Corporate/M&A: The Elite - New York
THE FIRM Cravath's powerful corporate practice has M&A experience in nearly every industry sector. The market continues to view the team as one of New York's best, which is also evident from the volume and quality of high-end work it undertakes. Recent highlights include representing DreamWorks in a joint venture with China Media Capital and others to form Oriental DreamWorks, and advising Grupo Modelo on its $20.1 billion buyout by Anheuser-Busch InBev. Its enviable client roster also includes IBM, Unilever and Qualcomm.
Sources say: "They're not going to get the wool pulled over their eyes by the other side." "Superb legal and commercial knowledge."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Richard Hall is seen as one of the most esteemed practitioners in the state. He divides his time between New York and the firm's London office, and recently advised the Linde Group on its $4.6 billion acquisition of Lincare Holdings.
Scott Barshay is an impressive performer who clients say is "brilliant." His recent highlights include advising Barnes & Noble on a $300 million investment from Microsoft into its digital reading subsidiary, NOOK Media.
Interviewees say Faiza Saeed is "a superstar." She recently represented Pentair in its $10 billion combination with Tyco's Flow Control business.
Robert Townsend represented Olin Corporation in acquiring bleach manufacturer K.A. Steel Chemicals for $328 million. He also recently closed the $19.7 billion acquisition of Synthes for Johnson & Johnson.
Clients say Philip Gelston "is very pragmatic and will give you a straight answer right away." His clients include Mondelez International (formerly Kraft Foods), which he recently represented in the creation of a North American grocery entity and a global snacks business.
Sources say George Schoen can be counted on to provide "terrific" advice and client service. He acted alongside Townsend on the K.A. Steel acquisition for Olin, and also represented IBM in its acquisition of TealeafTechnology and the $850 million sale of its retail point-of-sale solutions arm to Toshiba.
Mark Greene recently advised the Linde Group on its $4.6 billion acquisition of Linacre Holdings, and represented Unilever in the $267 million sale of its frozen meals division to ConAgra Foods.
THE FIRM Sources consistently praise this firm's high-quality advice on some of the most complex and substantial transactions in the state. Highlights from the past year include representing Aetna in its $7.3 billion acquisition of Coventry Health Care, and advising Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda on its $2.6 billion acquisition of AMC Entertainment. Other top-drawer clients include AstraZeneca, CNOOC and Comcast.
Sources say: "DPW fosters a collaborative environment that enables each lawyer to leverage the functional expertise of a broad array of colleagues. I have found their work product to be consistently excellent." "Davis Polk is exceptional – as sophisticated as it gets."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Global M&A co-head David Caplan has had a remarkably busy year. In addition to representing Aetna in its acquisition of Coventry, he represented Campbell Soup in its $1.55 billion acquisition of Bolthouse Farms, advised the New York Mets on the sale of minority interests in the team, and acted for Comcast on the $3.6 billion purchase by Verizon Wireless of 122 AWS spectrum licenses owned by Comcast joint venture entity SpectrumCo. Sources are "struck by his creativity and constructiveness."
Fellow global co-head George Bason receives plaudits for his pragmatism when brokering a deal. He has an impressive pedigree in cross-border deals, and in 2012 acted for Japanese life insurer Dai-ichi Life on the acquisition of a 15-20% stake in the company by Janus Capital, and for Chinese oil and gas exploration company CNOOC on its $15.1 billion bid to acquire Canadian energy giant Nexen.
Clients laud Louis Goldberg as both a technician and a master strategist. Sources say he "has proved himself capable of navigating a variety of highly difficult circumstances." He recently advised CVS Caremark on the $250 million sale of its TheraCom business.
Clients say Phillip Mills's "business and strategic acumen, depth of knowledge and negotiation skills have been invaluable." He is also praised for his client-handling skill and ability to interact with other lawyers, as well as his "grasp of every detail." He advised Dalian Wanda on its acquisition of AMC Entertainment, and represented Cigna in its $3.8 billion HealthSpring acquisition.
Clients are also quick to praise John Bick, with one source describing him as "one of the most creative, deal-oriented guys I've ever worked with."
"Smart, diligent and constructive," Marc Williams is noted as a rising star. He has advised Roche on a number of transactions, including its unsolicited proposal to acquire Illumina for $6.7 billion, its $230 million acquisition of Anadys Pharmaceuticals, and the sale of assets in the RNA therapy space to nanotechnology firm Arrowhead Research.
THE FIRM This pre-eminent New York corporate group includes 36 partners committed to M&A. The firm's transactional dominance is further complemented by strengths in capital markets, banking and funds work. Its list of clients features many household names as well as some of the domestic and international markets' largest strategic acquirers and private entity sponsors, including Microsoft, L-3 Communications, AIG, The Blackstone Group and TPG. The team recently acted for Cogeco Cable on its proposed $1.36 billion acquisition of Atlantic Broadband.
Sources say: "We chose Simpson Thacher because we have full confidence in them to work on a high-profile deal." "Almost every time at the plate they hit the ball out of the park."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Firm chairman Richard Beattie is a senior figure in the New York Bar, and over a distinguished career has handled some of the largest M&A deals in the city. He is routinely called upon for his advice on governance issues, corporate offers and crisis situations.
Clients enjoy working with Casey Cogut because he "brings a lifetime of experience" and "he's good at relationships with both sides of the transaction; he understands how to reach out and find alternative ways of communicating."
Commentators say Gary Horowitz is an "indefatigable" deal lawyer with a "commercially reasonable" outlook. Horowitz has been representing Cogeco Cable in its $1.36 billion acquisition of Atlantic Broadband.
Mario Ponce is praised for his client-friendly approach. He and Cogut advised Eaton on its $11.8 billion acquisition of Cooper Industries.
Robert Spatt recently advised Weight Watchers International on a modified Dutch auction tender offer and a $780 million acquisition of common stock from Artal Holdings.
Department head Lee Meyerson recently advised TD Bank Group on the potential acquisition of Target's US credit card portfolio, valued at $5.9 billion.
William Curbow has been identified by sources as "an extremely practical and bright attorney" whose calm demeanor is "very helpful in group dynamics and with all parties concerned."
Philip Ruegger chairs the firm's executive committee, and advises on a diverse array of corporate transactional matters.
THE FIRM This Manhattan corporate team frequently handles domestic and cross-border transactions of significant size and complexity. It is praised by clients for the personalization of its service, and for the strength it is able to draw from the wider global firm. Its standout deals for 2012 included representing Anheuser-Busch InBev in its $20.1 billion acquisition of Grupo Modelo, and acting for Pfizer on the $11.9 billion divestiture of its pediatric nutrition business unit. The team also counseled Amylin Pharmaceuticals on its $7 billion acquisition by Bristol-Myers Squibb. Other major clients include Gilead Sciences, Amerigroup, News Corporation and Disney.
Sources say: "They have always exceeded our expectations and have enormous strength and breadth." "The culture of the firm is amazing. Nothing is too much trouble – incredible service."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Market observers praise Peter Atkins' intelligent and flexible negotiating. He recently supported Martin Marietta Materials in its $4.7 billion proposed business combination with gravel producer Vulcan Materials.
The "terrific" Lou Kling recently advised News Corporation on the separation of its publishing and entertainment arms, and represented Express Scripts in its $29.1 billion acquisition of Medco Health Solutions.
The "very high-powered" Howard Ellin rises in this year's rankings. "A phenomenal tactical M&A lawyer" who "has the whole toolkit," Ellin made headlines around the world when he led an inter-office Skadden team advising Disney on its $4.05 billion acquisition of Lucasfilm.
Eileen Nugent represented Cephalon in defending an unsolicited $5.7 billion takeover bid instigated by Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, and later in its acquisition by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries for $6.8 billion.
Paul Schnell attracts ample praise for his "excellent judgment" and creativity. His highlights include a deal for Pfizer involving an $11.9 billion divestiture of its business to Nestlé. He was also a key part of the team advising Anheuser-Busch InBev on its $20.1 billion Grupo Modelo takeover.
New York M&A head Stephen Arcano is "a very practical and insightful person" who "keeps things moving along in a very helpful way." He represented Gilead Sciences in its bespoke $11 billion deal to acquire Pharmasset.
"Smart and strategic" Thomas Kennedy is noted for his highly cerebral approach, which makes him an excellent fit for particularly technical deals. He recently assisted GTCR with acquiring Fundtech, an Israeli payment systems software provider.
Eric Cochran worked with Atkins to advise Martin Marietta Materials on its bid for Vulcan Materials. He continues to be highly regarded by peers in the New York legal community.
Sources highlight Joseph Coco's team management skills, saying he "can seamlessly orchestrate all the interdisciplines within Skadden."
Martha McGarry's recent work includes assisting American Express with its agreement with Lianlian Group to roll out its Serve digital payments platform in China.
Patricia Moran is "a fantastic lawyer" who "gives her clients great advice and service." She recently advised Japanese company Marubeni on its $3.6 billion acquisition of Gavilon Group, and on its agreement to assume $2 billion of the company's debt.
The firm recently mourned the passing of leading lawyer Morris Kramer.
THE FIRM Sullivan & Cromwell's prowess in domestic and cross-border M&A is widely acknowledged, and it has been involved in some of the most dazzlingly complex deals handled in the country. The firm is trusted by banks to execute their own M&A, and is routinely called upon to advise on financial adviser duties. Major transactions include handling Anheuser-Busch InBev's $20.1 billion acquisition of Grupo Modelo, and Justice Holdings' combination with Burger King. Other stellar clients include Amgen, AT&T, Ontario Teachers and Goldman Sachs.
Sources say: "Probably the best at finding creative solutions in the banking world." "They are able to guide clients through the complex requirements of the US takeover regime and associated securities law requirements while at the same time remaining focused on the strategic and material issues."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Clients are full of praise for senior chairman Rodgin Cohen, who is widely regarded as one of the most accomplished figures in the New York M&A arena. One interviewee said: "I am always amazed how quickly Rodgin Cohen returns calls. He provides an answer in ten minutes that would take any other lawyer two to three hours." Cohen's recent highlights include acting for Mitsubishi subsidiary UnionBanCal on its $1.5 billion acquisition of Pacific Capital Bancorp.
Practice co-head Francis Aquila recently represented Anheuser-Busch InBev in its $20.1 billion acquisition of Grupo Modelo, and in the $1.85 billion sale of a 50% interest in Crown Imports to Constellation Brands.
Sources say Joseph Frumkin "is at the forefront of market practice in M&A, from Delaware courts to how boards are thinking about transactions." He also receives emphatic praise for his client service. He recently advised the special committee of the board of directors of Southern Union Company on its acquisition by ETE.
Clients say James Morphy "is particularly compelling when it comes to explaining the significance of legal issues to the senior businesspeople within a client organization." Morphy provided counsel to Medco Health Solutions on its $29.1 billion merger with Express Scripts.
Stephen Kotran's talents were recently put to use in representing Wells Fargo in its acquisition of BNP Paribas's North American energy lending unit.
Mitchell Eitel also receives praise from interviewees. His recent highlights include advising Regions Financial on the sale of Morgan Keegan to Raymond James Financial, valued at $1.18 billion.
THE FIRM This M&A-focused team is seen as one of the leaders in unsolicited takeovers and hostile bids, and from its sole office in New York attracts domestic and cross-border mandates which are the envy of many an international player. Interviewees say they benefit from the firm's deep immersion in M&A, and that Wachtell brings an assertive edge to negotiations. It is regularly sought out by blue-chip clients and banks for 'bet the ranch' deals, and attracted headlines when it was chosen by El Paso to advise on its $38 billion acquisition by Kinder Morgan.
Sources say: "You can ask the most esoteric question related to M&A and they've seen it, done it and documented it." "Wachtell brings a fearsome reputation on aggressive hostile deals. You want them on your side."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Sources hail Adam Emmerich as a "phenomenal" lawyer with "tremendous understanding of issues of law" and the ability to find creative solutions. "His service level is exceptional," say clients. He recently advised Deutsche Telekom on T-Mobile's $30 billion combination with MetroPCS.
Edward Herlihy recently advised the transaction committee of the Jefferies board of directors on its $2.6 billion merger with Leucadia. He also counseled Vulcan Materials on the successful defense of an unsolicited $4.7 billion tender offer for its outstanding common shares led by Martin Marietta.
David Katz recently advised the board of directors of Chesapeake Energy on a number of matters, including the sale of most of its midstream assets to Access Midstream Partners for $2.16 billion, and the sale of midstream assets and some Permian Basin properties to Chevron, Shell and others for $6.9 billion.
Andrew Brownstein cochairs the firm's corporate group and recently acted on a series of high-value M&A deals and corporate governance matters.
Daniel Neff is an attorney with "judgment and experience," say sources. He acted for Alibaba on reacquiring $7.8 billion of its stock from Yahoo!, and on the restructuring of its Aliplay subsidiary in conjunction with Yahoo! and Softbank.
Steven Rosenblum also earns significant praise. He is "highly commercial" and both "focuses on the significant issues in a transaction, and recognizes those that are less significant."
Andrew Nussbaum represented Ancestry.com in its buyout by a Permira-led investment group for $1.6 billion.
David Shapiro is an "excellent lawyer" who provides prompt, succinct advice to his clients, say sources. He advised AOL on the sale of most of its patent portfolio to Microsoft at auction for $1.1 billion, and on defending against Starboard's proxy contest. He also worked on Jefferies' $2.6 billion merger with Leucadia.
Trevor Norwitz recently acted for McGraw-Hill on the spinning out of McGraw-Hill Markets and McGraw Hill Education, and the $2.5 billion sale of its education business to Apollo.
Founding partner Martin Lipton is an immensely experienced attorney whose name commands deep respect in the M&A world. He worked with Shapiro to advise AOL on its patent sale to Microsoft and its successful defense from Starboard's proxy contest. Commentators say Lipton remains a major asset and "a fabulous resource."
THE FIRM This acclaimed New York M&A team is enormously experienced in technology and life sciences M&A, and acts on a wide array of high-end transactions, many of which have an international flavor. Its M&A clients also benefit from the firm's powerful domestic capital markets practice and the support of its many international offices in Europe, Asia and South America. The group recently acted for Google on its $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility, Google's largest acquisition to date.
Sources say: "They had strong background in our industry and were able to offer excellent service."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Sources characterize Victor Lewkow as "an incredible resource." He is praised as "calm and balanced," accessible and "highly experienced, particularly in hostile public offering situations." He recently represented GlaxoSmithKline in the negotiation of a $3.6 billion merger agreement with Human Genome Sciences following an earlier hostile bid and tender offer.
Market commentators say Paul Shim has "a calm manner" and is "very smart." He advised TPG on a deal alongside Leonard Green & Partners to acquire Savers in a $1.7 billion recapitalization. He also advised TPG's Primedia subsidiary on acquiring Rent.com from eBay for $145 million.
Michael Ryan has a lauded financial and corporate advisory practice, and is particularly strong in work for private equity clients.
Daniel Sternberg's recent highlights include advising Alkermes on its $1 billion combination with Elan Drug Technologies.
Ethan Klingsberg "is a brilliant business lawyer who gives very solid advice for companies that are dealing with very complex corporate governance issues," clients say. He recently advised Agilent Technologies in its $2.2 billion acquisition of Danish cancer diagnostics company Dako.
Christopher Austin recently counseled Asahi Kasei on its $2.21 billion acquisition of critical care device manufacturer ZOLL Medical.
Robert Davis recently advised Biomet on its $280 million acquisition of DePuy Orthopaedics from Johnson & Johnson, and counseled Bausch + Lomb on its $500 million acquisition of eye care business Ista Pharmaceuticals.
Benet O'Reilly joins the rankings having had a busy year and earning high market praise as a "very cool, professional, efficient and organized" attorney. He acted alongside Klingsberg on Agilent's deal to acquire Dako, and alongside Lewkow on GSK's merger with Human Genome Sciences. He also led the team advising GlaxoSmithKline on its $213 million investment in Theravence.
THE FIRM The team at Debevoise & Plimpton maintains its high standing following another year of top-drawer transactions and wide market commendation. With over 30 partners dedicated to M&A, the group capably handles large-scale deals for the likes of Amazon.com, The Carlyle Group and AIG. It advised Warner Music Group-owned Access Industries, as part of a consortium of acquirers, on its acquisition of $7.5 billion oil and gas exploration assets from El Paso. Verizon also sought Debevoise's counsel on its $3.6 billion acquisition of AWS spectrum licenses from SpectrumCo.
Sources say: "A fine first team and a deep bench." "Their ability to win points is valuable to me."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Jeffrey Rosen chairs the corporate department and is "very knowledgeable, insightful and experienced with public company transactions," according to interviewees. Recent transactions include representing LA asset manager the TCW Group in its sale to The Carlyle Group.
Paul Bird cochairs the firm's corporate and M&A departments. His recent transactions include handling The Carlyle Group's $3.3 billion acquisition of Getty Images.
William Regner chairs the M&A group. Clients say he "has a keen understanding of the dynamics of public company deals," and "superb negotiating and drafting" skills. He recently led a team acting on Verizon Wireless's $3.6 billion acquisition of AWS spectrum licenses from SpectrumCo.
THE FIRM This team continues to act on some of the state's biggest mandates, and has an especially secure footing in the areas of energy, healthcare and technology. Interviewees appreciate the strength it can draw from the firm's vast and well-connected international network. The team recently represented Kinder Morgan in a series of transactions, including its $38 billion acquisition of El Paso and subsequent $7.15 billion sale of El Paso's exploration and production unit to a consortium of acquirers. AMC, GE and Centerbridge Partners also feature in the firm's enviable roster of strategic acquirer and private equity fund clients.
Sources say: "What I really like about Weil is they are seamless. They really operate as a team."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Michael Aiello receives high praise from clients, who report that he "has good business as well as legal judgment, which really helps to move the deal over the finish line." Other sources add that he is "highly intelligent," and appreciate his "incredibly hands-on advice" and ability to quickly martial a team. He recently represented Linacre Holdings in its $4.6 billion acquisition by Linde.
Howard Chatzinoff remains "level-headed" in difficult deal situations, observers say, and attracts major blue-chip clients through his keen sense of commerciality. He represented GE in its $535 million acquisition of a 15% stake in China XD Electric as part of an international partnership agreement.
Thomas Roberts has a "very calm personality" and is "highly proactive," say interviewees. He recently represented Kinder Morgan in the $38 billion acquisition of El Paso.
Frederick Green's highlights include representing the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in a restructuring and development transaction with a $500 million capital commitment.
Raymond Gietz recently led on GE's $300 million investment in Brazilian industrial conglomerate The EBX Group.
Michael Lubowitz is an esteemed practitioner whose recent highlights include representing Centerbridge Partners in its $1.1 billion take-private of P.F. Chang's China Bistro.
THE FIRM This M&A group acts on the full range of corporate and transactional matters for strategic buyers and private equity groups, and has established a reputation for working on unsolicited bids and hostile takeovers. The team advises Bristol-Myers Squibb, Burger King Worldwide and Avis Budget Group, among others. Recent highlights include handling NRG's $4.1 billion acquisition of GenOn Energy.
Sources say: "They have the talent to assist companies in all aspects of business and legal strategies." "It's a terrific firm to work with."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Department head David Fox is widely praised for his expertise in public company M&A. Commentators say he is a "no-nonsense" lawyer who "helps clients get their transaction done in an expeditious way." He recently led on Bristol-Myers Squibb's $7 billion acquisition of Amylin Pharmaceuticals, and on its $3.4 billion agreement to collaborate post-closing with AstraZeneca on developing Amylin.
Sources commend Daniel Wolf for providing "comprehensive, unembellished and strong tactical negotiating advice." Others add he has "an encyclopedic mind as it relates to the law," and is "utterly tireless." He recently led a team representing Tronox in its $3.4 billion acquisition of industrial sands operations from Exxaro Resources.
Stephen Fraidin is particularly commended for his expertise in board governance and his "unique ability to articulate and manage difficult, complex issues and problems." He recently advised the special committee to the board of directors of Expedia on Expedia's announced spin-off of TripAdvisor.
Rising star Leo Greenberg is held in high regard by market sources. Clients praise him as "commercial, extremely hard-working and extremely relationship-focused."
Also up-and-coming is William Sorabella, whom clients have described as "extremely creative, highly commercial and very much willing to step outside the box." He recently acted for Solutia alongside Fox on its $4.7 billion acquisition by Eastman Chemical Company.
Sarkis Jebejian recently joined the firm from Cravath. Clients say he is a "commercially astute, responsive" lawyer who "can put together a high-quality legal team on very short notice to handle any project." He recently represented BAE Systems in the sale of Safariland to a Kanders & Company-affiliated acquisition vehicle.
THE FIRM The 15-partner team at Latham & Watkins advises some of the county's largest acquirers and financial advisers on M&A and corporate matters across a diverse range of industries; key clients include Eli Lilly, Disney, JPMorgan, GE Capital and Credit Suisse. Particular industry specialties include technology, media and entertainment, energy and healthcare. The firm recently represented Roche's nominated directors to the board of Illumina in its unsolicited $6.7 billion cash tender offer for Illumina's outstanding publicly-held shares.
Sources say: "They are true experts in understanding and negotiating legal terms and conditions of M&A deals."
KEY INDIVIDUALS "Responsive and commercial," Adel Aslani-Far leads the team. Sources say he is "solution-oriented" and "thoughtful in the advice that he gives." He led the team that advised Roche's nominated directors.
THE FIRM This team continues to be recognized as a major player on the New York M&A scene, a position supported by its recent activity on significant transactions with industry-wide ramifications. The firm is also particularly experienced in proxy contests and contested transactions. Noteworthy clients include Time Warner Cable, Citi and Ericsson. In a recent highlight, the group acted for Apollo Global Management on its $7.15 billion deal to co-acquire El Paso's power and energy business arm.
Sources say: "The Paul Weiss team distinguishes itself by its quality of service and commitment to us." "They have the depth we need."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Robert Schumer chairs the firm's corporate practice and is praised by clients as "incredibly hands-on," "super smart" and "highly tactical." His recent highlights include advising Time Warner Cable on its $3 billion acquisition of Insight Communications, and acting for Nexen on its $15.1 billion acquisition by CNOOC.
M&A co-head Toby Myerson "is a talented, responsive and insightful lawyer," and clients appreciate the extra insight he is able to provide through his experience as a former banker. He recently represented Sumitomo in its $340 million acquisition of Standard Steel.
The "very thoughtful, experienced" Paul Ginsberg is "a reassuring, steady presence at the negotiating table," say clients. In recent months he has worked alongside Schumer on Interline Brands' $1 billion sale to affiliates of GS Capital and P2 Capital, and on talent agency William Morris Endeavor's agreement to partner with Silver Lake.
Clients say Jeffrey Marell "understands the art of negotiation – where to make compromises as well as where to push back." He led a team that represented Great Wolf Resorts in its acquisition by Apollo affiliates for $798 million, following a bidding war.
THE FIRM Interviewees praise the cohesive cross-border capability of this corporate group. The team is widely acknowledged for its excellent financial services M&A practice, which advises major international players such as Citi, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank. It also serves major corporates such as Danone, Thomson Reuters and Dow Chemical. It recently represented long-time client Anglo American in a $2.8 billion partnership agreement with Codelco relating to its Chilean copper interests.
Sources say: "We value the breath of international experience that Shearman can bring to our business."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Peter Lyons is widely recognized for his "wealth of experience" in M&A. He is known as a strong player to work with on more complex and sophisticated deals.
John Marzulli continues to be a respected player in the corporate arena. His practice focuses on international transactions and corporate finance.
Clare O'Brien is praised as "intelligent" and "user-friendly." She recently represented Mubadala Development Company in its $2 billion investment in EBX Group.
Clients enthuse about George Casey's outstanding dedication and performance, saying: "He's as sharp on day four of all day negotiations as on day one." Casey is particularly singled out for his cross border M&A expertise and has advised on major deals in Africa, Asia and Europe.
THE FIRM This team is routinely selected to handle sophisticated transactions for public and private companies, financial institutions and private equity clients. In 2012, it represented SPX in a $1.15 billion sale of its automotive service solutions arm to Robert Bosch. It also represented Toreador Resources in its merger with ZaZa Energy, forming a combined company with a market cap of $294 million.
Sources say: "You don't have to worry about the job getting done – you know that it will."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Philip Richter's recent transaction highlights include representing supermarket retailer Controladora Comercial Mexicana in its $760.4 million deal to sell a 50% interest in its Costco de Mexico joint venture to Costco Wholesale.
M&A group cochair David Shine "can cut through a lot of noise to focus on issues of significance," clients say. He recently advised Thomson Reuters on its $625 million acquisition of FX Alliance.
Highlights for John Sorkin include playing an advisory role to Deutsche Bank as financial adviser to TransUnion on its sale to Goldman Sachs Capital Partners and Advent International.
Arthur Fleischer represented SmartBalance in its $125 million acquisition of Udi's Healthy Foods, and acted for Toreador Resources on its merger with ZaZa Energy.
THE FIRM Willkie Farr & Gallagher's 41-partner New York M&A group remains an excellent fit for technical transactions and governance matters, and is especially popular with REITs, asset managers and clients in the communications and insurance industries. The group works effectively with the firm's restructuring department on distressed transactions and acquisitions emerging from reorganization proceedings. Highlights include acting for insurer Allied World Assurance on its $8.5 billion merger with Transatlantic Holdings.
Sources say: "What differentiates Willkie for me is really the personalization and the way they make us feel like we're one of their premier clients." "They are very good at working out issues through calm, reasoned discussion."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Jack Nusbaum is "extraordinary," say sources. He is sought out by boards of directors of public companies for his counsel on M&A and governance issues.
M&A cochair David Boston is a "superlative lawyer," according to market sources. Clients are full of praise,with one saying: "He's highly effective in negotiations and getting our views, as well as in helping us understand the other side, which helps pull parties together." Boston represented Telcordia Technologies in its $1.15 billion sale to Ericsson.
Sources say Thomas Cerabino is "a terrific lawyer with great judgment." He recently represented the founder of AlixPartners in the company's recapitalization, with CVC Capital Partners taking a majority stake in the business.
Steven Seidman recently represented Ventas in acquiring a medical facilities REIT, Cogdell Spencer, for $770 million. He also acted for Allied World Assurance Company Holdings on an $8.5 billion merger with Transatlantic Holdings. Seidman cochairs the firm's M&A, corporate and financial services groups.
The "incredibly diligent" Adam Turteltaub is another up-and-comer who attracts market praise, with one client characterizing him as a "dedicated, thorough technician." Turteltaub recently represented the chairman and CCO of Kenneth Cole Productions in his $245 million going-private acquisition of the company.
THE FIRM The 19 partners in Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher's New York M&A team act on a broad spectrum of transactions for public and private companies and their financial advisers, on some of the biggest transactions in the state. The team recently acted for Tenet Healthcare on defending a $7.95 billion unsolicited acquisition bid from Community Health Systems.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Sources say Dennis Friedman has "good judgment" and "serves his clients well." He recently acted for Hewlett-Packard on its $11.3 billion acquisition of Autonomy Corporation.
Barbara Becker is "delightful to work with" and "keeps the trains moving," according to clients. She was instrumental in a $16 billion project for Kraft to create a tax-free spin-off of its North American grocery business.
Steven Shoemate is lauded as "a very savvy lawyer and highly commercial - having him on your side is incredibly productive." He recently advised GE's wholly-owned bank affiliate, GE Capital Financial, on acquiring MetLife's retail deposit business for $7.5 billion.
THE FIRM Jones Day enters the Elite rankings in New York on the back of wide market praise for its handling of top-drawer domestic and cross-border transactional work. The group recently advised Goodrich on its $18.4 billion merger with United Technologies. It also represented Procter & Gamble in divesting its Pringles snack business to Kellogg for $2.7 billion, and in a $1 billion joint venture agreement with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries relating to over-the-counter medicines.
Sources say: "The most important thing about this team is that they all think very commercially. They have the experience and wisdom to know what is important to us and what's not."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Firmwide M&A practice head Robert Profusek is recommended by clients for bet-the-company matters. He led the teams on the aforementioned Goodrich and Procter & Gamble deals.
Corporate/M&A: Highly Regarded - New York
THE FIRM This excellent M&A practice draws considerable strength from the firm's vast international network, and from its particularly deep bench in private equity, financial services and life sciences matters. Its clients include Bregal Partners, Griffon Corporation and One Equity Partners. The group recently represented Inhibitex in its $2.5 billion acquisition by Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Sources say: "Dechert always impresses with their strong legal advice and pragmatic approach. They are amiable, affable and available, making them a pleasure to work with."
KEY INDIVIDUALS In the words of one client, department head Mark Thierfelder is "a fantastic leader, with practical legal advice and strong business sense." He recently advised DSI Renal, a Centre Partners Management company, on its $690 million sale to DaVita.
Martin Nussbaum has a fine reputation in the M&A market, and in the past year has provided counsel to the parent company of Monster.com on strategic matters relating to the future of the business.
Derek Winokur is "responsive, quick, balanced and easy to deal with," say clients. Interviewees particularly highlight his skill in weighing up business and legal risks. He recently represented One Equity Partners in its proposed $1.1 billion buyout of clinical documentation services firm M*Modal.
THE FIRM This superior M&A group is part of the firm's large business and finance practice. It has particular expertise in energy, media and maritime transactions, and also acts for financial sponsors and leading banks. Its impressive client roster features Apollo, Ares, Pearson, Reed Elsevier and Morgan Stanley. Recent highlights include acting for Maersk on the sale of its equipment services subsidiary, Direct Chassislink, to Littlejohn & Co.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Clients are effusive in their praise for Alec Dawson, saying: "In the chess game of these deals, he's thinking out ahead a few moves. He's excellent tactically and strategically." He recently represented Jefferies in its $348 million acquisition of Prudential Bache.
Managing partner Charles Engros is a "terrific lawyer," according to sources. He acted for Pearson on its $294 million acquisition of Chinese EFL education company Global Education, as part of the continued development of its English language teaching business.
THE FIRM This 15-partner business transactions group handles significant M&A, primarily for private equity funds, asset managers and other portfolio owners. It works closely with related departments within the firm to deliver results for clients on financings, restructurings and distressed deals. Highlights include representing Cerberus in its acquisition of a 53% stake in AT&T's Yellow Pages business, in a $950 million transaction.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Marc Weingarten is noted by sources for his "excellent client skills" and "calm, cool and collected demeanor." He advised retail group Charmed Shoppes on its $890 million acquisition by Ascena Retail.
THE FIRM Sidley Austin's eight-partner New York M&A and private equity group acts on the full range of private and public M&A, as well as unsolicited takeover proposals and defense work. It attracts work from clients such as BNP Paribas, AIG, Morgan Stanley and the Government of Singapore's sovereign wealth fund, the GIC. Highlights include representing Cerveceria Nacional Dominicana in its $1.248 billion sale to Ambev, and acting for Compass on its acquisitions of various tech companies.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Scott Freeman heads the department.
THE FIRM White & Case's New York M&A group advises the likes of Sony, Disney and the Hess Corporation, among other major organizations. It is routinely sought to handle technical cross-border transactions for public and private companies, and acts for private equity funds across a vast range of industries. In a recent highlight, it acted for ICBC on a first-of-its-kind, $140 million acquisition of an 80% stake in a US retail bank, The Bank of East Asia.
Sources say: "A truly global platform."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Clients describe Morton Pierce as a "knowledgeable, thorough and insightful lawyer." Interviewees further highlight the pragmatic outlook he brings to bear on sophisticated transactions. "He always supplements his legal perspectives with a consideration of the business matters and issues we are hoping to address and resolve," said one interviewee.
John Reiss "provides a remarkable level of leadership in tense situations," and has "great intuition for deal dynamics." He acted for ICBC on its US bank acquisition, and also advised Canadian distribution utility Fortis on its $1.5 billion acquisition of CH Energy.
New arrival Denise Cerasani "is extremely experienced, very pragmatic and commercial," as well as "always responsive and well prepared," according to sources. She has particularly noteworthy experience advising banks on fairness opinions and elements of financial advisory disclosure.
After a four-year tenure as head of M&A at Linklaters, Daniel Dufner rejoined White & Case early in 2013. He is recognized by peers as a solid M&A lawyer in the city, and caters to an impressive array of clients. Highlights from his past year include representing WellPoint in two substantial acquisitions.
THE FIRM This five-partner New York M&A team counts major names such as Shell, Thomson Reuters, Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline and GE among its clients. The firm proves particularly attractive to major international players seeking to acquire or do business with US companies, such as German multinational SAP, which it advised on its $3.4 billion acquisition of SuccessFactors. Increasingly, however, the group is being mandated to act on significant domestic deals, such as its recent representation of GE Capital in a commercial agreement with CIFC.
Sources say: "They have a broad global reach, and so whenever there are pieces that are outside of the US I know I have my one go-to person here who can leverage relationships across the globe."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Clients say US M&A leader Eric Shube provides commercially practicable advice, and describe him as "extraordinarily knowledgeable," "insightful" and "highly creative." He advised GE Capital on its strategic transaction with CIFC.
THE FIRM This strong M&A team acts for some of the market's biggest players on a range of high-caliber transactions, in part because of the recognized strength of its sophisticated regulatory and regulated industry practices. The group has a stellar list of active clients, including Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Disney, AstraZeneca and UBS. Its New York team recently advised Thomson Reuters on the $1.25 billion sale of its healthcare arm to a Veritas Capital affiliate.
Sources say: "The Covington team is very responsive and incredibly diligent on all matters."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Scott Smith is a "smart, thoughtful" lawyer, according to commentators. He recently advised SandRidge Energy on its $1.275 billion acquisition of Dynamic Offshore Resources.
Clients say J D Weinberg is "always extremely helpful when we need the creative thinking and judgment that only a seasoned partner can provide." He led on Thomson Reuters' aforementioned divestiture of its healthcare business.
THE FIRM Greenberg Traurig in New York maintains a strong M&A presence. Highlights from the past year include representing Black Entertainment Television founder Robert Johnson in his acquisitions of Image Entertainment and Acorn for $160 million to form RLJ Entertainment, and advising DPL on its $4.7 billion sale to AES. Among financial advisers, it receives mandates from Barclays, Deutsche Bank and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and was recently selected by Morgan Stanley to be its counsel on Grupo Modelo's $20.1 billion acquisition by Anheuser-Busch InBev.
Sources say: "They're extremely responsive and do extensive research on any topics that come up, as well as how we practice, within our industry."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Dennis Block has a considerable reputation in corporate legal circles, with one source saying he is "a legend in M&A." A strong personality in the transactional world, Block represents a "fantastic asset for Greenberg," say commentators. He recently advised DPL on its sale to AES.
Clients say global M&A cochair David Schwartzbaum is a "very bright guy" and "one of a handful who really know how banks do business." He recently represented interclick in its $270 million acquisition by Yahoo!, and advised Morgan Stanley in its capacity as financial adviser to Grupo Modelo.
The "terrific" Alan Annex "understands the interplay" between business needs and legal risk, according to clients. He recently co-led an inter-office Greenberg team advising LSE-listed acquisition vehicle Justice Holdings on its $5 billion acquisition of Burger King Worldwide Holdings, which was structured as a merger to allow Burger King to return to the NYSE.
THE FIRM This M&A group handles the full range of transactional needs for public and private companies, particularly those in the life sciences, media and financial services sectors. The group's active clients include big names such as Viacom, Sony Music and the US Treasury Department. It continues to receive a significant amount of work from Ernst & Young in its capacity as joint administrator of Nortel's insolvent European, Middle East and African entity.
Sources say: "Highly intelligent and personable advisers who are easy to access and fully committed to their clients' goals."
KEY INDIVIDUALS M&A and corporate group cochair Ken Lefkowitz is a popular figure in the New York M&A market. According to market sources, "he is smart, super practical and down to earth. I can see why he does well with clients. His informal style inspires confidence, which he backs up with intelligent and savvy deal skills."
The "pragmatic, business-friendly" Charles Samuelson earns praise from clients, with one reporting: "He is very efficient and he doesn't beat around the bush. He gets it done." He recently represented Wafra in its $1 billion investment in Triple Point Capital.
Firm chair Candace Beinecke is an influential figure in the New York legal scene. She maintains a busy practice advising many of the firm's significant clients on governance issues.
Sources find M&A cochair James Modlin to be "straightforward, knowledgeable and easy to work with."
THE FIRM Milbank's transactional team excels across a range of corporate matters, and is particularly well known for its work on distressed deals as well as energy and aircraft leasing transactions. Standout highlights include acting for ITOCHU as part of a consortium with KKR and others on the $7.2 billion acquisition of Samson Investment. The team also advised Catalyst Health on its $4.75 billion merger with SXC Health Solutions.
Sources say: "Their ability to provide us depth across the firm - in terms of the talent we've been able to get - is great."
KEY INDIVIDUALS John Franchini is "highly client-oriented," and is highlighted by sources for his pragmatism and skill in negotiations. He advised Strategic Value Partners on its sale of Liberty Electric to an affiliate of Energy Capital Partners.
THE FIRM This strong 30-partner M&A team acts on domestic and cross-border deals for top-drawer clients such as Ares, Accor and Bed Bath & Beyond. It is particularly active for clients in the chemical and industrial industries, and for an enviable range of retailers and financial services firms. Highlights include advising Neuberger Berman on its $1.5 billion buyout of Lehman Brothers' remaining stake in the company.
Sources say: "We trust them because they have the ability to stay three steps ahead and get results in an efficient manner."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Ronald Papa is "highly responsive" and "excellent technically." One client highlighted his skill in "getting our chemistry to the point where he can know our position implicitly." Papa recently advised French chemicals group Arkema on the sale of its tin stabilizer business to PMC.
THE FIRM This East Coast favorite's New York corporate team has healthy expertise in securities, M&A and private equity deals. Over the past year it has remained active on both buy and sell-side transactions for WCAS, and advised State Street on its $550 million acquisition of Goldman Sachs' hedge fund administration business. Other key clients include Bain Capital, Dunkin' Brands and Health Enterprise Partners.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Othon Prounis's work of late has included advising WCAS on a number of transactions. His practice emphasizes LBOs and work in the healthcare and technology sectors.
THE FIRM Akin Gump's strength in M&A is evident in its high-quality work for serial acquirers, distressed companies and hedge funds. The firm continues to benefit from its role in the formation of several hedge fund-sponsored offshore reinsurance firms, in the form of ongoing mandates for strategic and transactional support. Its clients include Cerberus, Citi Global Markets and Lukoil. The team recently represented glass container manufacturer Anchor in its $880 million sale to Luxembourg-based Ardagh Group.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Kerry Berchem heads the department.
THE FIRM This nine-partner corporate team benefits greatly from the firm's strong position in the energy sector, and also handles impressive transactions in the media, technology, telecoms and real estate sectors. Its active clients include Mediacom, QVC and Ascent Capital. It recently advised Liberty on its $10 billion plans to spin-off all its assets not affiliated with the Starz entertainment brand into a new subsidiary, Liberty Media, with the intention of renaming its parent company 'Starz'.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Bob Murray is a key contact for the practice.
THE FIRM Cadwalader's impressive M&A group ably handles a broad array of transactions for clients such as Elan Corporation, AngioDynamics, Nektar Therapeutics and new client wins Tower Watson & Co and Marsh & McLennan Companies. Its recent mandates include representing the chairman and CEO of Quest Software in relation to its $2.17 billion buyout by Insight Venture Partners. One particular area of expertise for the group is corporate takeover defense and preparedness.
KEY INDIVIDUALS The M&A practice at Cadwalader is led by Louis Bevilacqua. As practice chair, he has worked hard at developing the team in recent months, and is also known more widely in the market for his commerciality and business skills.
THE FIRM This 16-partner group handles numerous high-caliber, cross-border transactions, drawing in part on the firm's impressive global network. The M&A group advised Hearst on its $1 billion acquisition of several magazine properties owned by Hachette. The team also collaborated with the firm's Sydney office to advise Irish aircraft lessor FLY Leasing on the acquisition of 49 Boeing and Airbus aircrafts.
Sources say: "Consistently high quality."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Sources say rising star Benjamin Sibbett is "gifted in terms of simplifying complex topics." He is also praised as a "thoughtful and hard negotiator" who "can deliver a stern message without offending the other side."
THE FIRM Goodwin Procter's corporate team has benefited from the arrival of seven corporate attorneys from Dewey & LeBoeuf. It represents a mix of investment funds, corporates and venture growth companies, and has a particularly strong reputation in cleantech, life sciences, healthcare and digital technologies. Its new intake of partners brings clients such as Insight Venture Partners to a roster which includes Ampio Pharmaceuticals, Great Hill Partners and Lycera.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Andrew Weidhaas currently divides his time between New York and Silicon Valley. He acted for Behrman Capital on the sale of its interests in five portfolio companies from Behrman funds.
THE FIRM This 16-partner M&A group acts for major organizations such as News Corporation, Hulu, HarperCollins and UnitedHealth. It recently represented ExxonMobil in the $3.9 billion sale of its Japanese oil refinery subsidiary ExxonMobil Yugen Kaisha to TonenGeneral Sekiyu. It also advised News Corporation on its agreement to acquire ESPN's 50% stake in ESPN STAR Sports, making it a wholly-owned News Corporation subsidiary.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Michael Gilligan recently joined the firm from Allen & Overy. Gilligan "keeps his eye focused on what's important," say clients. While at his prior firm, he advised Dell on a deal to acquire CIT Vendor Finance's Dell-related assets, plus sales and servicing functions in Europe.
THE FIRM Kaye Scholer advises numerous domestic companies and private equity funds on a broad range of complex deals in the middle and upper middle-markets. Its M&A group also receives frequent mandates from Canadian and European companies seeking counsel on inbound M&A. One area of focus for the team is the transactional representation of companies with substantial IP assets. Clients appreciate the team's high levels of service as well as its advice on corporate governance and matters of future business strategy.
Sources say: "The team works very well together, and is highly responsive and a pleasure to work with."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Joel Greenberg is a "great resource," who impresses with his comprehensive knowledge of M&A. He cochairs the firm's Canada group, and recently advised Toronto-based Onex and its affiliates on an $871 million investment in doors and windows manufacturer JELD-WEN Holdings.
The "excellent" Nancy Fuchs is known among sources as a "very strong negotiator." She recently advised Pon North America on its acquisition of the Hiller Group and subsidiaries. She is also routinely sought after to advise on corporate matters in aerospace and defense.
Interviewees describe corporate department cochair Emanuel Cherney as a "creative, flexible, responsive" attorney whose negotiating style is "nuanced and subtle." He is also noted for his "excellent business judgment." He recently represented Sundance Holdings Group and its equity holders in its sale to Brentwood Associates.
THE FIRM This firm handles a wide range of strategic, distressed and private equity-led M&A deals, and is praised for its efficiency and commerciality throughout the transactional process. In a recent highlight, the group advised Fundtech on its $700 million all-stock merger with S1, a provider of software for the financial services industry. It also represented Answers.com in its acquisition by AFCV Holdings.
Sources say: "The team is extremely efficient and worked seamlessly together with my team to get deals done." "As an inhouse lawyer I am charged with being more commercial than legal. Kramer Levin helps us translate legal advice into a business discussion right away."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Clients say Howard Spilko "has great skills and is highly practical," as well as "entrepreneurial." He recently represented AIG in its $35 million sale of two insurance companies.
According to commentators, Ernest Wechsler "is extremely commercial and knows how to get a transaction done without getting into a legal fight of the kind that tends to bog down attorneys. He knows how to protect you in a commercial sense." He recently advised BlackRock on the sale of chemical company Wellman.
THE FIRM The team at McDermott Will & Emery remains a solid choice for transactions in the healthcare and life sciences sectors, and is increasingly popular with clients active in energy, metals and mining. Its recent highlights include advising Singapore-listed Olam International on joint ventures with US commodity merchandiser Lansing Trade Group and with cocoa supplier Blommer Chocolate. Other clients include Standard General, Morgan Stanley, Thompson Creek Metals and E.ON.
Sources say: "They work with you to find practical solutions."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Tim Alvino has a healthy reputation in the New York market, and is noted for advising Irving Oil on strategic M&A possibilities.
Impressed sources say Thomas Sauermilch "brings a lot of experience, practicality and business sense to the table," and "fosters a partnering relationship."
THE FIRM The New York office of this preeminent West Coast firm houses a six-partner M&A team with expertise in life sciences and technology, as well as apparel and financial services. As a consequence of the firm's strong Asian offering, the group continues to receive mandates from top-drawer Far East clients such as Terumo and Toshiba. Important domestic clients include DaVita and Qatalyst Partners. Recent highlights include advising CNOOC's financial advisers BMO Nesbitt Burns on the company's $19.4 billion deal to acquire Nexen.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Mark Wojciechowski recently joined the team from Allen & Overy. Wojciechowski is highly experienced in M&A, as well as leveraged and acquisition finance. He continues to advise major banks, as well as long-term client Balfour Beatty, on a range of corporate matters.
THE FIRM Paul Hastings advises clients ranging from promising startup companies through to more established players on matters of corporate governance and M&A. In particular, it is noted for its representation of financial services and investment management clients in both domestic and cross-border deals. Highlights from the past year include acting for cable and broadband provider Suddenlink on its $6.6 billion purchase by BC Partners, CPPIB and a CEO-led management team. Other clients include Citibank and Equinox.
Sources say: "They really took the time to understand the business." "They've been very responsive to our needs at all times."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Tom Kruger is a key practice contact in New York.
THE FIRM The New York office of this dominant player in the energy sector fields a corporate team that handles domestic and cross-border M&A for private equity funds, acquirers and targets. Big-name clients include The Carlyle Group, White Deer Energy and Warburg Pincus. It recently advised TPG Capital on its role as part of a consortium acquiring $1.25 billion preferred assets in a subsidiary of Chesapeake Energy.
Sources say: "They offer practical advice and solutions, rather than over-lawyered advice, and they deliver on their commitments."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Energy M&A specialist David Cohen is "top-notch," according to interviewees, who add that he is "creative with solutions on structuring" and "very client-focused." Recent mandates include advising Pioneer Natural Resources on its acquisition of Carmeuse Holdings' US industrial sands business.
THE FIRM The New York business transactions group at this Midwest stalwart is experienced in handling deals for technology, media and financial services clients. It is a favorite for cross-border deals and has considerable expertise in acting for German companies on inbound transactions, and for US entities on outbound Indian transactions. Highlights from the past year include acting for French 3D design company Dassault Systèmes' US subsidiary on its $10 million acquisition of Enginuity.
Sources say: "High-quality, responsive and extremely client-oriented." "They are very well prepared to handle matters of importance and complexity, and pay equal attention to smaller matters and inquiries as well."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Sources appreciate Steven Goldberg's "great business sense," and praise him as a "master legal technician" who produces "careful and tightly written work." He has recently advised a number of large US entities on investment opportunities and asset purchases in India.
THE FIRM This five-partner team caters to the full range of public and private companies, including venture growth startups, private equity sponsors and hedge funds. The team is particularly adept in transactions with a strong reorganizational element. Recent work includes advising USAA Real Estate on its purchase of a 49% equity interest in Square Mile Capital Management.
Sources say: "They are really responsive, always available and highly creative."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Robb Tretter heads the department.
THE FIRM This team acts on a considerable range of high-end M&A, and benefits from a strong global platform with offices in virtually every major financial center and emerging market. It was one of a select panel of firms to advise Pfizer on the $11.9 billion sale of its nutrition business to Nestlé. Other highlights include acting on Atlanta Spirit's $170 million sale of the Atlanta Thrashers hockey team to True North.
Sources say: "They are focused on delivering a successful outcome."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Jonathan Klein heads the practice in New York.
THE FIRM This New York team handles transactions for major domestic and international clients, as well as venture growth companies. It draws on support from offices across the USA, including the firm's home base in Minneapolis. Its clients include the North American Soccer League, Canon USA and Banco de la Nacion Argentina. Team highlights include representing IntegraMed America in its $169.5 million sale to Sagard Capital Partners.
Sources say: "Dorsey is a large firm but it feels much smaller, more personable and much easier to deal with."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Clients say department co-leader and New York office head Steven Khadavi is extraordinarily responsive, and report that he "focuses on solutions not problems." He recently represented Chinese company Xuzhou Construction Machine Group in acquiring a controlling interest in German manufacturer Schwing.
THE FIRM This compact M&A team attracts significant mandates from such major clients as Rolls-Royce, Swiss Re, ArcLight and Japan Tobacco. It is a popular choice among European and Asian entities for inbound US transactions, due in part to Freshfields's stellar reputation around the world. It also advises on significant domestic deals, such as acting for Tyco's financial adviser on Pentair's $7.7 billion acquisition of the company's flow control division.
Sources say: "The great thing is that you have someone who really gets under the skin of the deal, asks good questions and is utterly reliable in a meeting or in drafting."
KEY INDIVIDUALS "Excellent all-around," Matthew Herman has an ascendant profile in the New York M&A world. Sources say he provides "clever solutions to difficult problems."
THE FIRM This tight-knit M&A group has abundant domestic and international transactional expertise. It has a solid base of life sciences and technology clients, as well as a strong presence in energy and manufacturing. Related highlights include representing PowerFuels in its $381 million merger with Heckmann.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Tobias Knapp recently represented Duff & Phelps in acquiring a stake in WR Managed Accounts as part of a strategic partnership deal.
THE FIRM This firm's 13-partner New York group frequently works closely with transactional teams in other Pillsbury offices to deliver efficient results. In 2012 it represented Bonded Services in four acquisitions in the UK and the USA. It also advised XO Holdings on its take-private acquisition by ACF Industries.
KEY INDIVIDUALS The "responsive and reliable" James Kelly is identified by sources as someone who "possesses great creative and innovative instincts in structuring and drafting deals."
THE FIRM Life sciences and technology are two hallmark strengths of this respected East Coast practice. In a recent highlight, the firm represented Bristol-Myers Squibb in the restructuring of its alliance with Sanofi across multiple jurisdictions. Its other clients include CitiBank, Isis and Constellation Pharmaceuticals.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Andrew Nagel is chair for M&A.
THE FIRM Arnold & Porter's New York office handles a significant range of transactional matters for financial institutions and investment fund clients. The group also benefits from the firm's significant links to clients in Latin America, such as Banco do Brasil. Its recent highlights include representing State Bancorp in its $222 million sale to Valley National Bancorp. Other notable clients include Aurora Bank and York Capital.
Sources say: "I would describe them as very talented, creative and easy to work with."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Robert Azarow is a key contact here.
THE FIRM This boutique houses a large corporate and securities team that continues to attract fine mandates. Given the firm's deep expertise in special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) IPOs, it is sought out for its counsel on deals involving SPACs. In a recent highlight of this nature, the firm advised the special committee of Image Entertainment on its combination with Acorn Media Group to create RLJ Entertainment, following RLJ Acquisition's purchase of both companies.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Douglas Ellenoff heads the firm's corporate and securities practices.
THE FIRM Nixon Peabody's M&A group handles the gamut of transactions in the middle and lower middle-markets for a number of significant companies. It is particularly active in life sciences, consumer products, manufacturing, energy and technology, with several of its transactions involving significant cross-border elements of late.
Sources say: "They have the ability to spot issues really comprehensively and deal with whatever matter we're working on. They give us good, strong guidance, and alert us to other tangents without getting bogged down in them."
KEY INDIVIDUALS John Koeppel chairs the firm's private equity and investment funds practice. Clients say he offers "good practical advice about how to get a deal done," and is adept at "weighing business risks."
THE FIRM Seward & Kissel offers talent in midmarket M&A, as demonstrated by its many deals for investment management clients. Benefiting from the firm's impressive shipping finance practice, the New York corporate group also attracts impressive mandates in the world of shipping, including one from OceanFreight relating to its $239 million acquisition by DryShips.
Sources say: "The fact they are proactive or quickly reactive is of huge benefit to us."
KEY INDIVIDUALS James Abbott co-heads the firm's M&A practice. Sources say he "brings a wealth of experience to the table" and "has a great grasp of commercial issues spanning a variety of industry segments." He recently advised Parfums de Coeur on its sale to Yellow Wood Partners.
THE FIRM This corporate group is a popular choice for transactions in the insurance space, as well as in other regulated industries such as financial services. The group counts Swiss Re and Hartford Life Insurance among its clients. Interviewees praise the team for its nimble execution of mid-to-large size deals, and commend its willingness to adopt cost-effective fee structures, sometimes in conjunction with the firm's offices in DC and Atlanta.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Bert Adams is praised by sources for his impressive ability to understand all aspects of a transaction. He recently represented Freepoint Commodities in acquiring J.P. Morgan Metals and Concentrates.
Howard Hermanof Moses & Singer LLP is co-head of the M&A department at Moses & Singer LLP. "A gem" in the M&A world, he "writes well" and "understands the issues," according to sources.
Rochester-based Craig Wittlin of Harter, Secrest & Emery LLP is well respected among sources. He recently advised Health Management Associates on a $875 million senior notes exchange.
Mitchell Nussbaum is chair of Loeb & Loeb's capital markets and Asia practices. His recent highlights include representing Harbin Electric in a $768 million buyout by its CEO, Abax Global Capital and Abax affiliates.
Loeb & Loeb LLP corporate department chair and New York managing partner David Schaefer has "tremendous tenacity," according to sources, who add: "He's got the courage of his convictions and good judgment."
Lowenstein Sandler PC's M&A chair Marita Makinen is described as "extremely knowledgeable," and is praised for her "unbelievable attention to detail." She led a team acting for Buddy Media on its sale to salesforce.com, one of 2012's major tech deals.