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‘An excellent group with star individuals’, Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP’s team leverages its top-tier corporate group to shine in transactional work and it also houses an effective tax controversy practice. On the transactional front, high-profile practice head Jeffrey Trossman advised The Washington Companies on the tax aspects of its C$1.5bn acquisition, related debt financings and post-closing reorganization of Dominion Diamond. In another headline deal, Kathleen Penny advised investment manager Jarislowsky Fraser and its board of directors on its C$950m sale to Scotiabank. In a mandate supporting its reputation as a ‘leader in private equity deals’, Jeffrey Shafer advised Encore on the sale of Atlantic Aqua Farms and its affiliated entities to Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. In Calgary, Carrie Aiken advised Pembina on its $9.7bn acquisition of Veresen. On the contentious side, the group represented CBS Canada Holdings in a case concerning the deductibility of non-capital losses. Other key names include Robert Kopstein, who splits his time between Calgary and Vancouver, transfer pricing head Scott Wilkie, Chris Van Loan and Paul Stepak. Paul Tamaki retired. Tax litigation head Edwin Kroft QC and Vancouver-based tax litigator Deborah Toaze left the firm. All named lawyers are based in Toronto unless otherwise stated.

‘A market leader’, Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP possesses ‘one of Canada’s pre-eminent tax practices’, according to many. The group, particularly valued for its ‘in-depth knowledge of international cross-border tax structuring’, is split between Toronto and Montreal, while internationally it benefits from significant US law capability in its New York office. The Toronto department, led by sector specialists Ian Crosbie and John Ulmer, acted on a string of major transactions over the past year. Most notably, Raj Juneja — who has since left to go in-house at AutoCanada — advised Restaurant Brands International on the Canadian tax aspects of both its $1.8bn acquisition of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen and its $1.5bn private placement of notes. On the insolvency front, Christopher Anderson advised Target Corporation on the tax aspects of the winding down of Target Canada under the CCAA. In Montreal, Marie-Emmanuelle Vaillancourt (‘practical, responsive and knowledgeable’) advised Alimentation Couche-Tard on its $4.4bn acquisition of Texas-based CST Brands and its subsequent $750m sale of a portion of CST Brands’ Canadian assets to Parkland Fuel. On the litigation side, Toronto-based Ellie Roth successfully represented James MacDonald in an appeal concerning the determination of the proper income tax treatment of cash settlement payments under a forward contract. Brian Bloom and litigator Guy Du Pont Ad E are also recommended in Montreal.

Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP houses a ‘deep and broad’ tax practice, which is best known for its ‘peerless expertise in tax litigation’ and its strong track record in cross-border M&A and corporate finance deals. National group co-chair Firoz Ahmed is a sought-after specialist for transactional tax matters and advised Hydro One both on its C$6.7bn acquisition of Avista and also on a C$1.4bn bought deal offering by its subsidiary. Patrick Marley, noted as a ‘very strong tax lawyer’, advised Kinross Gold on the sale of both of a 25% interest in the Cerro Casale project and its 100% interest in the Quebrada Seca project. Timothy Hughes, who heads the capital markets tax unit, advised Scotiabank on a $1.2bn notes offering. On the contentious side, ‘Canada’s best tax litigator’ Al Meghji and international tax heavyweight Richard Tremblay paired up to represent Cameco in a landmark C$1.3bn case discussing the “recharacterization” transfer pricing provisions in section 247 of the Income Tax Act. The group also draws upon the senior experience of national department co-chair Monica Biringer, Montreal group head Mark Brender and Calgary-based Edward Rowe, who brings strong experience in energy-related matters. All named lawyers are based in Toronto unless otherwise stated.

‘Responsive, knowledgeable and committed’, Goodmans’ Toronto-based tax group sets itself apart through its record in restructuring-related matters, its robust M&A expertise and its ‘strong prominence in REITs transactions’ — it also houses a capable tax litigation department. Tax head Carrie Smit (‘very practical and thinks quickly on her feet’) acted alongside Mitchell Sherman (‘extremely knowledgeable’) to advise Searchlight Capital on its $2bn acquisition of Mitel Networks. In a highlight showcase of its skills in private equity and REIT matters, Jon Northup paired up with ‘great up-and-coming talent’ Jarrett Freeman to advise Pure Industrial REIT on its C$3.8bn acquisition by Blackstone and IvanhoĂ© Cambridge. Alan Bowman is also recommended for transactional tax, while Glenn Ernst is a key contact for tax litigation.

McCarthy TĂ©trault’s national tax practice, which is represented in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal, is best known for its strong skill set in financial services-related mandates. M&A, cross-border matters and tax litigation are also areas of expertise. In Toronto, senior figure Douglas Cannon, together with Stefanie Morand, advised Jamieson Wellness on the tax aspects of its C$300m IPO. Toronto’s Gabrielle Richards, also a seasoned specialist, advised TD Bank Group on the issuance of a $1bn green bond. On the contentious side, ‘star litigator’ Chia-Yi Chua is representing Embarc in a case involving the common law principles of agency law as applied to federal sales taxes. The group also includes Toronto-based Nigel Johnston, who is strong in capital markets and resource taxation, and Montreal-based national lead Christian Meighen.

Stikeman Elliott LLP covers all the bases on tax law, with strong experience spanning M&A, restructurings, securities, transfer pricing and litigation. Among its highlights, group head John G. Lorito advised Cannabis Strategies Acquisition Corporation (CSAC) and Mercer Park CB LP on the C$134.7m IPO of CSAC — notably Canada’s first cannabis-focused special purpose acquisition corporation. Dean Kraus (‘an excellent tax lawyer’) advised Hudson’s Bay on several matters, including an equity investment by Rhîne Capital of $500m. On the litigation front, Montreal’s Pierre-Louis Le Saunier represented Toyota Credit Canada in an appeal before the Court of Quebec. Other names to note are Vince Imerti (‘strong combination of pensions and tax knowledge’); Calgary-based Julie D’Avignon (‘great to work with’); and Frank Mathieu (‘very young but very strong’).

Bennett Jones LLP’s tax group, which is split between Calgary and Toronto, leverages its top-tier oil and gas practice to advise on a steady stream of energy and natural resources transactions. It also has strong experience in cross-border matters, debt restructurings, private equity and tax litigation. Highlights included Calgary tax lead Darcy Moch advising CST Canada Coal on its $433m acquisition of the coal assets of Grande Cache Coal and Grande Cache Coal Corporation. Toronto managing partner Stephen Bowman and Toronto tax head Thomas Bauer are also recommended.

‘Excellent on all points’, Norton Rose Fulbright’s tax team is a ‘strong choice for more technically challenging matters’ due to its ‘sound advice, which balances both legal and technical risks’. In Calgary, Darren Hueppelsheuser and Dion J. Legge — highlighted together for their ‘strong technical and team-building skills’ — advised a petroleum company on the tax aspects of a multimillion-dollar acquisition. In Toronto, Adrienne F. Oliver advised a client on a multimillion-dollar going-private transaction. Montreal-based senior litigator Wilfrid Lefebvre QC is ‘very strong’.

‘Practical and problem-solving’, Torys LLP’s Toronto-based tax group is a popular choice for complex transactional matters — it also has significant litigation expertise. Group head Corrado Cardarelli (‘very experienced, detail-oriented and practical’) advised Brookfield Property Partners on the C$500m privatization of Brookfield Canada Office Properties REIT. Jerald Wortsman (‘very creative and experienced’) advised Scotiabank on a $1.2bn notes offering. The group also includes senior specialist John Tobim and counsel Gwen Watson (‘quickly identifies risks and triages them accordingly’).

Borden Ladner Gervais LLP acts on a significant volume of energy matters, in line with its firm-wide strength, and it also shines in capital markets and financial services-related taxation. Recent work includes Toronto-based Stephen Fyfe advising an energy company on a significant merger in the power sector. Other names to note include Calgary-based department lead Lindsay Holmes QC and Toronto-based Steve Suarez. In late 2017, tax litigator Laurie Goldbach joined in Calgary from Deloitte Tax Law LLP.

Oil and gas powerhouse Burnet Duckworth & Palmer LLP is widely regarded as a leader in resources taxation, with strong experience in large-scale investments into the oil and gas industry and royalty trusts. Joint ventures, M&A, corporate reorganizations and tax litigation are also areas of expertise. Highlights included Heather DiGregorio advising NewAlta on the tax aspects of its C$1bn merger with Tervita. Firm chair John Brussa is highly regarded for his senior industry experience.

Dentons’ national group is particularly robust on the contentious side, but it is also routinely engaged in advisory and transactional matters. Calgary-based litigator Jehad Haymour is a high-profile figure in the market and represented Plains Midstream Canada in a rare tri-party tax dispute. Among its non-contentious highlights, Toronto-based Larry Nevsky advised Harris Corporation on the Canadian aspects of the $690m sale of its government information technology services business to an affiliate of Veritas Capital.

EY Law LLP’s national practice possesses strong capability in tax planning and transactional matters but it is particularly well regarded for its sizeable controversy practice. In Toronto, Daniel Sandler is a high-profile litigator, and Montreal-based transactional specialist Angelo Nikolakakis is widely revered as ‘one of the leading tax experts in Canada’.

The well-balanced tax group at FASKEN handles a broad mix of advisory, transactional and contentious matters, with strong skill sets in resource taxation and financial services-related work. In a highlight example of its mining sweet spot, Toronto-based group lead Christopher Steeves, together with Toronto’s Paul Casuccio, advised Orion Mine Finance on the tax aspects of the C$1.1bn sale of a precious metals portfolio to Osisko Gold Royalties. Alain Ranger is recommended in Montreal and advised Novacap and Caisse de dĂ©pĂŽt et placement du QuĂ©bec on their strategic investment in Pivotal Payment.

Western Canada boutique Felesky Flynn LLP concentrates exclusively on tax law from its offices in Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatoon. The firm’s specialist focus ensures a diverse tax capability, encompassing the full spread of domestic and international advisory services, tax planning and litigation. In Calgary, Brent Perry QC is respected for his strength in tax planning, particularly in relation to financings, M&A and trust structuring.

Gowling WLG’s national tax practice is known for its expertise in private equity, indirect tax, executive compensation and dispute resolution. In Toronto, Ash Gupta (‘a superb tax practitioner, who solves complex issues with common-sense solutions’) advised NextEra Energy Partners on all Canadian tax aspects of the planning, structuring and sale to CPPIB of a significant portfolio of Canadian renewable energy projects. Paul Carenza, also in Toronto, has an ‘incredible ability to distil complicated tax issues into understandable advice’.

McMillan LLP earns rave reviews for its ‘exemplary levels of professionalism and knowledge’ and its ‘strong commitment to getting to know its clients and their industry’. Toronto-based group head Michael Friedman is ‘extremely experienced and effective’ and advised RBC, as agent for the lender, on Tricon Capital Group’s $1.4bn acquisition of Silver Bay Realty Trust. Toronto’s Todd Miller (‘responsive, insightful and technically knowledgeable’) acted as Canadian counsel to Avantor in its $6.5bn acquisition of VWR Corporation.

Among Canada’s largest tax-focused firms, Thorsteinssons LLP handles a comprehensive mix of advisory, transactional and contentious matters from its platforms in Vancouver and Toronto. In Toronto, managing partner Michael Colborne is highly regarded for transactional matters, particularly mining-related tax work, while Matthew Williams is recommended for tax litigation. Ian Gamble is a key contact in Vancouver.

Over the past year, Aird & Berlis LLP’s tax team kept busy advising on a string of securities, REITs and M&A transactions. Barbara Worndl, who heads the practice, recently advised Trevali Mining Corporation on its C$417m acquisition of Glencore’s Rosh Pinah and Perkoa zinc mines. Jack Bernstein is also recommended.

Baker McKenzie’s Toronto-based team has a broad focus, which takes in tax planning, tax controversies, transfer pricing, indirect taxes and global wealth management. Group head Jacques Bernier is a sought-after tax litigator who specializes in transfer pricing. Clients include private Canadian companies through to major multinationals.

PwC Law LLP’s impressive domestic network includes offices in Central, Western and Atlantic Canada. Calgary-based senior counsel Douglas Ewens is well versed in energy-related matters — both transactional and contentious.

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