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Americas Awards

International Tax Review's first Americas Awards got off to a strong start in late September. The ceremony was held at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York and more than 120 top tax professionals were in attendance to celebrate tax excellence

Awards were presented in 30 categories and covered seven countries.

The night finished with the presentation of four of the most prestigious awards. The award for Americas tax litigation firm of the year went to Fenwick & West. The firm made the news this year through the Xilinx case, where the US courts found that the technology company has met with the arm's-length transfer pricing standard.

Fenwick & West's tax leader Jim Fuller picked up the award. Tax talent within the firm includes Ronald Schrotenboer, Ward Connally and David Forst. The firm's M&A tax work is also very impressive and far-ranging. The firm ranks number eight in the US in terms of private equity exit by deal volume for the first half of 2006. The clients here are world class, with 38 of the Fortune 100 list represented. Fenwick & West also scooped the award for San Francisco tax firm of the year.

The Editors' Special Tax Contribution Award followed. Senator Connie Mack, who led President Bush's panel on US tax reform, won this.

Next up was the award for Latin American tax firm of the year, which went to Ernst & Young. One of many highlights for the big-four firm's tax department here was advising Procter & Gamble on its integration after the $1 billion merger with Gillette. In Brazil the firm maintains a strong presence in the market with Gil Mendes, Carlos Cardel and Marcia Saito on the team. Carlos Romero and Marcelo Jordao are noted for their tax expertise. In Mexico the firm has a significant presence in the form of Manuel Solano, who is considered to be one of the country's leading advisers for cross-border structuring. In Argentina the firm added Horacio López in 2006, while in Chile the firm has a star reputation with three new partners joining: Rodrigo Penaloza, Macarena Navarrete and Patricia Villarroel.

A presentation of the award for North America's tax firm of the year followed. The award went to Deloitte, who have some 7400 practitioners in the region. Stars include Phil Morrison, who is based in Washington, and Andy Newman, from the Chicago office. Another strong name in Chicago is Tom Driscoll. In New York John Kennedy and Robert Stricof are well-regarded. In California Scott Mund in Los Angeles heads the firm's international tax practice, which has grown significantly in the last 12 months, from 32 to 50 practitioners. In Texas Amin Nosrat leads the team while in Canada John Bowey became chairman of the 1,100-strong practice in June 2006. The firm's client base is impressive and includes Yahoo, Levi Strauss and Adulent.

The night began with awards for the transfer pricing firm of the year in five Latin American countries, Canada, and six US cities.

For Argentina, the award went to Deloitte, who also picked up the award in Chile. In Argentina, Deloitte's Manuel Diskenstein was singled out for praise.

Lacaz Martins won in Brazil. Peers praised Luis Schoueri for his transfer pricing work here. In the past year, the firm has worked for Robert Bosch, NEC, Melhoramentos, Schering do Brasil, Aventis/ Sanofi, Petrobrás, Jansen, and Daimler Benz.

Ernst & Young picked up the Venezuelan prize, where Katherine Pinzon is a leading light.

The trophy for the top transfer pricing practice in Mexico went to Baker & McKenzie.

Baker & McKenzie did well in the transfer pricing categories, also scooping the prize for Washington DC transfer pricing firm of the year and North America transfer pricing firm of the year. Marc Levey, one of the firm's transfer pricing's stars, collected the North America award. Levey, who is New York based, benefits from the expertise of colleagues like Carol Dunahoo, Bob Kirshenbaum, Gregg Lemein and Susan Stone in other parts of the US.

Latin America transfer pricing firm of the year went to Ernst & Young. Here Luis Eduardo Ocando, who has a host of transfer pricing talent, manages the firm. In Brazil Gil Mendes is in charge of transfer pricing while in Chile Sergio Sapag is highly regarded. In the well-respected Caracas transfer pricing team, Katherine Pinzon, is renowned for her superb work.

The big four firm's South American success was replicated further north, where Ernst & Young took home the transfer pricing prize for the New York, Chicago and the Houston and Dallas markets. Some high-profile names work in transfer pricing practising here including; New-York partners Barbara Mace and Russ O'Haver, Chicago-based Colleen Warner and Purvez Captain in Texas.

McDermott Will & Emery won for transfer pricing in San Francisco. And for southern California, Deloitte won in Los Angeles where Mark Nehoray and Amin Mitra are noted practitioners.

The presentations then moved on to the tax firm of the year awards for the 12 territories.

In Argentina, Marval O'Farrell & Mairal picked up the trophy. This year the firm worked for Telecom on its $2.7 billion debt restructuring, one of the most complex ever in Latin America. The firm has an impressive client featuring CTI Compañía de Teléfonos de Interior, Barclays Capital, Deutsche Bank, and Lehman Brothers and a star lawyer in Gabriel Gotlib.

The big-four dominated the rest of Latin America in this category.

PricewaterhouseCoopers picked up the Brazil and Mexico prizes. In Brazil, Elidie Bifano is excellent for capital markets work and Fernando Matos is a top transfer pricing specialist. Roberto del Toro, Oscar Soriano Escalano, Carlos Montemayor, Carlos Frias, Mauricio Hurtado, and Sandro Castaneda are regarded as first-rate Mexican tax professionals.

Chile went to Ernst & Young, where the firm handled the tax work on the second largest acquisition in ever here when Brookfield Asset Management bought HQI Transelec. Rodrigo Valenzuela and Sergio Sapag are two of the outstanding practitioners here. Deloitte won Venezuela, where Humberto Romero-Muci is a leading light. A first-rate client roster includes Total Oil & Gas Venezuela, Makro Comercializadora, Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi, Ferroatlántica de Venezuela, and Sidor.

But the law firms dominated the US and Canada tax firm of the year awards, with a Washington DC win for Deloitte the only big-four victory. Deloitte's national office is in the US capital and includes stars such as Phil Morrison and Bill Dodge.

In Canada, law firm Osler Hoskin & Harcourt has had another exceptional year and deservedly picked up the award here. The tax group has continued to expand and now has 65 practitioners. Nathalie Goyette, formerly a senior litigator with the Canadian government, joined in May this year. Star litigator Al Meghji had another outstanding year when he took on the government and won in a case involving Canada Trust Co, a mortgage company, and a groundbreaking judgement on Canada's general anti-avoidance rule. Other star names include Scott Wilkie, Richard Tremblay, Andrew McGuffin and Firoz Ahmed.

Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw won the award in its hometown Chicago. Latham & Watkins repeated the trick in Los Angeles. Mayer Brown's Chicago office is highly regarded for its tax controversy work, where practice head Joel Williamson is one of the US's top names. Williamson has litigated for some big companies such as Eli Lilly, Nestlé, Boeing and United Parcel Service. Latham & Watkins demonstrated its excellent M&A capabilities in handling the Carlyle Group acquisition of Hertz. The firm's John Clair is a star in this area.

The New York award was presented to Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, who have the largest law-firm based tax practice in the city. The firm handles a lot of big-ticket M&A work, including representing May Department Stores following Federated Department Stores acquisition of them. The deal was valued at $17 billion, making it the US' largest-ever retail M&A deal. Skadden also represented Alcatel on its $13.4 billion merger with Lucent, and Black Rock on its $9.8 billion merger with Merrill Lynch Investment Managers. The Black Rock deal was the largest-ever merger in the global asset management industry.

Vinson & Elkins picked up the prize for Houston and Dallas. The practice here has three excellent lawyers in Edward Osterberg, Judy Blissard, and George Gerachis. Osterberg chairs the tax practice's international and transactional group and is commended for his M&A, cross-border structuring and capital markets work.

North America tax firm of the year
Latin America tax firm of the year
Ernst & Young
Latin America transfer pricing firm of the year
Ernst & Young
Americas tax litigation firm of the year
Fenwick & West
Editor's special tax contribution award
Connie Mack
North America transfer pricing firm of the year
Baker & McKenzie
Argentina transfer pricing firm of the year
Brazil transfer pricing firm of the year
Lacaz Martins
Canada transfer pricing firm of the year
Chile transfer pricing firm of the year
Mexico transfer pricing firm of the year
Baker & McKenzie
Venezuela transfer pricing firm of the year
Ernst & Young
US: Chicago transfer pricing firm of the year
Ernst & Young
US: Houston and Dallas transfer pricing firm of the year
Ernst & Young
US: Los Angeles transfer pricing firm of the year
US: New York transfer pricing firm of the year
Ernst & Young
US: San Francisco transfer pricing firm of the year
McDermott Will & Emery
US: Washington, DC transfer pricing firm of the year
Baker & McKenzie
Argentina tax firm of the year
Marval O'Farrell & Mairal
Brazil tax firm of the year
Canada tax firm of the year
Osler Hoskin & Harcourt
Chile tax firm of the year
Ernst & Young
Mexico tax firm of the year
Venezuela tax firm of the year
US: Chicago tax firm of the year
Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw
US: Houston and Dallas tax firm of the year
Vinson & Elkins
US: Los Angeles tax firm of the year
Latham & Watkins
US: New York tax firm of the year
Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom
US: San Francisco tax firm of the year
Fenwick & West
US: Washington tax firm of the year

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