a key role in some of 2015’s highlights, such as advising private equity firm Spectrum on its investment into a healthcare information and market research company. Another key figure in the department is Timothy Becker, who led tax advice to Mainsail Partners in the sale of its portfolio company, Novus Holdings, to Techne Corporation.

Cooley LLP typically works with clients from the biopharmaceutical, technology, energy, telecoms and real estate sectors, and specializes in all facets of taxation, from SALT matters to structuring and investment. Palo Alto-based Mark Winfeld-Hansen chairs the team with New York’s Kathleen Pakenham. Jeremy Naylor, another name to note, specializes in private equity, venture capital and real estate, and was instrumental in assisting Digity Companies with its sale to Alpha Media for $264m. He was also key in advising Battery Ventures on the sale of Industrial Safety Technologies to Tyco International for $329m.

Dentons’ tax team comprises 40 lawyers and advises clients on US and international tax, with a focus on corporate tax, partnerships, real estate, tax-advantaged investing and bankruptcy tax planning. Practice co-leaders are Bruce Davison in Kansas City and Thomas Stephens in Chicago. Significant work included advising Killick Aerospace on tax structuring relating to the sale of four business units to VSE Corporation for $189m, plus a potential earn-out of $50m. It is also representing Caymus Equity Partners in its equity and debt investment in medical imaging equipment distributor Alpha/Axs Holding Company; Davison led the tax advice.

Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP’s tax practice has a strong focus on planning and structuring relating to mergers and acquisitions, spin-offs, private equity, venture capital and REITs. Saul Rudo heads the team from the Chicago office. New client the HAVI Group, a supplier for McDonalds, received tax advice from the team in relation to its buyout of all outstanding equity interests of HAVI from its founder and other equity holders. Another important matter was assisting private equity firm Sterling Partners and its portfolio company, SecureNet, with the sale of SecureNet to Worldpay US. Rudo led the tax advice in both transactions.

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP’s tax department, headed by Russell Kestenbaum, is frequently called upon to assist with the firm’s work in asset finance, project finance, bankruptcy and restructuring, and M&A. The team advised an ad hoc group of lenders, including 25 investment banks, on the $1.4bn restructuring of TORM, a listed Danish shipping company. It also advised Energy Capital Partners on its acquisition of Terra-Gen, which owns and operates renewable energy projects across the country. Key attorneys are Mark Regante and Andrew Walker in New York and Michael O’Hara Duff in Los Angeles.

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP’s tax department handles local, state, federal and international tax matters for clients from a broad spread of industries, including energy, pharmaceuticals, transportation and media. James Chudy leads the practice from the New York office, which has a focus on transactional work, such as structuring, M&A, joint ventures and securitizations. Hugh Dougan is another key name from the New York office. Other names to note are Julie Divola in San Francisco and Dana Newman in Los Angeles. Clients include Apple, AT&T, Cisco Systems and HSBC. Matthew Burke, formerly of counsel, moved to PwC.

Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP has four partners in its tax department, along with six other practitioners, and advises on a wide range of issues pertaining to M&A, private equity, bankruptcy and restructuring, real estate, REITs and regulated investment companies. Recent matters include acting for a large investment management company in connection with the establishment of a commercial mortgage loan participation platform designed for insurance advisory clients. Another mandate was to advise on tax structuring issues for equity investments in an entertainment company for co-financing and distribution overseas. Jeffrey Uffner heads the tax department; other key lawyers are Mayer Greenberg, Micah Bloomfield and Jonathan Kusko. All based in New York.

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP has offices in New York, Washington DC and Houston and a tax team comprising 16 lawyers, which is led by Richard Reinhold. Another name to note is Christopher Peters. The team advised members of the ad hoc lender committee and anchor investors in relation to the restructuring of Vivarte, a French fashion retailer, which involved a debt-for-equity swap. The team also advised Tornier on its $3.3bn merger with Wright Medical Group, and, in the real estate sector, it acted for Hudson’s Bay Company in a joint venture with Simon Property Group valued at $1.8bn. In 2015, the team grew with Anthony Carbone joining from the now defunct Bingham McCutchen, and Arthur Lynch was promoted to partner.

WilmerHale’s team handles the tax aspects of M&A, financings, investments, joint ventures and restructurings. It is particularly strong in advising life sciences companies and tax-exempt organizations. Kimberly Wethly chairs the tax practice and is based in Boston, as are Robert Burke, William Caporizzo and Julie Hogan Rodgers. Richard Andersen is based in New York. The team recently assisted Staples with its $6.3bn acquisition of Home Depot, with Wethly, Caporizzo and Rodgers leading the advice. Richard Giuliani retired from the practice in 2015.

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Legal Developments worldwide

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  • Bulgaria: Opening the gas market for foreign traders!

    Most recently, the Bulgarian Energy Regulator has taken significant steps towards the full liberalisation of the natural gas market: In December 2016, the Bulgarian Energy Regulator adopted legislative amendments to the Rules for Trading of Natural Gas ( Правила за търговия с природен газ , " Trading Rules ") and the Rules for Access to the Gas Transmission and/or Gas Distribution Networks and the Natural Gas Storage Facilities ( Правила за предоставяне на достъп до газопреносните и/или газоразпределителните мрежи и за достъп до съоръженията за съхранение на природен газ , " Access Rules "). Moreover, it adopted new Rules for Balancing of the Natural Gas Market ( Правила за балансиране на пазара за природен газ , " Balancing Rules "). read more...
  • When Arbitration Meets Insolvency in Montenegro - Can They Coexist?

    Even at first blush, it is apparent that arbitration and insolvency make strange bedfellows.
  • Hungary: Registration Fees for Company Establishment Abolished

    In an aim to simplify state administration and support economic growth, the Hungarian Parliament adopted a new law abolishing the registration fee and the publication cost for incorporating limited liability companies (" LLC ") ( korlátolt felelősségű társaság ), limited partnerships ( betéti társaság ), general partnerships ( közkereseti társaság ), and sole entrepreneurships ( egyéni cég ). The new law becomes effective on 16 March 2017. read more...
  • SyCipLaw TMT Bulletin: Philippine Central Bank Issues New FinTech Rules

    The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) (the Philippine Central Bank) has issued two new circulars that will be of interest to companies engaged in remittance services, e-money, digital currency, and other fintech businesses. Both circulars amend portions of the BSP Manual of Regulations for Non-Bank Financial Institutions.
  • IFLR: “Philippines: Foreign equity ownership decision”

    The March issue of the International Financial Law Review ( IFLR ) includes an international briefing article by SyCipLaw partner  Jose Florante M. Pamfilo  entitled “Philippines: Foreign equity ownership decision”. The article discusses the Philippine Supreme Court decision on the case of Roy v. Herbosa (GR no. 207246) to invalidate the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Memorandum Circular no. 8-2013 (MC 8-2013) on the guidelines on compliance with the Filipino-foreign ownership requirements prescribed in the Philippine Constitution and/or existing laws by corporations engaged in nationalized and partly nationalized activities.
  • New regulation on unit-linked life insurance in Hungary

    Policyholders of unit-linked life insurance products pay an agreed sum for the unit-linked insurance to the insurance company, as a regular premium, or in one lump sum. These payments cover the life insurance component as well as the investment, administrative costs, contracting fee and the commissions. The "total cost charged" ("TCC") is an indicator – calculated in line with the rules of Hungarian insurance regulations – showing all costs charged on life insurance policies having a savings element, reflected as a percentage value. The regulation of the TCC in Hungary has been amended effective 1 January 2017. read more...
  • Hungary: Increase of Minimum Sale Price May Affect Retail NPL Transactions?

    On 7 March 2017, the Hungarian parliament adopted a law that increases the minimum sale price of a residential property in the enforcement procedure from the current 70% of its market value to 100% (market value to be understood as the price set by the appraisal of the bailiff), provided that (i) the claim to be enforced stems from a consumer contract; (ii) the real property is the debtor's only real property; and (iii) the debtor resided in that real property for at least six months prior to the initiation of the enforcement procedure.   read more...
  • European Court of Justice rules for the first time on discrimination based on belief

    The Court of Justice confirms a policy of neutrality can justify discrimination based on belief.
  • RECENT COURT ORDER ON GOOGLE RELATED TO PROTECTING INFORMATION RIGHTS

    Korean appeals court orders Google to disclose to Korean users what personal information Google passed to U.S. government.
  • ECJ CASE C-28/26 - RECOVERABILITY OF INPUT VAT OF A HOLDING COMPANY

    Case C-28/26 - Examines the right of a holding company to deduct input VAT on services acquired in the interest of its subsidiaries where those services are offered to its subsidiaries with no consideration.

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