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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > London > Corporate and commercial > M&A: upper mid-market and premium deals, £250m+ > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Index of tables

  1. M&A: upper mid-market and premium deals, £250m+
  2. Leading individuals: Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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Who Represents Who

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Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP 's M&A practice is co-headed by Piers Prichard Jones and Jennifer Bethlehem. Jones is particularly well known for his work on transformational M&A transactions; his recent work includes the $90bn Glencore-Xstrata merger and Cheung Kong Infrastructure’s $6bn acquisition of Northumbrian Water. Bethlehem heads the firm’s healthcare practice, and has previously advised AstraZeneca on its defence of Pfizer’s $118bn bid. Stephen Hewes is an expert for technology-sector M&A. Natasha Good is also recommended for M&A in the TMT sector. Other names of note include managing partner Julian Long , Edward Braham and Alison Smith.

The ‘exceptional’, ‘pragmatic and service-oriented’ Linklaters LLP practice provides ‘excellent legal advice’ and ‘very good levels of service, both on buy side and sell side assignments’. The team is known for its strength in public M&A, and its expertise in complex work such as reverse takeovers and demergers. Clients describe its responsiveness, business acumen, strength in depth and value for money as ‘excellent’. Financial services, high-end retail, technology and telecoms are key sector strengths; the department is also noted for its experience in the mining sector. Global head of corporate Aedamar Comiskey led the advice to Amec Foster Wheeler on its recommended all-share acquisition by competitor John Wood Group. The ‘extremely supportive, practical and commercial’ Simon Branigan led the team on AIB’s €12bn reprivatisation and IPO on the London and Irish stock exchanges. Iain Fenn (has a ‘commercial focus’ and a ‘commitment to getting the deal done’) is advising Old Mutual in a complex arrangement for a demerger into two entities. Other highlights have seen firm senior partner and global chairman Charles Jacobs handle Glencore’s £2.5bn sale of a 40% stake in its agricultural business, Iain Wagstaff act for Three on its £300m acquisition of UK Broadband and the ‘very client oriented and pragmatic’ Sarah Wiggins advising Benckitt Benckiser Group on its acquisition of Mead Johnson Nutrition, with total enterprise value of $17.9bn. Also recommended are corporate group leader Owen Clay , who is ‘friendly and responsive’ and ‘is good at dealing with challenging clients and situations’ and William Buckley  who is ‘good at leveraging the capability of the firm’.  Fionnghuala Griggs and Kanyaka Ramamurthi  were both promoted to partnership, while Stuart Boyd moved to Kirkland & Ellis International LLP.

The ‘very high-quality’ practice at Slaughter and May is ‘definitely the go-to for large-scale and complex transactions’. The firm’s blue-chip client list includes Burberry, Diageo, General Electric, GlaxoSmithKline and Rolls-Royce. The M&A offering is headed by Roland Turnill, while Andy Ryde leads the team’s broader corporate practice. Turnill and Jonathan Marks acted for Standard Life on its all-share merger with Aberdeen Asset Management, effected by court-sanctioned scheme of arrangement, and Turnill also advised Vodafone on the proposed merger of its India business with Idea Cellular. Simon Nicholls advised John Wood Group on its all-share offer for Amec Foster Wheeler and worked alongside David Johnson (recommended by one individual as ‘simply the best M&A lawyer I have ever worked with’) on Actelion’s $30bn takeover by Johnson & Johnson. Johnson also acted on Cineworld Group’s $5.8bn acquisition of Regal Entertainment Group, while Hywel Davies led a large team handling INEOS’ acquisition of the entire oil and gas business of DONG Energy, and senior partner Steve Cooke handled WS Atkins’ £2.1bn acquisition of SNC-Lavalin. Nigel Boardman and William Underhill remain involved with a wide variety of transactions and advisory matters. Christian Boney and Filippo De Falco were both promoted to partnership. Chris McGaffin moved to the firm's Hong Kong office in August 2017 and Padraig Cronin moved to the firm's pensions and employment practice. Gary Eaborn retired.

The team at Allen & Overy LLP attracts praise for its ‘real clarity of thought’ and ability to ‘work superbly with other advisers and deliver concise, easily digestible advice’. Dominic Morris heads the practice, which counts TMT, energy, financial services and consumer goods as key sectors of expertise. The team is acting for 21st Century Fox on its proposed acquisition by The Walt Disney Company and its proposed £11.7bn acquisition of the 61% stake that it does not already own in BSkyB. David Broadley (‘always one step ahead of his clients and ahead of the pack’), Simon Toms (‘quick-thinking’ and ‘commercial’) and Seth Jones have between them co-ordinated the management of these transactions, with senior associate Alex Tilley heavily involved with the BSkyB deal. In another standout matter, Jones and Duncan Bellamy acted for Worldpay Group on its merger with Vantiv to create a global payments powerhouse. Richard Hough has been advising Deutsche Bank on two significant disposals, namely the sale of its global corporate services business to Vistra Group and the sale of its Global Trust Solutions business to The Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son. The ‘exceptionally bright and proactive’ George Knighton is ‘technically outstanding’ and ‘goes the extra mile and more’; he recently advised EG Group on its entry into an agreement to acquire the convenience store business unit from The Kroger Co. Other clients of the practice include Aviva, Royal Dutch Shell, WPP and Thomson Reuters. Also recommended are the ‘very personable, efficient’ Daniel Fletcher , Gillian Holgate and Annabelle Croker .

Clifford Chance LLP 's practice, which frequently handles complex, multi-jurisdictional public M&A, provides ‘a top-rate service in all respects’. Headed by Melissa Fogarty  and Nigel Wellings , the London M&A practice counts financial services, TMT, healthcare, life sciences, consumer goods and retail as key sector strengths, in addition to expertise in insurance, where clients include Legal & General.  A team led by Lee Coney and Katherine Moir represented Imagination Technologies Group on its recommended cash takeover by Canyon Bridge Capital Partners, valuing Imagination at £550m, while Coney and David Pudge advised Booker Group on its merger with Tesco. David Pearson led the team acting for Patron Capital on its recommended £1.775bn offer for Punch Taverns. The ‘extremely knowledgeable, approachable’ Joel Ziff is ‘very responsive, and provides practical, high-level advice’, and handled Sosei Group’s investment in MiNA Therapeutics alongside Coney. Spencer Baylin , Tim Lewis and global corporate head Guy Norman continue to be industry leaders. The ‘very experienced’ Steven Fox is ‘diligent in setting up an appropriate deal time suitable for the particular case and in managing and co-ordinating transactions’. James Bole was promoted to partner level before starting a secondment with the Takeover Panel in September 2017.

The team at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP is ‘excellent; very responsive, commercially savvy, with strength throughout the ranks’. Gavin Davies was recently appointed to head the firm’s global M&A practice; he has 25 years of experience in UK public takeovers, shareholder activism and investment work in Africa. TMT, energy and, increasingly, pharmaceuticals (where clients include originators and generics) are key sector strengths of the department, which handles a high volume of public and private M&A. Stephen Wilkinson and Mark Bardell (who is ‘extremely bright and creative in a transaction setting’) are advising Sky on its recommended takeover by 21st Century Fox, alongside senior associate Harriet Forrest  , associate Imogen White and colleagues in the competition, employee incentives and tax practices. Wilkinson and Robert Moore acted for Lonmin on its recommended all-share takeover by Sibanye-Stillwater. The 'reliable' Alex Kay and Caroline Rae are advising longstanding client Hammerson on its £3.4bn recommended takeover offer for Intu Properties; Kay also worked alongside James Palmer and Charles Howarth on British American Tobacco’s acquisition of the remaining shares in Reynolds that it did not already own for $49.4bn. In the energy space, Greg Mulley acted for Mercuria Energy Group on the reverse takeover to effect the combination of the Argentinian and Colombian oil & gas assets of Andes Energia. Other clients of the team include Associated British Foods, Severn Trent, EDF and Virgin. Senior M&A and corporate finance expert Ben Ward is a ‘very pragmatic deal-doer’ and heads the London corporate team.

The highly rated team at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (UK) LLP  in London is led by  Scott Simpson . Simpson’s highlights included handling Konecranes’ acquisition of Terex’s material handling and port solutions business segment and advising Westfield Corporation on its proposed combination with Unibail-Rodamco. Prolific dealmaker Scott Hopkins advised on the UK aspects of two of the team’s largest projects of the past year: Vantiv’s $10.4bn acquisition of Worldpay Group and 21st Century Fox’s acquisition by Walt Disney Company, including its related pre-merger spin-off. Lorenzo Corte is dual-qualified in England and New York and concentrates on cross-border mergers and acquisitions. Corte’s personal highlights included handling Moody’s €3bn acquisition of Bureau van Dijk and acting for Exxon Mobil on its $2.8bn acquisition of 25% indirect interest in the Area 4 block of the Rovuma Basin from Eni. John Adebiyi is assisting Armstrong World Industries with the sale of its EMEA and Pacific Rim businesses to Knauf for an enterprise value of $330m.  Other significant figures for the practice include Sandro de Bernardini, Hilary Foulkes and Robert Stirling . Michael Hatchard retired from practice in October 2017, though maintains connection with the team as a strategic adviser.

The ‘extremely good’, ‘knowledgeable, responsive and very client focused’ Ashurst is well regarded for high value M&A work and regulatory advice. Tom Mercer heads the corporate transactions team, which frequently assists financial institutions, blue-chip corporates and natural resources and infrastructure clients. Mercer and Simon Beddow notably represented Ladbrokes Coral on its £3.9bn takeover by GVC. In the past 12 months the firm has seen an uptick in M&A transactions executed for industrial technology companies, with one deal seeing Karen Davies (‘knowledgeable, responsive and very client focused’) and James Fletcher act for AVEVA Group on its £3.5bn combination with Schneider Electric’s industrial software business. Oil and gas remains an area of strength, with Nick Bryans advising Lamprell on its entry into a significant joint venture arrangement with Saudi Aramco, Bahri, and Hyundaij Heavy Industries, and Michael Burns advising Tullow Oil on its farm down of licence interests in the Lake Albert Oil project in Uganda to Total. Another energy project saw Adrian Clark handle Cape’s recommended £332m takeover by a subsidiary of Altrad Investment Authority. In the projects and infrastructure space global corporate head Robert Ogilvy Watson acted for General Nuclear International in an aborted bid to acquire Nugen from Toshiba. Other names which feature in the firm’s client roster include National Express, RBS, William Hill and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. James Wood moved to Sidley Austin LLP in October 2017, while Dominic Ross left to join White & Case LLP in November 2017.

CMS continues to grow its extensive international footprint, with the firm active in M&A deals across Europe and globally. The practice is particularly highly regarded for energy and infrastructure M&A, handling a significant proportion of the market-leading transactions in these sectors. Bob Palmer led a large cross-office team which advised Austrian-listed OMV on its purchase of a 25% stake in the giant Russian gas field Yuzhno-Russkoye for $1.85bn from German group Uniper. Another headline energy sector transaction saw Nick Blair and Charles Currier act for GE Energy Financial Services and Green Investment Group as joint sponsors of the acquisition and project financing worth €800m of 650MW of onshore wind through the Markbygden ETT wind farm in North Sweden. Currier jointly heads the corporate team with Iain Newman, who has an extremely versatile corporate practice. Real estate-related corporate work corporate remains another area of strength; Warren Taylor and Marc Franks are advising Brockton Dunedin Estates in respect of the sale of all units in Brockton Dunedin UK Industrial Property Unit Trust, which represents one of the largest light industrial portfolios privately held in the UK. Other sector strengths include financial services, healthcare and life sciences and consumer products. Peter Lewis arrived from White & Case LLP in October 2017.

Counting energy, technology, financial services, real estate and insurance as key sector strengths, Hogan Lovells International LLP provides an ‘excellent service’, which is ‘always responsive with practical/commercially aware advice’ and ‘compares very well with the competition, including magic circle firms’. ‘The team has a broad spectrum of industry and sector knowledge’, and is ‘always trying to push the deal forward’. Ben Higson heads the firm’s London M&A offering. Higson ‘is excellent, as are his team; commercially aware, pragmatic and strategic’; his focus is in the energy, infrastructure and natural resources sectors, with a growing specialism in the Japanese market. Senior M&A partner Steven Bryan – who is praised for his ‘strong energy industry knowledge’, as well as for his ‘transactional expertise and communication skills’ – advised Brookfield Business Partners on the acquisition of a 85% stake in Greenergy. Other highlights included Maegen Morrison handling AB InBev’s various divestments arising from its takeover of SABMiller, including its €7.3bn disposal of the latter’s businesses in several Eastern European states, and Nicola Evans advising AXA on its £295m disposal of Bluefin Insurance Group to Marsh & McLennan. Sarah Shaw joined from Allen & Overy LLP.

Latham & Watkins' practice is rated for its strength in depth, which enables it to consistently handle large-scale public and private M&A, frequently for US-headquartered multinationals. Department head Nick Cline is the key relationship partner for a number of the firm’s global corporate clients including VEON, Aon and Qatar Investment Authority, and notably handled Thomas Cook’s sale of its Belgian airlines business to Brussels Airlines, a subsidiary of Lufthansa. He also assisted Edward Barnett on the disposal of Method and Ecover global consumer products businesses to SC Johnson on behalf of The Trustees of the Skagen Business Trust. Pharmaceuticals sector expert Robbie McLaren advised Theramex on its acquisition of the women’s healthcare assets of Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries in a deal worth $703m. On the technology side, McLaren also represented Andreessen Horowitz in connection with its minority investment in software developer Improbable World. Richard Butterwick acted for RPC Group in connection with its €262.5m acquisition of ESE World. Simon Tysoe acted for Uniper on its sale of a 25% stake in the Yuzhno-Russkoye gas field, located in Western Siberia, to OMV. Huw Thomas  was promoted to partner in January 2018.

Macfarlanes LLP has a ‘very responsive and commercially aware practice’ that is noted for its ‘deep industry knowledge’ . The ‘very responsive, pragmatic and extremely creative’ team handles public and private M&A across a wide range of sectors, including TMT, retail, hotels and leisure, energy and financial services. Ian Martin heads the firm’s mergers and acquisitions group and has considerable experience across a broad range of corporate, corporate restructuring and private equity matters. The ‘outstanding’ Graham Gibb ‘always provides thorough, commercial and well-reasoned advice’ and ‘grasps complex situations quickly’; he acted alongside Harry Coghill on the English law aspects of Kennedy-Wilson Holdings’ £1.5bn bid for Kennedy Wilson Europe Real Estate. Gibb is also advising The Walt Disney Company on the UK aspects of its prospective $52.4bn acquisition of 21st Century Fox. Other highlights included Stephen Drewitt acting for Chiltern International Group and the institutional selling shareholders on the $1.2bn sale of Chiltern to LabCorp and Richard Burrows handling Pilgrim’s Pride’s $1.3bn acquisition of poultry business Moy Park from JBS. Luke Powell ‘anticipates issues and is solution-oriented; he is recommended alongside ‘impressive’ senior partner Charles Martin, senior associate Richard Burrows, and Charles Meek.

Norton Rose Fulbright 's practice, which is headed by Raj Karia ,  demonstrates ‘first class client responsiveness and availability’, with an increasingly consolidated cross-border M&A offering. The practice is strong for financial services, FinTech and distressed transactions. Representative clients include Delta Airlines, BMW, Rio Tinto and 3M. Oil and gas transactions have been significant, with Kimberley Wood assisting Shell with its disposal of a 45% in the Corrib gas venture to Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Stephen Rigby acting for Hermes Investment Management on the acquisition of a substantial shareholding in a gas distribution network from National Grid, as part of a consortium. Other highlights included Chris Viner advising Mitsui group companies on the formation of a Norwegian joint venture company with AKOFS Offshore and Christopher Pearson advising Trinity Mirror on its acquisition of Northern & Shell for £127m. Alan Bainbridge is ‘excellent in terms of commerciality, board room interaction and credibility’, specialising in strategic M&A and corporate advisory work for financial institutions. Claire O’Donnell, Nicholas Berry, Victoria Birch and Charlotte Henry were all promoted to partner level.

Travers Smith LLP is praised for its ‘excellent level of service’ and ‘speedy and sound advice at sensible prices’. The ‘practical, tenacious and results-driven’ Spencer Summerfield heads the practice; his recent experience includes advising Micro Focus International on its proposed $8.8bn merger with HP Enterprise’s software business segment and acting for Ancala Midstream Acquisitions on its acquisition of a 30.28% interest in the Scottish Area Gas Evacuation System. The financial services sector is important for M&A instructions, with head of corporate finance Neal Watson recently advised ETF Securities on the sales of its European exchange-traded commodity, currency and short-and-leveraged business and its UCITS ETF platform to WisdomTree Investments and Legal & General Investment Management respectively. The ‘very knowledgeable, committed and reliable’ Anthony Foster ‘provides very trustworthy advice’, recently advising The Peel Group (‘Peel’) in connection with Hammerson’s £3.4bn recommended offer for Intu Properties, which Peel holds a 27% stake in. The department’s other clients include 3i Infrastructure, Brewin Dolphin, Paragon and Spire Healthcare Group. Recommended as ‘a joy to work with’, Philip Cheveley ‘is a customer facing solicitor with a wealth of relevant knowledge’. Jon Reddington is also noted as 'practical and sensible'.

White & Case LLP has an ‘exceptional standard of service’; the firm is ‘always on top of industry trends and at the forefront of thought leadership’. The team handles significant international deals, particularly those requiring US and European advice, with particular focus in servicing public companies, financial institutions and sponsors, oil and gas, energy and infrastructure clients, and technology and telecoms companies. Patrick Sarch and Ian Bagshaw co-head the London corporate practice. Sarch has particular experience acting for financial institutions, notably representing the directors of The Co-operative Bank on the bank’s formal sales process under the Takeover Code and subsequent rescue restructuring and £700m capital raising. Bagshaw notably acted alongside co-lead of infrastructure project M&A John Cunningham on Bupa’s £835m acquisition of Oasis Healthcare. Alan Burke and Allan Taylor are key figures on the oil & gas and energy side of the practice, working with big name clients including Saudi Aramco, Rosneft, PetroSaudi and Nostrum Oil & Gas. Gavin Weir is recommended for his ‘committed, business-minded approach with a clear understanding of the expected commercial goals’. Daniel Turgel joined in January 2018 from Linklaters LLP and Dominic Ross joined from Ashurst in May 2018.

Baker McKenzie 's department is strong in a variety of sectors, including infrastructure, manufacturing, consumer goods, healthcare and life sciences. Jane Hobson heads the private M&A side of the practice, and recently handled ICU Medical’s $900m acquisition of Pfizer’s global infusion therapy business, Hospira Infusion Systems. Jannan Crozier is noted for her expertise in complex carve-out transactions, a notable example of which involved advising SUEZ Water on the carve-out aspects of its $3.4bn acquisition of GE Water. On the public M&A side, practice head Helen Bradley and Melanie Howard have been advising Alawwal Bank on its proposed merger with Saudi British Bank, while Bradley and James Thompson advised TVH on its cash offer for Lavendon Group. Former global head of M&A Tim Gee maintains a strong practice focusing in the consumer and industrial sectors. David Scott is noted for work in the fast-moving consumer goods sector, recently advising Unilever on its acquisitions of brands of Latin American consumer goods firm Quala. Susannah Davies was promoted to partner level.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton's ‘extremely diligent, commercial and highly skilled’ department is praised for its strength in depth and ‘incredible mix of talent and expertise’. Michael McDonald and Tihir Sarkar (who is noted for his ‘leadership, experience and depth of knowledge’) are acting for the Qatar Investment Authority in respect of the purchase of 61% of a gas arm of National Grid as part of a consortium with Macquarie and China Investment Corporation. Sarkar also handled Credit Suisse Asset Management’s spin-out of a majority interest in Credit Suisse Quantitative and Systematic Asset Management. Financial institutions and private equity funds are important for the firm’s significant transaction instructions; Simon Jay led a broad multidisciplinary team for Warburg Pincus and General Atlantic in connection with the sale to Banco Santander of their 50% stake in Santander Asset Management, while Sam Bagot advised Schroders on its acquisition of Swiss investment firm Adveq Management. Bagot also worked with finance partner David Billington and the firm’s New York-based managing partner Michael Gerstenzang to advise The Raine Group on a bid worth around £131m for a majority stake in SoundCloud. Nallini Puri was promoted to the partnership.

The ‘proactive, exemplary’ department at DLA Piper has ‘great bench strength’. It is well known for its TMT expertise, though it also acts for high-profile clients in sectors including energy, financial services and transport. ‘Incredibly responsive, thoughtful’ and ‘very experienced global co-chair Robert Bishop and Mark Chivers led the team advising Heineken Group on its offer to acquire the securitization group known as ‘Punch Taverns A’ from Patron Capital. Head of M&A for EMEA and Asia Pacific Jon Kenworthy worked alongside Tim Wright on the sale of Miller Homes Holdings to a Bridgepoint Capital entity for £669m, advising the selling shareholders and the management team on their investment into Newco. Managing director Charles Severs, who ‘always ensures that services are delivered as promised’, advised Menzies Aviation on the acquisition of ASIG from BBA Aviation for $202m. Jon Hayes acts for clients including Etihad Airways, GE, UNICEF and Unilever. Also recommended are Robert Salter, who is strong for real estate sector transactions, and Tom Heylen, who is noted for his expertise in working with international corporates and institutions and leading the firm’s technology initiative in the UK.

The 'excellentShearman & Sterling LLP is a regular fixture in multi-jurisdictional, high-value M&A. Laurence Levy heads the firm’s EMEA M&A practice and recently handled Intercontinental Exchange’s sale of the entire issued share capital of its interest in the Trayport group to TMX Group, for total consideration of approximately £350m. The team is well known for its excellent grasp of UK and US corporate law: Frank Miller, who handled Hellenic Healthcare’s acquisition of a majority interest in Perseus Healthcare, is dual qualified, as is George Karafotias , who splits his time between London and New York. Miller and Karafotias advised Sompo Holdings on its $6.3bn acquisition of Endurance Specialty Holdings, while Karafotias also acted for Delek Group on its recommended cash offer the entire share capital of Ithaca Energy. Jeremy Kutner  heads the firm’s TMT group and notably advised Liberty Global alongside senior associate Richard Porter on the split-off of the client’s business in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as advising Fairfax Africa on its investment in Atlas Mara. Other key clients of the department include General Electric, Qatar Investment Authority and Viacom.

Recommended for its ‘gold-standard service’, the offering at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP is ‘highly responsive, very commercial; decent value for money especially when considering importance of the work involved’. ‘Great M&A lawyer’ Adam Signy (noted for his ‘gravitas and personable character’) worked alongside Ben Spiers in the representation of Melrose Industries in connection with its announced unilateral offer to acquire engineering firm GKN. Derek Baird handled United Group’s acquisition of the Croatian and Slovenian media portfolio owned by Central European Media Enterprises for €230m, while Clare Gaskell assisted New York partners Gary Horowitz and Elizabeth Cooper on HNA Group’s acquisition of a 24.95% ownership stake in OM Masset Management from Old Mutual. Wheatly MacNamara has recently been active on the buy-side for private equity clients including The Blackstone Group and KKR.

The ‘highly knowledgeable’ Weil, Gotshal & Manges (London) LLP provides ‘rapid response’ and ‘incisive advice’, and is ‘efficient and effective’. The team acts on a range of cross-border M&A, spin-offs and joint ventures for public and private companies. Head of department Michael Francies and Ian Hamilton handled the English law aspects of Reynolds American’s merger with British American Tobacco, with the transaction led by Michael Aiello in New York. James MacArthur advised CATS Management on the expansion of its midstream infrastructure business with the acquisition of a 65% interest in the Esmond Transportation System from Premier Oil, Centrica and Perenco. Other clients on the firm’s roster include General Electric, Owens Coming and Equiniti Group. Peter King left the firm in December 2017 to take up the position of legal director at HM Treasury.

Bryan Cave and Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) merged in February 2018 to form Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP, bringing together BLP’s established team, which is primarily highly regarded for work on corporate real estate projects, with Bryan Cave’s six-partner team, which handles mid-market M&A across a wide range of sectors. ‘Very commercial’ corporate finance co-head Michael Anderson advised on the sale of Retirement Villages Group to AXA and HC-One, while Andrew Hart handled Wireless Telecom Group’s acquisition of CommAgility. Julian Stanier and Gareth Jones joined Pinsent Masons LLP and Murdoch Currie moved to Bates Wells Braithwaite.

Dentons fields an ‘incredibly responsive’ team that frequently handles high-value, multi-jurisdictional M&A; it is ‘hugely impressive’ in its ‘speedy provision of accurate, commercially sound advice’. Clients also praise the team for its ‘high-quality, very professional service’ and its ‘high-end industry exposure’, especially in the energy and manufacturing sectors. Practice head David Collins handles domestic and international transactions across a broad range of sectors, including leisure and gaming, healthcare, financial services and retail. Highlights included Matthew Tinger handling Aprirose’s £525m acquisition of QHotels group from Bain Capital Credit and Canyon partners and Richard Macklin advising Deutsche Post DHL Group’s sale of Williams Lea Tang to private equity investors Advent International. Guy Norfolk joined Dentons through the firm’s merger with Maclay Murray & Spens in October 2017 and Cameron Half joined from Allen & Overy LLPJonathan Polin moved to Howard Kennedy LLP.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher is noted for its combination of 'strong M&A capabilities' with 'very strong financing skills'. Jonathan Earle specialises in all forms of cross-border M&A, in particular public M&A and recently represented Atwood Oceanics in its merger with Ensco, creating a $6.9bn oil & gas sector giant, as well as advising IHS Markit on the acquisition of approximately 78% of automotiveMastermind for a potential $435m. Nigel Stacey acted for Kindred Group on its £175.6m recommended public offer for online casino, poker and bingo operator 32 Red. Mark Sperotto represented telecoms provider PCCW on its £300m conditional sale of TransVision Investments to Three UK. Also recommended are practice head Charlie Geffen and the 'pragmatic, thoughtful and responsive' Nick Tomlinson. Anna Howell and Jeremy Kenley both joined in early 2018 from Herbert Smith Freehills LLP and Mayer Brown International LLP respectively.

The standard of service at Greenberg Traurig, LLP is ‘always outstanding: very commercial/pragmatic, always delivered on time and excellent value for money’. Pharmaceuticals, chemicals, industrials and telecoms are key sector strengths of the team, whose client base largely comprises public companies. London office chairman Paul Maher and co-managing partner Fiona Adams jointly lead the firm’s M&A offering, which has expertise in pharmaceuticals and biotech, chemicals, telecoms, financial services, manufacturing and other sectors. Maher, Adams, and cross-border transaction specialist Henrietta Walker are all recommended as ‘very experienced, excellent negotiators’ and ‘very commercial and pragmatic deal doers’. Highlights included Adams acting for AstraZeneca on its agreement with Grünenthal worth up to $302m to divest global rights to migraine treatment Zomig in all markets outside Japan and Walker representing Goldman Sachs International in its public tender for all shares in Robyg for €244m. Michael Goldberg and David Fitzgerald handle public and private M&A and are strong for real estate-related corporate work.

Jones Day's  ‘excellent’ practice counts real estate, life sciences, industrials, defence and aerospace as key sector strengths, in addition to having a strong track record in financial services. The firm’s corporate practice is jointly headed by Giles Elliott  and Leon Ferera , with Ferera heading up the M&A side. The practice has been involved in some leading matters in the industrial sector recently, with Ferera handling Canyon Bridge Capital Partners’ £550m acquisition of Imagination Technologies Group and Julian Runnicles  advising Koch Supply & Trading on the sale of its Rotterdam-located refinery to Vitol. In the retail sphere Raymond McKeeve advised L1 Retail on the £1.77bn acquisition of Holland & Barrett. Real estate and TMT are also important for the firm’s transactional offering. Liam Bonamy , Ben Shribman  and William McDonald  were all recently promoted to partnership level.

The ‘overall level of service is excellent’ at Simmons & Simmons;  ‘there is a quick turn-around and fee earners are always prepared to make themselves available at short notice’. The team is primarily known for servicing transactions for financial institutions and investment funds; the major headline matter in this regard saw Jason Daniel advise Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corporation as the largest shareholder and strategic partner of Aberdeen Asset management in respect of the latter’s £11bn merger with Standard Life via scheme of arrangement. Daniel also advised Sumitomo Rubber Industries on its £215m acquisition of Micheldever. Giles Dennison heads the team and has recently worked with big name corporates including Halfords, Virgin Media and PageGroup. Edward Baker advises many corporates, investment banks and asset managers on their acquisitions and disposals and is singled out for his ‘great attention to detail’ and ‘prompt assistance and advice’. David Parkes joined from King & Wood Mallesons, while Mark Carroll rejoined the firm from Clifford Chance LLP.

The practice at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP gives ‘excellent response times’ and is frequently involved in multi-jurisdictional mergers and private equity transactions, with an emphasis on acting for financial institutions. Practice head Tim Emmerson is acting alongside Ben Perry in relation to French client Elis’s £2bn cross-border takeover of UK-listed Berendsen. London office managing partner Richard Pollack represented BP in its agreement with Bridas Corporation to form a new integrated energy company and advised Rhȏne Capital on its acquisition of a 29% ownership stake in GardaWorld Security’s parent company. Nikolaos Andronikos has extensive experience of advising corporate, private equity and sovereign wealth fund clients and John Horsfield-Bradbury  handles cross-border M&A for clients such as BP and Goldman Sachs.

Akin Gump LLP provides ‘an excellent level of service’, with ‘a high level of legal and industry knowledge’. Strengths of the practice include servicing oil and gas companies, telecoms services providers, Russian financial institutions and industrial companies, as well as handling distressed M&A transactions. Daniel Walsh  and Sebastian Rice jointly head the practice and are both recommended, with Walsh’s practice concentrated in technology, media and telecoms and Rice focusing on emerging markets transactions. The ‘calm and considered’ Vance Chapman has led on some of the practice’s most striking recent transactions, including acting for Brusnwick Rail on its takeover by Amalgam Rail Investment and advising Oaktree Capital on its sale of controlling shares in the Mars mortgage servicing business to Arrow Global Group. Partner Harry Keegan and counsel Jonathan Pico are also recommended.

Will Pearce heads up the M&A offering at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP. Pearce advises corporate, private equity and investment banking clients on public and private M&A and securities offerings and listings. His recent headline transactions include advising on A.P. Møller-Mærsk’s $7.45bn disposal of Maersk Oil to Total, Heineken’s €1.025bn acquisition of Brasil Kirin and Genuine Parts Company’s £2bn acquisition of Alliance Automotive Group. Dan Hirschovits was promoted to partnership level in July 2017, this representing the firm’s first English law partner promotion in London. Counsels Joanna Valentine and Simon Little are also noted as key team members.

King & Spalding LLP is particularly strong for servicing M&A instructions from energy corporates and financial institutions, with a growing list of private equity houses in its client roster including KKR and Promethean LLP. Representative clients include United Parcel Services, Gett and General Electric. Department head William Charnley and Ilan Kotkis handled Armour Group’s acquisition of a portfolio of 12 landfill sites from Cory Environmental, while Charnley also advised MxP Partners on the £154m purchase of the share capital of Amber Taverns. Marcus Young was promoted to partner at the beginning of 2018; he advised GE Oil & Gas (now Baker Hughes) on the acquisition of 50% of the PII Group.

Mayer Brown International LLP provides a ‘premium level of service’; ‘their advice is always responsive, well considered and commercially focussed’. The firm’s London corporate team is led by Kate Ball-Dodd , while Perry Yam was recently promoted to the firm’s global co-head of corporate practice. The department is strong in the life sciences, financial institutions, TMT and energy sectors, with clients including Unilever, Wells Fargo and CITIC Telecom. Ball-Dodd and Richard Smith advised Touchstone Innovations on its all-share takeover offer by IP Group, valuing Touchstone at £500m. Richard Page (who has ‘an innate ability to assimilate detailed information’) acted on the £1.15bn sale of The Leadenhall Building to Hong Kong-listed property development company C C Land. The ‘solution-driven’ Robert Hamill acted for Shearwater Group on the acquisitions of Newable Consulting and of SecurEnvoy. Rebecca Bothamley was promoted to partnership, while Patrick Hennessy and Sam Webster were both promoted to counsel. Former department co-head Jeremy Kenley departed for Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

The 'stellarPaul Hastings LLP team ‘always responds in a timely manner and with the utmost professionalism’, and is ‘always willing to negotiate a competitive fee’. Core strengths of the team include financial services, healthcare and life sciences matters. London office chair Ronan O’Sullivan is ‘an excellent negotiator’ with ‘great strategic insight’. Distressed M&A is becoming a significant growth area for the practice; in one standout matter O’Sullivan and ‘very dedicated’ newly-promoted partner Matthew Poxon (who ‘gives great support on documentation’) co-ordinated with restructuring partner David Ereira in the firm’s representation of certain Tier 2 noteholders on the rescue and reorganisation of The Co-operative Bank. Garrett Hayes focuses on international M&A, private equity and joint ventures and recently advised the management team on the management buyout of mobile phone developer Bullitt Group. Roger Barron is a recent addition to the team.

The team at Proskauer Rose LLP offers ‘excellent advice’ and ‘great project management’. Practice head Steven Davis is ‘sharp and able to get to the crux of the matter very quickly’; he represented Safety-Kleen Europe in its £780m sale to funds advised by Apax Partners. The ‘outstanding’ Andrew Wingfield is ‘commercially strong and pragmatic, and looks after clients well’. Wingfield’s focus is in financial services and regulated entities, servicing key clients including ICG, AA and Fiserv, the latter who he recently represented on a cash offer for the issued share capital of Monitise alongside the ‘tireless, personable’ Rob Day .  Private equity specialist Eleanor Shanks is another key team member.

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP is a ‘market leader for US law on any M&A activity and particularly larger deals’.  Philip Boeckman heads the team and regularly represents several of the firm’s biggest clients in Europe, including Bacardi, the European Investment Bank and TNT. Boeckman notably represented Punch Taverns in connection with its sale to Vine Acquisitions and the associated disposal of approximately 1,900 Punch Tavern pubs to Heineken, with an implied enterprise value of approximately £1.8bn. Other highlights included Alyssa Caples acting for British American Tobacco in its $97bn merger with Reynolds American and David Mercado representing Banco Santander in connection with its acquisition of approximately $1.4bn worth of retail banking businesses of Citigroup in Argentina. Mercado and George Stephanakis are recommended for their ‘hands on and highly intelligent but pragmatic approach to a deal’.

The team at Dechert LLP is ‘highly responsive’, ‘highly knowledgeable in the support of M&A’ and ‘displays a deep bench of resources to help maintain comprehensive coverage’. The practice is active in a wide variety of sectors, including energy, telecoms, life sciences and insurance. Practice head Douglas Getter has led on a wide range of cross-border deals this year, including CIT Group’s sale of its European rail leasing business for €920m and the UK aspects of Crown Holding’s $3.9bn acquisition of Signode Industrial Group. Sean Geraghty acted for Columna Capital in connection with the sale by Identitag Secondary Opportunities of the share capital of the Datamars Group and advised SQS Software Quality Systems on its proposed acquisition by Assystem Services Deutschland. On the energy front, the ‘firm, thorough and pragmatic’ Jonathan Angell advised Chrysaor Holdings on its $3bn purchase of a package of oil and gas in the North Sea from Shell UK. Christopher Field and Robert Bradshaw both joined the practice in 2017 from Kirkland & Ellis International LLP.

Commended for its ‘excellent level of service’, Milbank 's  ‘proactive, client-oriented’ team counts aviation, private equity, energy & natural resources and technology as key sector strengths. The department is jointly headed by the ‘outstanding’ Mark Stamp and the ‘very commercial, insightful and pragmatic’ Stuart Harray . Recent highlights include Stamp advising Terra Firms on the sale of Dublin-based aircraft lessor AWAS to Dubai Aerospace Enterprise, Harray acting for a consortium of international banks in connection with the financing of the multi-billion dollar acquisition of certain geothermal assets in West Java from affiliates of Chevron. Special counsel Daniel Wayte ‘thinks through highly complex structure and documentation issues without losing sight of the commercial objectives’.

The 'very goodMorrison & Foerster LLP practice ‘is very responsive, has bench depth and strength, deep sector knowledge and a practical and commercial approach’. Graeme Sloan heads the London corporate practice and is co-chair of the firm’s global M&A practice; he worked alongside Oliver Rochman and Rob Mailer on Newgate Private Equity’s acquisition of London-based private equity firm Arle Capital Partners. Gary Brown represented BioLineRx on its acquisition of Agalimmune, while Andrew Boyd handled Toshiba’s disposal of smart meter leader Landis+Gyr in a $2.4bn IPO alongside capital markets partner Scott Ashton. Other clients include SoftBank, Freschfield and Meininger Hotels. Dan Coppel joined the firm in early 2018 from Jones Day.

The ‘very client centric, thoughtful and commercial’ Vinson & Elkins RLLP has ‘an excellent overall level of service, in responsiveness, efficiency, thoughtfulness and quality of advice’. The M&A team is noted for its industry expertise in both the energy (particularly oil and gas) and telecoms infrastructure sectors. The team is co-headed by Jeffrey Eldredge and Shaun Lascelles. Lascelles and Simon Rootsey are recommended as ‘very perseverant and responsive’; the pair advised the Vitol Group on the sale of a 50% stake in the holding company of VTTI Energy Partners for $1.15bn, and represented the Vitol Group and Helios Investment Partners in connection with the $250m acquisition of Shell’s 20% shareholding in Vivo Energy. Paul Dunbar is ‘very commercial and effective in negotiation’ and ‘co-ordinates his team well’; he acted for TPG Sixth Street Partners and Oaktree Capital on the acquisition of Iona Energy and the establishment of a joint venture platform. Alex Msimang advised Statoil on its acquisition of 25% stake in Petrobras’ third-largest oil field for $2.9bn. Federico Fruhbeck joined from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP.

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Legal Developments in London for M&A: upper mid-market and premium deals, £250m+

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