Canada proves hotbed of M&A activity

Canadian firms were rejoicing as the country became the centre of last week’s frenzied M&A activity, with two mega-mergers worth an aggregate of £25bn being announced in one day.

The first saw US aluminium giant Alcoa make an unsolicited $33bn (£16.57bn) bid for Canadian multinational Alcan.

As first reported by The Lawyer (8 May), Alcoa turned to Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, with Stikeman Elliott providing Canadian law advice.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton nabbed a role advising on what will be monumental antitrust issues if the deal progresses. Alcoa had to divest Alcan in 1950 after the US company was found to be an anticompetitive monopoly.

Alcan is understood to be using trusted counsel Ogilvy Renault. Davis Polk & Wardwell and Sullivan & Cromwell are its historic M&A advisers. Alcan is one of 600 Canadian companies to have been the subject of foreign M&A activity since January 2006, according to Bloomberg.

But 8 May also saw a Canadian company become acquisitive, as Thomson Corp offered £8.8bn for Reuters in a bid to become the world’s largest financial data and news provider.

Again the deal has serious antitrust issues and both companies instructed separate competition counsel: Clifford Chance and Weil Gotshal & Manges for Reuters and Shearman & Sterling for Thomson.

Thomson also looked to Torys for local law advice and to Allen & Overy. Reuters instructed Canadian firm Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg and Slaughter and May.