Solicitors governing body: Israel Bar Association
Competition authority: Israel Antitrust Authority
Financial regulator: Israel Securities Authority
IFLR1000 ranking categories:
Financial and corporate (published October): Banking; Capital markets; M&A; Project finance
Israel’s legal system is predominantly based on common law although it incorporates elements of civil law too. When the State of Israel was declared independent an exact date was set to enact a constitution but a codified document has never been produced. Instead, the foundations of the country’s legal system are its Basic Laws, which govern state bodies, the parliament (The Knesset) and some civil rights.
Although geographically part of the Middle East, Israel is isolated from its compatriots in the region due to a longstanding conflict with Palestine, which is supported by other Arab nations, over who rightfully has claim to the land recognised internationally as Israel.
Israel’s conflict with Palestine has seen Israel excluded from cross-border trade within in the region but further afield it does not have the same problem. Israel has bilateral trade agreements with Canada, the EU, EFTA, Mexico, Turkey and the US. The US, consumes around a quarter of all its annual exports, mainly in the form of pharmaceuticals, a variety of high-technology and cut diamonds. The UK and China are the two other most significant importers of Israeli produce.
Israel’s dense legal market is diverse in terms of the size of firms but the best known and most active are typically the largest. Herzog Fox & Neeman, Gornitzky & Co, Gross, Kleinhendler, Hodak, Halevy, Greenberg & Co, and Meitar Liquornik Geva Leshem Tal are among those with consistent strength across a range of financial and corporate practices. Other firms are more specialised. S Horowitz & Co is renowned for banking work, Tadmor & Co Yuval Levy & Co has two of the country’s strongest project finance and competition practices, for example.
A fairly recent amendment to Israeli law saw the country’s legal market liberalised to permit foreign law firms to establish branches in Israel for the first time.
Opening the local office of an international firm in Israel is a relatively straightforward process. The Bar Association must be notified within 30 days of its launch, the branch must employ a lawyer - foreign or domestic - already registered with the Bar and it must have complied with the standard employment, registration and tax requirements for opening any business in Israel.
Foreign lawyers registered with Israeli Bar, and with its approval, can practice the law of their jurisdiction. Only foreigners with Israeli citizenship or resident status are entitled to requalify to practice domestic law.
Since regulations on foreign firms in Israel were relaxed, only a few have entered the market. Among the notable arrivals from overseas was Yingke, one the biggest firms in China. It established a soft merger without financial integration with Israeli boutique firm Eyal Khayat Zolty Neiger & Co, which was rebranded Yingke Israel in 2013. US outfit Greenberg Traurig was an earlier entrant, making its move in 2011.
When assessing why foreign firms have not launched branches in Tel Aviv, Israeli lawyers generally concur. Principally, they could not charge the fees they do from abroad in such a competitive market which has no shortage of US or UK qualified lawyers. There are also those who feel international firms are concerned that entering the Israeli market directly could damage important client relationships in the wider the Middle East.
Consolidation in the domestic legal market has been a trend in the last four years. Goldfarb Levy Eran Meiri Tzafrir & Co and M Seligman & Co was the first major deal. The two firms created Goldfarb Seligman & Co – still Israel’s largest firm by headcount. In 2014 Shibolet & Co merged with high-tech boutique Ben-Zvi. In 2013 Meitar Liquornik Geva & Leshem Brandwin and Kantor Elhanani Tal & Co joined forces to become the Israel’s third largest firm. More recently Tadmor & Co and Yuval Levy & Co merged.
Generally speaking, there is a range of commercial legal work on offer for law firms in Israel. There is a significant amount of cross-border corporate transactional work originating from the US. Mainly inbound M&A but also local company IPOs on Nasdaq, and, more recently, outbound acquisitions by domestic groups. Asian inbound investors represent another active client base.
Recently, domestic capital markets work has been somewhat limited. Infrastructure project related advice is however a good fee generator, especially in the energy sector. Five years ago there was an abundance of solar developments, and now there have been huge gas discoveries offshore in Israel.
For smaller firms the most reliable stream of commercial work is M&A and venture capital related advice. Outside the US, Tel Aviv is one of the world’s leading cities for high-tech start-ups thanks to the significant investment by the state in research and development, the proliferation of funding through venture lending and the country’s strong focus on education. A number of firms have built reputations for helping start-ups optimise their businesses and either eventually merging, selling or going public.
Ben Naylor - EMEA Editor
Agmon & Co - Rosenberg Hacohen & Co is one of Israel’s leading energy specialists - strong in regulatory and project development and financing work in the sector, and with good experience advising on reserve-based lending, which is uncommon among Israeli law firms. It also has strong capital markets and lending practices.
According to a general counsel at a bank, the firm demonstrates a “high level of professionalism, service and commitment” when advising on asset finance, bonds, derivatives, IPOs and project finance.
Another client - the CFO of an energy company - focuses on the firm’s sector expertise in his feedback. “Agmon & Co is aware of all the recent energy regulatory changes and, as the legal advisors of both the Tamar and Leviathan [Israeli gas fields] partners, takes active role with the related discussions with the regulator. The staff are very professional and provide highly quality service,” he says.
Partners mentioned by clients include Dan Hacohen, who is said to have a “very good commercial understanding and always give valuable advice”; the “excellent” Zvi Agmon; and Uri Rosenberg, a “top lawyer”.
Recent banking work for the firm included advising Fundtech and D&H transaction on a $1.5 billion financing from the Bank of Nova Scotia as part of a global merger between the two companies; advising the ELAD Group on the Israeli aspects of a $334 million financing; acting for Harel Investment on an NIS500 million (around $132 million) syndicated loan; and representing Ofek in its application to secure Israel’s first cooperative banking licence.
In the project space the firm is representing the consortium which hold the rights to the development of the Leviathan gas fields. Its work on the project currently relates to negotiating gas supply agreements, which are essential to the project securing long-term financing based on future income. In January 2016 the first agreement for the sale of gas from Leviathan to Israel was signed with the Edeltech group. Another notable project finance mandate for the team sees it advising a consortium involved in a large energy project on refinancing facilities taken out to fund exploration and development.
In the capitals markets area the firm’s transactional highlights saw the team working on a number of large debt issues. It advised Bank Leumi as issuer on three bonds: one of NIS2.85 billion, one of NIS3.5 billion and a third CoCo bond issue of NIS925 million. It also had issuer side roles on two bonds for Delek in the second half of 2015, which raised the client around NIS1.5 billion in total. Another interesting mandate in the area was the firm’s successful representation of Navitas Petroleum in an application to change the Tel-Aviv listing rules so the firm’s clients could raise debt for its projects outside Israel on the exchange.
Amit Pollak Matalon & Co bolstered its team with a couple of lateral hires –Efrat Haimi in the banking team and Noam Waldoks in the M&A team. Aharon Pollack is especially well known within the corporate finance world – with one client describing his work as “excellent”.
On the banking and finance side, the team advised Bank Hapoalim, Israel’s largest bank, in negotiations and redrafting of credit documents; and advised Ayalon Insurance amongst other funds providing financial services to real estate developers for urban renewal projects. In the capital markets the firm advised SteadyMed in its IPO on the Nasdaq.
In M&A, the firm advised Clicksoftware Technologies in a reverse triangular merger with global private equity fund Francisco Partners; and advised Heartware on the aborted acquisition of ValTech Cardio.
One client describes Amar Reiter Jeanne Shochatovitch & Co’s work as “very good and very efficient”. Yoav Caspi and Assaf Lapid were both singled out by clients as excellent.
In banking the firm advised Gindi Towers Tel Aviv in the financing and development of two residential towers; and advised John Bryce Training, a division of Matrix Group, in the financing of a ‘training city’ for the Israeli Police. The M&A team advised Aloni Haft Group in the acquisition of 40% of Andav Enterpunership.
Barnea & Co come highly recommended in the fields of project finance and M&A. The firm hired Inon Yogev, Zvi Gabbay, Yuval Lazi, Isaac Hanania and Uri Hillel during the research period. Ezra Katzen left the firm to joint Taboola.
One client says of Gabbay, “I followed Zvi when he joined Barnea & Co, his professionalism and depth of knowledge in areas and wealth management and private banking regulations are of the highest standard.” They go on to praise him as “timely and detail-orientated, he focuses on solutions and offers them for both our strategic an ad-hoc business challenges.”
In the capital markets the firm advised Avgol Industries in connection with preparing ISA and TASE approvals for a public offering prospective of a new series of traded debentures.
In M&A the firm advised Stride Gaming on acquiring a fellow Israeli mobile gaming company; and advised Shikun & Binui Real Estate Development and Direct Capital Serbia in connection with an acquisition and joint venture.
Epstein Rosenblum Maoz is best known for its project finance, M&A and banking work. One client says: “Excellent workers, highly responsive, excellent negotiators, fast while at the same time offering the highest quality. Outstanding and dedicated partners and team, delightful to work with and highly flexible.” Nimrod Rosenblum is singled out. A project finance client says: “We always get partner focus and practical advice when we need it. The lawyers were able to effectively manage our complex, multi-jurisdictional deal.”
One M&A client says “We have had a chance to work with a number of partners, Amnon Epstein, Nimrod Rosenblum, Asaf Rimon and Itai Yonai, we find their whole team to be highly impressive”, adding that they also have “many partners and lawyers with extensive cross-border experience”.
In banking and finance, the firm advised BNP Paribas in their role as senior and mezzanine lenders in the LBO by ATX Networks Group of HIG Capital. In project finance the firm advised NTA Metropolitan Mass Transit Systems, a government body, on numerous projects connected to constructing and operating Tel Aviv’s mass transit system; and advised Tahal Water Energy on regulatory and financing questions in regard to a 340MW pumped storage energy project.
In M&A the firm advised Liberum Capital (as NOMAD) in connection with Playtech PLS acquiring an Israeli listed company Plus500.
This year has been one of unprecedented expansion for Erdinast Ben Nathan Toledano & Co. The M&A department of Zellermayer has been absorbed by the firm, adding eight new lawyers: Doni Toledano, Lior Oren, Dan Sella, Shay Dayan, Nitzan Aberbach, Roee Weinberger, Amichai Peri, Eyal Wiesel. Additionally, the project finance team of Tadmor & Co Yuval Levy & Co has been absorbed, adding seven new lawyers: Jonathan Finklestone, Dr. Tani Zahavi, Guy Kles, Timor Pesso, Yoav Tal, Amit Raz, Naama Guy.
The project finance team can now lay claim to be one of the premiere departments in Israel. A client says of one recent addition from Tadmor: “Jonathan Finklestone is, in my opinion, one of the leading project finance expert in Israel” and another client says: “They are considered one of the best in Israel in the project finance sector.” Another client says: “The team is very professional and knowledgeable, the partners are very experienced and do not miss any detail. They are good negotiations and look for solutions between the lines – the team understands financing issues and building finance structures.”
Guy Kles is singled out and praised as “an extremely diligent and thorough lawyer. I was very impressed by the way he remembers every detail in the tender documents and by his dedication to our bid submission”. Tani Zahavi is also highlighted: “She is the type of lawyer who advances deals and is very client orientated – she is professional, knowledgeable and sharp.”
In project finance the firm advised Bank Hapoalim and Bank Leumi as senior lenders in financing a 340MW hydroelectricity pumped-storage power plant. Upon completion, this will be Israel’s largest pumped storage power station. In addition the firm advised Deutsche Bank and Deutsche Bank Luxembourg in connection with the multi-currency financing of two cogeneration power plants with an aggregate capacity of 145MW. In banking the firm advised Clal Industries in connection with a refinancing.
In M&A the firm advised XIO Group, in connection with a reverse triangular merger in which XIO acquired 100% share capital in Lumenis. The firm also advised Horizon Pharma in its $1.1 billion acquisition of Hyperion Therapeutics.
Full service domestic firm Fischer Behar Chen Well Orion & Co (FBC) has good banking, securities and corporate practices, and is recommended for energy project advice. The firm is known for representing many of Israel’s large institutional investors and has had a prominent role in the large debt restructurings that occurred in Israel recently.
The firm made a notable hire in this research period, bringing in experienced corporate lawyer Michael Zellermayer after his own firm, Zellermayer Pelossof Rosovsky Tsafrir Toledano & Co, ceased operating. Additionally the firm recruited Shmuel Hamou from Shibolet & Co as partner and head of the commercial department. One senior departure saw Atir Jaffe move to Pearl Cohen to lead the firm’s high-tech and venture capital practice.
Client feedback on the firm is good. “They were very thorough and accessible with an in-depth understanding,” says the general counsel of a media company the firm advised on a dual-listing.
Several other clients highlight the work of the firm’s energy projects practice. The head of legal at an international power company which the firm advises on project finance and M&A, summarises: “A professional team, very service oriented with deep knowledge of the market.”
Two clients give additional feedback on projects head Gilad Winkler. “Best-in-class, with a commercial understanding and industry-specific knowledge, lots of connections, and great ability to make the deal and help it close,” says the CEO at a renewable energy developer which uses the firm for project finance advice. Another describes the partner as: “professional, pleasant to work with and efficient”.
The firm was involved in a number of large loan transactions, with roles for both borrowers and lenders in 2015 and 2016. The publishable deals included representing Israel Discount Bank on a NIS750 million ($197 million) syndicated loan to Kavim public transportation and advising Mashav Initiating and Development on two syndicated credit facilities worth NIS1.3 billion.
In the area of project finance, the team advised on a number of transactions relating to energy developments. A notable example was its advice to IC Power and Advanced Integrated Energy as sponsor and borrower respectively in securing NIS900 million to support the construction of a co-generation power plant. Additionally it advised on a number of refinancings of project facilities and is acting for a shareholder on a large road project.
M&A highlights for the team included representing Clal when it sold its stake in Hadera Paper for NIS355 million to FIMI Opportunities Fund; advising Discount Capital Markets on the merger of Discount Underwriting and Clal Finance Underwriting; representing Perrigo on Mylan’s ultimately failed attempt to takeover the company; and acting for Pelephone on its acquisition of Youphone.
Goldfarb Seligman & Co is known for its corporate expertise, the high quality of its M&A advice in particular. The firm is also experienced in equity capital markets issues, both domestically and in the US. High-tech is a sector where it is strongly recommended.
Clients of the firm’s corporate team, who have worked with it on M&A, private equity and equity capital markets issues, agree it is an excellent choice of counsel for work in this area. The head of legal at a technology business, says: “Easy and great to work with.” A general counsel at an international IT company, remarks: “I rate them very highly and consider them to be a valued counsellor in acquisitions.” The CEO of a cyber security business, says: “The best law firm I know. Very good -experienced, professional, trustworthy and dedicated.” The managing director of a retail company was also impressed, explaining: “The law firm provided high level, professional services. They are very knowledgeable and think outside the box.”
Moving on to individuals, three clients emphasise the quality of Sharon Gazit’s work. She is “very sharp, assertive, and cooperative; up-to-date and very experienced,” according to one client. Another remarks: “She's a knowledgeable, experienced deal-maker and leader at the negotiation table.”
Another lawyer repeatedly commended is Danny Dilbary is. “He has an excellent eye for detail, digs in his heels for his client, and clearly is always thinking about putting his clients’ interests above all else,” says a client, adding :“He kept his eye on the ball and moved the deal like clockwork.” Speaking about Dilbary and Ashok Chandrasekhar, another remarks: “Very good, experience, professional, trustworthy and dedicated.”
One client gives the following reference for Dubi Zoltak team: “His dedication to work, clients and the subject in hand is excellent. Dubi and his team always provide the best solutions, work hard and provide the input and work needed and always with a smile.”
Of Aaron Lampert a client says: “Very happy with his work, availability, cost and attention to detail as well as sensitivity to corporate pressures. Delivers excellent legal advice always with a smile and a can-do attitude.”
Ariel Rosenberg is: “Excellent - professional, knowledgeable and friendly. He demonstrates a real understanding of how legal issues have a commercial effect and applies that understanding to the benefit of the client.”
Additionally, Barak Pomeranice is “very intelligent, devoted and hard-working” and “a formidable presence”; Ido Zemach is “one of the best corporate lawyers I have worked with”; Rami Sofer is “highly professional”; and, Amit Krispin has “very high expertise”.
The firm’s recent banking highlights included a large debt restructuring where it was representing the borrower; roles for two clients which successfully bid for tenders in a government programme to lend to SMEs, where the state will guarantee loans issued by partnerships of two financial institutions; and a role establishing a financial services provider in Israel.
Among the firm’s recent notable project finance work were a number of facilities for renewable energy projects. One of the larger deals was the firm’s mandate for Energix - Renewable Energies on a financing agreement for around $140 million to fund the expansion of a wind farm it owns in Poland.
Among the firm’s significant capital markets transactions were roles advising DelShah Capital on NIS400 million (around $105 million) Tel Aviv IPO; advising Nestle on taking Osem private as part its takeover of the company; acting for the IDB Group on a convertible loan, which included an injection of capital as subordinated debt into the business; and, representing Discount Investment Corporation on a NIS500 million rights issue.
In M&A the firm has been involved in a number of large, complex deals. The headline transactions included advising Nestle on the $840 million takeover of Osem through a reverse triangular merger; representing Intel Corporation in its acquisition of Replay Video Technologies for $175 million; acting for BTG when it bought Galil Medical for $110 million; and, representing Secure Islands Technologies $150 million acquisition by Microsoft.
Gornitzky & Co has a good financial and corporate offering. It has a strong bank lending practice - including for projects - which is active on large deals for borrowers and creditors. It is experienced in working on cross-border equity capital markets and M&A deals.
A general counsel at a construction company, which uses the firm for finance, securities and corporate transactions, says projects partner Itai Geffen “has incredible deal-making ability”.
Recent banking highlights for the team included advising the lenders on a $155 million syndicated loan to Mashav; representing Israel Corporation on a $250 million margin loan financing secured by a basket of trading shares; and acting for Meitav Provident Funds and Pension on a joint venture with Bank Otsar Ha-Hayal to participate in a NIS6.6 billion government scheme to provide state-guaranteed loans for SMEs (small-to-medium enterprises).
Among the firm’s significant project finance work are mandates advising Negev Energy - Ashalim Thermo-Solar as concessionaire of the $1.1 billion BOT (build-operate-transfer) to develop a thermosolar power plant; representing IPM Beer Tuvia on the $400 million financing for the development and construction of a 430MW combined cycle gas turbine IPP (independent power producer) project; and, assisting Shikun & Binui in financing a $180 million 120MW photovoltaic power plant.
The firm’s notable capital markets deals included advising Osem on going private through the company’s reverse triangular merger with Nestle, which acquired all shares it did not hold in the company for $880 million. Other large transactions for the team were roles advising Melisron on around $238 million in bond issues; representing the ADO Group on its €415 million Frankfurt IPO; and, acting for Shikun & Binui on a $90 million bond issue.
In M&A the firm was involved in a number of significant transactions. The larger deals included representing Osem in its $880 million reverse triangular merger with Nestle; acting for Golan Telecom’s shareholders in negotiating the sale of the business to Cellcom Israel for $436 million; and, representing Fortissimo Capital Fund in its acquisition of Fishman Thermo for $160 million.
The Tel Aviv branch of Greenberg Traurig is the only multinational law firm with a functional office registered with the Israeli Bar Association. Like all offices of international firms, they thus have the capacity to do complex corporate and M&A matters and have a large pool of resources to draw on.
The work done by the firm is primarily corporate and M&A. Examples include work for Sichuan Hebang Biotechnology Corp in the acquisition of 51% of Stockton Group; and work for the Delek Group on a divestment.
Gross Kleinhendler Hodak Halevy Greenberg & Co has one of Israel’s leading capital markets practices, and is known for securities and financial services regulatory expertise. It also has a good corporate team.
A general counsel at a real estate focused business, which uses the firm for corporate finance, securities and M&A transactions, focuses on individuals in their feedback. “The partner we work with, Aya Yoffe, gives us a high level of professional service and advice. Aya is a very experienced lawyer, has a practical, quick mind, and her advice is very creative. Together with Yuval Eden, a younger partner, they lead the group to the right decision, with confidence and without stress.”
In capital markets, the firm represented Israel Petrochemical Enterprises in a series of six bond issues, which raised NIS1.95 billion (around $514 million), as part of its debt restructuring; advised Paz Oil on an NIS690 million bond; acted for Clal Insurance on a NIS 600 million hybrid bond offering; and, advised the Azrieli Group Bond on three bond offerings totalling NIS2.3 billion.
A project highlight for the firms sees it advising the state on an NIS480 million project to develop a new public hospital in Ashdod.
In M&A the firm acted for Adallom when it was acquired by Microsoft for $300 million; advised Battery Ventures when it bought by Physical Security Business Unit of NICE technologies for $100 million; and advised Insight Venture Partners when it acquired Checkmarx.
Hamburger Evron & Co are known primarily for their work in banking, project finance and real estate.
In project finance side, the firm represented Bank Leumi, Israel’s largest bank, on funding a wide range of projects, including financing Medtown Tel Aviv. The firm also advised EDF-EN Israel, a subsidiary of EDF-EN in a number of large projects – the most recent being a 40MW photovoltaic power plant.
One of Israel’s leading transactional law firms, and one of its busiest, Herzog Fox & Neeman (HFN) has excellent banking, capital markets, M&A and projects practices, which all offer a high standard of service and legal expertise. The firm is often mandated by the state or state-owned entities on large projects and financings, and is generally involved in the largest cross-border M&A that involve Israel.
A new banking partner hire for the team was Roy Nachimzon, who was recruited from Discount Bank of New York. Banking and finance partner Asaf Nahum, meanwhile, left the firm to return to university.
Client feedback on the firm is positive. A general counsel from an international IT business which has sought the firm’s M&A and private equity advice says: “We get terrific service from HFN. They are extremely knowledgeable, approach issues with a problem-solving mind-set and are readily available despite the extreme time zone difference. We count on their expertise in the Israeli market and their history of working with our company.”
A consultant from an international law firm that HFN advises on acquisition finance, M&A, private equity and project development, remarks: “The firm has done an excellent job working alongside our firm on several matters in recent years. HFN is certainly among the very leading law firms in Israel, with strength across all departments and sectors. We are always happy to work with them.”
The vice-president of legal at an internet technology business the firm represented in all aspects of an M&A, says: “An excellent firm which provided us with excellent services in leading our M&A transaction, which included both the acquisition document and the financing documents. The transaction closed in 39 days from the date of the signing of the letter of intent until the merger agreement was signed. The firm is very knowledgeable about all aspects of M&A work and financing, and the team is very responsive.”
The CEO of a company involved in the renewable energy sector which the firm has advised on PPP (public-private partnership) projects and project finance, says the team is “very knowledgeable and professional, always responsive”.
A technology start-up general counsel, which the firm advises on corporate finance, joint venture and M&A, recommends Hanan Haviv: “He has an unparalleled knowledge of start-up legal environment coupled with great commercial acumen.”
The head of legal and compliance at a bank which uses the firm for bond, derivatives, IPO and regulatory advice, also focuses on an individual in his feedback: “HFN's work, particularly that of the partner in banking, Irit Roth, is excellent. She knows the industry, she is commercial and attentive and offers creative and pragmatic advice,” continuing: “Simply the best lawyer in Israel for corporate hi-tech work. Amazing knowledge of Israeli corporate law, along with business acumen.”
A number of other lawyers receive individual praise. Corporate partner Janet Levy-Pahima is “easy to work with, well-connected in the Israeli market and knows our company and our preferences well”. Corporate and securities head Ehud Sol provides “excellent service altogether; is very responsive and solution oriented; and very creative solutions”. Project finance co-head Mark Phillips is “very knowledgeable and professional, always responsive”.
Among the firm’s publishable banking work were roles for advising Mellanox Technologies on a $300 million credit agreement with a group of lenders led by JPMorgan, and a mandate acting for Credit Suisse on two separate purchases of distressed loans from Israeli banks.
Among the firm’s capital markets work, standout matters saw it representing a consortium of underwriters in offerings by Teva of around $3.38 billion of its American depositary receipts (ADRs) and around $3.38 billion of its mandatory convertible preferred shares; advising Israel Electric Corporation on a NIS1.5 billion (around $395 million) bond issue; and, advising Foamix Pharmaceuticals on its secondary public offering of $60 million on Nasdaq.
The firm’s publishable project finance mandates include representing project companies IPP Alon Tavor and IPP Ramat Gavriel on the project financing of around NIS1 billion for the development of cogeneration power plants; advising Bank Leumi, Bank Hapoalim, EIB and OPIC on financing solar thermal power plants in Ashkelon; and, acting for Shapir Engineering Cross Israel North on securing a mezzanine loan to fund the northern section of the Israel Highway.
H-F & Co are a corporate boutique that specialises in providing a full service for clients in the hi-tech sector. The founders of the firm, Nitzan Hirsch-Falk and Yuval Oren both worked as senior partners in the hi-tech M&A department of renowned firm Gross Kleinhendler Hodak Halevy Greenberg & Co.
A finance client says: “We are very happy with the level of service and quality of work of H-F & Co. They are by far the best firm I know in the field of technology start-up legal issues.” Yuval Oren was singled out as “excellent” across the board and described as being “great at giving legal advice, always accessible and up to speed on the business status”.
In M&A, the team has handled some very prominent mandates and supplementary capital markets work – including the recent Waze acquisition by Google for over $1 billion. They regularly advise US tech firms on acquisitions in Israel. Other highlights include work for Avid Technology, an American video and audio production technology company, in their acquisition of Orad Hi-Tech Systems; and work for HealthPointCapital, a US based private equity fund in the acquisition of controlling shares in Orthospace.
Horn & Co is a leading Israeli boutique firm in the tech and life science sector.
In banking the firm advised tech start-up Taboola.com in a follow on investment in the framework of an existing Series E financing round. In the capital markets the firm advised BioLight Life Sciences in regard to its IPO on the Nasdaq.
In the M&A space the firm advised CCam Biotherapeutics in its acquisition of Merck Sharp & Dohme; and advised Pontifax Venture Capital Fund, and the lead investor in the formation of a new company.
Lipa Meir & Co is recognised for its project finance and banking work.
In the banking space the firm advised Bank Leumi, Israel’s second largest bank, in regard to short term financing insurance. In the project finance the firm advised the Israeli Water Desalination Administration on work related to five desalination plants in Israel.
In M&A the firm has also represented the State of Israel in a transaction between Veolia and OakTree Capital in which 50% of the holdings of Viola, amongst them their holdings in the desalination facilities, will be sold.
M Firon & Co is known for its capital markets, investment management, M&A and project finance work. During the research period the firm added Hila Rosen-Glickstein, Shirley Dahan, Sarit Moussayoff and Paul Lenga to its finance team, while the capital markets team added Stav Dadon Marom, Adi Rosenfeld and Adi Geron. In M&A the firm added Eytan Epstein, Shirley Dahan, Tamar Dolev-Green, Anat Segal and Hila Rosen-Glickstein all from Eytan Epstein & Co and Sarit Moussayoff from Zellermayer.
One client describes them as “extraordinary lawyers, with exceptional knowledge and great understanding that helps us navigate through the issues”. Another praised the firms “personalised approach and brilliant, top notch service. I feel safe with their legal advice and know I’m in good hands which is of great importance in my line of work.” Another says: “We feel at home with the firm. They are professional and escort you from a-z in the day-to-day, it’s a hands on firm that helps you every step of the way. We are greatly satisfied.”
One client of the project finance team says: “They have an exquisite understanding of the material that applies to the relevant sphere of law, we are very satisfied.”
Clients of the capital market team have described the lawyers as “very efficient and professional”, with one client contending that “the firm is incredibly reliable with great abilities in the capital markets. The department has priceless know how and understanding of the material that lets us feel in safe hands on complex issues.”
One client of the M&A team says: “M Firon & Co is, by far, the best firm in Israel.”
A client who worked with Tamar Firon says, “Tami and her team have an exceptional eye for detail that has been a benefit to our company on more than one occasion just this year. Tami is an extremely talented attorney who gives great service and she is available at every hour of the day.”
Jacob Enoch is described as “the best attorney in Israel - for M&A, strategic assistance, litigation and much more, he is a unique asset for our firm”. says one. Another says: “We cannot imagine negotiating or structuring a deal without his insightful assistance, he is best in his field.” Jacob is “the best lawyer in Israel. An integral part of our strategic team and a brilliant legal and business mind” confirmed another.
In project finance the firm advised Ashrom Group and Shapir Enginnering in the financing, closing and securing of a loan agreement from Bank Leumi for the construction of the new Haifa port; advised Edeltech Group in a refinancing agreement for the construction of the Ramat Negev energy station and Ashdod energy station; and represented the Israeli Government’s inter-ministerial committee in several tenders.
In the capital markets the firm acted for Ashtrom Group and its subsidiaries in connection with an offering of debt securities issues; advised Phoenix Capital Raising on the issuance of Class F Notes.
In M&A the firm advised Elbit Systems in a tender published by the State of Israel for the acquisition of Israel Miliary Industries; the firm also advised Mashav Initiating and Development in connection with the transfer of assets and liabilities in a power station to its subsidiary.
Meitar Liquornik Geva Leshem Tal has leading banking, capital markets and M&A practices. The former is known for its experienced head, Dalia Tal, and her strong relationship with Bank Lemui, and is good in lending and financial services regulatory work. The firm’s M&A group is one of the country’s busiest, and generally features highly in the value and volume annual deal tables in Israel.
According to the general counsel from a foreign technology business the firm advised on an acquisition in Israel, Meitar “exceeded expectations, both in quality of work, responsiveness and generally being a pleasure to work with under - even by M&A standards - challenging requirements”. She adds: “In an international context, they are up with the best first tier law firms I have worked with.”
A general counsel from an energy company the firm advises on corporate finance, evaluates the firm’s performance as “very professional, client oriented and creative”.
Several lawyers are singled out for praise by clients. Jonathan Atha is a “great project lead: very responsive and with good view of the big picture, yet not lacking in diligence for details, and pleasure to work with”. David Chertok is a “confident senior voice in difficult negotiations”. Keren Shitrit is “hands-on and asks to-the-point in questions around employee stock options”.
In the banking area the firm has been involved in a mix of regulatory and finance work, much of which is confidential. The publishable highlights include advising Gazit-Globe on negotiating a $252 million margin loan from Citibank and acting for Menora Mivtachim on the acquisition of a portfolio of housing loans for NIS770 million(around $203 million).
The firm was involved in several significant project finance transactions. Most notably it advised Harel Insurance Company, Amitim Pension Funds, The Phoenix Insurance Company and Psagot Investment House in the NIS3 billion financing of the Northern section of Highway 6.
In capital markets, the firm has had issuer side roles on a number of share offerings on Nasdaq. It advised Solaredge on its $126 million IPO, represented CyberArk Software on its $55 million secondary public offering, and acted for Neuroderm on its $77 million IPO. Debt capital markets highlights included representing Mizrahi Tefahot Bank in a private placement - the first of its kind in Israel - of CoCos with a total value of around NIS417 million. It also acted for Bank Hapoalim on around NIS9 billion in bond issues across 2015 and 2016.
The M&A team secured plenty of significant deals recently. These included representing Mylan as Israeli counsel in its failed takeover bid for Perrigo; advising Lumenis in its acquisition by XIO Group for $510 million; acting for Leaba Semiconductor in its acquisition by Cisco for $320 million; assisting Amdocs when it bought the BSS business of Comverse for $272 million; and, advising RR Media when it was acquired by its acquisition by SES for $242 million.
Moreh Tovim are a corporate boutique with a number of notable M&A transactions under its belt.
Avi Moreh is singled out by clients: “He is a brilliant lawyer, a true professional, he knows our industry and gives us great personal service, it is a delight to work with him, he is extremely professional and has a special way of making business” says one client. Another describes him as “professional, gives good service, very smart, knows how to do business, good manner and a lot of knowledge, just a brilliant lawyer”. Another says: “He is highly motivated and skilled.”
The firm has been advising a number of high tech start-ups and companies in the industrial sector.
Naschitz Brandes Amir specialises in private equity advice and is an expert in fund formation. In addition to helping clients launch funds, the firm advises investors on finance, securities and M&A transactions. Representing start-ups is another specialty of the firm, and high-tech is a sector where it has expertise.
A notable development at the firm saw the corporate, capital markets and commercial department of Hermann Makov join in July 2016, giving the firm 21 new lawyers, five of whom are partners.
The general counsel from a high-tech business which the firm has advised on M&A, restructurings and share private placements, says the firm is “responsive, experienced and highly professional”.
Three lawyers - Sharon Amir, Tuvia Geffen and Idan Lidor - are highlighted by the client, who notes of the latter two in particular are “professional, experienced and accessible”.
A lending highlight for the firm saw it advising Altshuler Finance on a NIS50 million loan to Ampa Capital.
In the capital markets area, a large deal for the firm was its role representing the underwriters on the $345 million and $235 million secondary offerings on Nasdaq of CyberArk Security. Other work included advising Gilat Satellite Networks on a $35 million rights issue, and acting for Taptica International on a secondary $20 million placing on the LSE.
The firm’s two headline M&A deals were two public transactions, advising EZchip Semiconductor on its $811 million merger with Mellanox Technologies and representing with Plus500 on its $750 million merger with Playtech.
Ne'eman Keynan & Co is a small boutique focused on capital markets, M&A and corporate litigation.
In the capital markets the firm advised Alrov Properties & Lodgings in connection with a successful bond issue. In the M&A sphere the firm advised Alrov Group in its merger with Alrov Properties & Lodgings.
One client of Pearl Cohen Zedek Latzer Baratz says: “Pearl Cohen has been a true asset and great partner to the company, they are very professional, collaborative and great to work with” and “they are highly suitable as they understand the constraints a small company that needs to sign with bigger companies has and is always agile and flexible to react.”
Benjamin Waltuch is praised by clients, described as an “excellent lawyer and very responsive, he understands the practicalities of an international M&A transaction while maintaining great attention to the fine details”.
Of Amir Sadeh clients says he is “always available, very knowledgeable in many areas and still knows to bring relevant professionals to table when required, deal orientated which makes the work very good for us and is joined by excellent team members”.
The capital markets team advised BioTime in the process of listing its common stock on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE); and acted for Cowen & Co, as underwriters in a follow-on offering on Nasdaq.
Preis Bahaarav & Co is a boutique firm, specialising in finance, especially funds and lender side banking and corporate/ M&A.
The firm advised Israel Discount Bank in connection with numerous financial transaction including the issuance of credit notes linked to certain assets in the credit portfolio of the bank and in the sale of certain credit assets to Harel Group. The firm also advised Phoenix Insurance Company in its investment in a credit linked note issued by Mizrahi Tfahot Bank.
In M&A, the firm advised Altshuler Shaham Pension and Provident Funds on its investment in Direct Finance; and advised Tadbik Group in the acquisition of the outstanding share capital of Extra Plastic from administration.
Raveh Haber & Co is an Israeli boutique law firm specialising in private equity, tax and corporate work.
The firm advised Hamilton Lane with marketing various investments funds to Israeli institutional investors and high net worth individuals; and represented Noy 2 Infrastructure and Energy Investments in the formation of two investment vehicles to make investments in waste-to-energy power plants in the UK. The firm also advised Apax in its raising of an Israeli-focused investment fund.
Ron Gazit Rotenberg & Co is a boutique M&A firm that has advised the likes of Sony, Microsoft and Orange Israel.
Deal highlights include work for Sony Corporation in their acquisition of Altair Semiconductor; work for Microsoft in connection with a private merger; and work for Given Imaging as it was acquired by Covidien.
S Friedman & Co has a focus on M&A and advises high-tech companies, investors and entrepreneurs.
In the capital markets the firm advised the issuer (RADA) on a debt offering. In M&A the firm advised DMG Mori Seiki in its acquisition of Israel warranty and maintenance provider Katzenstein Machine Tools.
S Horowitz & Co are known primarily for their work in banking, where they are ranked in Tier 1. The firm hired Amir Assali as partner from Yigal Arnon to strengthen the M&A practice during the research period.
One client says: “They have excellent expertise and they give us a very good degree of confidence about the deal at hand knowing they are on it.”
In banking, the firm acted on the financing of the acquisition of Lumenis by XIO; and represented the lender, Bank Hapoalim and a syndicate of foreign and domestic banks such as HSBC in proving new short term, term loan and revolving facilities for Netafim.
In the capital markets most of the firm’s work is done advising clients on domestic and foreign IPOs and secondary offerings. One highlight saw the firm advise Minrav Holdings on a bond issue.
In M&A the firm advised Veolia Environment on the sale of its entire operations in Israel to Oaktree Capital Group, a private equity fund.
In restructuring and insolvency the firm has the largest combined dispute resolution and banking and finance team in the country. During the research period the firm advised Bank Hapoalim in connection with a restructuring of the debt of Israel Petrochemicals Enterprises.
Shapira & Co is known for handling distressed and under-performing businesses, receivership, liquidations and issues pertaining to debt.
During the research period the firm advised Bank Leumi in connection with the bankruptcy of Joseph Grunfeld, one of the most famous and influential business people in Israel.
Sharir Shiv & Co is a relatively small firm with broad commercial expertise in M&A, banking and capital markets. All of the firm’s work is confidential.
Boutique firm Shenhav & Co specialises in M&A and project finance work and has acted a number of times for the State of Israel.
In M&A the firm advised TOWERSEC in connection with its acquisition by Harman, and advised Ravello Systems in its acquisition by Oracle.
In project finance the firm advised The State of Israel, the Ministry of Finance and Cross Israel Highway in regard to the Cross Israel Toll Road project; and advised the State of Israel and Ministry of Transport in regard to the Red Line Project, the first Mass Transit System in Tel Aviv.
Shibolet & Co are primarily recognised for banking and capital markets work in the tech, infrastructure and real estate sectors.
Clients say the firm has a “strong and diverse team of attorneys that deal as well with everyday work as they do with special projects.” The firm offers “a quick and professional responsible, whilst always under the umbrella of the experienced senior partner Moshe Neeman. Shibolet & Co provides cutting edge and sophisticated solutions and courses of actions.”
One client of the M&A team says: “We are more than pleased to work with the law firm. We are getting professional and creative legal services. The services are rendered by a very pleasant and friendly team with very high accessibility.”
Moshe Ne'eman has been described by clients as “providing plenty of the required guidance, experience and expertise”. Gil Rosenberg was praised as “providing us with 24/7 care, immediate response time, she offers highly experienced and innovative counsel”. Adi Zaltzman is described as “professional, up dated, hard worker, creative and very pleasant”.
In banking and finance the firm advised The Dan Region Association of Towns for Sewage and Environmental Issues in securing a credit loan from a group of lenders led by Bank Leumi.
In the capital markets the firm advised Leumi Partners as underwriters in one of the largest debt financings in the TASE by a foreign entity and the largest ever deal among foreign real estate entities in Israel.
In M&A the firm advised Alibaba, the Chinese internet giant, in connection with a multi-million dollar investment in Jerusalem Venture Partners; and advised Tel Aviv Yafo Municipality in connection with a significant share acquisition.
In project finance the firm advised NTA, a state owned company in charge of the design and construction of the Tel Aviv mass transit system; and advised Telemenia in connection with financing projects in Europe, Africa and Central/South America.
Shimonov & Co are a firm known for their capital market work.
One client says: “Shimonov & Co. is a top leading law firm in corporate law and capital markets legal advising.” Israel Shimonov and Nir Cohen Sasson are singled out as “top skilled lawyers”. Another client adds Jonathan Robinson to this prestigious list and describes him simply as a “superior partner”.
The firm recently represented Wharton Partners in drafting a prospectus for a bond issue on the TASE; and advised Extell Development Company in connection with a bond issue.
Tadmor & Co Yuval Levy & Co is known primarily for its project finance department, though the team has seen some turbulence with Jonathan Finklestone, Tani Zahavi, Guy Kles all leaving to join Erdinast Ben Nathan Toledano & Co.
Alon Ziv from Herzog Fox & Neeman and Robert Krombein from Norton Rose Fulbright have both been hired as replacements and clients still laud the firm, one saying “the work was excellent, Tamar Krongard and her team were extraordinary”. Krongard is also described as “excellent, fully engaged and committed, with vast knowledge and ability to think outside the box”. Another client remarking on the reshuffled project finance team says that “they have demonstrated the highest level of professionalism, punctuality and efficiency of legal service alongside a strong business way of thinking that contributed to the management of the project.”
Idan Hirshberg is described as “professional, good availability and reliable”. One client of the project finance team singled out Efrat Shapira-Orren as “one of the most experience project finance lawyers in Israel, a high level provider of legal services, she has a warm personality and communicates well – she is one of the best lawyers I have had the privilege to work with and her project finance work was a true advantage to my company”.
Meital Buhbut, is been singled out by a client as “very detail oriented, very protective of my company’s interests, very responsive”.
In project finance the firm works extensively with the energy, transportation and medical sectors. The firm advised Israel Discount Bank in regard to the sale of a portfolio and the advance of additional facilities in connection with financing a portfolio of ground and roof based PV power plants.
In M&A the firm advised Adicet Bio in regard to the acquisition of Applied Immune Technologues; and advised Lumenis on its acquisition of Pollogen.
Tulchinsky Stern Marciano Cohen Levitzky & Co is known for its M&A work in the life sciences and tech sectors. David Cohen is singled out by clients for praise.
In M&A the firm advised Teva on its acquisition of Allergan Generics for $40.5 billion – the biggest Israeli acquisition to date. The firm also represented Teva in raising $6.75 million through a public offering of shares in the US, and in a proposal to acquire all shares in Mylan from Mylan stockholders for over $40 billion.
In banking the firm advised JPMorgan in connection with a credit agreement with their Israeli subsidiaries worth over a $1 billion.
Vinograd & Co is focused on capital markets work.
The firm recently advised an undisclosed client in regard to setting up a US non traded REIT fund; advised Dalia Power Energy in a refinancing; and advised Meitav Dash in connection with investing in an income-producing REIT fund.
Weksler Bregman & Co is recognised for its banking and capital markets work – however they are also active in project finance and M&A.
Clients say: “They are very professional and always available.” An M&A client says: “We were provided with a very good, knowledgeable and prompt service. We were very happy with the service we received, hence we look forward to working on additional cases with the law firm. I have and will continue to recommend the firm highly.”
A banking client says: “The firm is highly skilled in handling banking and institutional loans, be it on the corporate level or on the projects level.”
Ora Dvir is lauded by clients as “a very professional lawyer”. Eran Shuster is recommended by a client as, “a very professional and attentive lawyer.” Ofer Yankovich is also singled out: “Ofer Yankovich is always ready and able to address any issue in his fields of expertise and is without a doubt one of the most experienced and professional attorney in his field.”
In project finance the firm advised RAPAC in connection with financing two power plants in Northern Israel.
In the capital markets the firm represented Africa Israel Investment on an interim settlement with bondholders of the client in an attempt to reach a debt arrangement, these meticulously planned arrangements are in order for AFI to pay its NIS 5 billion debt to bondholders.
In M&A the firm advised RAPAC Communications and Infrastructure on the purchase of a majority share in two companies.
Yaacov Salomon Lipschutz & Co is best known for its finance practice.
During the research period the firm advised Bank Leumi in connection with a claim against the bank in the Haifa court. The firm also works for a number of banks on the creditor side, advising The Mercantile Discount Bank, Union Bank of Israel and The Association of Banks in Israel with ongoing legal advice in connection with a range of issues such as drafting and litigation.
Yehuda Raveh & Co are known for its work in project finance and M&A. In the project finance team Nimrod Baruch, Shiri Dror Kihan and Loerance Elbaz all join as senior lawyers whilst Inon Yogev departs.
A client of the project finance team says: “The project finance work is very good. Ron Vered is a very good lawyer.”
In project finance the firm is advising Minray Holdings in connection with the tender for the design, finance, construction and operation of the Israel Defence Forces’ instruction city. The firm also advised Minray Holdings together with Electra in relation to financing one of Israel’s largest transportation projects, the light train project in Tel Aviv.
The firm also advised The Association of Banks in Israel on general regulatory matters.
One of Israel’s oldest law firms, Yigal Arnon & Co has experienced advisors and good practices in project finance and M&A in particular.
Clients recommend the firm. A director at an investment bank who works with the firm on oil and gas deals, including project finance facilities, reserve based loans and project bonds, says: “A professional firm with great knowhow of oil and gas industry in Israel”.
A general counsel from an international technology company the firm has advised on lending, M&A and project development, describes the team as “professional and devoted”.
A number of lawyers are singled out for individual praise by clients. “Shiri Shaham is a bright and insightful lawyer, heading a good capital markets team,” according to one. “Simon Weintraub is an excellent local oil and gas lawyer. Knows local regulatory aspects. Great track record and commercial,” is another’s observation. David Schapiro is a “very smart person, knowledgeable – an excellent lawyer”.
A lending highlight for the firm was its role representing Barclays Bank as arranger and Bank Mizrahi Tefahot as facility agent in a $225 million credit facility to Alon Gas Explorations.
The firm’s recent capital markets work generally came in the course of advising on public M&A deals. One example was its advice to Yigal Clal Finance Underwriting in its merger with Discount Underwriting & Issuing.
In the project space, the firm has secured several significant mandates recently. It is acting for Siemens' in its participation in a bid for a contract to electrify the country’s railway network; representing NTA Metropolitan Mass Transit System on the Light Rail Transit (LRT) project in Tel Aviv; and, acting for the state on the Ashalim power stations projects.
In M&A the firm’s highlight work saw it advise the Azrieli Group on the a sale of Sonol Israel, one of Israel’s largest gas station chains, to Israel Oil & Gas Fund and act for OrbiMed as a major shareholder in cCam Biotherapeutics when cCam was bought by Merck for around $605 million.
One client of the Zysman Aharoni Gayer & Co M&A team says: “They are simply excellent – they produce things very quickly and are extremely knowledgeable”.
In the capital markets the firm advised Hamashbir 365 Holdings in connection with a public bond offering; and Summit Real Estate Holdings in relation to a private placement.
In M&A the firm advised ClockSoftware Technologies in connection with an agreement to be acquired by private funds managed by Francisco Partners Management; and advised HAM-LET in regard to their acquisition of Chinese company Jiangsu Xinghe Valve Co.