The Canadian tax department at Baker McKenzie is separated into five specialties: tax planning & transactions, tax controversy, transfer pricing, indirect tax and global wealth management. Its clients include large multinational companies such as Best Buy, Boeing, General Dynamics, Home Depot, Salesforce, Symantec and Whirlpool.
Over the past 12 months, the team worked on numerous cases, especially M&A transactions. Two M&A transactions it worked on involved clients Camso and Motorola Solutions. The team counselled Camso through its sale to Michelin. It also advised Motorola Solutions through its acquisition of Avigilon.
The firm lost partner Mark Tonkovich during the research period, who left for Blake Cassels & Graydon.
Barsalou Lawson Rheault is a boutique firm that excels in transfer pricing. The firm is also specialised in tax controversy and litigation. The firm’s tax litigation practice covers all aspects of tax dispute resolution including audits, administrative appeals, competent authority and judicial proceedings before federal and provincial courts in Canada. In addition, the team is also active in tax planning focused on domestic and cross-border transactions.
Over the research period, the firm acted in judicial review proceedings in the federal court of Canada and in provincial tax courts.
Founded in 1922, Bennett Jones is a law firm spread out in seven offices over three countries. The tax department is made up of 18 partners and 11 other lawyers, led by a three-person team of Thomas Bauer (corporate tax), Darcy Moch (corporate tax) and Ed Kroft (tax litigation and dispute resolution). It specialises in general corporate tax and tax controversy and places a strong focus on the oil and gas, mining, energy, technology, communications, transportation, manufacturing, financial services, real estate and healthcare sectors.
Over the research period, the tax team represented holders of senior unsecured notes of Concordia International Corporation through the restructuring of the company’s $4 billion debt restructuring. In another key matter, the team advised MEG Energy through Husky’s hostile takeover of the company.
In terms of lateral moves, the team was strengthened with the addition of three key figures. Partners Jehad Haymour, Ed Kroft and Deborah Toaze were hired, with Haymour coming from Dentons and Kroft and Toaze coming from Blakes. Two associates, Eric Brown and Sophie Virji were also recruited.
Blake Cassels & Graydon is a leading law firm in Canada and it excels in corporate tax, transactional tax and tax controversy. Jeffrey Trossman leads the tax group at the firm.
The team assisted with many transactional matters over the research period. A standout matter was the representation of Kinder Morgan Canada in connection with the indirect sale of the Trans Mountain Pipeline system. In a tax controversy case, the team counselled Husky Energy over a proceeding regarding whether certain contributions to a partnership are correctly classified as interest. Notable clients include the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Cerberus Capital Management Partners, CBS, KraftHeinz Canada and Wells Fargo.
The firm was strengthened with the addition of partner Mark Tonkovich, who joined from Baker McKenzie. In terms of departures, partner Sabrina Wong left for KPMG, partners Edwin Kroft and Deborah Toaze left for Bennett Jones. Partner Edward Miller left for Aird & Berlis and partner Robert Kreklewich retired.
The tax team at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg maintains a dominant position in Canada. The team specialises in transactional tax, tax controversy and general corporate tax. Thirty-four members make up the tax department, split up over two Canadian offices, in Toronto and Montréal, as well as an international office in New York. Guy Du Pont heads the tax litigation practice.
Over the research period, the team represented numerous clients in various M&A deals. In one case, the team advised Barrick Gold Corporation through its merger with Randgold Resources. It also advised the client through a joint venture with Newmont Mining Corporation, resulting in the establishment of a Nevada complex. The team also represented Enercare in its sale to Brookfield Infrastructure and Arizona Mining in its sale to South32.
In terms of lateral moves, partner Stéphane Eljarrat left for Osler Hoskin & Harcourt, partner Kimberly Brown left for Lawson Lundell and Raj Juneja left for Auto Canada.
“I have not noticed any weaknesses. Extremely professional and knowledgeable in tax law.”
“Based on my personal experience the firm is one of the best prominent firms in Canada. I have retained other firms in the past, but my current experience with this firm has been phenomenal. All I can see is strengths and excellent level of knowledge.”
“Top law firm in Canada in tax litigation. So far, based on my personal experience, there is nothing more than professionalism and strong legal knowledge of the team.”
Carl Allegretti is the Canadian national tax leader at Deloitte Canada. He is also the managing partner at the Chicago practice of Deloitte. Allegretti leads a team of 186 partners, 329 senior managers, 274 managers and 560 professional staff. They have a strong focus on the energy, resources and industrial, financial services, consumer business and technology, media and telecommunications sectors. The team excels in transactional tax and it maintains its specialisation in general corporate tax and tax controversy.
During the research period, the tax team assisted its client, a member of the oil and gas sector, in developing a technology using RPA in order to automate tax classification for asset acquisitions. It also helped a client prepare their Canadian indirect tax returns using their proprietary technology solution, VAT Smart.
“Overall, we are pleased with the level of service and product delivered by Deloitte Canada for Canadian indirect tax compliance.”
Fasken Martineau DuMoulin is a law firm with seven offices throughout Canada and international offices in South Africa, the UK and China. More than 39 professionals work in the tax department, with 30 of them being partners. Partner Christopher Steeves serves as the tax group leader. The team specialises in general corporate tax, transactional tax and tax controversy. Its clients belong to sectors such as energy, natural resources, financial services, life sciences, healthcare, real estate, IT, construction, transportation, retail and mining.
During the research period, the group acted as lead counsel on the Gordie Howe International Bridge Project. As lead counsel, the group advised the Canadian government and the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority through one of the largest bi-national infrastructure projects along the Canada-US border in a project valued at over $5.7 billion. Furthermore, the tax team advised the special committee of The Jean Coutu Group through its merger with Metro.
In terms of lateral moves, partner Maureen Berry joined from Goodmans, while partner Curtis Stewart left, partner Frédéric Harvey departed for KPMG and partner Frank Schober retired.
Goodmans is a leading law firm in Canada. Partner Carrie Smit leads the tax group, which includes a total of seven partners and three other lawyers. The tax team’s main strength is transactional tax, specifically M&A, but it also excels in general corporate tax and is active in tax controversy. The group advises clients in different sectors, such as commercial services, education, energy, financial services, food and beverage, pulp and paper, government, healthcare, media, mining and metals, real estate, retail, sports, technology, telecommunications, transportation, travel and leisure and utilities.
In the past 12 months, the tax group advised numerous clients through high profile M&A deals. In one case, it represented Newmont Mining through its total share acquisition of Goldcorp, a deal valued at $10 billion. It also represented Altria in its 45% equity acquisition in Cronos Group, including a warrant to acquire another 10% equity stake more than four years past closing.
“Excellent advisory and transaction structuring work. Strengths - smart, thoughtful and practical tax and corporate advice. Very responsive and top-tier creative thinkers. Always looking around the corner and highly experienced. Great to partner with on complex deal work.”
Gowling WLG is a law firm with 18 offices around the world, including seven in Canada. John Sorensen leads the national tax group, which specialises in private equity, executive compensation, tax controversy, indirect tax and customs, transfer pricing and indigenous tax. It works across all sectors, such as automobile, aviation, construction, energy, financial services, food and beverage, government, healthcare, infrastructure, life sciences, natural resources, nuclear, real estate, retail, tourism and leisure and technology.
Over the past 12 months, the team advised NextEra Energy Partners through the sale of a portfolio to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. The portfolio contained one of the largest sets of renewable energy projects for sale to date. Additionally, it represented Blackhawk Network in an appeal to the Tax Court of Canada. The appeal concerns the taxability of services given to non-residents of Canada who are not registered for VAT and resulted in a successful resolution for the client.
Partner Steven Baum retired during the research period.
KPMG’s tax team includes more than 1,650 tax professionals, of which 240 are partners, making it the largest tax practice in Canada. It specialises in working with clients in the financial services, real estate, mining, oil and gas and public sectors. The team’s size allows it to have a wide expertise in practice areas such as transfer pricing, tax controversy, transactional tax and general corporate tax. Greg Wiebe is the Canadian managing partner of the tax department at KPMG.
Over the research period, the tax department worked on numerous cases. All matters and clients are confidential.
The firm grew with the addition of eight partners, but also saw the departure of four partners.
The tax team at McCarthy Tétrault is spread out over four offices throughout Canada, in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montréal. It has a strong reputation in tax controversy, general corporate tax and transactional tax. Christian Meighan heads the tax practice area.
In a key matter, the team advised Brookfield Infrastructure and Brookfield Asset Management through the total share acquisition of Enercare. This deal was one of the largest go-private deals in 2018. Also during the research period, the team counselled Uber on its tax dealing with the Agence du Revenu du Québec. This allowed Uber to set up a compliance agreement where it can electronically register independent drivers for tax purposes. Following this, the team counselled Airbnb in similar matters.
In terms of lateral moves, partner Raj Juneja was hired from AutoCanada. This follows the retirement of partner Ron Mar.
Michael Friedman heads the tax group at McMillan. The team specialises in general corporate tax, transfer pricing, indirect tax and tax controversy. It maintains strong relationships with clients in the financial services, automobile, cannabis, pharmaceutical, technology and natural resources sectors.
Over the research period, the team played a large role in high profile M&A transactions. It advised Aurora Cannabis through its acquisition of MedReleaf. This acquisition is the largest merger in the Canadian cannabis sector, valued at $2.5 billion. The team also advised Aurora Cannabis through its acquisition of CanniMed Therapeutics. This acquisition is the second largest merger in the Canadian cannabis sector, valued at $1.1 billion. Both acquisitions show the growing importance of the cannabis sector in Canada following newly passed legislation legalising recreation cannabis. In another M&A transaction, the group advised EnerSys through its acquisition of Alpha Technologies Group of Companies.
In terms of lateral moves, counsel Adam Gotfried was hired from KPMG and senior economist Yongchong Mao was hired from EY.
“Domain expertise in the area of tax; was able to take complex/technical structures and provide us with feedback and solutions using that would achieve the outcome we were looking for.”
“McMillan provides consistently excellent tax advice. They are also practical, developing solutions in ways that not only achieve the desired tax objectives but also make sense from a business perspective. They are also very responsive to client demands - quick to return calls and respond to emails. You know that work will get done when you need it.”
Monica Biringer and Patrick Marley co-chair the tax department at Osler Hoskin & Harcourt. They oversee a team of 66 lawyers over five offices in Canada: Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. The team has expertise in transactional tax, tax controversy and general corporate tax. It works with clients in numerous sectors such as natural resources, manufacturing, financial services, communications, technology, real estate, transportation and energy.
During the research period, the group represented Algoma Steel through its asset acquisition of Essar Steel Algoma and its US subsidiary. In another high-profile acquisition, the team represented The Stars Group on its acquisition of Sky Betting & Gaming. Furthermore, it counselled the underwriters through its secondary offering subordinate voting shares by Canada Goose Holdings.
The team added partner Louis Tassé, who joined from EY. Tassé now heads the tax litigation practice area in Montréal. Additionally, partner Richard Tremblay retired.
“Technically very strong, very responsive and practical.”
Corrado Cardarelli chairs the firm’s tax practice at Torys, which specialises in general corporate tax, tax controversy and transactional tax, especially cross-border transactions. Martha McDonald chairs the tax controversy and litigation practice. The tax department is made up of 22 professionals spread out over offices in Toronto and Calgary, with an international office in New York. It is active in the agribusiness, cannabis, financial services, government, manufacturing, infrastructure, life sciences, media, mining and metals, oil and gas, real estate, retail and technology sectors.
During the research period, the tax team represented Fairfax Financial Holdings in its acquisition of Toys “R” Us’s Canadian unit. The team also worked on another high-profile M&A case, representing Vermillion Energy in its acquisition of Spartan Energy. Additionally, in a landmark deal for its client, the team at Torys represented Thomson Reuters in a 55% interest sale of its financial and risk business to private equity funds managed by The Blackstone Group.