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Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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    • Charlie Detmold - King & Wood Mallesons
    • Leigh Schulz - Minter Ellison

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Noted for its ‘exceptional market knowledge, technical expertise and responsiveness’, Allens’ practice is well stocked with ‘highly skilled lawyers’. It acts for high-profile borrowers, sponsors, and international as well as domestic banks on a range of finance matters. Though the group is headed by the ‘commercial, practical and highly knowledgeable’ Tom Highnam, who advised a syndicate of lenders on an Apollo Global Management-led consortium’s $1.6bn bid for Anglo American’s Moranbah and Grosvenor coal mines, the department is divided into sections with their own practice leader. The ‘technically very strong’ Jo Folan, who ‘possesses the right mixture of firmness and commerciality’, heads the property finance division: she advised Investa Commercial Property Fund on its financial restructuring in light of its transition from a secured to an unsecured platform. The ‘incredibly intelligent’ Alan Maxton, who is the firm’s key corporate finance partner, acted for nbn on obtaining a A$19.5bn loan from the federal government. Asset financing and leasing is the specialism of Renee Boundy, who assisted Bank of America Merrill Lynch with a A$1.2bn loan to Qantas Airways. Mark Kidston leads the acquisition finance team; he advised Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) as underwriter on Quadrant’s acquisition of Fitness First, Goodlife Health Clubs and Jetts Fitness.

Ashurst’s ‘commercial’ practice is well known for its strength in depth and cross-border capabilities. It handles the full range of leveraged and acquisition finance and corporate, asset and property finance, and has been active on several of the most high-profile transactions of 2016-’17. David Mason led a team that acted, along with Herbert Smith Freehills, for a consortium comprising IFM Investors and AustralianSuper on its A$16bn privatisation of New South Wales’ Ausgrid assets. Also on the privatisation front, Martin Coleman assisted an 11-bank syndicate with the financing elements of New South Wales’ 35-year concession of its land titling and registry operations to a consortium led by Hastings Funds Management. Department head Shawn Wytenburg advised China Construction Bank on a very large facility to refinance the bridge facility for State Power Investment’s A$3bn acquisition of Pacific Hydro. Steve Smith, John Field and Brenton Key are also recommended. Senior associate Amela McPherson joined from Minter Ellison in February 2017; three months later, Kenneth Tang made partner and Nichola Shaw was promoted to counsel.

The market-leading practice at King & Wood Mallesons is noted for its ‘strength in depth, commercial acumen, and ability to meet tight deadlines’; it handles innovative matters in corporate, asset, leveraged and property finance. The ‘particularly responsive, experienced’ Yuen-Yee Cho, who heads the practice with Jeff Clark, is ‘a solid operator’: she acted for GenesisCare on the financing elements of its sale by KKR to China Resources and Macquarie Capital, which involved a A$790m staple financing package made available by KKR to all parties bidding for GenesisCare. Cho and leveraged finance expert Elizabeth Hundt Russell, who made partner in July 2016, advised HanesBrands on the financing of its A$1.1bn purchase of Pacific Brands. The ‘legendary’ Peter Doyle assisted Genesee & Wyoming and Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets with the financing of their A$1.1bn acquisition of Glencore’s Hunter Valley rail haulage business. Deutsche Bank, NAB and ANZ are lender-side clients. Ken Astridge, the Brisbane-based Aaron Bourke and special counsel Charlie Detmold are recommended. In September 2016, Nicholas Creed and Chris Robertson departed for Allens and Beresford Legal respectively.

Internationally known for its high-value, cutting-edge finance work, Allen & Overy LLP fields a small but impressive and ‘very attentive’ team that makes strong use of its global lender connections. David Christensen acted for Merrill Lynch (Asia Pacific) as documentation and facility agent on a syndicated A$1.7bn loan to Vodafone Hutchison Finance, to refinance an existing debt. Adam Stapledon assisted Citibank with its $1bn refinancing of a club loan to CNOOC Curtis Funding No. 2. At least two of Australia’s largest banks are on the practice’s client roster: James Abbott and Stapledon advised NAB and HSBC on a $600m revolving facility for QBE Insurance Group, while Stapledon assisted ANZ as agent with the amendment of a A$1bn syndicated loan to John Holland Group. On the sponsor side, Jason Huinink, noted for his ‘industry knowledge’, advised CIMIC Group on obtaining A$1bn-worth of supply chain facilities from UK-based lender Greensill Capital. The Perth-based Peter Wilkes is recommended for his experience in the energy and resources sectors.

Clayton Utz’s largely Sydney-based practice handles acquisition, corporate, asset and property finance, and has excellent strength in depth. It is frequently instructed by blue-chip corporates and high-profile lenders. Geoff Geha advised a syndicate of banks, including Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) and ANZ, on its A$1bn loan to Alinta Energy for refinancing and working capital ahead of Alinta’s proposed IPO. Graeme Gurney acted for Blackstone Group on the financing of its A$2bn acquisition of three industrial asset portfolios from Goodman Group. Property finance expert Kathy Santikos is commended for her ‘good judgement’: she ‘balances commerciality with technical expertise’, and ‘has a team of senior associates that provide excellent support’. She assisted Morgan Stanley (on behalf of Prime Property Fund Asia) with the debt funding of its A$525m purchase, with Charter Hall Core Plus Office Fund, of 1 Shelley Street, Sydney. Bruce Cooper heads the group; Alexander Schlosser, structured finance specialist Francesca Rush and project finance expert Rohan Mishra are also recommended.

With strong capabilities in corporate, acquisition and property finance, Corrs Chambers Westgarth’s department advises numerous high-profile lenders, borrowers and sponsors. Melbourne-based group head Brad Robinson, who is singled out for his strength in Term Loan B facilities, counts Ventia among his clients. Clare Corke continues to act for JustKapital on all its corporate finance matters, including the A$20m financing of its purchase of Macquarie Medico Legal. Additionally on the corporate finance side, Brad Husband and Nathaniel Popelianski advised CBA on its A$236m financing of the purchase of Melbourne’s Como Centre by a Newmark Capital-managed fund. Property finance expert Henry Self acted for longstanding client NAB on its financing of Coombes Property Group’s A$91m purchase of 28 O’Connell Street. On the regulatory side, Michael Chaaya assisted Banco Santander with closing down its Australian branch. Acquisition and property finance expert Simon Reid is also recommended. Ben Emblin and Patrick O’Grady arrived from Henry Davis York in August 2017.

Gilbert + Tobin is on the panel of all four major Australian banks, and frequently handles high-profile banking and finance matters. Alexander Danne and department head John Schembri acted for Trustpower and Tilt Renewables on a A$1.4bn financing package for the latter, after its demerger from Trustpower. Simon Lynch assisted NAB and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking with the construction and operation financing of the Clare I Solar Farm project, Queensland, which involved facilities of between A$200m and A$400m. Acquisition finance clients include Westpac on the lender side and Superloop on the borrower side. Adela Smith, a leveraged finance expert who counts infrastructure and renewable energy as sector strengths, made partner in July 2017, as did David Kirkland, who is especially experienced in leveraged finance, infrastructure privatisations and restructuring. In the same month, Rachel Jones, an expert in structured, asset and corporate finance, made special counsel. Gail Christopher is also recommended.

Herbert Smith Freehills’ department is frequently seen on complex, innovative matters across a range of banking and finance areas, and has strong multi-jurisdictional capabilities. Lucy McCullagh acted for ANZ on its A$100m loan to Bapcor for the latter’s NZ$352m takeover of New Zealand investment firm Hellaby Holdings. Property finance expert Melita Cottrell advised Propertylink Group Holdings on obtaining a A$300m debt facility from Westpac, as well as on the finance elements of its internal restructuring as part of its IPO. Also in the property finance space, Justin Pelly acted for Prudential Mortgage Capital on its A$165m loan to an undisclosed borrower for the development of 20 Martin Place, Sydney. Other clients in the space include private equity firms such as Blackstone Group and KKR, contractors such as Lendlease and CIMIC, and large Australian banks such as CBA and Westpac. The team is also strong in asset finance, where Virgin Australia is a key client. Jon Evans, a project finance expert active in a range of finance areas, made partner in May 2017. John Nestel heads the practice; John Angus and leveraged and event-driven finance expert Emma de Carle are also recommended.

Especially strong in property finance, structured finance, corporate finance and project finance, Minter Ellison’s ‘extremely good’ department acts for many high-profile lenders and borrowers. John Mosley acted for CBA as lead arranger and underwriter on amaysim Australia’s A$120m purchase of Click Energy Group Holdings, and assisted Baring Private Equity with financing its A$1.2bn acquisition of SAI Global. Stewart Robertson, who specialises in acquisition finance, advised the lenders to SmartSalary Group on the syndication of its facilities and on financing its acquisition of Rebate Group and Metropolis Group. Property finance expert Tony Berriman acted for a bank syndicate that included Westpac, CBA and NAB on its restructuring of Australian Prime Property Fund Commercial’s A$780m debt facilities. Though senior associate Amela McPherson left for Ashurst in February 2017, property finance expert Renae Suttor arrived from Clifford Chance in London six months later. ‘Client-focused, cost-effective’ structured finance expert John Elias heads the group. David Eterovic is ‘experienced, pragmatic and forthright’; Daniel Marks, asset finance expert James Mok and senior associate Leigh Schulz are also recommended.

The ‘highly skilled, efficient and good-value’ team at Arnold Bloch Leibler is commended by clients for its handling of ‘business-critical, strategic’ matters. It advises numerous lenders and sponsors; its lender clients are non-bank institutions such as Qualitas and MaxCap Group, and its client base in corporate finance largely comprises corporates. Stephen Sharp heads the group; he and Genevieve Sexton are singled out for their ‘excellent, commercial advice’. Sharp assisted Intrapac Property with financing its joint venture with Hume Partners to purchase Victoria’s Lilydale Quarry, while Sexton advised Pratt Finance on obtaining a A$150m loan from AustralianSuper and IFM Investors. Ben Mahoney acted for Hotel Property Investments on the transition of its A$285m debt finance platform from a syndicated facility agreement to a common terms deed platform, with bilateral loans from CBA and Westpac. Paul Rubenstein, who is the managing partner of the firm’s Sydney office, is ‘highly skilled and well-connected’; Nathan Briner and Philip Chester are also recommended.

Baker McKenzie’s practice makes excellent use of the firm’s global presence, and has notable strength in depth. Department head Sean Rush acted for Platinum Equity on the Term Loan B financing of its A$200m purchase of Staples Australia and New Zealand from its US holding company Staples. The widely recommended Bryan Paisley assisted Emeco Holdings with its high-profile recapitalisation. On the property finance side, Chuong Nguyen, who made partner in July 2016, advised United Overseas Bank and Malayan Banking as lead arrangers on A$200m-worth of loans to WCL-Southbank for the first development phase of Australia 108, set to be the tallest residential tower in Australia. Nguyen also acted for Bank of China on a A$78m loan to the bank’s investment arm for the purchase of a new headquarters at 140 Sussex Street, Sydney. George Harris, Howard Fraser and regulatory expert Stephen Watts are also recommended.

The three-partner practice at Clifford Chance Australia is highly capable, especially when it comes to complex cross-border transactions. Richard Gordon and Caroline Jury, who are based in Sydney, head the group, and are supported in Perth by Philip Sealey. Gordon acted for a large syndicate of global and domestic banks on the financing of the Advance Energy consortium’s A$7.6bn purchase of a 50.4% stake in Endeavour Energy, formerly owned by the New South Wales government. He also advised a global bank as arranger on its A$250m loan to Iron Mountain Australia, constituting the first Australian dollar-denominated Term Loan B financing done under Australian law. CBA, NAB, ANZ and Macquarie are representative lender clients; borrower-side clients include Biostime International Holdings and Ramsay Healthcare.

Noted for its ‘strong specialised knowledge’, its ‘complementary commercial expertise’ and its borrower-side focus, the team at Johnson Winter & Slattery is ‘superb in all respects’. The ‘exceptional’ Jim Hunwick is ‘pragmatic, commercial and very attuned to current market conditions’; he continues to advise Australian Gas Networks on all aspects of its A$1.8bn secured debt programme, and acted for Abacus Property Group on obtaining a A$52m facility and a A$97m facility from ANZ and CBA respectively. Indeed, property finance is a strength of the practice: the ‘efficient, effective’ Matthew Allchurch counts ALE Property Group among his clients. David Beckett is recommended for leveraged acquisition finance; also recommended are special counsel Man Loi and senior associate David Li. Archer Capital, Brookfield and Wesfarmers also count among the team’s clients.

Norton Rose Fulbright’s department is especially active on the lender side, counting numerous international and domestic banks among its clients. Jo Crew advised a syndicate of lenders on the A$2.4bn debt refinancing of Reliance Rail, a PPP responsible for manufacturing and maintaining Sydney’s Waratah passenger trains. James Morris, a debt capital markets expert with particular experience in receivables finance, made partner in January 2017; he was part of a team that advised Credit Suisse and Bank of America on the Australian law aspects of their $130m credit loans to Zodiac Pool Solutions. The practice also acted for Credit Suisse on its $520m loan to Zodiac Pool Solutions for its purchase of Zodiac Pool Holding. Alison Deitz and Nuncio d’Angelo head the practice; Nino Di Bartolomeo and Dale Rayner are also recommended. Chris Redden left to join Ashurst. Norton Rose Fulbright and Henry Davis York have announced their intention to merge towards the end of 2017.

DLA Piper’s practice handles a range of banking and finance work, though it particularly prides itself on its experience in project finance and surety bonds. Property finance is another key area of activity: Hugo Thistlewood acted for HSBC and Campus Estates on the A$46m financing of a 346-bed student accommodation facility in Melbourne, and on the subsequent conversion of the construction loan to an investment loan. Alex Regan advised Speedcast International on financing its $67m acquisition of WINS. Onno Bakker, Simon Huxley and Kate Papailiou are also recommended. Monique Stella left to join Mills Oakley Lawyers in June 2017.

The ‘exemplary’, ‘collaborative’ practice at Dentons is mostly active on the lender side, and counts property finance as a particular strength. Department head Timothy Lipscombe acted for banks such as ANZ, CBA and ING Bank on hundreds of millions of Australian dollars’ worth of syndicated property finance loans for borrowers such as Billbergia Group and Deicorp Group. The ‘skilled, experienced’ Helen Ord is ‘responsive, comprehensive, and negotiates complex transactions clearly and commercially’; on the borrower side, she acted for Ingenia Communities RE on a A$300m financing from Westpac, ANZ and Bank of Queensland, and assisted InterOil with $470m-worth of syndicated debt facilities from lenders including ANZ, Macquarie Bank, Westpac and Credit Suisse. ‘Patient, helpful’ director Anthony Tesvic has ‘strong industry knowledge’. Louise Massey is ‘a very sensible, practical banking and finance litigator’.

DibbsBarker’s profile in the market is growing, thanks to some high-profile hires and an office in Melbourne as of December 2016. The practice’s strengths include property finance and the agri-business and professional services sectors. Practice heads Peter Luke and Jeff Baker, based in Sydney and Brisbane respectively, advised DBS Bank on its acquisition of the Asian retail operations of ANZ. Luke advised Elanor Investors Group on the financing aspects of the stapling of two REITs and the resulting entity’s ASX listing. Brad Allen assisted CIMIC Group, after its acquisition of UGL Group, with its assimilation of the latter’s syndicated, bilateral and insurer surety bond facilities. In August 2017, Jason Morris arrived from Allens.

Property finance and construction finance are the key strengths of Gadens Lawyers’ department, which also handles corporate and structured finance. The practice is jointly led by Doug Scobie and Craig Green, who are based in Melbourne and Brisbane respectively, and advises lenders and borrowers on financing and refinancing matters worth hundreds of millions of Australian dollars. Peter Nadalin has decades of experience acting for major banks such as Westpac and NAB; Adam Howell and Craig Chapman are also recommended.

Commended for its ‘broad, deep industry knowledge’ and value for money, HWL Ebsworth’s department is ‘consistently excellent’. Though mostly active on the lender side, where clients include Westpac, ANZ, CBA and Macquarie Bank, its corporate borrower work is impressive: Paul Sroka advised JB Hi-Fi on a syndicated A$870m loan for its acquisition of The Good Guys. Peter Kay, Paul Gatward and the ‘very knowledgeable, helpful’ Peter Staniszewski are also recommended on the transactional side. The department is well known for its excellent regulatory capabilities: the ‘very experienced, widely respected’ Andrew Galvin is ‘extremely commercially astute’ and provides ‘very solid, practical advice’, and ‘very knowledgeable’ regulatory expert James Moore has ‘a high profile in the sector’. ‘Responsive, practical’ regulatory specialist Stephen Cavanagh is a ‘stand-out partner’ and ‘a pleasure to work with’: he has ‘deep knowledge of financial services regulation’ and ‘great practical experience in financial products and services’. Property finance expert Sarah Carroll joined the Melbourne office from Herbert Smith Freehills in May 2017. *Since publication, HWL Ebsworth and Tress Cox have merged.

Henry Davis York’s ‘client-focused’ department, which is headed by Alex Mufford, is well known for its bank-side strengths, especially in property finance. Simon McSweeney acted for one of the four major Australian banks and a well-known Australian superannuation fund on their development financing of a residential tower project in Parramatta, Sydney. Hamish Dixon assisted a major Australian bank as agent and arranger for a syndicate of domestic and international lenders on the development financing of a series of residential tower developments at Sydney Olympic Park. Special counsel Vittorio Casamento, an expert in structured finance and derivatives, joined from Norton Rose Fulbright in October 2016. Ben Emblin and Patrick O’Grady left to join Corrs Chambers Westgarth in August 2017. Henry Davis York and Norton Rose Fulbright have announced their intention to merge towards the end of 2017.

Hogan Lovells’ practice is noted for its ‘technical expertise, market knowledge, commercial approach and value for money’. ‘Accessible, responsive, commercially pragmatic’ practice head Nicky Lester is ‘excellent on all levels’ and ‘really adds value’; she acted for Partners Group on a multi-jurisdictional syndicated $700m loan from ANZ and Standard Chartered. Partners Group also instructed Ros O’Mally on the acquisition and development financing of the 270MW Sapphire wind farm in New South Wales. Richard Hayes, who joined in July 2016 from King & Wood Mallesons, assisted Intermediate Capital Group as lender with its participation in a A$250m Term Loan B facility for Iron Mountain Australia Group.

Active mostly in property finance, with strong experience in the hotels sector, Colin Biggers & Paisley’s practice is headed by Matthew Bode, and is frequently seen on aircraft and shipping finance mandates. Bode advised INCO Ships on its acquisition and associated financing of two Bahamas-flagged bunker vessels. Alongside Kate Craig, Bode also acted for DBS Bank on the refinancing of the Westin Hotel in Sydney, for over A$200m. On the borrower side, Craig acted for an undisclosed developer on a A$160m loan from two Singaporean banks for the construction of 398 residential apartments in Sydney. Other borrower clients include Hindmarsh Construction and Richard Crookes Construction; China Construction Bank, Bank of Sydney and OCBC are representative lender clients. Special counsel Christopher Dirckze, an expert in derivatives and institutional finance, joined in May 2017 from in-house at the Asia Pacific Loan Market Association.

The ‘exceptional’ team at Hall & Wilcox, which is especially strong in property finance and funds work, provides ‘consistently high-quality service’ and is commended for its ‘industry knowledge and commercial approach’. The ‘very personable, responsiveHarry New, who has ‘an in-depth knowledge of financial services law’, advised Flinders Trustees on obtaining a trustee company licence from the federal government. Superannuation expert Heather Gray assisted Legal Super with establishing its new “Guaranteed Income Account” pension product. Practice head Mark Inston is ‘very knowledgeable and approachable’; ‘commercially savvy, technically adept’ special counsel Richard Mann is ‘great to deal with’. Nick Slack and China expert Eugene Chen are also recommended, as is special counsel John Bassilios. Senior associate Jeanette Lui joined the Melbourne office from Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP in April 2017.

Kemp Strang’s mostly Sydney-based practice is particularly active in property finance and corporate finance, and counts agribusiness and healthcare as key sector strengths. Complemented by an excellent regulatory offering, the team’s transactional work covers syndicated, club and bilateral facilities on the lender and borrower side. Agribusiness expert Mark Procajlo heads the department; Sydney-based partners David Murray-Nobbs, Rory Nott and Matthew Wilson, and Andrea Wookey and Elliot Raleigh in Melbourne, are also recommended. Clients include Comerica Bank. Marc Saadie made executive counsel in January 2017.

Primarily Brisbane-based, the ‘prudent, commercial and very responsive’ team at McCullough Robertson counts property finance and corporate finance as key strengths on the lender side and the borrower side respectively. Peter Stewart advised ING Bank on its A$117m loan to an SPV for the purchase of a commercial property. On the borrower side, ‘solution-oriented’ practice head Peter Kennedy assisted an ASX-listed borrower with obtaining an A$234m loan from CBA for the acquisition of a commercial property in Sydney and for the development of an adjacent hotel and shopping centre. The ‘very practical’ Kirby Jukes and the Sydney-based David Gilham are also recommended. Special counsel Katy Anderson joined from Corrs Chambers Westgarth in February 2017, and is an expert in leveraged acquisition and property finance, especially on the borrower side.

Sitting within the firm’s corporate and commercial group, Sparke Helmore Lawyers’ practice has cross-border capabilities and is especially strong on the lender side. Ben Burney, an expert in leveraged, asset and property finance, advised six funds managed by Centuria Funds Management on A$500m-worth of transactions, including various debt facilities and the acquisition of a commercial property in New South Wales. Adam Fuller acted for St. George Bank on A$125m-worth of facilities to AUB Group, and assisted Westpac with A$127m-worth of acquisition facilities to Iris Capital Group. Qualitas is another client of the group.

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