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Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Commercial lending: advice to borrowers
  2. Commercial lending: advice to lenders
  3. Hall of Fame
  4. Leading lawyers
  5. Next generation lawyers

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The Commercial lending coverage is organised into two sections - Commercial lending: advice to borrowers and Commercial lending: advice to lenders. Law firms are written about in alphabetical order and may appear in one or both of the rankings tables.

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IP specialist Finnegan detail how their collaborative approach makes for a unique culture which is designed to allow them to work with clients in a way which is cognizant of the challenges facing all companies today.

Allen & Overy LLP’s ambitions for the US market were made clear in late 2016 and early 2017, following the arrival of several new partners, including William Schwitter, Michael Chernick, and Jeffrey Pellegrino from Paul Hastings LLP. The challenges the firm will face when it comes to laying down roots were made equally clear in early 2018, when one of its 2016 intake, Scott Zemser left for Mayer Brown after less than two years at the firm. Recent highlights include advising BNP Paribas as lead arranger on the $1.7bn financing of GEO Group’s acquisition of Community Education Centers. Clients see the firm as ‘being one of the few firms that can do cross-border lending work with strong teams in both the US and the UK’, and its New York-based lawyers are ‘experts in the syndicated loan market’ whose ‘overall level of service is excellent’. Todd Koretzky is ‘one of the rising stars in this area’. Rajani Gupta is singled out for her ‘great business acumen and industry knowledge’, Judah Frogel exhibits ‘dedication, perseverance and innovation in helping get to resolution’, and the experienced Alan Rockwell has particular expertise in cross-border financing transactions.

Based mainly in Houston and New York, Bracewell LLP is especially recommended for its excellent advice to borrowers and lenders in the downstream, mid-stream and upstream energy industry. On the lender side, the firm has a good relationship with Wells Fargo Bank, which it advised on a $3bn unsecured revolving credit facility to National Oilwell Varco. Another highlight was advising JPMorgan Chase on a $1bn facility to Caerus Operating. On the borrower front it advised Enterprise Products Operating on two separate revolving facilities with a combined value of $5.5bn. Beyond the energy sector, the firm also advised the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs on a $200m financing. Dewey Gonsoulin heads the highly rated team, which boasts key individuals, including Robin Miles, Rebecca Keep and the recently promoted Jeris Brunette. In Houston, Stephanie Song, Kate Day, Heather Brown, Dale Smith, and Mark Holmes are all recommended.

There are few who can compete with Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP when it comes to advising the lenders on major leveraged finance deals. In the first three quarters of 2017, according to Thomson Reuters, the firm advised on 201 deals worth over $234bn, outstripping the market both in terms of volume and value. The firm acts for some of the leading banks in the market, including Barclays, Citigroup Global Markets and Deutsche Bank. Among the firm’s most notable transactions were advice to JPMorgan Chase, and other lenders, on the $3.5bn financing of the $6.5bn takeover of Team Health Holdings by funds affiliated with Blackstone. Another highlight was representing Bank of America on the $4.4bn debt financing of Stone Canyon Industries’ acquisition of Mauser Group. The firm also represented the lenders, including Barclays and Deutsche Bank, on the multi-billion dollar financing of Go Daddy’s acquisition of Host Europe Group. The firm boasts an array of star names, including James Clark, Jonathan Schaffzin, Daniel Zubkoff, Adam Dworkin, and Jennifer Ezring. The up-and-coming Joshua Zelig is also recommended by clients, while Michael Reddy has a very active practice.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP is a popular choice with corporate and private equity borrowers, and its high-quality team is regularly called upon to act on some of the market’s most high-profile transactions. Highlights on the corporate acquisition front include representing McCormick & Company on the financing for its $4.2bn acquisition of Reckitt Benckiser’s food business. The firm also advised Alcoa on a $1.5bn credit facility and $750m bond offering linked to its separation into two separate entities: Alcoa Corporation and Arconic. The firm also has a strong practice advising sponsors, thanks to its relationship with Warburg Pincus, which it advised on the financing of its acquisition of Duravant from Odyssey Investment Partners, as well its buyout of the off-price fashion and home retailer, Gabriel Brothers, from Alvarez & Marsal Capital. The New York-based practice has several highly regarded partners, including Meme Peponis, Duane McLaughlin, and Amy Shapiro.

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP has a first-class commercial lending team where the partners are equally comfortable representing lenders as well as corporate borrowers. The retirement of James Cooper is a major changing of the guard, not just for the firm, but for the industry as a whole. Nevertheless, the team has enough quality in its ranks to make up for it, including corporate managing partner Jed Zobitz, banking head Michael Goldman, Tatiana Lapushchik, Stephen Kessing, Joseph Zavaglia, and Paul Zumbro. On the lender side, the firm advised JPMorgan Chase on the $2bn-plus financing of American Axle & Manufacturing’s acquisition of Metaldyne Performance Group. The firm also represented aircraft leasing company AerCap on a $3.745bn four-year revolving credit facility arranged by Citibank.

DLA Piper LLP (US) comes highly recommended for its ‘thoughtful, honest, straightforward and detailed legal advice’. The firm’s West Coast lender side practice, which is particularly strong on venture capital loans, ‘tackles challenges, is hungry for work, but manages to maintain a familiar touch and personable appeal’. The venture lending practice is led by the ‘brilliant and very quick’ San Diego-based partner Matt Schwartz, while in Silicon Valley Mike Standlee is praised for his ‘speed, industry, bankruptcy expertise, and understanding of bank legal policies’. A significant highlight was representing Silicon Valley Bank in a co-lending arrangement with Oxford Finance linked to a $100m loan to Puma Biotechnology. Other key lender clients include Comerica and JP Morgan. The firm’s New York team, which includes Jamie Knox, is more active on the mid-level borrower side, and was boosted by the arrival of William Candelaria from Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, who is known his Latin America expertise.

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP is best known for its first-class lending practice, although it also works at the upper echelons when it comes to major borrower deals, both for corporates and private equity sponsors. The team, which is jointly led by James Florack and Jason Kyrwood out of New York, continues to expand following the promotion of private equity expert John Perry and lender’s counsel Jeong Oh to the partnership. Perry will work alongside Sartaj Gill as a credit partner in the firm’s growing private equity team. The firm handled an impressive range of borrower mandates and advised Tyson Foods on the closing of a $1.8bn loan to finance its acquisition of AdvancePierre Food Holdings. A major highlight on the lender side was advising the lenders on a $2.3bn debtor-in-possession financing facility for Toys ‘R’ Us, which entered into Chapter 11. The firm also advised the lenders on a $9.6bn facility to finance Discovery Communications’ $14.6bn acquisition of Scripps Networks Interactive. Other key partners in the team include Joseph Hadley, Meyer Dworkin, Kenneth Steinberg, and Monica Holland.

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP has established an excellent pedigree for sponsor-side borrower mandates. The esteemed David Brittenham co-chairs the team with Jeffrey Ross, and although William Beekman retired, the partner numbers remain high thanks to the promotion of the highly rated Ramya Tiller, and the recruitment of Brian Liu from Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP. The firm’s borrower work goes beyond the private equity sphere and a major highlight was representing Envision Healthcare on the financing for its $15bn merger with AMSURG, which included implementing the financing for the company’s post-merger capital structure. The firm also advised Discovery Communications on the financing of its $14.6bn acquisition of Scripps Networks Interactive, which included a $9.6bn bridge facility. On the sponsor side, the firm enjoys a strong relationship with Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, which it advised, alongside Brand Industrial Services, on the $4bn financing required for the combination of the industrial services businesses of Brand and Safway Group. The firm also represented the Blackstone Group and CF Corporation on the financing of its $1.bn acquisition of Fidelity & Guaranty Life. Scott Selinger is also recommended.

Dechert LLP is recommended both for its lender-led expertise, where it acts for a range of institutions and alternate lenders, and for its borrower work. Scott Zimmerman leads the global leveraged finance team, which was bolstered in New York by the arrival of Jeff Norton from Linklaters LLP. He joins a team that includes the impressive Jay Alicandri, who is noted for advising borrowers and lenders, Jeffrey Katz and the Philadelphia-based Sarah Gelb. Borrower-led highlights included representing Mexican railroad giant GMexico Transportes on the $1.5bn financing for its acquisition of Florida East Coast Railway Holdings. On the lender side the firm represented ING Capital on $300m worth of facilities to Tree Line Capital Partners, a direct lender to small and medium-sized companies in the US. Another significant client on the direct lender side is Prospect Capital Corporation, which it advised on several transactions, including a $64m loan to finance ICV Partners’ acquisition of RME Group Holding Company.

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP enjoys a strong reputation in the market, both for its borrower and lender work. The hugely experienced F William Reindel has stepped down as group head and is concentrating more on the fee-earning work, and has been replaced at the helm by J. Christian Nahr, who is well regarded for his advice to sponsors. The firm added to its sponsor side team through the recruitment of Adam Summers from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, while the arrival of partner Meredith Mackey, formerly counsel at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, added to the lender side. One of the firm’s most significant matters came from luxury fashion company Coach, concerning its $2bn financing for its acquisition of the fashion brand, Kate Spade. The firm also advised Goldman Sachs on the $455m financing of its acquisition of Transcendia, a plastics products manufacturer. On the lender side, a team headed by Brian Murphy and Reindel, advised a group of five joint lead arrangers, led by Citibank, on the $990m financing of Onex’s acquisition of Moran Foods. Other key partners include Daniel Bursky, Stewart Kagan and Julian Chung.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP is best known for its borrower-led work but is also providing an increasing amount of advice to lenders. The firm also made a move into the oil and gas market through its opening of a Houston office, and the recruitment of Shalla Prichard from Baker Botts L.L.P., who does finance work for several major energy sector borrowers. This was demonstrated through her advice to Atwood Oceanics, an offshore drilling contractor, on the finance aspects of its $6.9bn merger with Ensco. Other significant highlights in the past year include representing oil and gas transporter SemGroup Corporation on the financing of its £2bn acquisition of Houston Terminal Co., as well as its $1bn purchase of the outstanding shareholding in Rose Rock Midstream. The firm also advised BWAY Corporation, a subsidiary of Stone Canyon Industries, in the $2.3bn financing of its acquisition of the Mauser Group from Clayton, Dubilier & Rice. Key team members include Aaron Adams, Janet Vance, and Los Angeles-based global finance co-chair Linda Curtis.

The ‘practical, commercial, efficient’ team at Jones Dayhas a strong borrower-side practice that is excellent to work with’ and ‘doesn’t approach each deal or issue as a confrontation’. Equally, on the lender side, the ‘great team’ is ‘very user-friendly’ and has an ‘excellent knowledge of the markets’. The firm recently expanded its team in New York through the recruitment of Angela Batterson, who is highly experienced in direct lending work, from Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, and Kim Desmarais from Ashurst LLP. On the borrower side, the firm advised global paints manufacturer The Sherwin-Williams Company on a $2bn loan to finance its $11.3bn acquisition of the Valspar Corporation. The US practice also benefits from close links to the firm’s global network, as demonstrated through its advice to Diebold Nixdorf on an amendment to its multi-billion dollar credit agreement. A highlight on the lender side was advising KeyBank National Association on a $775m loan to GTT Communications to finance its acquisition of Hibernia NGS. Global finance co-head Brett Barragate is praised for his ‘market expertise’, and clients also rate Dallas-based Katherine Ettredge (‘practical and good to work with’), and Al LaFiandra (‘a great communicator with tremendous knowledge’), who divides his time between Atlanta and New York. Other key individuals include Chip Bensinger and Lewis Grimm.

Clients will often go to Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP for ‘complex commercial lending transactions when we need counsel who are meticulous, responsive and sophisticated’. The firm is especially strong on the lender side, where it acts for a mix of alternate funders and banks. The team is led out of Chicago by the highly rated Michael Jacobson, although it continues to invest in offices elsewhere, such as Los Angeles where it recruited Glen Lim from Proskauer Rose LLP. Direct lender Antares Capital is a major client, which it recently advised on a $558m loan to PPC Industries, a Kohlberg & Company portfolio company, on its acquisition of Pexco. Other highlights include advising Tennenbaum Capital Partners on a $200m loan to Marlin Equity Partners to finance its acquisition of Tangoe. Golub Capital is another major client which it advised on a $200m facility to support the merger of Downtown Locker Room with Sneaker Villa. Other key partners include the ‘responsive and meticulous’ Jan Cate in Los Angeles, Scott Lyons and Derek Ladgenski.

King & Spalding LLP has a good reputation for borrower and lender work. The alternative lender side of the practice was boosted by the arrival of partner Jennifer Daly, who rejoined the firm from Hunter Peak Investments. The firm has strong relationships with several national banks including Citizens Bank and SunTrust Bank, the latter of which it represented as lead arranger in a $1.75bn facility to Buckeye Partners, a major petroleum pipeline operator. On the borrower side, the firm represented FleetCor Technologies on a $600m loan to finance a portion of its purchase of the Brazilian company, Serviços e Tecnologia de Pagamentos. The firm also advised EVO Payments International on an $845m facility, part of which was used to finance its acquisition of Sterling Payment Technologies. Atlanta-based Carolyn Alford heads the team, which has several well-regarded members in New York and Charlotte, including Todd Holleman, Cecilia Hong, and Chris Molen.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP is arguably the market’s undisputed heavyweight when it comes to sponsor-led financings. This was demonstrated in the first three quarters of 2017, where the firm outstripped the other borrower-led firms in terms of numbers and value, with 177 deals worth a combined $129bn. The firm’s relationship with major private equity houses such as Bain Capital ensures a good source of work, such as the financing of Bain’s $3.2bn carve-out acquisition from Sealed Air’s Diversey Care division. The firm is also doing an increasing amount of work for Texas Pacific Group and Carlyle, the latter of which it advised on the $1.4bn financing for NEP Group’s take-private acquisition of Avesco Group. Another key client is the Blackstone Group, which the firm advised on the multi-billion dollar financing for its $6.1bn acquisition of TeamHealth Holdings. The firm also stands out for its expertise in areas like restructuring and refinancing, where it advised Toys ‘R’ Us on its $3.1bn DIP financing. Linda Myers heads the team from Chicago, which includes the highly rated Michelle Kilkenney, Maureen Dixon, Jay Ptashek, and Nicholas Schwartz, as well as David Nemecek in Los Angeles. The firm also opened an office in Boston through the recruitment of Jason Serlenga from Ropes & Gray LLP.

Latham & Watkins LLP continues to be one of the few firms capable of dominating the market both as borrower and lender’s counsel. With 34 partners across the US, it has the scale to act for a broad spectrum of clients, including private equity sponsors, without the risk of conflicts or upsetting banking relationships. The lender team saw several major transactions, including advice to Morgan Stanley on the $6bn worth of facilities to Misys, a Vista Equity Partners portfolio company, to fund its acquisition of the remaining equity interest in DH Corporation. The firm also advised Bank of America on the $6bn financing, including a $3bn bond offering, for Gilead Sciences’ $11.3bn acquisition of Kite Pharma. The firm is also doing a significant amount of work for direct lenders such as Antares Capital and Jefferies Finance, the latter of which it advised on the financing for Bain Capital’s $1.3bn acquisition of Surgery Partners and Surgery Partners’ concurrent acquisition of National Surgical Healthcare. On the borrower/sponsor side, the firm advised Scientific Games International on a $3.8bn refinancing, including a $1.1bn bond offering. It also represented the Carlyle Group on the $1.6bn financing of its acquisition of Atotech. Daniel Seale heads the top-notch team, which includes Jeffrey Chenard and Joshua Tinkelman on the borrower/sponsor side, and Michèle Penzer and Andrew Fayé for the lenders. Alfred Xue is also well regarded.

Mayer Brown’s ‘overall excellent’ finance team is popular for lender and borrower work, and has well-stocked teams in New York, Chicago, Charlotte and Houston. Jointly led by David Duffee in New York and Douglas Doetsch in Chicago, the firm is strong in several areas, including energy finance, fund finance and Latin American financings (an area where Doetsch has particular expertise). Recent highlights on the lender side include advising the Bank of Nova Scotia, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, BNP Paribas, Citigroup Global Markets and HSBC Securities on a $1.5bn loan extension to Sociedad Minera Cerro Verde. Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation is another client, which it advised on a $1.25bn syndicated loan to KKR Asian Fund III. Significant borrower mandates included advising Yum! Brands on a $3.5bn refinancing, and acting for Frontier Communications Corporation on $1.5bn term loan. Other major clients include Plastipak Holdings, Brookfield Real Estate Finance Fund, and the Jordan Company. Key partners include Adam Wolk and the ‘top notch’ Kristin Rylko. The firm recently expanded in New York following the recruitment of Scott Zemser from Allen & Overy LLP.

McDermott Will & Emery LLP has a strong banking practice that is particularly recommended for its borrower work. Jointly led by Michael Boykins and Stephanie McCann in Chicago, and Gary Rosenbaum in Los Angeles, the firm acts for an impressive range of corporate borrowers and private equity sponsors. Recent highlights include advising HIG Capital, one of the firm’s largest clients, on its acquisition financing of Scuf Gaming and Just Home Healthcare services. On the corporate front, it advised American Builders & Contractors Supply Co on the refinancing of a $1.8bn loan facility connected with the acquisition of L&W Supply from USG Corporation. The firm also has a healthy mid-market lending practice that represents a broad range of clients including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, MidCap Financial and US Bank. The firm also bolstered its Chicago offering through the lateral hires of Joshua Samis and Anh Lee from Kirkland & Ellis LLP.

Clients choose McGuireWoods LLP for its ‘great service and knowledge of our business’ and appreciate that its lawyers are ‘very professional and level headed in working through issues, and do so in a way that keeps our clients satisfied’. The firm is undoubtedly a market leader for advising the banks on small-to-mid-size financings, and its Atlanta-based healthcare finance team has handled over $3bn in healthcare finance deals for a variety of lenders. Recent highlights include advising Bank of America, with which the firm has a very strong relationship, on a $2.1bn credit facility to World Fuel Services Corp. The firm also represented BMO Harris Bank on a $500m loan to Thor Industries to help it acquire Jayco Corp. Raj Natarajan leads the active team, which has fee-earners spread throughout its Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, New York, Dallas, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh offices. Among the partners, Chicago-based Wade Kennedy, who heads the firm’s asset-based lending group, is singled out for his ‘syndicated loan knowledge and excellent knowledge of market convention’ and for being ‘being particularly good at helping to negotiate sticky inter-creditor agreements’.

The ‘overall level of service is excellent’ at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP, which pound-for-pound has one of the leading bank lending practices in the market. Practice head Marc Hanrahan is ‘one of the top lawyers in this field’, and his 13-partner team of attorneys are ‘experts in the syndicated loan market, and provide not only legal advice but practical advice about various business issues and market trends’. Recently the firm advised Credit Suisse, Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of America, Citibank, Macquarie and Mizuho as joint lead arrangers in a $2.9bn facility to Internet Brands, a KKR portfolio company, to finance its acquisition of WebMD Health Corp. The firm also represented Nomura, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, HSBC and Goldman Sachs on a $6.3bn credit facility to the Spanish pharmaceutical company Grifols, $2.1bn of which went towards the acquisition of Hologic’s blood donor screening unit. The firm boasts some excellent partners, including Marcus Dougherty, Lauren Hanrahan, Michael Bellucci and Blair Tyson.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP fields high-quality teams of lawyers in its East and West Coast offices. The practice is particularly strong on the lender side, both for traditional and alternative lenders, and has a very good niche in film finance. Recent highlights include advising Ares Capital Corporation on a $173m refinancing for Command Alkon, a global software and technology solutions provider for heavy building materials. The firm acts for several major institutional lenders, including JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which it advised on three separate financings worth $9bn and used to support MetLife’s spinoff of Brighthouse Financial. Other major lender clients include Antares Capital, Citizens Financial Group, US Bank, Wells Fargo and HSBC. Jonathan Bernstein leads the team out of Boston, and is supported by a strong team of partners, including Rick Eisenbiegler, Anne Bandes, and Marshall Stoddard.

Paul Hastings LLP is ‘one of the market leaders for middle-market leveraged finance’ and ‘very good in terms of cost, expertise and customer service’. The highly rated Michael Baker jointly leads the team with John Cobb and Jennifer Yount. Despite the fact that several partners have left in recent years, including three to Allen & Overy LLP in 2017, the firm still has a strong presence in the market, particularly as designated lender’s counsel. On the lender front, the firm recently advised the lenders, including Bank of America and Wells Fargo, on $4.7bn loan to Bass Pro Group to finance its acquisition of Cabela’s Incorporated. The firm also advised RBC Capital Markets and Royal Bank of Canada on the $1.2bn financing of Stone Point Capital and KKR’s acquisition of Focus Financial Partners. Borrower clients included Delphi Technologies which engaged the firm to advise on the $1.4bn financing for distribution to Delphi Automotive as part of a spinoff transaction.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP has an excellent borrower-side practice that carries out a good mix of sponsor- and corporate-led work. The firm demonstrated its capacity to handle major corporate transactions through its advice to Qualcomm on the financing of its $47bn acquisition of Dutch company NXP Semiconductors, the largest European tech deal to date. Another major corporate deal was advising global fashion luxury brand Michael Kors Holdings on the $2bn financing of its takeover of luxury footwear maker Jimmy Choo. On the private equity side, the firm benefits greatly from its strong relationship with Apollo, and lawyers recently advised one of the fund’s portfolio companies, Novitex Holdings, on the financing for it $2.8bn merger with SourceHOV and Quinpario Acquisition Corp. 2. The firm also advised Apollo Global Management on its $2.2bn acquisition of Rackspace Hosting, a Texas-based cloud computing company. The firm boasts several top-notch partners, including group head Gregory Ezring, Eric Goodison, Brian Janson, Brad Finkelstein, Mark Wlazlo, Brian Kim and Thomas de la Bastide.

The ’knowledgeable, flexible and resilient’ team provides a ‘second-to-none’ service at Proskauer Rose LLP, helping make it one of the ‘premier firms in the leveraged finance space’. An area where the firm really stands out is in its advice to alternative lenders, where it was something of a pioneer for mid-market financings. The firm has strong relationships with an impressive range of direct lenders, such as Ares Capital, which it helped on over $5bn worth of financings over the past year, including a $713m loan linked to the takeover of Ministry Brands by Insight Venture Management. Other key lender clients include Jefferies Finance, Bain Capital Credit, and GIC Private Limited. The firm also had a strong year on the borrower front, a highlight of which was advising Grifols on its $6.3bn financing, part of which was used to acquire the blood donor screening unit from Hologic. The firm also advised healthcare product manufacturer Henry Schein on $2bn worth of facilities and the acquisition financing for its takeover of Southern Anesthesia & Surgical. Ron Franklin and Steve Boyko jointly lead the team, which includes highly rated private credit expert Steve Ellis, Andrew Bettwy and Justin Breen. The New York office was also boosted by the arrival of Christopher Bell from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP.

Ropes & Gray LLP has ‘a world-class’ banking practice that is particularly well known for its sponsor-led advice where it acts on a broad range of mid and large cap transactions. The ‘outstanding’ team is ‘easy to work with and ensures, in each engagement, to focus on the client needs’. Recently the firm advised the Blackstone Group and Change Healthcare Holdings on the $6.6bn financing required to help facilitate its joint venture with McKesson Technology Solutions into a leading global health care services and IT company. The firm also represented Surgery Partners and its majority shareholder, Bain Capital, on the $1.3bn financing for its acquisition of National Surgical healthcare. Beyond the private equity sphere, the firm represented corporate client IQVIA on a $1.5bn bond issue used in connection with its three-way merger with Quintiles Transnational Holdings and IMS Health Holdings. Highly regarded global co-head Byung Choi leads the team out of Boston, ably supported by Stefanie Birkmann, Jay Kim, Sunil Savkar, and Alexander Zeltser (‘outstanding and brings a balanced aggressive approach to agreement development and administration’) in New York. The firm also has an increasingly active direct lending practice jointly led by Alyson Gal in Boston and Joanne De Silva in New York. Clients on this side include KKR Credit Advisors, Hancock Capital Management, and Benefit Street Partners.

Shearman & Sterling LLP is a key player in the market with an especially strong reputation for lender work. The firm has an impressive array of institutional clients. Recently it advised Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Credit Suisse and Bank of America on a $6.7bn loan to McCormick to finance its acquisition of Reckitt Benckiser Group’s food division. Another highlight was representing Credit Suisse on its complex $1.3bn financing of the takeover of Lexmark International by Hyland Software, a portfolio company of Thoma Bravo. The borrower side of the practice, where partner Gus Atiyah is recommended, was also active. The firm recently advised Saba Software, a portfolio company of Vector Capital, on a $375m loan to finance its acquisition of Halogen Software. Other key borrower clients include CVS Health Corporation, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Boston Scientific Corporation. The team is jointly led by the highly rated Maura O’Sullivan and Ronan Wicks, who recently relocated to New York from the firm’s London office. Joshua Thompson and Jason White also have good reputations.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP is a top-tier choice both for borrower and lender work, enjoying a superb reputation with clients and peers alike. The first-class team is led by Patrick Ryan and boasts a strong selection of market-leading lawyers, including James Cross, Jennifer Hobbs, Brian Steinhardt, William Sheehan, Brian Gluck, the up-and-coming Alexandra Kaplan, and the recently promoted Adam Shapiro. The firm was engaged on several blockbuster borrower mandates, including advice to Invitation Homes on the $2.5bn debt financing for its $20bn merger of equals with Starwood Waypoint Homes. Another highlight was representing Mars on the debt financing for its $9.1bn acquisition of the pet healthcare services company, VCA. On the private equity front it represented KKR and CDPQ on the financing related to their joint $4.3bn acquisition of USI Insurance Services from Onex Corporation. The firm was similarly busy for the lenders and represented JPMorgan Chase on an $8.5bn bridge loan to Northrop Grumman Corporation for its acquisition of Orbital ATK. Another highlight was the firm’s advice to Goldman Sachs on the bridge financing to Thermo Fisher Scientific for its $7.2bn acquisition of Patheon.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is probably best known for its excellent corporate borrower practice, but the firm is also strong on the lender front. Seth Jacobson co-heads the global banking group from Chicago, and the US team includes several key banking partners including Sal Guerrera, Steven Messina, David Reamer, and Stephanie Teicher. On the borrower side the firm represented JAB Holdings on the $3bn financing of its $7.5bn acquisition of Panera Bread Company, the largest-ever purchase of an American restaurant company. The firm’s lender work represents an impressive mix of advice to financial institutions and alternative lenders. Notable highlights include advice to Morgan Stanley Senior Funding and Bank of America Merrill Lynch in a $7.1bn loan to Crown Castle International for its acquisition of LTS Group Holdings. On the direct lender side the firm represented Jefferies Finance as administrative agent in $2bn worth of facilities to Avantor Performance Materials Holdings and NuSil Investments.

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP has an excellent track record for borrower work, particularly for corporate clients who take up about 70% of the team’s workload. The practice can regularly be found on some of the largest corporate deals to hit the market. Notably it acted as finance counsel for Gartner in the $3.9bn financing for its acquisition of CEB, a deal which involved several different debt instruments including an $800m bond offering. Another highlight was representing INC Research Holdings in a $3.1bn loan to finance its acquisition of inVentive Health. The firm was also active on the private equity front and represented Ares Management on the $680m financing required for its acquisition of a 70% stake in healthcare company DMG Practice Management Solutions. The highly rated John Estes and S. Neal McKnight jointly lead the team, which also includes the well-regarded Ari Blaut.

The ‘outstanding’ team at Vinson & Elkins LLP is praised for its ‘excellent market knowledge’ and for being ‘very responsive’ and ‘very efficient’. The firm is particularly strong on energy sector-related financings, both for borrowers and lenders, and has high-quality lawyers working out of its Houston, Dallas and New York offices. On the lender side, the firm has strong relationships with major institutions such as Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, and Bank of America. The firm also acts for several direct lenders, such as the Carlyle Group, which it advised, through its Carlyle Energy Mezzanine Opportunities Fund, on a $400m investment to fund the development of EOG’s oil and gas assets in Oklahoma. On the borrower side, the firm advised AltaGas on the financing for its $6.4bn acquisition of WGL Holdings. Another highlight was representing Patterson-UTI Energy on the financing of its $1.7bn acquisition of Seventy Seven Energy. Outside of the energy sector, the firm also advised Macdonald, Dettwiler and Associates on the financing of its $3.6bn acquisition of DigitalGlobe, a global leader in Earth imagery. The well-regarded team is jointly led by Brian Moss and Erec Winandy out of Houston and Dallas respectively.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP has an excellent track record for borrower and lender work. On the borrower side, the firm acts for an impressive range of corporates and private equity sponsors, and partners such as Allison Liff, Andrew Yoon, Dallas-based Courtney Marcus, and the recently promoted Houston partner Benton Lewis have established very strong practices. Meanwhile US banking head Douglas Urquhart is equally comfortable sitting on both sides of the table. Major highlights include representing Westinghouse Electric Company in an $800m secured debtor-in-possession facility, provided by Apollo Global Management, to provide liquidity during its Chapter 11 proceedings. Another highlight was representing the aircraft leasing company Avolon Holdings on a $5.5bn loan to help finance its acquisition of CIT Group. On the lender side, partners such as Daniel Dokos, Heather Viets, Morgan Bale, and Danek Freeman are all highly recommended. The firm’s cross-border abilities were acknowledged through its mandate to advise JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, and Goldman Sachs on a $15.5bn facility to finance Twenty-First Century Fox’s pending acquisition of Sky. The firm also represents an increasing number of direct lenders, including Antares Capital and Public Sector Pension Investment Board.

White & Case LLP are ‘real experts in the leveraged finance market’ who ‘provide immense value for the fees that we pay them’. Clients appreciate the ‘extremely talented and deep bench’ as well as the ‘close partner attention and consistent personnel from deal to deal’. Global banking head Eric Leicht is very well regarded in the market, and one major client notes: ‘no leveraged lending lawyer in my professional experience provides superior lender representation’. The ‘excellent’ US banking head Jake Mincemoyer is also praised for being ‘extremely efficient and knowledgeable’ and ‘has a ton of relevant knowledge about the market’. Other key names include Eric Klar in Miami, as well as New York’s David Bilkis, Eliza McDougall, and Dan Nam. The firm also boosted its ranks in the US through the arrival of Rob Bennett and Justin Wagstaff from the London office, and the recruitment of Sabrena Silver from Linklaters LLP, who is known for her Latin America expertise. Deal highlights include representing Deutsche Bank, Mizuho and Credit Agricole on a $1.54bn loan to Softbank subsidiary Foundation Holdings for its acquisition of Fortress Investment Group. The firm also advised Nomura Securities and Jeffries Finance on the $2.5bn recapitalisation of BJ’s Wholesale. The borrower side was also active, and the firm advised Pilot Travel Centers on a major $4.6bn refinancing. Another highlight was advising Stone Point Capital on the $1bn financing for its acquisition of Focus Financial Partners.

Leonard Klingbaum and Jeffrey Goldfarb jointly lead Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP’s well-regarded team, which acts for a mix of banks, funds and corporate borrowers. The firm has a strong roster of private equity clients which it regularly represents on their financing needs, including Platinum Equity, Aquiline Capital Partners, and Warburg Pincus. Highlights on this front include advising New Mountain Capital on the financing for its acquisition of cloud software company Sparta Systems. On the borrower side, the firm also represented Brighthouse Financial in connection with the $8.6bn financing to facilitate its spin-off from Met Life. The firm is also increasingly active on the lender side and advised Citibank on a $750m acquisition financing for Roan Resources. Other key partners include William Dye, Michael Niebruegge and Viktor Okasmaa.

Few firms know the middle market as well as’ the ‘incredibly responsive’ team at Winston & Strawn LLP, which provides ‘excellent legal support’. The firm handles borrower and lender work, and is particularly well regarded in the latter where it represents banks and alternative lenders. Recent highlights include advising Barings Finance on a $218m loan to finance PDI TA Holdings’ acquisition of Professional DataSolutions. Other key clients on the lender side include Wells Fargo, which the firm advised on a $325m asset-based loan to Quikrete Holdings. The firm also represented Angelo, Gordon & Co in connection with senior credit facilities supporting the acquisition of Native Marine Produce & Speciality Foods by RLI Equity Partners and SJ Partners. William Brewer, Mats Carlston, Patrick Hardiman (‘a business savvy gem with a true inside perspective of the industry that is rare for an external lawyer’), and Ronald Jacobson (‘who knows the industry inside out’) jointly head the well-regarded team.

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