In the increasingly competitive Calgary legal market, one of the latest law firms to lure a partner from a competitor is Borden Ladner Gervais.
Ira Cooper, who has worked for nearly the past twelve years at McCarthy Tétrault, is now a banking and finance partner in BLG’s Calgary office. Cooper advises lenders and borrowers in corporate and commercial lending deals. His practice encompasses both asset-based and balance sheet lending.
In an exclusive interview with IFLR1000, Cooper described a “buzz on the street” with regard to his new employer’s push to lure legal talent. The firm has been quite aggressive about bringing high-end lawyers aboard, he commented. Cooper said that he was happy at McCarthy Tétrault and had not been planning to make a transition, but when this opportunity arose at BLG, it proved irresistible. Cooper had always said that if he ever did make a move, it would be to another national firm offering clients a full-service practice.
Cooper joins at a propitious moment, when Canadian banks have an abundance of capital and an appetite for spending it. The banks are looking to do deals, Cooper observed.
“In connection with that trend, M&A activity, public and private, has really come back in a large way. Banks are willing to fully underwrite acquisition loans and bridge facility loans. That’s something you saw back in 2005-6. After the credit crisis, fully underwritten commitments went by the wayside, but now they’ve come back. I’m working on two of them now where banks are willing to fully underwrite the deals,” he said.
Another trend Cooper observed is the waning of the fully domestic Canadian loan transaction. Apart from financing junior exploration and production oil and gas companies, Cooper said, he can’t remember the last time he did an entirely domestic Canadian deal for a client. Nearly every deal has a U.S. aspect and/or another foreign component, he noted.
“Right now, I’m representing the lenders in a deal where the borrower will be operating in upward of 20 countries, and we need to get counsel in these jurisdictions. Given the international scope of transactions, to protect the lenders, fairly new concepts relating to sanctions provisions and antiterrorism provisions need to be included in some of the loan documents,” Cooper remarked.
Cooper earned his Bachelor of Laws at the University of Alberta, graduating in 2002, and joined McCarthy Tétrault shortly thereafter.