Legal Marketplace Analysis: Mergers & Acquisitions 2014

In this edition, Who's Who Legal features 793 lawyers from 347 firms in 82 countries who are considered leaders in the area of merger and acquisition law. Twelve firms in particular stand out. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer once again leads our research with15 individuals singled out, followed closely behind by Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom with 13 inclusions. Both Weil Gotshal & Manges and King & Wood Mallesons field 11 lawyers for this edition and Herbert Smith Freehills, Uría Menéndez, Noerr and Slaughter and May garner 10 listings apiece.

We also single out the 10 most highly regarded M&A lawyers in the world, with David Katz and Martin Lipton of Wachtell Lipton Rose & Katz taking the top two positions.

Most Highly Regarded Individuals
Lawyer Firm
David Katz Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz, New York
Martin Lipton Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz, New York
Faiza Saeed Cravath Swaine & Moore, New York
Rodney Halstead Clayton Utz, Sydney
Mark  Rawlinson Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, London
Frances Murphy Slaughter and May, London
Nigel Boardman Slaughter and May, London
Richard Climan Weil Gotshal & Manges, California
Richard Hall Cravath Swaine & Moore, New York
David Quigg Quigg Partners, Wellington

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer upholds its reputation for excellence with 15 nominees selected for inclusion. Six “outstanding” lawyers are selected from the London office: The “superb” William  Lawes is “one of the heavyweights”. He has been with the firm for over 25 years helping businesses to achieve strategic transformation through hostile or complex M&A. The “tremendously talented” Mark  Rawlinson is lauded for his “commercial acumen” and “pragmatic approach”. This year he acted for the London Stock Exchange Group on its acquisition of LCH.Clearnet. Edward  Braham is head of the worldwide corporate practice and a “great asset to any transaction team”. He has been involved in a number of landmark transactions and is praised for his “remarkable work quality”. The “highly professional” David Higgins co-heads the global financial investors sector group and is praised for his “business sense” and “sound instincts”. Julian  Makin is praised for being “technically superb” and “dynamic” while the “fantastic” Barry O’Brien is commended for his “very practical” approach and “outstanding strategic thinking”.

The firm maintains a strong presence in Germany with four lawyers selected for inclusion. The “legendary” Axel  Epe has over 30 years’ experience advising on complex transactions and is praised for his “brilliant legal mind”. Christoph Seibt is co-head of the global public M&A practice group and based in Hamburg. He is lauded as a “great tactician” who is “flexible” and “reliable”. In Frankfurt, Andreas  Fabritius is lauded for his “long-standing expertise” while Christoph von  Bülow is praised for his “ability to handle complex transactions with aplomb”.

Elsewhere in Europe, Willibald  Plesser is regarded as the “leading M&A expert in Austria”. Renowned for his expertise in the CEE and CIS regions, he is praised for his “fierce intellect”. In the Paris office, the “highly proficient” Hervé Pisani is lauded for his “sophisticated understanding of corporate law issues”.

Three “brilliant” practitioners have been chosen from the firm’s Asian offices including the “first-rate” Pervez  Akhtar. Based in Dubai, Akhtar is praised for “understanding clients’ risks and always looking to resolve their business needs”. In Hong Kong, Asia managing partner Robert  Ashworth is highlighted for his “attention to detail” and “ability to keep cool under pressure”. He is joined by Hong Kong-based Teresa Ko who is praised for her “creativity” and “innovative approach”. She has helped numerous Chinese and international clients with many first-of-a-kind securities transactions in her 25-year career.

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom increases its contingent with 13 of its lawyers selected for inclusion, seven of whom are based in the US. In New York, global co-head of the firm’s transactions practice Eileen Nugent is praised for her “technical expertise”. She is highly recommended by peers who praise her “sharp mind”. The internationally acclaimed Paul Schnell is regarded as a “first choice for high-value transactions”. He has worked on several lucrative deals including representing Pfizer in the sale of its nutritional business to Nestlé for $11.85 billion. Peter Allan Atkins has had “substantial involvement” in numerous industries including airline, health care, insurance and telecommunications and is praised for his “wealth of expertise”. The “highly sought-after” Lou Kling is highlighted for “consistently turning out top-quality work”. His clients include Goldman Sachs, Ford Motor Company and Warner-Lambert. In California, Kenton King is regarded as an “established name in the international market”. He is global co-head of the firm’s corporate transactions practice and partner in charge of the Palo Alto office. Head of the Los Angeles office Brian McCarthy is valued for his “great lawyering skills” while the “highly regarded” Charles Mulaney Jr is commended for his “efficient approach”.

The firm has a strong presence across Europe with further nominees selected from England, France and Germany. Michael Hatchard is head of the English law practice and a “trusted adviser” with “great tactical sense”. He is joined by co-head of the global transactions practice Scott Simpson who is praised for his “ability to get to grips with complex issues”. Head of the Paris office Pierre Servan-Schreiber is “particularly respected” for advising prominent European and US corporate entities on major strategic cross-border transactions. Armand Grumberg heads the European M&A practice and is extremely well regarded in the market and by his clients, who cite his "excellent tactical and negotiation skills", noting that he "always adds value to the business with his strategic analysis." Others were united in their praise for his work, one saying "he runs through walls for his clients" and another stating "I would not do a deal without him." In Germany, the “extraordinary” Matthias Jaletzke advises domestic and international clients on all issues relating to takeovers, acquisitions, divestitures and joint ventures.

The firm receives further recognition in its Beijing office where Jon Christianson is noted for his “lengthy track record”. He has worked on a “significant number” of lucrative M&A transactions including representing Korean Air Lines and Hanjin Shipping in their US$2.5 billion acquisition of a 28 per cent stake in S-Oil Corporation.

Herbert Smith Freehills performs well once again with 12 lawyers selected for inclusion. Five lawyers feature from the London office including global head of M&A Stephen Wilkinson. He has over 20 years’ experience in the field and is praised for his “deal-execution skills”. The “impressive and efficient” Gavin Davies acts for financial investors, as well as corporates and financial institutions and is an “absolute pleasure to work with”. The “incredibly capable” James Palmer is noted for his expertise in complicated transactions and praised for his “solutions-oriented approach”. David Paterson focuses on public takeovers, both agreed and hostile, and is commended for “working indefatigably for clients”. Malcolm Lombers frequently advises some of the firm’s key clients including Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and BSkyB and is valued for his “great judgement”.

The firm has a strong presence in Australia with five nominees selected from its offices in Sydney and Melbourne. The “top notch” Rodd Levy has over 25 years’ experience in the field and is a “leading figure in the Australian M&A market”. Baden Furphy has “substantial experience” within the Australian energy industry and is considered a “real specialist” by peers. The “superlative” Philippa Stone has been involved in a number of landmark transactions and is “one of the country’s best and most celebrated professionals”. The “talented” Rebecca Maslen-Stannage is noted for her “high quality of work” while Tony Damian is highlighted for his “focus on achieving results”.

Weil Gotshal & Manges sees 11 of its lawyers selected including managing partner of the London office Michael Francies. He is also a member of the firm’s management committee and highlighted for being “extremely commercial in his approach”. In the Paris office, “seasoned practitioner” David Aknin has been involved in some of the largest restructuring transactions in the French marketplace, while managing partner of the German offices Gerhard Schmidt is “famous” for working on numerous landmark cross-border transactions. Peter Feist leads the firm’s private equity transactional practice in the Asia-Pacific region and is highlighted for his “extensive transactional experience”. Karel Drevinek is based in Prague and highlighted for his “outstanding work quality”.

The firm garners six listings from its offices in the US including the “terrific” Richard Climan. Based in Silicon Valley, he has handled some of most prominent acquisitions in the technology and life sciences sectors over the past two decades. Keith Flaum has “particular expertise” in handling highly complex cross-border joint venture transactions and is a “favourite among clients”. The “extraordinarily good” James Griffin represents both private and publicly held companies from a broad range of industries and is praised for his “versatility”. In New York, the “extremely competent” Michael Aiello is highlighted for his “commonsense approach”. He is co-head of the New York private equity and mergers and acquisitions department and chairman of the firm’s corporate department. Former chairman Thomas Roberts represents major foreign and domestic public and private companies and a number of leading investment banks and is a “well recognised star in New York”. Managing partner of the Dallas office Glenn West is said to be “very wise” and was praised for being “gentlemanly and professional”. He is dual-qualified as a US lawyer and an English solicitor and is “well versed” in sports-related transactions.

King & Wood Mallesons has a strong presence in the Asia-Pacific region with 11 of its lawyers listed, seven of whom are selected from its offices in China and Hong-Kong. Zhang Yi is managing partner of the Shanghai office and enjoys a “great reputation” as a “natural leader”. Peers praise the “technical skills” of Liu Xinyu who advised on the incorporation of the first wholesale joint-venture company in China. Xu Ping has advised many multinationals and major Chinese enterprises in their investment, acquisition and restructuring projects and is “incredibly efficient”. The “superb” Lixin Wang is noted for his “extensive experience” in cross-border M&A while Handel Lee is highlighted for his “focus” and “dynamism”. Mark Schaub was the first foreign lawyer to join the firm and is a “fantastic asset to the corporate team”. Ching-Wo Ng is based in Hong Kong and highly regarded for his “incredible track record”.

Four “high-quality” practitioners feature from the firm’s Australian offices: Stephen Minns is chairman of the Australian practice and an “excellent lawyer who really delivers results”. The “stellar” David Friedlander is “top of the game” while Greg Golding is praised for his “incredible understanding of the law”. Tim Bednall has advised a number of leading companies in major M&A transactions and is praised for “exceeding client expectations”.

Uría Menéndez increases its presence again this year with 10 practitioners included from Spain, Portugal and China. Six lawyers are chosen from their Madrid office including the “eminent” Cándido Paz-Ares who is praised for being “quick and decisive”. The “dedicated” Christian Hoedl is highlighted for his “personable approach” while Salvador Sánchez-Terán is noted for being “consistently on point”. Juan Miguel Goenechea heads the M&A and private equity practice and is a “first-class lawyer” while practice co-head Juan Francisco Falcón is praised for his “sound and insightful advice”. Rafael Sebastián opened the firm’s New York office in 1990 and is commended for his “proactive approach” and “forward thinking”. Honorary founding partner Charles Coward is based in Barcelona and praised for his “ability to keep cool under pressure”.

In the firm’s Lisbon office, the “highly sought-after” Carlos Costa Andrade is praised for his “great lawyering skills” while Francisco Brito e Abreu is commended for his “wealth of experience” and “incredible knowledge of the field”. Juan Martin Perrotto is “well versed” in joint ventures, tender offers, transnational mergers, private equity transactions and acquisitions and is “one of the most highly respected lawyers in Beijing”.

Lawyers from Noerr appear 10 times in this edition with five lawyers selected from its offices in Germany. Alexander Ritvay is based in Berlin and highlighted for his “sharp mind” and “attention to detail”. Tobias Bürgers acts for listed companies and major family-owned businesses and is praised for his “client focus”. Christian Pleister is based in Berlin and Frankfurt and is “someone you can have faith in to take care of everything”. He co-heads the corporate practice alongside the “truly exceptional” Gerald Reger, who also heads the firm’s India desk and is an “absolute must” on our list. The “noteworthy” Thomas Schulz is described as “incredibly hard-working” while Barbara Kusak is an “M&A specialist” based in Prague, Bratislava and Munich. Jörg Menzer is praised for being “reliable and robust” and enjoys a “great reputation” across the firm’s offices in Bucharest, Düsseldorf and Budapest.

In Moscow, Björn Paulsen is highlighted for his “comprehensive approach” and “top-quality advice”. He focuses his practice on advising German and foreign companies on the establishment and structuring of joint ventures and M&A. Vladislav Skvortsov has advised a number of major Russian bank and borrowers in their corporate dealings and is praised for his “breadth and depth of expertise”. The “highly astute” Robert Loef is based in the New York office and is “very well respected by clients”.

Another strong firm is Slaughter and May which has 10 practitioners listed including eight “big names” from its offices in London. Head of the M&A practice Stephen Cooke is “hugely respected” for his experience in takeover bids and other stock exchange related work. He recently advised Autonomy on the offer by Hewlett-Packard and Cadbury on the hostile offer by Kraft. The “legendary” Nigel Boardman is “one of the foremost practitioners in the sector” and an “obvious choice” for our listing. Head of the corporate practice Frances Murphy is “incredibly smart and perceptive” and Christopher Saul is praised for his “sophisticated understanding of complex issues”. Craig Cleaver is noted for his “firm grasp of commercial issues” while the “standout” William Underhill is highlighted for his “high degree of client service”. Nilufer von Bismarck has an “exemplary practice” with experience in a wide range of industries including telecoms, pharmaceuticals, infrastructure and biotechnology. Head of the private equity group Jeff Twentyman is praised for his “exceptional corporate knowledge” and “can-do attitude”.

Two lawyers are selected from the firm’s Hong Kong office including the “highly revered” Neil Hyman. He has been with the firm for more than 26 years and is a “first choice for major clients”. David Watkins is a “brilliant lawyer” who can “solve any problem quickly and efficiently”. His experience includes regulating some of the highest-profile public M&A transactions that have taken place in recent years.

Kirkland & Ellis grows its contingent to nine lawyers in this edition with two lawyers who are “very highly regarded” by our respondents. The “exemplary” Stephen Fraidin represents major companies and investment groups and is a praised for his “terrific business insights”. He represented 3G Capital in its $28 billion acquisition, together with Berkshire Hathaway, of HJ Heinz Company. David Fox is a member of the firm’s global executive management committee and a “connoisseur” of cross-border transactions. He recently represented Blackstone in its approximately $26 billion acquisition proposal for Dell.

Eight “top quality” practitioners are selected from Baker Botts including chair of the firm’s corporate practice David Kirkland. He has been involved in many of the largest mergers in the oilfield service sector and is “one of the best in the business”. Neel Lemon is head of the corporate department in the Dallas office and a “star” in Texas. The “very strong” Theodore Paris is highlighted for his “rich experience” across a wide variety of sectors including shipping, waste management and information technology.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett maintains its excellent position in our listings with eight lawyers selected for inclusion. “Distinguished lawyer” Alan Klein is based in New York and praised for being “incredibly on the ball”. He represented Microsoft in connected with its $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia’s phone business. London-based Adam Signy represents banks, private equity firms and corporate clients across a wide range of industries and is “well respected in the M&A community”. David Sneider is head of the firm’s Tokyo office and “the go-to guy in Japan”. His clients include many of the leading Japanese and US financial institutions in the region.

Shearman & Sterling has seven “fantastic” lawyers chosen for inclusion this year including the “eminent” Georg Thoma. Based in Frankfurt, he represents German and international industrial corporations, banks and insurance companies and is a “superb deal-maker”. New York-based Creighton O’M Condon is co-head of the firm’s M&A group and noted for being “very practical and capable”. He represents multinational corporations in acquisitions and sales of public and private companies and in joint ventures. John Marzulli Jr is a “very fine lawyer” who is “particularly skilled” in cross-border M&A. He is former chairman of the New York City Bar Association’s committee on mergers, acquisitions and contests for corporate control.

New York is home to some of the “finest” lawyers, many of whom are highly recommended in our research. Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz is “without doubt a standout firm” and this is demonstrated in our findings, with seven of its lawyers included in this edition. The “stellar” David Katz has been involved in many major domestic and international corporate merger, acquisition and buyout transactions and is “up there with the best of the best” – indeed he scored more highly in our research than any other practitioner. Founding partner Martin Lipton is “the lawyer of choice” for many major corporations and is “undeniably a legend” in this field. Andrew Nussbaum is recognised for his “market-leading” practice involving a range of multibillion dollar cross-border transactions. Adam Emmerich is “one of the leading M&A guys around” who has a “portfolio of deals that is practically unrivalled”, including the representation of Publicis Groupe in its $35.1 billion merger with Omnicom. The “spectacular” Daniel Neff is representing Verizon Communications in its pending $130 billion acquisition of the 45 per cent interest in Verizon Wireless, while Andrew Brownstein was simply described to researchers as “the best”. Edward Herlihy is “pre-eminent” for complex bank and financial institution M&A.

From Cravath Swaine & Moore six are listed, including co-head of the M&A group Faiza Saeed - a “first-rate strategic thinker”. Her clients include Bacardi, Kraft Foods, Moody’s, Morgan Stanley, and Starbucks. Richard Hall heads the M&A practice for Europe, the Middle East and Africa and is considered “a true leader” in the field. Mark Greene counts Unilever, KPN and Novartis among his clients and leads the firm’s international practice.

Six further nominees appear from Sullivan & Cromwell, with senior chairman Rodgin Cohen regarded is “one of the most influential figures in the M&A market”. He has been engaged in most of the major bank acquisitions in the US and is described as “paramount to the success of the firm’s practice”. The “very versatile” Frank Aquila has advised clients such as Amgen, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Avon and Diageo, while James Morphy is “extremely well respected” and Joseph Frumkin also scores particularly highly.

A number of lawyers from the Asia-Pacific region rank highly in our research. At Clayton Utz, director of the M&A group Rodney Halstead is praised for his “incredible understanding of the M&A market”. He has more than 30 years’ experience in the field and is described as “one of the most iconic figures in Sydney”. The “magnificent” John Elliott has acted on some of Australia’s largest and most complex corporate transactions and is praised for “always keeping up to date with developments in the market”.

At New Zealand firm Quigg Partners, founding partner David Quigg is commended for his “encyclopaedic knowledge” and “client-focus”. He is one of the most highly regarded individuals in our research and is described as “exceptional”.

Several lawyers are selected from Chinese firm Jun He Law Office again this year including the “attentive and approachable” Audrey Chen. She has “extensive experience” in a wide-range of industries including retail and pharmaceuticals and her clients include many major domestic corporations and Fortune 500 companies. The “wonderful” Xiaocheng Li is highlighted for her “astounding intellect” and “impressive track record”. Her experience includes representing the Bank of China in the merger and restructuring of its Hong Kong business and subsidiaries.

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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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