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Canada: M&A 2016

In this chapter, 52 leading corporate lawyers across 14 firms are identified for their outstanding transactional work on behalf of publicly traded corporations and private equity groups.

Most Highly Regarded Individuals
Jonathan Lampe Goodmans, Toronto
Brock Gibson QC Blake Cassels & Graydon, Calgary
William Braithwaite Stikeman Elliott, Toronto
Stephen Halperin Goodmans, Toronto
John Leopold Stikeman Elliott, Montreal

 McCarthy Tétrault jointly tops our research this year with nine listings. Garth Girvan is recognised as “one of the country’s premier corporate lawyers” by respondents who point to his impressive track record on big-ticket M&A transactions and unrivalled experience stretching back over 30 years. Joining him in the firm’s Toronto office is David Woollcombe who draws praise for his broad practice covering acquisitions, divestitures and reorganisation transactions on behalf of Canadian and international clients. David Tennant also boasts over 30 years of experience in Canadian corporate law. According to one client, “his transparency and efficiency made him a joy to work with”. In Vancouver, Cameron Belsher heads the firm’s national M&A practice and is noted for possessing “fantastic deal-making qualities”. Richard Balfour is a “tremendous” corporate lawyer with a wealth of experience representing private and public corporations, merchant banks and private equity funds in both domestic and cross-border M&A transactions.

Stikeman Elliott also impresses with nine entries. Firm chair William Braithwaite is an esteemed corporate practitioner, who many see as “the very best in the market”. John Ciardullo heads the Toronto office’s corporate department and is a recognised name in the market having acted on a number of high value M&A transactions and takeovers, including China National Offshore Oil Company’s $19.5 billion acquisition of Nexen Inc. The “fantastic” Brian Pukier has considerable experience in cross-border M&A transactions. In Montreal, M&A group co-chair John Leopold is a distinguished corporate lawyer and “exceptional dealmaker”, particularly in complex cross-border transactions. Steeve Robitaille is highly praised, with one peer stating: “His excellent reputation is fully justified and he is cited on many occasions.” Sidney Horn is a seasoned veteran of the Canadian corporate bar, advising domestic and international clients on complex transactional issues; peers agree that he is “very clever” and in “the top tier”. William Rosenberg is “a talented practitioner” who recently advised Alstom in the $10.6 billion sale of its energy assets to General Electric and the acquisition of GE’s railroad signalling company in a deal valued at $760 million.

Blake Cassels & Graydon garners eight listings in this chapter. The “pre-eminent” Brock Gibson QC is the firm’s chair and is highly sought after for his expertise in corporate transactions, given his position as lead counsel on over 170 M&A transactions. Jeffrey Lloyd is “a tremendous lawyer” who acts on a number of the firm’s biggest mandates, including representing Johnson Electric Holdings Limited in the $800 million acquisition of Stackpole International. Michael Gans is visible on cross-border and domestic M&A transactions and is commended by one client for his “ability to evaluate legal risks”. Frank Arnone is known and praised for his private M&A expertise. In Calgary, Pat Finnerty acts as senior counsel to the firm and is a widely recognised and respected name, having advised on some of the biggest energy corporate transactions in the region, for clients such as UTS, Nexen Inc and Canadian Occidental Petroleum.

Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg is home to six standout individuals. In the firm’s Toronto office Vincent Mercier is commended for his “prodigious practice” focusing on domestic and cross-border M&A transactions across a wide range of industry sectors including financial services, technology, mining and energy. William Ainley is a client favourite, lauded by sources for possessing “an acute awareness of client needs” and offering “bespoke, solutions-oriented advice”. Peter Hong is deemed “a definite inclusion” by one source thanks to the “high levels of professionalism and service” that he provides to clients. In Montreal, Franziska Ruf is “a sharp corporate lawyer” with a broad practice focusing on advising both domestic and international clients in cross-border M&A transactions.

Four excellent nominees are selected from Goodmans. Stephen Halperin is many commentators’ choice as the leading M&A lawyer in the market; “his presence on complex transactions are a blessing,” effuses one source. Jonathan Lampe is an internationally renowned authority who comes highly regarded for his phenomenal track record closing complex, cross-border M&A transactions. The “outstanding” Dale Lastman, the firm’s chairman, is recommended for his “commercial and practical approach”. Neill May is a “strong negotiator” known for his very capable handling of complex public and private M&A transactions.

Three nominees are selected from Osler Hoskin & Harcourt. Clay Horner is “one of the country’s leading corporate lawyers”, garnering praise for his prestigious practice focusing on high-profile, cross-border M&A transactions for domestic, US and international investors. Joining him in the firm’s Toronto office is the firm’s corporate practice leader Emmanuel Pressman. According to respondents, Pressman is a commercially savvy operator whose technical aptitude and receptive approach ensure that he is a hit with clients. Brian Levitt is a “seasoned veteran” with over 30 years of experience as a corporate lawyer. Clients praise his “strong business sense”.

Norton Rose is also home to three excellent practitioners. Terence Dobbin is the managing partner of the firm’s Toronto office and is commended for his proficiency acting for clients on multijurisdictional M&A transactions. In Montreal, chairman of the firm’s Canadian offering Norman Steinberg is praised for his “unflappable demeanour” and “effective counsel” during big-ticket M&A transactions, including acting for Alcan in its $38.1 billion acquisition by Rio Tinto. In Calgary, Robert Engbloom QC is a “first-rate” lawyer with considerable expertise in significant M&A transactions in the natural resources and energy sectors.

Two outstanding practitioners represent Gowling WLG. Firm managing partner Tina Woodside is a well-established name in the market. One source credits her with “a great deal of business acumen and common sense” and "knowing precisely when compromise is the best solution”. In Vancouver, corporate finance, M&A and private equity practice co-head Cyndi Laval regularly advises both domestic and foreign corporates on transactional issues and is particularly strong on mining-related transactions. According to one respondent, “Laval is very responsive to our needs and has always been very constructive in finding solutions to any and all issues that arise.”

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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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W11 1QQ, UK