STIKEMAN ELLIOTT’s competition practice is led by partner Paul Collins, who returned to the firm in 2012 after two years of heading up the Competition Bureau’s mergers branch. Other key partners include Katherine L Kay, one of Canada’s top competition litigators. Susan M Hutton and Lawson A W Hunter both have active regulatory practices in Ottawa, while Shawn CD Neylan in Toronto covers everything from bureau and internal investigations of potential violations, to mergers and the attendant concerns about national security and foreign investment.
Merger control lawyers at Stikeman often work on the bureau’s abuse of dominance probes. But for criminal and litigation work, Kay is in charge. She and fellow litigators Eliot Kolers, Danielle Royal and Montreal-based Yves Martineau advise clients in multiple investigations and class actions, including several auto parts companies accused of colluding with rivals to fix prices.
This past year, Stikeman acted for Marriott International in its US$13 billion purchase of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, as well as Lowe’s in its acquisition of Canadian home improvement chain Rona for US$2.4 billion. The firm represents Bayer in its proposed US$66 billion acquisition of agrochemical giant Monsanto; Potash in its agri-merger with Agrium; and Japanese construction and mining equipment manufacturer Komatsu in its proposed purchase of Joy Global, which makes surface and underground mining equipment.
The competition team at corporate heavyweight Stikeman Elliott has had a “hell of a run” since 2012, says its practice head Paul Collins. That year saw straight-talking Collins return to the practice after two years heading up the Competition Bureau’s mergers branch, and rival lawyers admit the practice has taken off since then. In litigation, Stikemans’ personnel are similarly admired: partner and double Who’s Who Legal nominee Katherine Kay is perhaps Canada’s top competition litigator. Who’s Who Legal nominees Susan M Hutton and Lawson A W Hunter both have active regulatory practices in Ottawa.
Collins likes to think the firm gets its pick of the trickiest deals before Canada’s competition bureau. It is hard to deny that Stikemans has been on many of the most complex reviews of the past year or so. Collins and rising star Michael Kilby represented newspaper company Transcontinental in the acquisition of 74 local newspapers from Quebecor. The bureau ended its review with inventive remedies to test claims that several titles were unviable as competitors. The team also helped supermarket chain Sobeys buy Safeway’s 213 Canadian stores for C$5.8 billion, which required minute market-by-market analysis. Right now, Collins is working with Botox-maker Allergan in a US$54 billion hostile takeover by Quebec’s Valeant Pharmaceuticals. The hostile nature means timing and access to information are especially tricky, Collins says.
Merger control lawyers at Stikemans will often work on the bureau’s abuse of dominance investigations. But for criminal and litigation work, Kay is in charge. She and fellow litigators Eliot Kolers, Danielle Royal and Montreal-based Yves Martineau advise clients in multiple investigations class actions, including up to a dozen auto parts companies accused of colluding with rivals to fix prices. Kay has a long relationship with Air Canada, having represented the country’s biggest airline in a challenged joint venture with United Airlines and has long served as counsel in the air cargo case. The team is representing CIBC against a swell of class actions challenging interchange-fee rules, and has also had success recently on behalf of Tim Hortons and distributor Gordon Food Services in two lawsuits that test when plaintiffs can bring antitrust counts in franchise lawsuits.