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World Tax Reviews

Tax
Alvarez & Marsal

Alvarez & Marsal is part of the Taxand network of practitioners and so is able to offer comprehensive cross-border capabilities to its clients. The team is active across the full range of practices and has been expanding the team dramatically in the recent past.

The most notable addition to the team recently was the arrival of a team from FTI Consulting that included European practice leader Marvin Rust and senior directors Louise Jenkins and Andrew Ponting. On the other side of things, managing director Tom McFarlane left for Hogan Lovells, Kevin Hindley started his own company and David Pert and Charles Beer both retired.

Baker McKenzie

One of the strong law firm tax operators outside of the big four accounting firms, Baker McKenzie is rated as one of the strongest practices in the UK. Beyond the abilities of the team itself it is also part of one of the most extensive legal networks in the world and is therefore able to offer clients a very strong cross-border capability.

One recent example of the firm’s work saw it acting for Emerson Electric on the non-US aspects of its $3.2 billion acquisition Pentair's valves and controls business. This included work in 17 different jurisdictions. The team also continues to advise Tapestry in relation to the tax aspects of its post-acquisition integration of Kate Spade.

There were two notable changes to the team recently. One saw the arrival of tax consultant Tom Aston from KPMG in late 2017, which was the same time the team saw the departure of partner Mark Bevington to ADE Tax.

Client feedback

“Very high technical standard, Baker McKenzie are of a higher technical standard than their competitors.”

“They were excellent; highly technical team members who operate in a practical way. Great client service, responsiveness and anticipation of client needs.”

DLA Piper

International firm DLA Piper has a strong reputation in the UK for its tax work. It provides services covering corporate tax, real estate tax, finance tax and VAT and indirect tax issues. The transaction practice in particular with partners like Paul Rutherford and Richard Woolich is recognised for its capabilities.

A team led by Rutherford recently advised Heineken on the tax aspects of its £403 million acquisition of Punch Taverns. Elsewhere, Woolich and Geoffrey Scardoni were in charge as it acted for ING in relation to the refinancing of the iconic Gherkin building in London.

There were several significant additions to the firm recently. This included the arrival of transfer pricing director Rachit Agarwal from Baker McKenzie, corporate tax partner Ben Brown from Allen & Over and corporate tax partner David Smith from Eversheds.

EY

The EMEIA Tax Center at EY is organised as a supranational entity covering the entire Europe, Middle East, India and Africa (EMEIA) region, with its Intercompany Effectiveness and operational transfer pricing practice serving clients’ needs across all jurisdictions.

Led by Oslo-based partner Sveinung Baumann-Larsen, it brings together multi-disciplinary experience and resources focused on IT, accounting, and tax from the entire region in its work. This work covers some of the leading global companies in their respective fields and includes those involved in retail and consumer products, energy and pharmaceuticals, to name but a few.

Mayer Brown

The tax practice at Mayer Brown in the UK is led by partner James Hill. The firm is particularly focused on ensuring its work is partner-led and has specifically strucutured its team so that the partner-associate ratio is roughly even. It was recognised as the ITR European Tax Team of the Year in 2017.

Hill was the partner in charge recently as the firm assisted Vitruvian Partners and its portfolio company JAC Travel on the sale of the latter to Webjet, an Australian-listed travel company, for £200 million. Elsewhere, it advised the LKK Health Products Group on its £1.28 billion acquisition of the ‘Walkie Talkie’ tower in London.

The one notable change to the team in the recent past was the departure of Sandy Bhogal to Gibson Dunn.

Simmons & Simmons

The tax practice at Simmons & Simmons generates up to two-thirds of its tax work from its client base, mostly on advisory and contentious matters. Its work is focused on just four key sectors: asset management and investment funds, financial institutions, life sciences and technology, media and telecommunications.

One recent matter the team worked on saw it advising Invesco in connection with its multi-billion dollar acquisition of Source Holdings. The team in that matter was led by partner Martin Shah, who is also the lead partner acting for The British Land Company on a range of significant tax and structuring matters.

The most significant change to the team recently saw the arrival of tax partner Monique van Herksen from EY, who is a transfer pricing specialist.

Client feedback

“Exceptional technical and commercial knowledge. They are very good value for money when compared with big four alternative advisors, we’ve used before and found were generally more expensive, with worse technical and commercial knowledge. The team has an impressive ability to liaise with a wide range of stakeholders with credibility and ‘translate’ VAT issues into business language. They also have a wide network of other business in the sector, so are able to provide a wide scope of context and understanding.”

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom

The tax team at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom is made up of two partners and three other lawyers. It is led by James Anderson. The team is most recognised for its cross-border tax expertise, especially between the UK and the US, and for private capital matters. Indeed, Anderson is a private capital specialist.

The team recently advised Austral in connection with its $1 billion joint venture with White Bridge and Carval to invest in Argentinian infrastructure assets. The cross-border matter covered work in the UK, US, Argentina and Luxembourg. Elsewhere, partner Alex Jupp was the partner in charge as it assisted Vantiv with the tax aspects of its $10.4 billion acquisition of the Worldpay Group.

Slaughter and May

Slaughter and May offers a full-service tax team that has a focus on commercial clients. The department currently has six partners, led by Sara Luder, in addition to 20 associates. The work of the firm mainly falls into transaction support and structuring, tax consultancy and disputes.

One example of that work saw Luder leading a team advising Michael Kors Holdings on its recommended cash offer for Jimmy Choo. With the client a UK tax resident BVI incorporated company there were significant cross-border factors involved. The firm also acted for Standard Life in connection with its recommended all-share merger with Aberdeen Asset Management and related sale of its capital-intensive insurance business to Phoenix.

The team saw a couple of notable partner retirements in the last year, with both Tony Beare and Jeanette Zaman deciding to call it a day at the end of 2017.

Sullivan & Cromwell

The team at Sullivan & Cromwell is particularly noted for its abilities on US-UK matters. Transactional work plays a significant part of its overall practice but it is also involved in notable controversy matters as well.

One recent example of the firm’s work saw it acting for BP in connection with cross-border tax issues related to its agreement with the Bridas Corporation to form a joint venture, Pan American Energy. It also assisted the Bank of NT Butterfield & Son on the tax aspects of an agreement to acquire Deutsche Bank’s non-US Global Trust Solutions business.

Client feedback

“We worked together with them on a highly complex cross-border transaction and they were technically very skilled, on top of things, always available, had a good feel for the commercial dynamics and were great to work with. I think they may have more depth on the technical side than some of their competitors.”

Mike Orchowski, Andrew Thomson 

“Both excellent.”

Taylor Wessing

The tax practice at Taylor Wessing is known for its work advising private wealth clients, real estate funds and start-ups on a range of different tax matters, most notably those relating to inbound investment into the UK. 

A recent matter the team worked on saw it acting for Supercell in connection with its $90 million acquisition of SpaceApe Games. It also served as counsel to Dot Zinc – trading as money.co.uk – on the £140 million sale of the group to ZPG.

The one notable change to the team this year was the addition of partner Graham Samuel-Gibbon, who joined from EY.

Watson Farley & Williams

The tax team at Watson Farley & Williams is primarily focused on transactional matters. In particular it has significant capabilities in energy and infrastructure, natural resources and maritime sectors. In relation to the latter, it is a leader in the space of tonnage tax in the UK and partner Richard Stephens was the only lawyer invited to join the industry advisory group that helped compile the government's Maritime Growth Study.

Recent work highlights have included acting for a group of institutional investors in relation to the tax implications associated with the long-term financing for the acquisition of a 50% stake in the Wlney Extension offshore wind farm. It also advised Ørsted on the reorganisation of its Lincs offshore wind farm joint venture.

There were a couple of recent changes to the team that saw the departure of senior associate Claire Miles to Willkie Farr & Gallagher and arrival of senior associate David Jacob from K&L Gates shortly afterward.

Weil Gotshal & Manges

Weil Gotshal & Manges has a particular strength in the financial services and banking sectors, where it advises a wide range of major clients on a number of different issues. Its work on cross-border matters is significantly focused on the UK, Europe and the US. It’s strength in these areas was demonstrated when in 2017 it was won the ITR European Financial Services Tax Deal of the Year and ITR European Private Equity Tax Deal of the Year.

One recent matter the team has been working on has seen an international team of partners advising Westinghouse Electric in connection with its $4.6 billion group restructuring. It also continues to act for Lehman Brothers Holdings in relation to the groups insolvency proceedings more than 10 years after the bank so publically failed.