M&A: large deals ($1bn+) in United States

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP has maintained a significant market share of big-ticket M&A transactions, despite the relatively small size of its M&A department and the firm's small global presence (with offices in New York and London) compared to other tier one competitors. Its much celebrated rotation system ensures that associates and partners are able to apply their big picture experience and expertise in complex transactions. The firm has a much greater emphasis on strategic corporate acquirers than financial sponsors and private equity houses, compared to many of its natural competitors. It continues to impress in cross-border transactions where it advises both US and foreign multinationals. Clients include AXA, British American Tobacco, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Royal Dutch Shell and The Walt Disney Company. In 2018, the firm advised Time Warner on the completion of its $108.7bn sale to AT&T and advised The Walt Disney Company on its pending $85bn acquisition of Twenty-First Century Fox. Moreover, it advised The Linde Group on its immensely complex and pending $70bn merger of equals with Praxair and Barrick Gold on its pending $18.3bn merger with Randgold Resources. The firm has 'super lawyers' with the firm's presiding partner Faiza Saeed further cementing her leading position in the market with a string of headline deals, including the previously mentioned Time Warner and Walt Disney transactions. Richard Hall also continues to impress with his exemplary deal experience, as does Mark Greene and Robert TownsendDamien Zoubek  is gaining further recognition in the market for advising the likes of Johnson & Johnson in headline transactions, while Keith HallamTing Chen and Aaron Gruber are among those expected to achieve similar prominence in the future.

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP has maintained its upward trajectory in domestic and cross-border M&A. It continues to be ranked in the upper echelons of the M&A league tables by value. The firm's rounded M&A credentials are augmented by top-quality teams specializing in antitrust, Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) matters, and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), among others. Clients include Aetna, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Comcast, ExxonMobil, General Electric, Morgan Stanley, Roche and Shire.  It advised Aetna, the diversified health care benefits company, on the completion of its $77bn acquisition by CVS Health. It also advised Comcast on its $45.3bn recommended increased cash offer to acquire Sky and its $65bn proposal to acquire Twenty First Century Fox businesses that were eventually sold to The Walt Disney Company. Moreover, it advised Shire on its $62bon acquisition by Takeda, the Japan-headquartered global research and development-driven pharmaceutical company; the largest pharmaceutical industry deal since 2000. George Bason is global chairman of the firm's M&A practice and has a tremendous record in big-ticket M&A. William Aaronson is 'pragmatic and very good to work with', and is co-head of the global M&A group alongside Louis GoldbergJohn Bick is 'a good deal lawyer', while Oliver Smith, Leonard Kreynin, William Chudd, Michael Davis and John Amorosi are also recommended.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP continues to be recognized for its leading position in bulge-bracket private equity buyouts and this is increasingly matched by its presence in strategic M&A. The firm's outstanding private equity knowledge and experience is frequently brought into play when representing sellers in contested auctions. Strategic M&A clients are also regularly spawned from private equity exits, where the firm maintains a relationship with the company's management. The firm is also noted for its standing in domestic and cross-border transactions, especially in the financial services, healthcare, technology and energy sectors; it has a well-established office in Houston that has augmented its reputation in the oil and gas industry. The team is 'extremely thorough, knowledgeable and very responsive'. Clients include American Electric Power, Gerdau, Hilton Worldwide, Marathon Oil, Microsoft and Walgreens Boots Alliance. It advised L3 Technologies on its announced $33.5bn combination with Harris Corporation through an all-stock merger of equals transaction. It also advised Blue Buffalo Pet Products on its $8bn sale to General Mills. Moreover, it advised regular client Microsoft on its $7.5bn acquisition of GitHub. Alan Klein, who is recommended for cross-border deals and high-value tech deals especially, and Mario Ponce head the M&A practice, which includes leading financial institutions M&A expert Lee Meyerson, rapidly emerging talent Eric Swedenburg, experienced big-ticket M&A specialist William Curbow and junior partner Anthony VernaceBrian Stadler is recommended for real estate-related deals and Latin America transactions specialist Todd Crider is 'an outstanding individual'.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is a global titan in M&A. The firm's nationwide presence is especially hard to match with fine teams on the East and West coasts, as well as in Chicago and Houston. Along with its tremendous record in public and cross-border M&A, the firm is widely noted for its expertise in hostile takeovers and activist defense work. The firm advised Express Scripts on its $67bn acquisition by Cigna. Moreover, it advised NXP Semiconductors on its proposed $47bn acquisition by Qualcomm. The firm's Boston office is making an impression with a team led by Graham Robinson advising Juno Therapeutics on its $11bn acquisition by Celgene and Gilead Sciences on its $11.9bn acquisition of Kite Pharma. Howard Ellin had an outstanding 2018, advising Twenty-First Century Fox on its $71.3bn acquisition by the Walt Disney Company and Red Hat on its $34bn acquisition by IBM. Stephen Arcano and Peter Atkins are also market leaders, along with Palo Alto's Kenton King, who is 'a terrific lawyer' and continues to be a leader in big-ticket tech deals. Paul Schnell is 'easy to work with' and Thomas Kennedy is 'terrific', according to clients. Allison Schneirov is another big name and Richard Grossman is leader in activist defense and proxy contests. Washington DC's Jeremy London is also highly rated. Partners are based in New York unless stated otherwise.

Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz 'still has the premier practice for public M&A deals', according to one competitor. Despite being a one office firm, based in New York, it has a substantial M&A team and maintains a high market share of big-ticket and transformational M&A transactions. Moreover, it continues to impress in hostile takeovers, activist defense work and proxy contests. Hugely respected by corporate America and its management boards, it is constantly in the frame for the biggest engagements in the market. It advised T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom in connection with the blockbuster proposed $146bn merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. In other headline deals, it advised United Technologies on the separation of the business into three independent public companies, Comcast on its $65bn bid for assets of Twenty-First Century Fox, and Broadcom on its $18.9bn all-cash acquisition of CA Technologies. The still active Martin Lipton is, for many, the premier name in the market. David Katz and Daniel Neff are 'super high quality' and 'incredibly good lawyers'; Katz is 'smart, thoughtful and he will work to get the deal done'. Adam Emmerich, once again made an impression on the market by leading the team that represented T-Mobile in its merger with Sprint. Edward Herlihy further cemented his standing by heading the team that advised Cigna on its $67bn acquisition of Express Scripts. Steven Rosenblum and Andrew Nussbaum are also outstanding M&A practitioners, as are Andrew Brownstein and Igor Kirman.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton is consistently in the frame for bet-the-company M&A engagements. It is praised for its 'skill and sophistication', with one client highlighting its 'management of a very complex transaction with great expertise'. The firm has earned further recognition for its roles in global consolidation transactions and in representing corporate targets in high-value leveraged buyouts. It continues to set the benchmark in big-ticket tech transactions; the team advised Alphabet/Google on its internal spin-offs of Loon and Wing Aviation, on its $1.1bn business cooperation agreement with HTC and on its acquisition of Socratic, the e-learning company. In the global consolidation space, it advised GiVi Holding Donatella Versace, and Versace’s CEO Jonathan Akeroyd on the $2.13bn sale of Versace to Michael Kors Holdings and advised Flavors & Fragrances on its $7.1bn acquisition of Israel-based Frutarom Industries. Moreover, it advised Kindred Healthcare on its $4.1bn acquisition by a consortium of TPG Capital, Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe and Humana; the deal then involved the home health, hospice and community care businesses being separated into a standalone company owned by Humana, TPG and Welsh Carson, while the LTAC hospitals, IRFs and contract rehabilitation services businesses were split into a specialty hospital company owned by TPG and Welsh Carson. The firm's leading antitrust expertise is a crucial factor in the standing of the M&A department. Key partners include Ethan Klingsberg, Christopher Austin, Glenn McGrory and Paul Shim. Benet O’Reilly is 'always available and gives solid, practical advice when novel issues present'. Though less involved in transactions these days, Victor Lewkow deserves credit for the firm's increased prominence in M&A over recent years and he remains a source of expertise and knowledge for colleagues to lean on. James Langston and Paul Tiger are emerging names in strategic M&A and private equity buyouts. Kimberly Spoerri is praised for her relatively recent successful transition from associate to partner.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP has cemented its formidable standing in strategic M&A, alongside its market leading position in private equity buyouts. It has built an impressive depth of experience in public M&A, cross-border transactions, contested deals, activist defense work and take-private transactions. The firm has pursued a fervent campaign to hire lateral partners in recent years, with M&A and securities specialist Sean Wheeler joining its Houston office in 2018, while private equity and M&A expert Jennifer Perkins moved to New York; both were partners at Latham & Watkins LLP. In addition, Michael WoronoffMonica Shilling, and Jonathan Benloulou joined the Los Angeles office from Proskauer Rose LLP in 2019, while insurance M&A specialist and 'impressive technical expertRajab Abbassi joined the team from Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP. The team is 'exceptionally dedicated', with 'a deep understanding of commercial issues' and filled with 'top-quality partners and associates' that combine to provide a 'one-stop-shop service'. It has 'broad transactional experience, with deep knowledge of market precedent' and can 'work seamlessly with numerous overseas counsel as well as the target's counsel'. The department advised Blackstone Group, as the controlling stockholder of Invitation Homes, on the company's $11bn combination with Starwood Waypoint Homes. It also advised Akzo Nobel on the $12.5bn sale of its Specialty Chemicals business to The Carlyle Group and GIC. Moreover, it represented The Scripps Family, the controlling shareholders of Scripps Networks Interactive, on the $14.6bn sale of Scripps to Discovery Communications. David Fox is a seasoned professional with enormous big-ticket M&A experience. Daniel Wolf is another big name to note, while Sarkis Jebejian and Peter Martelli are also highly respected in the market. Jonathan Davis is another increasingly prominent partner; he and Eric Schiele are praised for providing 'direct, pragmatic and useful advice'. Houston partner David Castro is 'extremely hardworking', 'very knowledgeable' and has 'deep experience in large transactions' in the oil and gas space. Houston's Chris Heasley is 'a rising star' along with Anthony Speier who has 'great M&A and energy expertise'. Partners are based in New York unless stated otherwise. Following publication of the 2019 guide, David Klein, who handles public and private M&A and private equity deals, joined the firm from Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.

Latham & Watkins LLP has an outstanding national and international presence, enabling it to develop tight connections to corporates and be in the frame for one-off bet-the-company M&A engagements. Ranging from high-value to middle market deals, the firm has a substantial pipeline of deals, which feeds a sizeble team. Clients include T-Mobile USA, Dell Technologies, DXC Technology Company, Novelis and Phillips 66 Partners. In the large-cap space, the firm has impressed in a number of transactions, including advising the committee of independent directors of T-Mobile on the company's proposed $146bn combination with Sprint. In another headline deal, the firm advised the special committee formed by the board of directors of Tesla on evaluating its $71.6bn going-private transaction. Charles Ruck has built an enviable record in large-cap deals, especially in the life sciences and telecoms sectors, and now splits his time between Orange County and New York. Luke Bergstrom is a big name in Silicon Valley, particularly in technology and life sciences deals, while Mark Gerstein and Bradley Faris are the senior figures in Chicago. Having joined the firm in 2017 to bolster the New York office Peter Harwich has advised on a series of headline deals DXC Technology Group, including its $6.5bn reverse Morris trust transaction involving the tax-free spin-off of its US public sector business and three-way merger with Vencore and KeyPoint Government Solutions to form Perspecta.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP has continued its inexorable rise since the arrival of M&A superstar Scott Barshay in 2016. In 2018, he and the team were engaged by International Business Machines (IBM) to advise on its $34bn acquisition of Red Hat, creating the world’s largest hybrid cloud provider. Barshay also led the team that represented Qualcomm in connection with the $130bn unsolicited offer for the company from global semiconductor leader Broadcom; this was the biggest successful hostile takeover defense in the history of M&A. The firm's leading litigation practice provides additional firepower to the M&A team's historically outstanding record in hostile takeovers, proxy fights and activist defense work. Clients praise the department's 'depth of experience on complex, large scale transactions',  'the judgments of the team which tend to be superior to other firms'  and 'the scale of the team means clients are well covered and never left to fend for themselves or left with junior associates who are not equal to the tasks at hand'. Clients also highlight the team's 'open communication, business acumen and pragmatism'. Of the key partners in the team, the previously mentioned Barshay is 'perhaps the best M&A lawyer on Wall Street', 'has decades of experience which gives him excellent insight and judgment', 'works collaboratively with clients to deliver seamless advice',  and is 'excellent at seeing around corners and anticipating the moves of the other side'. Chair of the corporate department Robert Schumer is another outstanding practitioner who is 'one of the most practical and business oriented thinkers', according to a leading partner at a rival firm. He led the team that advised the special committee of the board of directors of Invitation Homes in connection with its merger of equals with Starwood Waypoint Homes. Other key M&A partners include Jeffrey Marell and Steven Williams. Private equity stars Taurie Zeitzer and Matthew Abbott are also key contributors to the success of the M&A practice. David Klein joined Kirkland & Ellis LLP in 2019.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP may not have the volume of high-value deals compared to tier one firms, but it has 'a huge ability to deploy many people at the same time at the very last minute, meeting a high-level expectation in terms of competences and experiences, responding to sensitive questions and providing touchy legal opinion to help'. It is praised for its 'knowledge and professionalism' which is 'far beyond any of its peers' according to one client. Another stresses its 'best in-the-boardroom work' and its 'plain English credibility and excellent communication skills'.  It routinely impresses in hostile takeovers, activist defense work and distressed M&A. Among a number of complex and challenging transactions, it advised Brookfield Asset Management and Brookfield Property Partners, on the latter's $14.4bn billion acquisition of 66% of the common stock that it did not already own in GGP, the REIT that owns, develops, and operates regional shopping malls across the US. It also represented Atos, the French IT services company, on its $3.57bn acquisition of Syntel. Showcasing its expertise in hostile transactions, it advised athenahealth, the health services company, on its evaluation of a $6.46bn unsolicited takeover bid by Elliott Management. Much credit should go to corporate group chairman Michael Aiello, who has played an integral role in building the team's prominence in the market; he is 'one of the best outside lawyers in a boardroom environment' and has 'extremely effective communication skills' according to one client. At the same time, while the team suffered from a perceived thin layer of senior gravitas in the past, there are several names that have achieved greater recognition in recent years, such as Michael LubowitzFrederick GreenHoward Chatzinoff and James Griffin, who has transferred to the Dallas office from Silicon Valley; Griffin is 'excellent in understanding the issues, helping to analyze them, and then working to find solutions', in one instance 'in a very unique way to solve a very complicated public company acquisition'. Jackie Cohen is 'the deal maker',  'calm and discreet but energetic', 'pragmatic, honest and able to contradict where she believes the client could be wrong or where it needs a second opinion'; 'it is difficult to imagine a deal without her,' says one client. Matthew Gilroy is an emerging name. All partners are based in New York unless stated otherwise.

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is commended for the 'sophistication and scope' of its practice. It continues to impress in a range of sectors, especially healthcare, TMT, insurance and financial institutions, and private equity. The firm has worked hard to develop its sector expertise over the last decade, streamlining efforts with certain M&A practitioners given the task of focusing on individual industries alongside colleagues from other departments. Few firms now have the same level of combined M&A and regulatory expertise in its chosen focus sectors. Clients include Discovery Communications, Johnson & Johnson, HCA, International Paper, Pitney Bowes, Tribune Media, Time and Verizon Communications. In a uniquely complex transaction, involving multiple moving parts, it advised long-term private equity client Clayton, Dubilier & Rice on its $2.4bn acquisition of New York-listed Ply Gem in a take private transaction alongside a parallel purchase of Atrium Windows & Doors and then merger of Atrium with Ply Gem. It followed this deal with a series of add-on transactions for Ply Gem culminating in its $5.5bn stock-for-stock combination with NCI Building Systems. In the mega-deal space, it advised Discovery Communications on its $14.6bn acquisition of Scripps Networks Interactive and further illustrated its expertise in the media sector with a number of deals for Tribune Media including its proposed $6.6bn sale to Sinclair Broadcast Group, which was eventually terminated. The senior team has expanded considerably in recent years with a series of partner promotions, including Sue Meng, who is 'a strong lawyer who gets amazing amounts of work done', Uri HerzbergAlexander Cochran and Jennifer Chu. It now has 'a fantastic mix of senior lawyer oversight with outstanding transaction lawyers and associates', which are praised for their 'brilliance and interpersonal skills'. Clients also highlight 'the level of integration and coordination among the practice areas', which 'operate seamlessly with one another on the various aspects of a deal'. Jeffrey Rosen is 'a brilliant strategist and negotiator' and Paul Bird is another senior name with a wealth of big transaction experience. Practice co-head Michael Diz is 'a strong and capable young partner', 'demonstrates a long-term commitment to  learn and truly understanding clients' businesses and strategies' and 'develops positive working relationships with in-house counsel and business leaders'. Kevin Rinker, who also co-heads the M&A group, has an excellent record in healthcare deals. Also recommended are Gregory Gooding and William Regner, the latter of whom has been noted as 'another strong corporate finance and M&A professional'.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP has tremendous national and international credentials. Notably building out its presence across the US in recent years, it now has strong M&A teams in New York, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Dallas, Houston, San Francisco/Palo Alto, and Denver. The large team continues to impress in big-ticket M&A, hostile takeovers, activist defense work and proxy contests. Clients include General Electric, PepsiCo, Marriot, Hewlett Packard and Intel. It advised General Electric on its sale of its GE Healthcare business, as part of its corporate reorganization. It also advised PepsiCo on its $3.2bn acquisition of SodaStream, the Israeli sparkling water dispenser maker. This is one example of its increasing prominence in cross-border deals. It further enhanced its standing with the hire of a four partner team, including the eminent George Stamas from Kirkland & Ellis LLP, that cover both M&A and private equity. The new team links up with an established national group featuring the likes of esteemed New York partner Barbara Becker, Dallas's Jeffrey Chapman and Washington DC-based Stephen Glover. Los Angeles partner Jonathan Layne, Palo Alto's Joseph Barbeau and New York-based Dennis Friedman are also recommended, as is Tull Florey in Houston.

Jones Day's national and international coverage is virtually unrivalled and this continues to enable it to maintain and build an enviably broad and illustrious client base. The firm is often praised not only for its geographic coverage, but also its breadth of expertise with other strong departments including intellectual property, labor law and government regulatory teams having a key role on many big transactions. Clients include Marathon Petroleum, Procter & Gamble and Conagra Brands. While being a considerable force in global M&A by volume, it also ranks highly by value of deals with it now frequently earning roles on headline and high-value transactions. This is in part enabled by the presence of eminent practitioners in New York, such as global M&A practice chair Robert Profusek and global M&A leader Randi Lesnick. Cleveland's Lyle Ganske and James Dougherty are also key leaders of the M&A group. Ganske and Dougherty worked alongside fellow Cleveland partner Benjamin Stulberg to advise Marathon Petroleum on its $23.3bn acquisition of Andeavor to create a leading US refining, marketing, and midstream company. The firm also advised Conagra Brands on its $10.9bn acquisition of Pinnacle Foods. Palo Alto partner Daniel Mitz is recommended for technology deals and advised Oclaro on its $1.8bn acquisition by Lumentum Holdings.

Shearman & Sterling LLP continues to impress in big-ticket domestic and cross-border M&A. The firm has built further market share in recent years and in 2018 it made additional inroads by launching new offices in Houston and Austin. The new offices offer a growing number of M&A partners and associates that are well-plugged into the oil and gas, industrials and technology sectors. The firm's 'dedication to client service is second to none', according to one client who also singles out its 'judgment and business sense', 'negotiation skills' and 'genuine care for its clients'. From its New York headquarters, the firm is also making a greater impression for big-name clients including CVS Health, The Dow Chemical Company, Liberty Global, Novartis and General Electric. It continued to advise CVS Health on its $77bn acquisition of Aetna, the leading diversified healthcare benefits company. It also advised Liberty Global on its €19bn sale of its operations in Germany, Hungary, Romania, and the Czech Republic to Vodafone. Moreover, it advised Novartis on its $3.9bn all-cash acquisition of Advanced Accelerator Applications, the French cancer specialist company.  Global managing partner George Casey remains actively engaged in many of the team's headline deals for clients such as Dow Chemical and Novartis; he is 'a brilliant senior dealmaker', 'highly respected', has 'excellent business judgment' and is 'very pleasant to deal with'. Scott Petepiece leads the Americas M&A group and has strong connections to the likes of Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), Fairfax Financial and American Axle; he is 'probably the best negotiator I have ever come across in my 15+ years of M&A experience,' says one client who also comments how Petepiece is 'superbly knowledgeable and always delivers beyond what would typically be expected from an external counsel'. Robert Katz has emerged as a key name in the team, having taken a pivotal role on CVS Health's acquisition of Aetna and Liberty Global's sale of its operations in Germany, Hungary, Romania, and the Czech Republic. Elected to the partnership in January 2018, Richard Fischetti is 'street smart and efficient', a 'young partner who has demonstrated an ability to get deals done in the most sensible manner for the client'.

White & Case LLP maintained a strong presence in large-cap M&A throughout 2018. The firm's global presence, which has been strengthened by a series of headline lateral hires in the M&A and private equity fields, has helped to considerably augment its standing in the market. Moreover, its recent launch of new offices in Chicago and Houston has specifically bolstered its US reputation. It continues to showcase its formidable presence in representing financial advisers in bulge-bracket M&A. The team advised Sempra Energy on the completion of its $9.45bn acquisition of Energy Future Holdings and its subsidiary Energy Future Intermediate Holding Company. It also advised Calpine on the completion of its $17bn acquisition by Energy Capital Partners and a consortium of other investors. In another headline cross-border transaction, the group advised SodaStream International, the Israeli manufacturer and distributor of sparkling water makers, on its $3.2bn sale to PepsiCo. John Reiss heads the global corporate practice and the immensely experienced Morton Pierce continues to advise on a range of large-cap deals, including the previously mentioned Calpine transaction. Oliver Brahmst co-heads the private equity team and has a fine record in corporate M&A and portfolio company deals. Daniel Dufner and Gregory Pryor are also highly rated. Denise Cerasani is recommended for M&A financial advisory roles and Gary Silverman is leading the firm's efforts in Chicago, especially in the private equity space.

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP is a New York powerhouse with an additional US presence in Washington DC. It has an established record in strategic M&A, hostile takeovers and defense matters and is recognized for its experience in real estate, media, pharmaceuticals, healthcare and financial institutions transactions. It has 'one of the top deal teams in the US', is 'business savvy, aware of all the latest trends and has experts in all of the areas of deal-making'. It has 'a market leading financial services M&A business, having led and set precedent for many deals in the space', according to one client. Clients include Aleris, Catalent, Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Humana, Knight Transportation, Koch Industries and Leidos Holdings. It advised Aleris, the US-based aluminium producer, on its $2.6bn acquisition by Novelis. It advised Becton, Dickinson and Company, the global medical technology company on its acquisition of TVA Medical. Robert Schwenkel is global head of M&A and private equity and has an outstanding reputation in advising corporates and financial sponsors. Steve Epstein is an 'excellent counselor', 'the consummate deal lawyer who is very attuned to his clients, extremely responsive, thoughtful, with no wasted effort and knows the deal space intimately'; he and Philip Richter are co-heads of the practice, with the latter noted for his experience in representing financial advisers in M&A transactions. Washington DC’s Brian Mangino has an extensive record in private equity and M&A and Matthew Soran is 'a rising star with excellent skills and a total command of the documents and the issues'. Christopher Ewan 'has broad expertise and experience, is hugely commercial and fantastic in negotiations'. All partners are based in New York unless stated otherwise.

Hogan Lovells US LLP's unique national, transatlantic and global platform enables it to offer an especially compelling offering to major corporates. The M&A practice's growing standing across the US has enabled it to advise on a series of headline cross-border transactions. Moreover, it continues to impress in regulated sector deals, most notably in the financial services, life sciences and healthcare, and defense industries. The team is 'very customer driven, practical in its approach, commercially aware and  able to understand the real world issues'. A team led by New York’s Adam Golden and Washington DC partner Joseph Gilligan advised Novartis on its $8.7bn acquisition of AveXis, the US clinical-stage gene therapy biotech company; this was Novartis’s largest US public company acquisition to date. Golden also led the team that advised Celgene on its $9bn acquisition of Juno Therapeutics, the cell-based cancer immunotherapy company. The deals further demonstrate the firm’s leadership in healthcare and life sciences.  It also advised Orbital ATK, the aerospace and defense company, on its $9.2bn sale to Northrop Grumman, the leading global security business. On the West coast, a team led by Silicon Valley partners Richard Climan and Jane Ross advised Walmart on its $16bn acquisition of a majority stake in India-based Flipkar; this was the largest ever completed deal by Walmart and established it as a leader in India's e-commerce market. The firm’s Silicon Valley team is considered to be one of the premier groups of advisers in tech deals with Keith Flaum, another eminent West coast figure, advising Oracle on its acquisition of Aconex in Australia. Baltimore partner Kelly Hardy is 'a standout partner who continues to excel year after year' thanks to her 'responsiveness', 'super high emotional intelligence', 'practical' approach, 'commercial awareness' and 'ability to relate to understand real world issues'. The firm is also a leader in real estate and REIT deals with David Bonser particularly to the fore; a team advised Prologis, on the $1.1bn sale of a high-quality portfolio of buildings and land in Europe and the US to Mapletree, the real estate investment arm of Singaporean sovereign investor Temasek.

Mayer Brown has tremendous national and international credibility. Its primary centre of expertise is in Chicago, although it also has strong teams in New York and Houston and further M&A expertise in Los Angeles, Palo Alto and Washington DC. Clients praise the team's 'responsiveness' with one saying it 'works well across disciplines and geographies and is able to handle extremely complicated transactions'. The firm has an especially impressive record in financial services, industrials, energy and tech deals. Clients include ACE, Caterpillar, Credit Suisse, The Dow Chemical Company, Ecopetrol, Exxon Mobil and Prologis. It advised SCANA Corporation, which owns South Carolina Electric & Gas Company, on its $14.6bn stock-for-stock merger agreement with $14.6 billion Dominion Energy. It also represented Prologis in its $8.4bn acquisition of DCT Industrial Trust, the industrial real estate company; it was the largest real estate deal in the first half of 2018. In addition, it advised Nestlé on its $7.15bn acquisition of Starbucks’s consumer products and food service business. William Kucera and Jodi Simala  co-chair the Americas M&A practice from Chicago, where Andrew Noreuil  and Frederick Thomas are prominent M&A names and Jason Wagenmaker continues to impress among the next generation of partners. David Carpenter heads the New York corporate and securities practice, where John Boelter  is another key name. Ameer Ahmad has joined the Chicago office from Greenberg Traurig LLP and Japanese client specialist Satoru Murase  joined the New York office from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP.

Morrison & Foerster LLP remains at the forefront of telecoms, media and technology (TMT) deals. In part, this is driven by its relationship with SoftBank Group, the acquisitive Japanese conglomerate. The firm advised Sprint and its controlling shareholder SoftBank on its landmark merger with T-Mobile US. The firm also advised SoftBank on its $7.7bn primary and secondary investment in Uber and advised the Japanese client on its $4.4bn series of investments in WeWork Companies. Former co-chair of the global M&A practice, Robert Townsend, joined SoftBank as chief legal officer in 2018, which should further cement the firm's relationship with its anchor client, although it will deprive it of one of its more respected and senior M&A practitioners. In another headline deal, the firm represented Renesas Electronics in its $6.7bn acquisition of Integrated Device Technology. The team 'is able to provide seamless and uninterrupted advice across many jurisdictions and time zones with a strong focus on client service'. Palo Alto partner Charles Comey is recommended for deals involving Chinese corporates and New York's Spencer Klein is noted for healthcare and life sciences transactions. Eric McCrath and Brandon Parris have fine records in technology sector deals; both 'are greatly skilled at advising on most complex and high-profile M&A transactions'. Washington DC partners David Slotkin and Lauren Bellerjeau are 'key members of the team' and recommended for real estate M&A. Global corporate group co-chair Jaclyn Liu is also highly reputed. Named partners are based in San Francisco unless stated otherwise.

Ropes & Gray LLP has a fine record in big-ticket M&A, most notably in the healthcare and life sciences sectors. The firm further expanded its senior ranks in San Francisco and Silicon Valley with the hire of Matthew Jacobson, a former King & Spalding LLP  partner who specializes in life sciences and technology. This follows the recruitment of Paul Scrivano in 2017, who subsequently became the firm's global head of M&A. Now with true credibility on both the East and West coasts, and a solid presence in Chicago, the firm has a substantial offering in the M&A and private equity spheres. The firm represented Heartland Dental, in connection with KKR's acquisition of a majority interest in the company from Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and other existing shareholders. Co-head of M&A for North America, Jane Goldstein, splits her time between Boston and New York. Fellow co-head Carl Marcellino is a prominent name in New York, while Boston's Chris Comeau has an outstanding record in life sciences deals. New York's John Sorkin has notable big-ticket transactional experience, especially when representing financial advisers; he advised Perella Weinberg Partners as financial adviser to Becton, Dickinson and Company on its $24bn acquisition of CR Bard and represented Deutsche Bank as financial adviser to Broadcom in its $18.9bn acquisition of CA Technologies. Paul Kinsella continues to be recognized for pharmaceutical and life sciences transactions.

Baker Botts L.L.P. is further diversifying its M&A practice with further growth in TMT alongside its historical leadership of the power and energy sector. That said, the hire of a four partner team from Vinson & Elkins LLP, including Mike Rosenwasser, Michael Swidler and Adorys Velazquez have given the firm an even greater energy standing in New York. The expanded team is 'very commercial and business focused'. It remains a leader in upstream and midstream energy from its Houston base and power M&A continues to be a source of big engagements, thanks in part to the presence of Bill Lamb. New York partner Renee Wilm is making a considerable impression in the TMT space. She led the team that advised Liberty Interactive on its acquisition of GCI Liberty, and series of transactions that effected the split-off of GCI Liberty. She also headed the group that advised Liberty Latin America on its $9.3bn split-off from Liberty Global. Wilm is 'excellent and knows how to spot and solve the business issues for her clients'. On the energy side, the firm advised BHP Billiton on the $10.8bn sale of its entire interests in the Eagle Ford, Haynesville, Permian and Fayetteville Onshore US oil and gas assets to BP. Joshua Davidson is another leader in energy M&A and Geoffrey Newton is a key figure in Dallas. New York partner Mike Bengtson is chair of the firm-wide corporate department. Former partner David Kirkland sadly died in 2018. All partners are based in Houston unless stated otherwise.

Dechert LLP's increasing global prominence and dedication to the private equity segment has further bolstered its standing in strategic M&A. Moreover, its commitment to developing an international antitrust team, its strong CFIUS credentials and its experienced tax groups in key money centers, has further enabled it to gain traction in cross-border M&A. The 'world-class' team 'is always thinking several steps ahead', 'anticipates key deal structuring issues and presents innovative solutions'. It consistently outperforms many top Wall Street firms, according to one client. It is 'very thorough' and delivers 'a quick turn around, responsiveness, precision and good internal communications across disciplines'. It has an especially fine record in financial services, life sciences and healthcare transactions. Clients include B&G Foods, Crown Holdings, Differential Brands Group and H&E Equipment Services. It advised SK hynix as part of a Bain Capital-led consortium that acquired Toshiba’s NAND flash memory and solid-state drive business for $18bn. It also advised Crown Holdings on its $3.91bn acquisition of Signode Industrial Group Holdings, the global provider of transit packaging systems and solutions, from The Carlyle Group. Mark Thierfelder, chair of the global corporate and securities practice, has played an anchor role in increasing the team's status globally and in New York especially; he is 'a truly excellent deal lawyer' and 'his strategic guidance is invaluable'. Philadelphia's William Lawlor heads the global corporate governance practice and is an experienced domestic and cross-border M&A expert, as is Philadelphia partner Ian HartmanJonathan KimChristian MatareseMarkus Bolsinger and Naz Zilkha are also highly rated. Derek Winokur is 'super smart, super hardworking, and a genuinely really nice guy', he 'presents savvy negotiating tactics and superior M&A technical advice' and 'knows how to manage a relationship to ensure win-win outcomes'. All partners are based in New York unless stated otherwise.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP is making significant inroads into the US M&A segment. It has gained a series of headline M&A engagements and has built an in illustrious client base. The firm is particularly well-known for cross-border transactions involving both US and non-US corporates, thanks to its fine credentials in Europe and Asia. Clients include BASF, Deutsche Bank, Starbucks, Honeywell International, London Stock Exchange Group and Global Brands Group. A New York team led by Matthew Herman advised Starbucks on its $7.15bn global coffee alliance with Nestlé and a group headed by Peter Lyons advised BASF, the global chemical producer giant, on its $9bn acquisition of Bayer's seed and herbicide businesses. In another headline deal, Valerie Ford Jacob advised KLX on the sale of its Aerospace Solutions Group to The Boeing Company and the spin-off of its Energy Services Group business to KLX shareholders. Mitchell Presser, who impresses in strategic M&A and private equity, is another key figure in the team, as are Aly El Hamamsy and Omar Pringle. All named partners are based in New York.

Milbank has an extensive record in big-ticket M&A with strong teams on both the East and West coasts. The firm is also noted for its frequent engagements as counsel to financial advisors to M&A transactions. It is 'what a great law firm should aspire to' with 'partners that are loyal and dedicated to the firm, their clients, and fellow partners'. Team members 'hit it out of the park day-in and day-out' and the department 'proves its value on every deal it works on' and 'always thinks a few steps ahead, which avoids unnecessary surprises'. The team is increasingly active in private equity and advised Actis on its $1.25bn acquisition of the power generation assets of InterGen Servicios Mexico; the firm is a recognized leader in cross-border transactions involving Latin America. It also advised Advent International on its $3.25bn acquisition of General Electric’s distributed power unit; this is just one example of the firm's immense record in energy-sector deals. John Franchini leads the global corporate group and 'is highly available and engaged on all the transactions'. Scott Golenbock  and Dean Sattler are also key names in the team; the latter advised AirAsia, Asia’s largest low-cost airline, on its agreement to sell its aircraft leasing operations to BBAM, one of the world's biggest investors in commercial jet aircraft. M&A specialist and former managing partner of the Los Angeles office Kenneth Baronsky joined Sidley Austin LLP.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP's extensive resources across the US and its increasingly expansive global presence, makes it a regular adviser on cross-border transactions. It has an especially strong record in US inbound deals. Moreover, its full-service approach – with the firm fielding eminent teams in intellectual property, employment, employee benefits and regulatory matters – makes it an even more compelling proposition to parties in M&A transactions. Life sciences, energy, technology, retail, financial services, healthcare and media are key sectors for the M&A team. It advised Dr Pepper Snapple Group on the completion of its merger with Keurig Green Mountain, the largest-ever deal in the global soft drink industry with the combined business being valued at some $40bn; the firm successfully saw off litigation brought in Delaware challenging the absence of appraisal rights pursuant to the deal structure. The firm also advised Aramark on its $1bn acquisition of AmeriPride Services, the uniform and linen rental and supply company. Philadelphia partner Richard Aldridge leads the team with Boston partner Laurie Cerveny operating as deputy head. New York's Charles Engros and Robert Dickey have extensive big-ticket M&A experience. New York partner Steven Navarro and Orange County's James Loss  are also recommended.

Proskauer Rose LLP has an impressive mix of public M&A and private equity driven transactions. Its centers of M&A expertise lie principally in Los Angeles and New York with several of its partners having spent a long portion of their careers at one of Wall Street's elite firms. Real estate, hospitality, sports and entertainment, life sciences and healthcare, technology and media, and financial services M&A are the team's fortes. Moreover, it has an established record in representing financial advisers to corporates involved in big-ticket M&A. It advised Moelis & Company as financial advisor to Federal Street Acquisition Corp, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) formed by Thomas H Lee Partners, on its $1.74bn merger with Universal Hospital Services. It also advised Moelis & Company as financial adviser to Group Health Cooperative on its $1.8bn sale to Kaiser Permanente. Other clients include BTG Pactual, Carolina Panthers, Celgene, Church & Dwight and Grifols. In New York, Ronald Papa has extensive big transaction experience, Jeffrey Horwitz has an outstanding reputation in real estate and hospitality M&A, and Daniel Ganitsky is a prominent name in cross-border deals, including those involving Latin America. Carlos Martinez is also an experienced name in Latin America deals.

Vinson & Elkins LLP remains the market leader in energy sector M&A. It is 'very knowledgeable and responsive' and has 'great market experience'. In 2018, it advised RSP Permian on its sale to Concho Resources in an all-stock transaction valued at some $9.5bn; this was the the largest M&A deal in the oil and gas exploration and production sector since 2012, according to research outfit Wood Mackenzie. Beyond its Houston heartland, the firm has strong M&A teams in New York and Dallas. In a headline deal outside of the energy sector, the firm represented CYS Investments, an agency mortgage real estate investment trust (REIT), on its merger with Two Harbors Investment Corp, a leading hybrid mortgage REIT. The New York team was further enhanced by the arrival of John Kupiec from Kirkland & Ellis LLP, although the firm did lose a four partner team, including New York senior figure Mike Rosenwasser, to Baker Botts L.L.P.Keith Fullenweider heads the corporate practice, which includes M&A group co-head Matthew Strock and New York managing partner James Fox. Emerging names include Stephen Gill, who 'has an extraordinary amount of experience in public company M&A matters that is very valuable', and Lande Spottswood who is 'a very knowledgeable M&A and corporate partner'. All partners are Houston-based unless stated otherwise.

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP has a steady stream of big-ticket M&A engagements and continues to expand its senior team. In addition to several partner promotions, the firm hired Matthew Rizzo and Jessica Sheridan from Sidley Austin LLP. The Houston office was also reinforced with Archie Fallon and Steven Torello joining from King & Spalding LLP and DLA Piper LLP (US) respectively. This has further enhanced the firm's already strong energy credentials. It also has 'great depth and expertise in insurance M&A', 'a can do attitude' and 'is willing to work day and night to make a timeline'. The firm illustrated its financial services M&A expertise when it advised Assurant, the global risk management solutions provider, on its $2.5bn acquisition of The Warranty Group, the global provider of protection plans and related programs. It also advised Aetna on the $21.45bn sale of its US group life and disability business to The Hartford. Moreover, it advised AmTrust Financial Services’s special committee on a $2.95bn take private transaction involving the business's management group and private equity investors. Other key partners include co-chairs of the M&A group David Boston and Steven Seidman and financial services M&A expert Gregory Astrachan, who has 'excellent technical expertise, extensive market knowledge, a can do attitude and is a pleasure to work with'. Houston-based energy M&A specialists Michael De Voe Piazza and Cody Carper are also recommended. All partners are New York-based unless stated otherwise.

Allen & Overy LLP reinforced its US M&A team with the hire of the vastly experienced Stephen Besen from Shearman & Sterling LLP and Paul Burns, who returned to the firm after some years working as general counsel at Novartis Pharma, among other senior roles. Besen brings exceptional experience in financial institutions and asset management deals, along with industrials and infrastructure transactions. Burns adds further expertise in pharmaceuticals and energy especially; he headed the team that advised Grupo Villar Mir (GVM) as major shareholder of OHL, on the €2.7bn sale of OHL's infrastructure division OHL Concesiones to IFM Investors. The two partners link up with Eric Shube, an M&A veteran, who continued to advise SAP on the completion of its $2.4bn acquisition of NASDAQ-listed Callidus Software in 2018. In another headline deal, he led the team that advised Greif, the NYSE-listed, global industrial packaging company, on its $1.8bn agreement to acquire Caraustar Industries from HIG Capital.

Bracewell LLP remains a big name in energy sector transactions, particularly midstream and upstream oil and gas deals. It has extensive experience in transactions involving master limited partnerships (MLPs), a business venture structure often used in the oil and gas sector. Notable recent deals include advising Great Plains Energy on its amended merger agreement with Westar Energy for a $15bn stock-for-stock merger of equals. It also advised HPS Investment Partners and Kingfisher Midstream on a merger agreement between Kingfisher, Silver Run Acquisition Corporation II and Alta Mesa Holdings, with the combined company being renamed Alta Mesa Resources. In another headline oil and gas transaction, it represented Kinder Morgan Texas Pipeline in the joint venture and transportation agreements with DCP Midstream for the $1.7bn Gulf Coast Express Pipeline Project. Managing partner Gregory Bopp is a prominent practitioner, particularly in deals involving MLPs. Cleland DadeCharles StillWilliam AndersonJason JeanTroy HarderGary OrloffAlan Rafte and New York-based John Klauberg are also key members of the team. All named partners are based in Houston unless stated otherwise.

Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP remains noted for public M&A, shareholder activism, hostile transactions and proxy contests, and financial advisory engagements. Richard Brand has an outstanding record in representing activist investors including Elliott Management, Pershing Square Capital Management and Marcato Capital Management, and is a leader in hostile transactions. He advised BW LPG, the owner and operator of liquefied petroleum gas vessels, on its $1.1bn hostile bid for competitor Dorian LPG. He also represented Elliott Management in its successful initiative to pressure Qualcomm into raising its takeover bid for NXP Semiconductors from $39bn  to $44bn. Moreover, he advised Pershing Square on its $4bn investment in Automatic Data Processing and proxy contest to elect three directors to the board of the company. Other clients include The Medicines Company, where former partner Christopher Cox is executive vice president and chief corporate development officer, and Genpact, Inteva Products and AngioDynamics. William Mills is also rated for healthcare deals especially while Stephen Fraidin joined the team from Pershing Square, where he was a vice president, in June 2018 having previously been a partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP.

Clifford Chance continues to make progress in corporate M&A and private equity transactions. It provides 'a one-stop shop for all aspects of a transaction with global coverage', according to one client. It is 'truly at the table as a partner and takes the time to understand and explore the client's perspective and position on issues to help negotiate through those issues rather than merely present the pros and cons of what's on the table'. It advised Mondelēz International in connection with the merger of Dr Pepper Snapple Group and Keurig Green Mountain; Mondelēz  held an approximately 24% stake in Keurig and now holds a stake of some 14% in Keurig Dr Pepper. This is just one of a string of headline deals in the consumer goods and retail sector, where partner Sarah Jones has such a strong standing. In another headline deal, the firm advised Evercore, as the financial adviser to the Scripps Family, in connection with the acquisition of Scripps Networks Interactive by Discovery Communications. Other clients include Pfizer, Hearst, S&P Global and Philip Morris International. Energy and infrastructure is another area of particular eminence, with leader of the Americas corporate practice David Brinton having an established record in this space. The Americas team is also leveraging the firm's global standing in private equity with Kevin Lehpamer leading the initiative in the US; he is 'overtly calm, well structured and covers all bases'. John Healy provides further public and cross-border M&A expertise, while Benjamin Sibbett  is an emerging talent and 'takes the time to listen to the issues of the transaction, helps explore the issues both legally and from the business perspective – given his wealth of experience in transactions – and has a special gift in explaining to the counterparty the complicated legal issues their own counsel often cannot articulate effectively'. Thais Garcia is a fundamental team member for cross-border deals involving Latin America.

Greenberg Traurig, LLP's depth of skilled attorneys across 29 US offices, including New York, Washington DC, Miami and Atlanta, has enabled the firm to build an impressive client list and deal record. A team led by New York partner Alan Annex advised Platform Specialty Products on its $4.2bn sale of its agrochemicals unit, which consists of Arysta LifeScience and its subsidiaries to UPL. The firm also advised a consortium consisting of KCC, SJL Partners and Wonik QnC, on its $3.1bn acquisition of Momentive Performance Materials, the New York-based silicone maker. Dennis Block is senior chairman of the firm's global M&A practice and has an outstanding record in big-ticket M&A. Gary Epstein has retired.

Paul Hastings LLP has a notable national presence with highly reputable M&A specialists in California, Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Washington DC and Houston especially. Media, entertainment, technology and life sciences are key sectors for broadly skilled team. Moreover, it is regularly engaged as counsel to financial advisers to parties involving in M&A transactions. Clients include Samsung, Goldman Sachs, Merck & Co, General Electric, Morgan Stanley, Electrolux and Nordstrom. David Hernand is a prominent name in Los Angeles, vice chair of the firm’s global corporate department, and advised Morgan Stanley, as financial adviser to Regal Entertainment Group, on its $3.6bn sale to Cineworld Group. San Francisco's Steve Camahort led the team that represented Qatalyst Partners, as financial adviser to Microsemi in its $8.35bn sale to Microchip Technology; Camahort is a regular counsel to financial advisers and has a tremendous record in technology and life sciences transactions. In another large-cap deal, Chicago partner Thad Malik headed the team that advised GE Healthcare on its $1.05bn carve-out disposition of its value-based digital care business to Veritas Capital. New York partner Robert Leung is noted for cross-border deals, especially those involving Latin America. San Diego's Carl Sanchez heads the global M&A practice, while Los Angeles' Robert Miller and New York-based David Shine and Samuel Waxman are also highly reputed.

Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati's eminence in the technology sphere, especially in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area, provides it with a steady pipeline of high-value tech deals. Its clients over the years have included Gartner, GoDaddy, Netsuite, Yahoo, LinkedIn and Electronic Arts. In 2018, it advised CA Technologies on its headline $18.9bn sale to Broadcom, the leading semiconductor device supplier; this was the largest sale of an enterprise software company ever. The firm also advised Microchip Technology on its $8.35bn acquisition of Microsemi, the semiconductor company. Moreover, it represented MuleSoft on its $6.5bn sale to Salesforce. Michael Ringler is an accomplished M&A lawyer with an excellent record in multi-billion dollar transactions. Martin Korman has also worked on a range of industry-defining deals Larry Sonsini provides further senior level gravitas.