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Canada > Banking and finance > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Banking and finance
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1
    • Ana Badour - McCarthy Tétrault
    • William Buchner - Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP
    • Aaron Fransen - Stikeman Elliott LLP
    • Elizabeth Sale - Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP
    • Nancy Smith - Burnet Duckworth & Palmer LLP

Who Represents Who

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Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP’s ‘sleek and sophisticated’ banking practice is acclaimed for the breadth of its service offering, which spans syndicated loans, structured finance, asset-based lending, aircraft finance and project finance. The department’s broad geographical footprint encompasses domestic offices in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa, as well as international platforms in New York, London, Manama and Beijing.  Recent headline mandates include Toronto-based banking heavyweight Michael Matheson advising TD Bank, as lead, on the C$1bn syndicated acquisition financing related to Parkland Fuel’s acquisition of Chevron Canada’s downstream fuel business in British Columbia and Alberta. The ‘extremely responsive’ Simon Finch, also in Toronto, attracts strong praise for his growing presence in the market and acted for the co-lead arrangers on the amendment and restatement of Toromont Industries’ credit agreement connected to its C$1bn acquisition of the Hewitt Group of Companies. In Calgary, Michael McIntosh QC is well known as a leader in oil and gas-related matters and assisted Kinder Morgan Canada with a C$4bn revolving construction credit facility to support the development of the Trans Mountain expansion project. Other recommended transactional specialists include Toronto-based Michael Harquail, Montreal’s Sébastien Vilder and Michael Birch in Vancouver. In addition to its transactional expertise, the group is considered a ‘leader in regulatory matters’, where national financial services lead Paul Belanger is a sought-after name. Belanger recently advised MCAP Financial Corporation on a C$1.5bn mortgage purchase agreement with Home Trust Company. Other regulatory specialists include seasoned expert Dawn Jetten and rising star Elizabeth Sale — both are based in Toronto.

‘One of the top two banking practices in Canada’, McCarthy Tétrault stands out for its senior experience coupled with the ‘tremendous potential’ of its younger lawyers. The ‘deep and broad group’, which handles the full range of transactional and regulatory work, is well-dispersed nationally, drawing upon key individuals in the firm’s Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver offices — it also leans on international outposts in New York and London. Clients include the majority of domestic and foreign banks operating in Canada (including BMO, CIBC, Deutsche Bank and Wells Fargo Canada) and it also acts for major corporate borrowers. In Toronto, department co-lead Barry Ryan is a ‘genuine heavy-hitter’ and he teamed up with fellow co-head Marc MacMullin and ‘excellent rising star’ Ana Badour to advise Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP) on the provision of a C$2bn liquidity line to Home Trust Company; HOOPP then syndicated portions of the credit facility to units of Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, Fortress Investments and a major North American financial institution. In another Toronto office highlight, MacMullin, Gordon Baird and Michael McConnell acted for Equitable Bank in a C$2bn backstop-secured funding facility with a syndicate of Canadian bank lenders. In Montreal, counsel Michel Deschamps advised the agent and lenders on a syndicated credit facility to SNC-Lavalin Group connected to its acquisition of WS Atkins. Other recommended names include Richard Higa, who recently advised Jefferies Finance on Dentalcorp Health Service's $908m debt financing, and project finance expert Stephen Furlan — both are based in Toronto. In a notable development, the firm recently boosted its Calgary offering with the hire of Joseph Palin from Dentons.

Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP provides ‘superior service’, with its ‘very capable lawyers’, ‘cutting-edge legal knowledge’ and ‘strong business sense’ all finding favour with clients. The group, which is split between the firm's Toronto and Montreal offices, is well known for its advice to corporate borrowers but it is also features regularly on the lender side of transactions. Toronto-based department co-lead Carol Pennycook has a ‘strong ability to deal with highly complicated and structured financings’ and recently acted for Fortis on the amendment and restatement of its C$1.3bn revolving term credit facility with a syndicate of banks. The ‘very bright and pragmatic’ Joel Scoler, who is recognized for his contribution to the firm’s lender-side practice, is a ‘go-to lawyer in Toronto for sophisticated financing transactions for all the leading banks’; he assisted National Bank of Canada with its underwriting of TMX Group’s C$931m acquisition of Intercontinental Exchange. In Montreal, Sébastien Thériault acted for BMO, CIBC and National Bank of Canada in committing bank facilities of C$3.4bn to finance the cash portion of Metro’s C$4.5bn acquisition of the Jean Coutu Group. The team also benefits from the senior expertise of Toronto-based project finance specialist Nicholas Williams, Toronto-based securities expert Scott Hyman and Montreal-based group co-lead Dan Wolfensohn. Among its future stars, William Buchner is ‘really impressive’.

FASKEN is adept at advising both lenders and borrowers on banking and finance transactions, and has leading Canadian banks (it is on the panel of four of the six largest banks in the country), insurance companies and major corporate and institutional borrowers all featuring among its key clients. The team’s ‘valuable expertise’ and ‘very high level of service’ strike the right note with sources, who rank it ‘among the top finance teams in the country’. In Toronto, John Torrey is a high-profile name and ‘understands business needs very well’; he advised BMO, as agent and lead arranger, and the lending syndicate of banks on a $1bn senior secured credit agreement with subsidiaries of Chemtrade Logistics Income Fund to fund its acquisition of Canexus. In a headline Montreal office highlight, Marc Novello acted for the syndicate of banks, co-led by CIBC, RBC, BMO Capital Markets and National Bank Financial Markets, on the $4bn financing of CDP Financial. Also in Montreal, ‘consistent and responsive’ department co-lead Angela Onesi, together with Félix Gutierrez, advised Nalcor Energy on the C$7.9bn project financing of the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project. The ‘very experienced’ Jon Holmstrom and regulatory specialist Stephen Clark are also recommended.

Norton Rose Fulbright has a diverse national banking practice, which routinely advises lenders and borrowers on project finance, syndicated loans, structured finance and acquisition finance — among other matters. Lawyers are prized for their ‘valuable industry knowledge and response times’ as well as their ‘practical approach’, with standout names including Calgary’s Rick Borden, who is highly sought after for major financings. Borden recently acted hand-in-hand with the firm’s Montreal, Ottawa and Luxembourg offices to advise the lenders on a credit agreement to support a multibillion-dollar acquisition. In Toronto, David M.A. Amato advised an international bank on the amendment and restatement of a multimillion-dollar asset-based lending facility. In Vancouver, David Bain is ‘proactive and user-friendly’. David Lemieux is a key contact in Montreal. The team also includes asset-based lending expert Arnold Cohen, debt capital markets partner Peter J. Wiazowski and Robert G. Borduas — all of whom are based in Montreal.

Stikeman Elliott LLP continues to raise its profile on the lender side, winning bank-side roles on a slew of recent mandates. In a headline example, Toronto-based Meaghan Obee Tower advised CIBC, as senior administrative agent to a syndicate of 17 senior lenders, on Dental Corporation of Canada’s upsizing of its existing credit facilities. Also in Toronto, ‘rising star’ Aaron Fransen acted for RBC and a syndicate of lenders on the acquisition financing by BluEarth Renewables of solar and hydro assets in Ontario and British Columbia. In Montreal, Sterling Dietze is recommended for his broad finance practice, which encompasses both transactional and regulatory matters, and with recently made partner Maxime Jacquin advised the co-lead arrangers (National Bank of Canada and RBC) on the amendment of Uni-Select’s credit agreement. Among the group’s highlights for borrowers, Toronto’s Jennifer Legge assisted Hudson’s Bay with the amendment of its $2.2bn asset-based multi-jurisdictional revolving credit facility with a Bank of America-led syndicate of banks. Other recommended partners in Toronto are the ‘absolutely fantastic’ Craig Mitchell, ‘terrific lawyer’ Marie Garneau and sector specialist Peter E. Hamilton. In Montreal, real estate specialist Howard Rosenoff is also a prominent name.

Torys LLP’s banking practice is highly regarded for its specialist skill set in several key transactional areas, with debt finance, energy and cross-border work all notable sweet spots. Sources also rank the group as ‘top tier for regulatory matters’. In Calgary, Kevin Fougere had a banner year, which included advising RBC, as agent, and a 24-bank lending syndicate on C$5.5bn of senior secured credit facilities to Kinder Morgan Canada to support the expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline system. In Toronto, department co-lead Adam Delean acted for RBC and Scotiabank, as the lead arrangers, and a syndicate of lenders on the financing of Brookfield Business Partners’ C$540m acquisition of Loblaw Companies’ gas station operations across Canada. In a high-profile borrower-side deal, Toronto’s Amanda Balasubramanian advised Home Capital on an emergency C$2bn liquidity facility provided by HOOPP, and also on the subsequent C$2bn loan facility provided by Berskhire Hathaway as a replacement for HOOPP’s facility. The team also draws upon the senior experience of practice co-lead Jonathan Weisz, ‘tremendous’ project finance specialist Scott Kraag and corporate finance expert Tom Zverina — all are based in Toronto. On the regulatory side, Toronto’s Blair Keefe is highlighted by many as ‘the best regulatory lawyer in Canada’.

The ‘very strong team’ at Bennett Jones LLP attracts praise for being ‘very knowledgeable about the industry’ and for providing ‘balanced advice, which prioritises the most important items’. In Calgary, high-profile specialist Philip Backman QC is advising North West Redwater Partnership on the ongoing project financing of the construction of a refinery in Alberta, which recently included a C$1.5bn project bond offering. Also in Calgary, department co-head Patrick Brennan is highly sought after for his leading expertise in aviation finance; he recently advised Chorus Aviation Capital on the purchase, financing and leasing of four aircraft. Toronto-based groupco-lead Steven Lutz and Calgary-based Karen Dawson are also recommended. Mark Rasile rejoined from Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP.

Borden Ladner Gervais LLP’s national banking team provides a ‘top-flight service’, with ‘first-class work’, ‘excellent responsiveness’ and ‘effective management of legal costs’. The firm has a robust base in Montreal, where Kenneth Atlas is a recognized expert in banking matters. The Montreal office also includes ‘excellent younger partner’ Vincent Frenette, who has ‘seen it all and always has a solution’; he advised a corporate borrower in the mining sector on the amendment of its revolving credit facility. In Vancouver, national group leader Donald Bird and regional group manager Magnus Verbrugge are key contacts, while Gus Karantzoulis and regulatory specialist Stephen Redican are key names in Toronto.

Calgary powerhouse Burnet Duckworth & Palmer LLP is ‘tier one in Alberta’ and remains a firm fixture on major finance deals in the energy and natural resources sectors. It also has solid experience in transport and telecoms-related work. Kathy Pybus is the key contact and brings to bear a strong record in project finance, syndicated loans and restructurings; she recently acted for the agent and a syndicate of lenders on a C$1bn senior secured credit facility to Paramount Resources. Nancy Smith is a highly regarded up-and-coming partner and advised Whitecap Resources on a C$1.7bn senior secured credit facility, which included a C$195m notes offering. Seasoned specialist John Wilmot is also a key figure in the team.

Goodmans is lauded for its ‘deep knowledge of the Canadian banking landscape’, which ensures it ‘immediately understands issues, risks and opportunities’. The ‘highly responsive’ group — known for its close relationships with lenders and borrowers — handles the full spread of finance matters, including corporate lending, structured finance, project finance, debt restructuring and regulatory issues. Names to note include prominent specialist Jean Anderson, who recently acted as Canadian counsel to Wells Fargo on $1.7bn of new credit facilities to Delek US Holdings. David Nadler, who is ‘practical and takes real world scenarios into consideration’, advised the lenders (TD Bank and RBC) on a $1bn financing of Ontario Teachers’ Finance Trust. On the borrower front, David Wiseman assisted Conuma Coal Resources with its $225m refinancing, which involved a $200m notes offering and a $25m credit facility. Jeffrey Citron and Celia Rhea are also recommended.

McMillan LLP’s ‘very strong financial services group’ is chaired from Toronto by Paul Avis and high-profile restructuring expert Andrew Kent and also includes well-staffed platforms in Vancouver, Montreal and Calgary. Recent highlights include Avis’ advice to the lenders, a syndicate led by RBC, to Lakeview Community Partners in relation to its C$275m acquisition of the former coal-fired Lakeview Generating Station site. In addition, Don Waters — ‘a significant player in the finance area’ — teamed up with Timothy Murphy and Julie Han to advise Scotiabank, as lender, on the C$128.5m Cooksville Station redevelopment project. Other representative clients include BMO, CIBC and National Bank of Canada. Syndicated finance expert Jeffrey Rogers and Vancouver-based banking and real estate partner John Morrison are also recommended. Named lawyers are based in Toronto, unless otherwise stated.

Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP recently added derivatives specialist Lisa Mantello in Toronto from Goodmans, which continues a pattern of growth over the past four years that includes the arrivals of Vancouver-based Martha Martindale in 2016 and financial services chair Chris Bennett in 2014. The growing practice advises on a wide range of banking issues, with notable strength in project finance, restructuring-related matters and acquisition finance. The increasing profile of the group’s lender-side mandates is evidenced by Toronto-based Kevin Morley’s advice to Wells Fargo Securities and Wells Fargo Bank National Association on the Canadian aspects of $1.2bn in Canadian and US asset-based loans to Bass Pro Group. Laurie Barrett is also a senior member of the team and advised National Bank of Canada on a significant refinancing for Algonquin Power. On the project finance front, Bennett advised EllisDon Capital on the C$288.5m financing of Sinai Health System’s Phase 3A redevelopment project.

Among Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP’s recent highlights, Marc Mercier advised Planet Fitness on the Canadian finance aspects of its recent refinancing, worth approximately $1.3bn. In a high-profile lender-side deal, Alison Manzer and Suhuyini Abudulai led the department’s advice to Berkshire Hathaway on its C$2bn credit line to Home Capital. Charles Rich is also recommended. Mark Rasile left to rejoin Bennett Jones LLP. All named lawyers are based in Toronto.

Dentons’ finds favour for its ‘results-focused approach’ and for its lawyers’ ability to combine ‘technical strength with commerciality and the ability to build relationships with all stakeholders’. Toronto-based group head Dennis Wiebe, noted as a ‘consummate deal-doer’, has a strong track record in lending transactions and restructuring-related matters. Heidi Clark, a department manager in the Toronto office, is ‘thorough and effective without getting caught in the weeds’ and acted on several significant real estate financings over the past year. Toronto-based Thomas Hunter (‘very efficient and great to deal with’) and Montreal’s Joel Cabelli (‘produces excellent work, on time and on budget’) are also recommended.

At DLA Piper (Canada) LLP, Toronto-based Eric Belli-Bivar is a key contact for banking work and has experience in debt finance, secured lending, structured finance and securitization. Belli-Bivar recently acted alongside the New York office to advise Polynt Composites Canada on a $78.6m asset-based revolving credit facility. On the lender side, he advised Siemens Financial Services on its participation in credit facility provided to US Steel Canada.

At Gowling WLG, Calgary financial services lead Elizabeth Burton recently advised Westman Village on a C$153.3m construction loan. On the lender side, Burton advised a syndicate of Canadian financial institutions on amendments to Painted Pony’s credit facilities. The firm also houses an active regulatory practice, which has experience in cybersecurity, privacy and fintech matters.

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