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Australia > Banking and finance > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Banking and finance
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1
    • Steven Catanzariti - Herbert Smith Freehills
    • Charlie Detmold - King & Wood Mallesons
    • Leigh Schulz - Minter Ellison
    • Paul Zanelli - Ashurst

'Standout firm' Allens fields a team of 'dynamic and innovative' individuals including group leader Tom Highnam, acquisition finance specialist Mark Kidston, asset finance and leasing partner Renee Boundy, property finance-focused Jo Folan and corporate finance expert Alan Maxton. Highnam's recent work includes advising Unibail-Rodamco on the finance elements of its acquisition of Westfield and assisting Morgan Stanley Australia as lead arranger with a loan to refinance Craveable Brands' debt; Kidston acted for the unitranche lenders including Nomura, Barings, Partners Group and HSBC on the A$135m financing of TPG's acquisition of Novotech; Maxton led advice to Ally Bank on an asset-based lending facility (ABL) as part of the financing of American Industrial Partners' acquisition of Moly-Cop, Boundy advised Macquarie AirFinance Group on the Australian elements of its acquisition of the loan portfolio of aviation financing from HSH Nordbank and Folan acted for OCP Asia (Hong Kong) on the financing of the development of new outer-city suburbs. Bain Capital, Billabong and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) are also clients. Ben O’Hoy made partner in 2018.

As 'a go-to firm in the region', Ashurst 'provides timely, accurate and well-considered advice' that 'consistently puts the client first'. The firm's global network ensures strength in cross-border mandates; the team is also recognised for its substantial strength in acquisition and leveraged finance, corporate finance, real estate finance and asset finance work. Shawn Wytenburg and Jamie Ng jointly lead the department, which counts acquisition and corporate finance expert Steve Smith, senior associate Paul Zanelli and Martin Coleman as key practitioners. Coleman recently advised multiple financiers including Bank of China and National Australia Bank (NAB) on the financing of a A$2.6bn bid to operate the NSW Land and Property Information by a consortium including Hastings Funds Management, First State Super and Royal Bank of Scotland pension fund. Other work includes Wytenburg assisting several lenders with unitranche facilities provided to KKR for its acquisition of Laser Clinics Australia, Jock O’Shea advising NAB, ANZ and Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) on a A$1.1bn syndicated construction facility to fund Brookfield's Wynyard place development, and Kenneth Nguyen acting for Tronox on the refinancing of its existing term loan and asset based lending facilities. Graeme Tucker joined Clayton Utz in 2018.

Clients rate Gilbert + Tobin 'incredibly highly' thanks to 'its ability to know clients in great detail, responsive and practical advice and a sensible and commercial approach that can't be beaten'. The group counts all four major Australian banks as clients and also acts for global investment banks, private equity funds, corporates and government bodies; examples include Beach Energy, Qube Holdings and the NSW government. John Schembri leads the group and handles acquisition and corporate finance work; he recently advised Reliance Rail on the refinancing of its A$2bn debt. Other key names include the 'smart, experienced and diligent' Gail Christopher, Alexander Danne and Simon Lynch; Danne recently acted for Veolia Water Australia and Infrastructure Capital Group on its successful bid to finance and operate a water treatment plant for the Springvale mine and Mt Piper power station, and Lynch assisted Cooper Energy with the funding package for its sole gas project. Adela Smith is the key name for infrastructure and energy clients and David Kirkland handles leveraged and acquisition finance transactions.

Herbert Smith Freehills' 'strong foundation of very experienced partners' includes finance group head Andrew Booth, the 'highly respected ' John Angus, who specialises in asset and structured finance and leasing transactions; 'excellent professional' Hayley Neilson, who handles leveraged and acquisition financings; debt finance expert Lucy McCullagh, 'brilliant' property finance specialist Melita Cottrell, senior associate Steven Catanzariti and Amanda Wales, who 'can explain technical concepts with clarity'. Neilson recently advised Furla on its acquisition of its Australian distribution network from Luxury Retail Group and assisted Archer Capital with its recapitalisation of Craveable Brands; Wales acted for PNSL on an Islamic compliant vessel-secured financing for two vessels, and Booth advised ANZ and First Abu Dhabi Bank as lenders in the refinancing of the development facilities provided to the owner of the Parklands development in Queensland. Blackstone Group, Lendlease and Virgin Australia are also clients. Justin Pelly retired and Emma de Carle joined PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal in 2018.

King & Wood Mallesons 'receives a triple-A rating' from clients who praise its 'exceptional strength in depth, top-notch service levels, extreme responsiveness and strong commercial acumen'. 'Knowledgeable market leader' Yuen-Yee Cho, real estate finance specialist Ken Astridge and the 'outstanding' Peter Doyle are key names to note; Cho leads the practice with Paul Smith and Evie Bruce. Recent highlights include Cho acting for two global investment banks as joint lead arrangers and bookrunners on the first Australian law standalone term loan B facility for Leap Legal Software and InfoTrack Group, Jonathan Oldham assisting Transmission Operations (Australia) with the financial elements of multiple transactions relating to its greenfield connection and transmission asset business, and Andrew Maynes advising a bank on the financing to fund the A$500m chapter 6 takeover of Generation Healthcare REIT. Other clients include Quadrant Private Equity, which the team advised on its acquisition of a controlling stake in Qscan Radiology and North Coast Radiology; and KKR, which it assisted with its investment into Dixon Hospitality. Special counsel Charlie Detmold is also a name to note and Dale Rayner joined from Norton Rose Fulbright in 2018.

Allen & Overy LLP's client roster of financial institutions and high-profile corporates utilises its team of 'very professional, responsive, value-oriented and fantastic people' led by 'solid all-rounder' Adam Stapledon. Stapledon and Michael Reede led advice to Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets and the Public Sector Pension Investment Board on its successful A$1.6bn bid for the South Australian Land Services Group and related finance elements; Peter Wilkes assisted Fortescue Metals Group with a term loan facility, David Christensen acted for Sino Gas and Energy Holdings on the refinancing and extension of an existing facility provided by Macquarie Bank, and James Abbott advised Bank of America, HSBC, Société Générale and Standard Chartered on the refinancing of HLG Contracting. Citibank, ANZ, Cimic Group and Westpac Group are also clients. Jason Huinink is the key name for structured and asset financing deals and Simon Huxley joined from DLA Piper in 2018.

Clayton Utz 'develops strong personal relationships, which allow it to provide an exceptional service that is molded to the client's needs' with 'fast response times, key technical knowledge and an excellent commercial approach'. Bruce Cooper leads the group, which also fields Graeme Gurney, property finance specialist Kathy Santikos and Alexander Schlosser, who heads up the acquisition finance and corporate finance teams. Schlosser's recent work includes acting for Permira on the leveraged finance buy-out of I-Med Radiology and assisting Emergent Cold with the financing of its acquisition of John Swire. In other work, Santikos advised Mirae Asset on its syndicated refinancing of a debt facility for the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney and Gurney worked with David Wilkie to act for Blackstone Real Estate Australia on the financing elements of the sale of its logistic properties portfolio. Francesca Rush, Marcus Davenport and the 'highly commercial' Rohan Mishra are also names to note. Graeme Tucker joined from Ashurst in 2018.

Corrs Chambers Westgarth's client base of banks, alternative capital providers, international financial institutions, private equity firms and corporates benefits from the team's experience across acquisition finance, corporate finance and property finance work alongside notable regulatory expertise. Brad Robinson and Michael Chaaya jointly lead the group, which recently recruited Ben Emblin and Patrick O’Grady  from now-defunct firm Henry Davis York, Fadi Khoury from Norton Rose Fulbright and Kon Mellos from Herbert Smith Freehills. Rommel Harding-Farrenberg recently advised on a bid to acquire Ten Network and its subsequent refinancing, Robinson assisted Southern Cross Austereo with the refinancing of its core debt, and Clare Corke acted for Mach Energy on the extension of a corporate facility for the financing of the Mount Pleasant coal mine.

Minter Ellison is noted for its corporate and acquisition finance expertise alongside strength in property finance and an increased focus on cross-border finance transactions. Its client roster spans senior lenders, alternative capital providers and corporates; examples include ANZ, Qantas Airways and Goldman Sachs. Stewart Robertson acted for Bain Capital and Only About Children on a A$260m unitranche facility for the acquisition of Little Learning and assisted Steinhoff Asia Pacific Group with a restructuring issue; John Mosley advised Bank of America and Wells Fargo Bank on the refinancing of mining company Tronox, and Tony Berriman advised a group of lenders on a A$314m facility to a Middle Eastern government body. Practice head James Mok handles structured finance, asset finance and acquisition finance transactions and senior associate Leigh Schulz is also recommended.

Arnold Bloch Leibler is a key name for property and corporate financing transactions acting for a broad range of lender and borrower clients providing 'responsive, detailed and high-quality advice'. On the property side, the group recently advised Qualitas on the establishment of a development fund which will provide construction finance to property developers and assisted it with the purchase of a A$400m property portfolio from Allied Pinnacle. The team's recent corporate finance highlights include acting for law firm Slater and Gordon on its restructuring and advising Nufarm on the refinancing of its global debt facilities. Stephen Sharp leads the department, which also includes Ben Mahoney, Sydney managing partner Paul Rubenstein, corporate financing expert Genevieve Sexton and non-bank lending specialist Nathan Briner.

Baker McKenzie is 'very pragmatic and reasonable with a clear understanding of commercial details and industry precedents'. Its client roster spans equity investors, sponsors, borrowers and financiers with notable strength in the infrastructure, energy, healthcare, tourism and real estate sectors and acting for Chinese banks. Recent mandates include advising Foresight Solar Fund on the financing of its acquisition of equity interests in three Queensland solar farms, acting for the Home Investment Consortium on the finance elements of its acquisition of Masters Hardware business from Woolworths, and assisting Bangkok Bank with a $120m bridge financing for Mach Australia Holdings. Bank of China, Nomura Australia and Emeco Holdings are also clients. The 'highly knowledgeable' Sean Rush leads the department and is a key name for sponsor clients; other practitioners include George Harris, Bryan Paisley, who handles corporate finance and leveraged finance transactions; and 'high-quality' property finance expert Chuong Nguyen. David Cooper made partner in 2018.

As a key name for cross-border finance transactions, Clifford Chance's recent work includes acting for the arrangers on PAI Partners' acquisition and refinance of Froneri, advising the lenders and USPP investors on the refinancing of the Eastlink toll road project by constructors ConnectEast, and assisting Latitude Financial Services with the first master trust securitisation transaction in the Australian market. Group head Richard Gordon specialises in financing transactions including leveraged acquisitions, project and infrastructure transactions and restructurings; counsel Alastair Gourlay is also a name to note for acquisition finance, corporate lending, real estate finance and financing by alternative capital providers. Caroline Jury joined Morrison & Foerster LLP's London office in 2018.

Timothy Lipscombe heads up the group at Dentons, which is a key name in the market for project and construction finance work; recent highlights include advising a senior lending syndicate on a residential apartment syndicated construction financing and acting for Chiyu Banking Corporation on the financing of its purchase of a site in Sydney. The primarily lender-focused practice counts all four major Australian banks as clients and also acts for Macquarie Bank, Bank of China and Central Bank of PNG. Other noteworthy individuals include Anthony Walsh and Jason Morris, who joined from legacy firm DibbsBarker in 2018 along with David Carter, Jeff Baker and Peter Luke. Helen Ord and Ruth Neal left for in-house positions at the Bank of Queensland and Commonwealth Bank of Australia respectively.

Johnson Winter & Slattery's 'exceptional' practice provides 'prompt, relevant and practical advice' and the team 'has the ability to explain the intricacies and technicalities involved and focus on the commercial implications'. Clients single out David Beckett as 'genuinely client-focused' and 'incredibly knowledgeable'; he recently advised Battery Ventures on its senior acquisition finance and revolving facilities relating to its acquisition of PageUp People. David Proudman leads the borrower and financial sponsor-focused team, which also includes Jim Hunwick, who assists Australian Gas Networks with its secured debt programme, and Matthew Allchurch, who acted for Royal Wolf Holdings on its refinancing following its takeover by General Finance Corporation. Special counsel Man Loi and senior associate David Li are also recommended.

Norton Rose Fulbright's practice was recently bolstered by its merger with now-defunct firm Henry Davis York, which saw five practitioners join its banking and finance group. Dr Nuncio D’Angelo and Alex Mufford jointly lead the department. Tim Mornane handled a high-value asset-based syndicated credit facility and Hamish Dixon assisted a client with a significant refinancing matter; Scott Millar has been active in the property finance sector. Other noteworthy names include Jo Crew and Nino Di Bartolomeo. Dale Rayner joined King & Wood Mallesons.

DLA Piper's 'sound level of industry knowledge' encompasses corporate banking transactions for domestic lenders and borrowers, international finance issues and project finance work. Clients include Link Group, which the team advised on its IPO-related debt financing; Bank of Melbourne and Citibank, which it assisted with debt facilities provided to Glenwaye; and the Destination Brisbane Consortium, which it acted for on a bank guarantee facility with ANZ for the provision of guarantees to the State of Queensland for the development of the Queen's Wharf Brisbane integrated resort. The 'technically solid, responsive and commercial' Onno Bakker heads the team, which also includes Alex Regan and Hugo Thistlewood. Simon Huxley joined Allen & Overy LLP.

Doug Scobie and Craig Green jointly lead Gadens Lawyers' team from Melbourne and Brisbane respectively. The practice covers the full gamut of banking and finance work with notable property finance expertise; it recently advised UOL Group on the finance elements of its acquisition of a long-term leasehold interest of a Melbourne-based hotel, acted for Cbus Property on the financing for a mixed-use development and assisted Hostplus with the redevelopment of the Moonee Valley Racecourse into an urban lifestyle precinct. It also assisted Westpac Institutional Bank as lender with Silverfin Capital's acquisition of the Schweppes Australia processing facility in Queensland. The group also counts all four major domestic banks as clients as well as the Bank of Queensland, Macquarie Bank and Goodyear Australia. Adam Howell moved to an in-house position, Brad Allen joined from legacy firm DibbsBarker, Elliot Raleigh joined from Kemp Strang and James Roland joined from TurksLegal.

Hogan Lovells is noted in the finance space for its 'very proactive and client-focused approach' with particular strength handling cross-border deals acting for banks, debt funds and global private equity firms. 'Standout corporate finance partner' Richard Hayes is praised as 'an extremely client-oriented person who brings enormous energy and technical skill to every matter'; his recent work includes advising Barings and HSBC on one of the first unitranche financings in the Australian market, acting for an international syndicate of banks led by ANZ on the A$165m financing of a Chinese sponsor's bid for I-Med Networks, and assisting Swissport with one of the first euro-denominated term loan B facilities to finance the acquisition of an Australian company. Ros O’Mally is the name to note for project finance work.

With 'an excellent overall service, deep business acumen and detailed business knowledge', HWL Ebsworth is 'one of a few firms that stand out for financial services regulatory work' and also excels in domestic and cross-border transactions, bilateral, club and syndicated facilities, and debt capital market arrangements. The team counts major Australian banks and financial institutions, international banks and corporate borrowers as clients; it recently acted for a leading Melbourne property developer on a loan note subscription facility and advised a major Australian bank on providing working capital, term, trade and equipment finance facilities. Key names include national group head Harry Cormack, as well as Paul Sroka, Peter Staniszewski, Paul Gatward and 'standout' regulatory specialists Andrew Galvin and James Moore.

With substantial strength in property finance work, Colin Biggers & Paisley's 'outstanding service' allows it to 'effectively operate as a client's in-house counsel'. Practice head Matthew Bode has 'vast experience and a level of involvement that is hard to find'; he primarily acts for international banks and corporate clients. Kate Craig is also recommended for corporate and construction finance matters. Recent highlights for the group include acting for a Singaporean financier on a syndicated facilities agreement to a hotel operator for a five-star hotel in Sydney, assisting a borrower with the acquisition finance and construction finance of a hotel, and advising Kanebridge Property Group on acquisition and construction financings for a property development site in Sydney. ANZ, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), DBS Bank, Macquarie Bank and China Construction Bank are also clients.

Hall & Wilcox excels in the property finance space counting senior and mezzanine lenders, property funds and property developers as clients. Practice head Mark Inston led advice to Qualitas Securities on the provision of a mezzanine construction facility to BPM regarding a residential development in Melbourne, acted for Bendigo on the provision of debt funding to multiple community housing providers across Australia, and assisted DomaCom with the structuring of loans provided to DomaCom Fund. Other clients include Isuzu, Westpac, China Construction Bank, ICBC and Asia Debt Management. Nick Slack, superannuation experts Heather Gray and Anne MacNamara, Harry New and China practice head Eugene Chen are also key names to note.

McCullough Robertson's primarily Brisbane-based practice regularly acts for lender and borrower clients in real estate investment and development transactions; it recently advised LEPC9 on a syndicated secured loan facility for its acquisition of the Channel 9 site in New South Wales and acted for Hutchinson Builders on a syndicated facility for the provision of working capital and contractual bonding facilities. The team is also active in the corporate finance arena. Other mandates include team head Peter Stewart assisting Greensill Capital with a receivables financing, special counsel Peter Kennedy leading advice to Corporate Travel Management on its establishment of a A$185m club facility, and Sydney-based David Gilham handling all debt financing issues for Global Student Accommodation including a development loan facility and a land acquisition facility. Rural Funds Management, the Bank of Queensland, ANZ and AXA Investment Managers - Real Assets are also clients.

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