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  1. Real estate investment trusts (REITs)
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Who Represents Who

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Clifford Chance’s New York-based REITs practice attracts clients through its ‘excellent subject matter expertise, responsiveness and business acumen’. Practice leaders Jay Bernstein and Richard Catalano advised Colony American Homes on its $7.7bn merger with Starwood Waypoint Residential Trust. The team also handles debt matters, such as the ‘valuedKathleen Werner’s advice to iStar regarding several multimillion-dollar credit facilities and senior note issuances. Having been promoted to partner in 2016, corporate lawyer Jake Farquharson assisted Retail Opportunity Investment Corporation with multiple equity offerings and shelf registrations of common stock. Bernstein and fellow capital markets lawyer Jason Myers are also involved in the recapitalization of Yes! Communities, which turned from a dual-track IPO into a joint venture transaction.

With 18 partners primarily focused on the REITs sector, Goodwin has one of the strongest practices nationally, and advises REITs owning residential, office, retail, gaming, industrial and healthcare assets. Practice head Gilbert Menna represented Mid-America Apartment Communities in its $4bn acquisition of Post Properties, while co-leader Ettore Santucci advised Macerich on its joint ventures with GIC and Heitman. Other clients include Equity One, Boston Properties and Ventas Realty, all of which have used the firm in relation to note offering programs. Patrick Hurley and Blake Liggio were made partner in October 2016. Named attorneys are based in Boston.

Following the retirement of CEO emeritus Warren Gorrell, capital markets partner David Bonser leads the REIT practice at Hogan Lovells US LLP. Matt Thomson, who was promoted to partner at the beginning of 2016, advised Parkway Properties on its merger with Cousins Properties and the simultaneous spin-off of its Houston-based properties into a new REIT called HoustonCo. Bonser is working on a merger transition between long-term client JBG Companies and Vornado Realty Trust. Another key client is GE, for which Paul Manca and Bruce Gilchrist are handling the separate disposals of its domestic restaurant franchise loan portfolio and hotel finance franchise loan portfolio to several regional banks. Named attorneys are based in Washington DC.

Latham & Watkins LLP’s ‘very responsive and reliable’ global REIT practice elected federal taxation specialist Ana O’Brien as a third chair of the team, joining Michael Brody and Julian Kleindorfer; all are based in Los Angeles. O’Brien and Orange County-based William Cernius recently advised the special committee of Apollo Residential Mortgage on its $641m merger with Apollo Commercial Real Estate Finance. The practice leaders also assisted Digital Realty Trust with its acquisition of telecoms and IT solution provider Telx. Kleindorfer and Lewis Kneib represented Bank of America Merrill Lynch during the IPO of MGM Growth Properties. Clients also recommend San Diego-based Michael Sullivan, who led a $250m at-the-market offering for American Assets Trust. Gregory Hannibal joined the New York office from Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP in March 2016.

During 2016, Sidley Austin LLP’s REIT practice added several new clients, including Colony Starwood Homes and Care Capital Partners. The former client came on board following Jason Friedhoff’s advice to the legacy Starwood Waypoint Residential Trust regarding its merger with Colony American Homes. The latter sought assistance from practice leads J Gerard Cummins and Christian Brause concerning an inaugural debt offering of $500m in senior notes. Edward Petrosky represented Simon Property Group in a $1.35bn public offering of notes. Other M&A clients include Sutherland Asset Management and Strategic Hotels & Resorts (on behalf of the latter, the firm advised on the $6bn sale to Blackstone Group), while Ventas and WP Carey sought advice on note offerings. Attorneys named thus far are based in New York, but hospitality specialist Peter Benudiz, who joined from Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP, is based in Century City.

Trusted Advisor - with Finnegan

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.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP’s sizable REIT practice spans 52 partners alone across five domestic offices. Practice co-lead David Polster in Chicago advised InvenTrust on its $1.4bn sale of its student housing platform to UHC Acquisition Sub. Of counsel John Rayis and New York-based co-head David Goldschmidt supported Arbor Realty Trust in its $250m acquisition of Arbor Commercial Mortgage’s agency platform, while tax lawyer Brian Krause (also in New York) advised NorthStar Asset Management Group on its merger with Colony Capital and NorthStar Realty Finance Corporation. Goldschmidt also represented a number of international banking institutions (among them JP Morgan Securities and Merrill Lynch) as joint sales agents regarding an at-the-market offering by Getty Realty Corporation.

DLA Piper LLP (US)’s practice delivers ‘excellent client service’ when it comes to ‘structuring and raising capital for funds as well as REIT law’. Clients recommend New York M&A partner Christopher Giordano and capital markets lawyer Jesse Criz in Chicago (who is ‘an expert at REIT law, funds and real estate transactions’), who together advised Harrison Street Real Estate Capital on its $1.9bn acquisition of Campus Crest Communities. Team lead Robert Bergdolt in New York worked on KBS Growth and Income REIT’s IPO worth $1.5bn, which was followed by a distribution reinvestment plan. Kerry Johnson in New York and Robert Le Duc (who splits his time between Chicago and Minneapolis) represented underwriters Morgan Stanley and UBS Securities regarding a preferred stock offering by Ashford Hospitality Trust.

Working with public and private REITs, the practice at Greenberg Traurig, LLP advises companies in their IPOs, corporate governance, spin-offs and M&A strategies. Head of team Judith Fryer in New York and non-traded REITs specialist Alice Connaughton in Washington DC are currently advising Hines Global REIT II on its $2.5bn IPO. New York lawyer Stephen Rabinowitz represented KBS in the sale of a leased property portfolio, while Washington DC-based Nelson Migdal supported Ryman Hospitality Properties with investing in and acquiring an equity ownership stake in the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center project.

Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP’s practice heads are Atlanta-based Lauren Prevost and Heath Linsky, and alongside Seth Weiner the pair advised Steadfast Apartment REIT III on its IPO worth $1.3bn. Prevost also represented Griffin-American Healthcare REIT III in its partnership with NorthStar Healthcare Income to acquire Trilogy Investors and its Midwest senior healthcare facility portfolio, while Linsky served as issuer’s counsel to NexPoint Real Estate Strategies Fund (sponsored by Highland Capital Management) in a public offering. Washington DC-based Owen Pinkerton, who also worked on this matter, specializes in regulatory work and was recently promoted to partner. Wendy White joined Goulston & Storrs.

The REIT practice at Proskauer Rose LLP is headed by New York-based capital markets lawyers Peter Fass and Steven Lichtenfeld. Fass represented Preferred Apartment Communities in issuing Series A redeemable preferred stock worth $2bn, while Lichtenfeld advised on New York REIT’s proposed merger with The JBG Companies (terminated in May 2016). Michael Choate, a key partner in Chicago, advised Inland Real Estate on its acquisition by some of DRA Advisors’ managed real estate funds. Other clients include various trusts belonging to American Realty Capital and Global Net Lease.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP’s New York-based REITs team is one of the primary advisers to Blackstone, for which practice leaders Brian Stadler, Gregory Ressa and John Hart handled the $6bn acquisition of Strategic Hotels and its subsequent sale to Anbang. Another major highlight was the representation of Hilton Worldwide Holdings in a spin-off transaction of its real estate and timeshare businesses; this was handled by a group of lawyers including Hart, capital market attorneys Joshua Ford Bonnie and Edgar Lewandowski as well as M&A partner Eric Swedenburg. Other clients include JP Morgan Securities and Centerbridge Capital Partners II.

Sullivan & Worcester LLP advises public and private REITs regarding their M&A transactions, financings and stock offerings. Louis Monti and Ameek Ashok Ponda lead a team of 14 partners, all based in Boston. Ponda supported Equinix in its REIT conversion and subsequent global restructuring; the market capitalization of Equinix is $25.6bn. Alongside Nicole Rives, Susan Barnard and John Steiner, Ponda also advised new client Manulife Financial Corporation on its joint ventures with several offshore investors, as well as its IPO. Monti and Rives represented Senior Housing Properties Trust in a sale-leaseback transaction with Five Star Quality Care. Benjamin Armour and Eric Lemont were promoted to partner in January 2016.

Venable LLP’s REIT practice, headed by Sharon Kroupa and James Hanks, is located in Baltimore and primarily advises on matters connected with Maryland corporate legislation, including representing the majority of REITs formed under Maryland law. The partners acted as Maryland counsel during the IPO of publicly traded Global Medical REIT and also supported Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust in its initial offering as a non-traded REIT. Highlight transactions included the $8.9bn conversion of Forest City Enterprises from an Ohio to a Maryland corporation and the stock-for-stock merger between client Chambers Street Properties and Gramercy Properties Trust, resulting in an enterprise value of $5.8bn.

At Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz in New York, the REIT team engages solely in M&A transactions, spin-offs and joint ventures. Practice leaders Adam Emmerich and Robin Panovka advised AMB Property Corporation on its $14bn merger with Prologis. Together with Ronald Chen, Emmerich also advised the special committee of Starwood Waypoint Residential Trust on the merger with Colony American Homes in a stock-for-stock transaction, while Panovka led the spin-off of a nursing facility portfolio from Ventas as well as the acquisition of American Realty Capital Healthcare by the same client.

In spring 2016, Hunton & Williams LLP’ REIT practice lost four capital markets partners (including Daniel LeBey and tax partner Christopher Mangin) to Vinson & Elkins LLP, leaving practice heads David Wright and George Howell as well as capital markets partner Mark Wickersham and counsel James Davidson as the key lawyers in the Richmond-based team. Wright advised City Office REIT on its management internalization transaction, while Davidson and Howell represented Hersha Hospitality Trust as issuer’s counsel in a Series D preferred stock offering. Wickersham served as underwriters’ counsel regarding a common equity offering by Raymond James & Associates. Robert Smith joined from K&L Gates to bolster the team.

At Morrison & Foerster LLP, David Slotkin and Justin Salon lead a REIT practice consisting of 34 lawyers. The Washington DC-based team focuses on M&A and capital market transactions as well as equity and debt offerings. MedEquities Realty Trust received advice from Slotkin regarding its IPO - one of the few to happen in 2016. Together with Lauren Bellerjeau, Salon represented Farmland Partners in the acquisition of all outstanding common stock from American Farmland Company as well as the purchase of farmland, followed by the issuance of Class A units of limited partnership interest. Other clients include Armada Hoffler Properties, Education Realty Trust and GLP.

The REIT practice at Paul Hastings LLP provides a ‘very client-oriented service’, with ‘matters leanly staffed’ and ‘partners always intimately involved in matters’. The six-partner team is led from New York by Michael Zuppone and includes the ‘always responsive and extremely diligentYariv Katz. Katz advised Citigroup and Bank of America Merrill Lynch as joint book-running managers for Sun Communities’ follow-on public offering of common stock. Other regular clients include Strategic Hotels & Resorts, BMO Capital Markets and JP Morgan.

In 2016, Vinson & Elkins LLP hired five lawyers from Hunton & Williams LLP, thus establishing its own competitive REIT practice (led by Daniel LeBey in Richmond and operating as part of the M&A/capital markets group). The lawyers advise clients on public and private securities offerings, restructurings, M&A transactions as well as partnership structures. LeBey, Houston-based Stephen Gill, New York lawyer David Freed, and Christopher Mangin in Richmond advised NorthStar Realty Finance Corporation on a $16bn merger with NorthStar Asset Management Group and Colony Capital, forming the company Colony NorthStar. Gregory Cope represented the underwriters to Healthcare Trust of America’s $173m public offering of common stock, while Christopher Green assisted New York Mortgage Trust with its acquisition of all outstanding equity interests in RiverBanc. Both attorneys are based in Washington DC.

Philip Rosen and Michael Bond lead the New York-based REIT practice at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, which advises on debt and equity offerings, M&A transactions and joint ventures. Alongside M&A lawyer Michael Aiello, Bond advised MGM Resorts International on the sale and leaseback of ten destination resort casino hotels in connection with the spin-off and formation of MGM Growth Properties and its $1.05bn IPO. Aiello also advised Iron Mountain on its proposed acquisition of Australian company Recall Holdings. Matthew Gilroy supported JP Morgan in its $276m acquisition of the national multifamily agency loan origination and servicing platform of Arbor Commercial Mortgage. Other recent clients include Blackstone and Tishman Speyer.

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