Competition and antitrust in Canada
Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP’s competition and foreign investment practice is highly sought after by major global corporations to advise on sophisticated multi-jurisdictional merger control cases, while its top-tier corporate offering supplies a steady stream of domestic M&A filings. Department chair Brian Facey is widely considered a leader in the antitrust field and was selected by Essilor to advise on the local aspects of its €48bn merger with Luxottica, which successfully closed at the end of 2018. On the contentious front, litigator Robert Kwinter is a high-profile figure and recently represented several household-name multinational clients in complex class actions. Also recommended is Cassandra Brown, whose practice is split between transactional and behavioural matters. Randall Hofley rejoined the firm from the Competition Bureau in 2020. All named lawyers are based in Toronto.
Johnson & Johnson
Suncor Energy Inc.
Toronto Real Estate Board
The Jim Pattison Group
The Washington Group
- Represented Essilor in its €48bn merger with Luxottica to create an integrated global eyewear business.
- Represented Harris Corporation on its $34bn merger with L3 Technologies.
- Advised Red Hat on its $34bn merger with IBM.
- Advised Marathon Petroleum on obtaining competition clearance for its $23bn purchase of Andeavour.
- Represented several multinational automotive companies in defending class action proceedings commenced in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia, concerning allegations of price-fixing.
Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP
Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP's Toronto-based team combines its top-tier M&A offering with strong litigation expertise to provide comprehensive service on competition, antitrust and foreign investment law. The team is distinguished in part by the depth and experience of its bench, which makes it a popular choice for resource-heavy and high-stakes cases, where it routinely acts for major domestic and multinational clients. Among its headline merger filings, John Bodrug was selected by Aecon Group to advise on its C$1.5bn acquisition by China’s CCCC International Holding; the deal obtained clearance under the Competition Act but was ultimately blocked under the Investment Canada Act. Former Commissioner of Competition George Addy, who recently stepped down to senior counsel, and former Senior Deputy Commissioner of Competition, Adam Fanaki, are highly sought after for their specialist in-house experience. Also recommended are Anita Banicevic, who handles a range of merger review, criminal and civil investigations and compliance matters, and competition litigator Sandra Forbes. Jim Dinning has been singled out as an up-and-coming star.
Bennett Jones LLP excels in contentious work, where it has strengths across the full gamut of civil and criminal matters. A regular fixture in complex antitrust disputes, the group has litigated both for and against the Bureau. Jointly led by Washington DC-based Melanie Aitken (former Commissioner of Competition) and prominent Toronto-based competition expert Randal Hughes, the team is also routinely engaged to advise on domestic and multi-jurisdictional merger reviews. Toronto-based litigator John Rook QC is another of the team's senior contacts. In addition, the department benefits from an impressive band of up-and-coming partners including Adam Kalbfleisch, who handles an array of competition, foreign investment review and regulatory matters, and litigator Emrys Davis, who was promoted to partner in 2018.
Melanie Aitken; Randal Hughes
‘Bennett Jones is our go to firm for competition in Canada. The team is very user friendly and its guidance has proven itself time and time again.’
‘The Bennett Jones antitrust and competition team, headed in Canada by Randal Hughes, is an exceptional group with strength across the board in antitrust and competition matters.’
‘Randal Hughes is hands down the best competition lawyer in Canada. He has the respect of the Bureau, his peers in Canada, and the international antitrust community. Emrys Davis is a very strong up-and-coming member of the antitrust team, who also has great strengths across the board.’
‘John Rook and Emrys Davis are the best two antitrust litigators in Canada. John Rook is extraordinarily experienced and seasoned with superb judgment; he is also, unlike many Canadian counsel, not at all reluctant to take on the Competition Commission. Emrys Davis is John’s protégé and is extremely insightful with excellent strategic instincts.’
Akzo Nobel N.V.
Brewers Retail Inc. (The Beer Store)
Bumble Bee Foods, LLC
Canadian Natural Resources Limited
Cenovus Energy Inc.
Conagra Brands, Inc.
Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited
Gibson Energy ULC
Longview Aviation Capital Corp.
Northern Harvest Group of Companies
Premium Brands Holdings Corporation
The Nielsen Company
Time Warner Inc.
TMX Group Limited
Total Energy Services Inc.
Usui International Corporation and Usui Co., Ltd.
Verlaggsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH (Macmillan Publishers)
Volkswagen AG, Volkswagen Group of America Inc., Volkswagen Group Canada Inc., Audi AG, Audi Canada Inc.
- Canadian counsel to Time Warner on its $85.4bn acquisition by AT&T.
- Represented Brewers Retail, as one of the defendants, in a C$1.4bn class action connected to allegations of price-fixing in Ontario’s beer market.
- Advising Panasonic group entities in their defence of various class actions alleging anti-competitive conduct in the sale and supply of capacitors, resistors, inductors and optical disk drives, among other products.
- Represented Canada’s Commissioner of Competition in its abuse of dominance case against the Toronto Real Estate Board.
- Advised Longview Aviation Capital on its C$300m acquisition, through an affiliate, of the entire Dash 8 program from Bombardier.
McCarthy Tétrault continues to consolidate its competition offering following a flurry of recent hires, which saw new practice head Jason Gudofsky and partner Debbie Salzberger join from Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP in March 2018, while Nikiforos Iatrou joined four months later from WeirFoulds LLP. The increasingly prominent practice group has significantly boosted its profile on the merger review side, with recent engagements on multinational merger cases for enviable names such as Blackstone Group, 21st Century Fox and Shire. At the domestic level, the firm has handled competition work for WestJet Airlines, Bell Canada and TimberWest. The team also has deep expertise in contentious issues, including criminal cartels, abuses of dominance and competition class actions. Other senior names in the group include Oliver Borgers, one of the most distinguished merger control lawyers in Canada, and Donald Houston, who is considered among the country’s leading litigators.
‘I rely on McCarthy’s competition practice because partners within the team have a great deal of insight into (and are well-connected to) the Competition Bureau.’
‘Nikiforos Iatrou provides pragmatic and strategic legal advice that aligns with the client’s business needs.’
21st Century Fox
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)
Molson Coors Brewing Co
- Advised WestJet Airlines, as competition counsel, on its joint venture with Delta Air Lines.
- Advised Nestlé on the Canadian antitrust and foreign investment aspects of its strategic alliance with Starbucks, which saw it pay $7.1bn to sell the company’s coffee products in hotels and other retail locations.
- Advised CIBC, as one of the commercial partners backing the new program, on Air Canada’s C$497m acquisition of the Aeroplan rewards program from Aimia.
- Advised 21st Century Fox on the competition law aspects of its $52.4bn acquisition by Walt Disney Company.
- Advised Dessau on its C$1.9m settlement over bid-rigging on public contracts in Quebec.
The competition and antitrust practice at McMillan LLP is well weighted between transactional and behavioural work and covers a range of merger clearance, investigations, policy review and foreign investment matters. The firm has gained a reputation for cartel and class action cases. Of particular note, it represented The NutraSweet Company in the first abuse of dominance proceeding under the Competition Act. Toronto-based Neil Campbell co-chairs the competition and international trade groups and has extensive experience in merger reviews, investigations and compliance issues. James Musgrove, also in Toronto, is rated for his first-class behavioural practice.
Neil Campbell; James Musgrove
Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP
Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP’s standout M&A offering fuels a steady flow of merger review work, where the firm is routinely engaged to advise on complex and strategic transactional matters. The practice also handles a significant volume of behavioural work, and foreign investment and national security matters, including criminal law issues. Key figures include Peter Franklyn and Michelle Lally, both of whom have experience in M&A, strategic alliances, government investigations and litigation. Chaired by Shuli Rodal, the national practice group also includes foreign investment specialist Peter Glossop and recently promoted partner Kaeleigh Kuzma, who has experience in criminal law matters. All named lawyers are based in Toronto.
Blackstone Property Partners
China Molybdenum Co., Ltd.
Mitel Networks Corporation
Husky Energy Inc.
Maple Leaf Foods Inc.
- Represented Enterprise Rent-a-Car in class proceedings connected to the Bureau’s investigation into pricing and marketing practices in the rental car market.
- Acted for Blackstone on its C$3.8bn acquisition of Pure Industrial Real Estate Trust.
- Advised Höegh Autoliners on regulatory inquiries and its defence of class action proceedings across Canada.
- Represented Barclays in defending multiple class action proceedings relating to the sale of gold-related and silver-related investment instruments to individual and institutional investors across Canada.
- Acted for Constellation Brands on its C$5.1bn investment into Canopy Growth.
Stikeman Elliott LLP
Premier transactional firm Stikeman Elliott LLP is a leader in national and cross-border merger reviews, with department head Paul Collins (formerly a senior deputy with the Competition Bureau) widely considered among the leading competition specialists in Canada. The firm’s investigations and litigation expertise is equally impressive and spans the criminal, regulatory and class action spheres. Katherine Kay is a key contact for contentious work. Other recommended names include competition and trade partner Susan Hutton and senior counsel Lawson Hunter QC both based in Ottawa, and impressive younger partner Michael Kilby. Named lawyers are based in Toronto unless otherwise stated.
Torys LLP continues to gain ground in the competition space, winning an increasing share of standalone merger reviews. Most notably for Parkland Fuel, which the team advised on its acquisition of 75% of the shares of Sol Investments; the client initially approached the firm for its regulatory expertise, before retaining the corporate group to advise on the transaction. Omar Wakil led the competition aspects of the Parkland deal and also handled the merger clearance reviews for Linde and Takeda Pharmaceutical. On the contentious front, competition litigation head Linda Plumpton is highly regarded for her experience across the full suite of investigations, class action defence and foreign investment matters. Dany Assaf, who co-chairs the department alongside Wakil, is also recommended. Named lawyers are based in Toronto.
Dany Assaf; Omar Wakil
Other key lawyers:
‘The team matches unparalleled expertise with practicality and is a pleasure to work with.’
‘Omar Wakil and Linda Plumpton are top-notch lawyers, who provide great client service and excellent, business-minded advice.’
Parkland Fuel Corporation
Choice Properties Real Estate Investment Trust (“Choice Properties”)
Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. (“Husky”)
Hachette Book Group Inc. and Hachette Book Group Canada Ltd. (“Hachette”)
Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited
Dilawri Group of Companies (“Dilawri”)
Precision Drilling Corporation
- Advised Linde on its $44.8bn all-stock merger of equals with Praxair, one of its major global competitors.
- Acted for Precision Drilling on its proposed, but ultimately terminated, C$1bn acquisition of Trinidad Drilling.
- Acted for Takeda Pharmaceutical as Canadian competition counsel on its $62bn acquisition of Shire.
- Assisted Parkland Fuel with its $1.2bn business combination with SOL, the largest independent fuel marketer in the Caribbean.
- Represented six clients in class actions concerning 13 different automotive parts in litigation stemming from the high-profile auto parts cartel investigations.
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP is recognized for the strength of its behavioural practice, which spans the full scope of cartel defence, regulatory issues, class actions and regulatory litigation. The group’s emphasis on contentious work, combined with its ability to draw upon the wider firm’s strong regulatory offering, makes it a popular choice for high-stakes litigation. Notably, the team represented George Weston and Loblaw Companies on their successful application for immunity from prosecution, under the Bureau’s Immunity Program, as part of the Bureau’s high-profile investigation into price-fixing in the bread market. Robert Russell chairs the department.
Loblaw Companies Limited
George Weston Limited
Deutsche Bank AG
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd./Samsung Electronics Canada Inc.
Samsung SDI Co., Ltd.
Pan American Silver Corp.
KEMET Corporation/KEMET Electronics Corporation
RBC Global Asset Management Inc.
Alterra Power Corp
Eli Lilly and Company
Stone Canyon Industries LLC
Government of Canada/Canada Development Investment Corporation
Innovative Medicines Canada
Pirelli North America, Inc.
TMD Friction Holdings GmbH
- Represented George Weston and Loblaw Companies in an agency investigation related to commercial bread pricing, and also on connected class action litigation.
- Advised Deutsche Bank on the Canadian aspects of global sovereign bonds, foreign exchange, gold and silver class actions.
- Advised Samsung on the Canadian aspects of the international DRAM investigations and damages litigation.
- Acted for KEMET Corporation and KEMET Electronics in class action litigation across Canada related to an alleged capacitors price-fixing conspiracy.
- Advised the Government of Canada on the Canadian aspects of its C$4.5bn acquisition of the Trans Mountain Pipeline and proposed expansion project from Kinder Morgan, including Competition and transport regulatory clearance.
Fasken has continued to broaden the scope of its competition and antitrust practice. The firm boosted its behavioural expertise in 2018 with the hires of John Pecman (the most recent former Commissioner of Competition) who joined as a senior business advisor in Ottawa, and counsel Chris Margison, who also joined from the Bureau. The double hire brings the number of former enforcers with the Bureau up to five and demonstrates the firm’s growing profile for contentious work. In addition, the firm is well-placed to handle merger filings, particularly mining-related transactions, and cross-border cases. The practice group is jointly led by Antonio Di Domenico and Huy Do, who specializes in M&A reviews and criminal investigations. Anther name to note is Anthony Baldanza, who focuses on a range of competition and foreign investment law matters. Named lawyers are based in Toronto unless otherwise stated.
Huy Do; Antonio Di Domenico
Other key lawyers:
‘Fasken’s team is very strong due to the diversity of experience it brings to the table, including substantial experience working at the Competition Bureau and the Department of Justice litigating competition cases.’
‘The group comprises incredibly smart, knowledgeable and personable people who are a joy to work with even when tension is high and situations are stressful.’
Commissioner of Competition (Competition Bureau)
Microsoft Corporation and Microsoft Canada Co.
La Coop fédérée
Discount Car & Truck Rentals
- Advised Air Transat on its proposed C$520m acquisition by Air Canada.
- Advised Air Canada on its acquisition, together with TD bank, CIBC and Visa, of Aimia’s Aeroplan loyalty program.
- Advised BASF on its $9bn acquisition of Bayer’s agricultural business.
- Acted for La Coop fédérée in its acquisition of certain of Cargill’s grain and crop input assets.
- Represented Yamashita Rubber in a $100m cartel class action concerning alleged price fixing of anti-vibration rubber parts in certain automobiles.
Goodmans continues to raise its profile in the competition space, having successfully closed several high-profile merger reviews during 2019. Most notably, David Rosner advised Newmont on its headline $10bn acquisition of Goldcorp to create the world’s largest gold producer. The firm also handles a steady stream of behavioural cases, with strong experience in investigations and related litigation, as well as foreign investment matters. The team is led by Calvin Goldman QC, a former Commissioner of the Competition Bureau.
Calvin Goldman QC
Other key lawyers:
Newmont Mining Corporation
Clearspring Capital Partners/Demers
Vancouver Airport Authority
Uber Canada Inc.
- Advised Onex Corporation on its C$5bn acquisition of WestJet.
- Acted for Newmont Mining on its $10bn acquisition of Goldcorp.
- Advised Altria on its C$2.4bn minority investment in the Cronos Group.
- Acted for Clearspring Capital Partners, and its portfolio company Demers-Braun, on the competition law aspects of its acquisition of Crestline Coach.
- Represented Vancouver Airport Authority in its defence of litigation brought by the Commissioner of Competition alleging abuse of dominance under the Competition Act.
Norton Rose Fulbright’s Canadian competition practice is complemented by the firm's robust international offering, which generates a significant number of cross-border merger cases and multi-jurisdictional antitrust investigations. A recent example included the team advising JTEKT Corporation on price-fixing and bid-rigging investigations regarding certain motor vehicle components spanned Canada, Australia and Asia. Led out of Toronto by Kevin Ackhurst, the department also benefits from experienced partners in Calgary and Vancouver as well as Montreal, where litigator Eric Lefebvre is a name to note.
‘High-end experience in the industry and expertise to match. Cannot say enough about the assistance received to date.’
‘The team was very responsive, highly knowledgeable and had good contacts with the regulator for useful interactions. Bench strength is always an added value when dealing with any team at Norton Rose Fulbright.’
‘The work completed, particularly in creating technical advocacy resources, is outstanding.’
Brookfield Asset Management
Canadian Tire Corporation
Green Growth Brands
Makivik Corporation / Bradley Air Services Limited
Pfizer Canada Inc.
- Advised Metro on its C$4.5bn acquisition of the Jean Coutu pharmacy chain, which was approved subject to a number of divestitures.
- Advised Tervita Corporation on its acquisition of Newalta Corporation.
- Represented Sharp Corporation’s Japanese, American and Canadian businesses in defending a national class action alleging price-fixing in the liquid crystal display market.
- Represented Metro is issues connected to a high-profile investigation into the alleged price-fixing of commercial bread products.
- Advised JTEKT Corporation on a price-fixing and bid-rigging investigation regarding certain motor vehicle components, and on the follow-on class actions filed in Canada.
The Canadian arm of Baker McKenzie frequently works hand-in-hand with offices from across the firm’s global network to advise on the domestic aspects of major multi-jurisdictional mergers. It is also increasingly leading worldwide mandates from Toronto, including recent advice to Camso on its $1.7bn sale to Michelin, which involved over 28 jurisdictions. Arlan Gates heads a compact but effective practice group, which also has experience in foreign investment matters and investigations.
‘The team provides pragmatic, yet very knowledgeable and risk-weighted solutions.’
‘We were in a deadlock situation and Bakers solved it with just the right instrument and wording; the company and us were in agreement within 24 hours (including their lawyers review).’
Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty
Motorola Solutions, Inc.
Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Company (SALIC)
Platinum Equity LLC
Vale Canada Limited
Brookfield Asset Management
The Freeman Company / Encore Event Technologies
- Advised Platinum Equity on obtaining Canadian competition and transportation approval of its C$615m acquisition of Livingston International.
- Acted as part of a cross-office team, led from Canada, which advised Canada-based Camso on its $1.7bn sale to Michelin spanning 28 jurisdictions worldwide.
- Advised Platinum Equity on the Canadian competition aspects of its $2.1bn acquisition of LifeScan from Johnson & Johnson.
- Represented CITIC on foreign investment and merger clearance matters related to its C$612m strategic financial investment, though one of its subsidiaries, into Ivanhoe Mines.
- Advised Knauf on the Canadian competition and foreign investment aspects of its $7bn acquisition of USG Corp.
Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP
Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP’s robust merger review practice leverages the firm’s twin strengths in the mining and cannabis areas to secure a significant volume of high-profile engagements in those sectors. Practice head Chris Hersh has a broad practice spanning M&A, investigations, foreign investment and litigation.
Supported by an expansive global network and a national full-service offering, Dentons’ competition group is consistently involved in a mix of transactional, regulatory and contentious matters. The practice routinely works as part of cross-office national and international teams, and enjoyed an impressive run of cross-border matters over the past year, with US and Asia-based clients being particularly active. The department is co-chaired by Toronto-based Sandy Walker, who also leads the Canadian regulatory practice group, and Edmonton-based counsel Barry Zalmanowitz QC, who is held up as ‘the leading practitioner in Western Canada’.
Sandy Walker; Barry Zalmanowitz QC
‘Lawyers at Dentons are capable, experienced, responsive and good to work with.’
Bayer AG and Bayer Inc.
Daimler and Mercedes-Benz Canada Inc.
Lions Gate Entertainment
Mercuria Energy Group Limited
Saban Capital Acquisition Corp.
The Katz Group of Companies
- Represented Japanese capacitor manufacturer, Matsuo Electric, in multi-jurisdictional antitrust class actions in Canada.
- Advised MIE Holdings on the $250m sale of its entire Canadian upstream oil and gas business to Far East International.
- Acted for Alberta-based Noralta Lodge on its C$367m sale to Civeo Corporation.
- Successfully defended Sleeman Breweries in a $1.4bn class action alleging a conspiracy between the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, The Beer Store and its shareholders: Molson, Labatt and Sleeman.
- Advised Meritage Midstream Services III, LP on the C$600m sale of Meritage Midstream ULC to SemCAMS Midstream, a joint venture of SemGroup and KKR.
DLA Piper (Canada) LLP
DLA Piper (Canada) LLP’s competition group, which is mainly split between its Vancouver and Toronto offices, has a particular focus on contentious antitrust matters. The team is routinely engaged by domestic and multinational corporations to advise on cartel cases, class actions and criminal investigations, where it often advises on the Canadian aspects of global cases. Kevin Wright, who has a strong emphasis on class action defence, leads the group with strong support from senior litigator David Neave, both of whom are based in Vancouver.
‘Top-flight experience in all key areas of antitrust law. Kevin Wright and Susan Friedman are both extremely attentive and creative.‘
Bristol Myers Squibb/Pfizer
Furukawa Electric Co. Ltd.
Renesas Electronics Corporation
Elna Co. Ltd.
Nongshim Co., Ltd.
Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics .EUKOR
Canadian Forest Products Ltd.
Canfor Pulp Ltd.
- Acted for Air Canada in a class action in Saskatchewan alleging that certain airlines conspired to fix baggage fees.
- Acting for both Pfizer and Bristol Myers Squibb in a class proceeding commenced in Manitoba involving several claims, including breach of the Competition Act.
- Represented Renesas Electronics Corporation in pan-Canadian class actions regarding alleged collusion in respect of smart card chips.
- Advised Hitachi in proposed class action proceedings instituted in Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec and Manitoba alleging anti-competitive conduct in the optical disk drive market.
- Represented Nongshim in class actions alleging that it, and certain other Korean companies, conspired to fix the prices of noodles.