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Australia > Natural resources (transactions and regulatory) > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


Index of tables

  1. Natural resources (transactions and regulatory)
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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    • Luke Nicholls - Allen & Overy

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Ashurst’s market-leading practice comprises 23 partners and regularly acts for global resource houses, large multinational corporations, and junior exploration and mining companies; key clients include Adani, Anglo American, Rio Tinto and Glencore. BHP Billiton receives ongoing advice on its strategic operating assets, as well as transactional support relating to farm-in agreements and the sale and purchase of assets. The team advised Alcoa, a global bauxite and aluminium producer, on the Australian law aspects of its global $3.4bn demerger, which separated it into two independent, NYSE-traded companies. Esco International, a subsidiary of K+S, the world’s leading salt producer, received advice on its acquisition of Ashburton Salt. A large number of partners come in for praise, among them Roger Davies, Michael Harrison and Richard Guit. Global co-head of mining and practice head Lorenzo Pacitti has ‘exceptional knowledge of the resources space’, is ‘highly efficient’ and ‘engages well with senior internal stakeholders’.

Herbert Smith Freehills continues to be a ‘go-to firm’; its energy practice includes Ian Williams and ‘very good’ global head of mining Jay Leary. The team has been acting for Yancoal Australia on its acquisition of Coal & Allied from Rio Tinto, the largest coal acquisition in Australia since the end of the downturn in the coal market in 2012. It also acted for Independence Group on its successful off-market takeover of Windward Resources, and advised Mitsui Matsushima on its joint venture with Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National regarding the Eastern Coal project, located in Queensland.

King & Wood Mallesons has attracted a wide range of high-value, cross-border work, with a team across the firm’s Australian, Hong Kong and Spanish offices advising Alumina on renegotiating the terms of its $6.5-7.5bn joint venture for the world’s largest bauxite and alumina joint business, Alcoa World Alumina & Chemicals (AWAC). In a noteworthy resources transaction, the team advised Glencore on the A$1.1bn sale of its Glencore Rail coal haulage business to the US-based Genesee & Wyoming. Pembroke Resources received advice on its acquisition of several metallurgical coal tenements in Queensland. A number of partners come in for praise, among them Alan Murray, Scott Langford, Robert Edel and Robert Jackson.

Allen & Overy capitalises on its strong regional offering and regularly attracts cross-border work. Highlights included advising EMR Capital on its $210m acquisition of the Golden Grove mine from a subsidiary of MMG, Album Investments, and acting for Lanco Infratech in a major dispute in the Supreme Court of Western Australia in relation to the sale process for the Griffin Coal Mining Company. It is also advising Hindalco Industries in respect of the takeover bid by Metals X for Aditya Birla Minerals, a company in which Hindalco holds a 51% interest. Key clients include Fortescue Metals Group, Vale, Rio Tinto and Resource Capital Funds. Geoff Simpson and Meredith Campion are singled out for praise; counsel Luke Nicholls is also recommended.

Strong competitorAllens has been involved in a number of large-scale transactions in the resources space, among them advising Rio Tinto on its $2.5bn sale of Coal & Allied Industries, as part of Rio Tinto’s progressive exit from its New South Wales thermal coal business. It also acted for Genesee & Wyoming Australia in its A$1.1bn acquisition of Glencore Rail through a competitive sale process and the concurrent sell-down of a 49% equity stake in Glencore Rail to investment funds managed by Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets. Evolution Mining received advice on its A$880m acquisition of a stake in the Ernest Henry mine in Queensland. Erin Feros, Anna Collyer and Igor Bogdanich receive praise.

Corrs Chambers Westgarth’s team has been bolstered by Papua New Guinea (PNG) expert Vaughan Mills from Allens, adding significant depth to the firm’s PNG offering. The practice advised Peabody Energy on its $200m sale of the Metropolitan coal mine to a subsidiary of South32, and acted for Cape Coal on the sale of its subsidiary Bowen Coking Coal to Kairiki Energy. PPB Advisory instructed the team on its role as liquidator of the Bandanna Energy group, which comprises 19 companies. The team counts Newcrest Mining and Stanmore Coal among its clients. Michael MacGinley heads the team, which includes Bruce Adkins.

Minter Ellison’s practice, which is led by Simon Scott, continues to act for Anglo American on the divestment of all of its Australian coal mining assets. It also advised Hitachi Construction Machinery on its recommended A$976m takeover bid for Bradken, noteworthy because of Bradken’s complex capital and debt structure. Peabody Energy, Rio Tinto, and Yancoal Australia are also clients. The team includes Adam Handley, and has been bolstered by Paul Shillington from Oryx Petroleum and Anthony Portas from Anglo American.

Baker McKenzie’s nine-partner team has a focus on cross-border transactions, recently advising Clean TeQ on an A$81m private placement from Chinese conglomerate Pengxin Mining. Gulf Industrials received advice on its A$8m share placement to professional investors, and on its joint venture with Cassius Mining for the Gbane gold project in Ghana. Highfield Resources, FAR, Unity Mining and Peabody also count among the team’s clients. John Mollard and Christopher Saxon, who heads the energy, resources and infrastructure practice, are singled out.

Clayton Utz advised Peabody’s Australian group of companies on its local business operations as part of Peabody’s global $10bn restructuring; the team also acted for a number of overseas resources clients on their acquisition of Anglo Coal’s Australia-based assets, and assisted Hong Kong Stock Exchange and MMG on the latter’s $210m sale of its Golden Grove mine to EMR Capital. Clients also include Glencore, Noble Group, Origin Energy, Barrick Gold and Fortescue. Brett Cohen and practice head Stuart MacGregor are recommended. Peter Wiese left to join Wright Prospecting.

Gilbert + Tobin covers a wide range of matters, but has particularly extensive experience in providing advice to Australian clients operating in foreign jurisdictions, particularly Africa. The team has been advising Yancoal Australia’s Independent Board Committee on its A$3.3bn acquisition of Coal & Allied Industries from Rio Tinto, and acted for Gold Fields Australia on its A$350m acquisition of a 50% interest in the Gruyere gold project from Gold Road Resources. OZ Minerals and South32 are new client wins. Michael Blakiston and Phil Edmands have ‘very good knowledge of the Western Australian mining industry’; Justin Little is ‘very good technically’ and gives ‘well-structured, appropriate advice in a way that is easily digestible, particularly for non-legal audiences’. Disputes specialist Marshall McKenna ‘always provides good strategic advice with potential solutions’.

McCullough Robertsonprovides good outcomes’; its natural resources team displays ‘deep resource industry knowledge’. It acted for NQ Minerals on its A$50m acquisition of Tasmania’s Hellyer gold mine, and advised exploration and mining company Metro Mining on its A$52m takeover of Gulf Alumina. Dominic McGannalways tackles problems using methods that lead to cost-saving and mutually satisfactory outcomes’; he also has ‘excellent knowledge and skills’, and is ‘well connected’. Team head Damien Clarke is a ‘trusted adviser in broad commercial strategy, not just for legal work’, and is ‘aware of industry trends and the various participants’ strategies in the resources sector’.

Norton Rose Fulbright’s recent regulatory work includes advising the Queensland Competition Authority on its decision on Aurizon Network’s access undertaking for the Central Queensland coal network, the largest coal rail network in Australia. The team has also been busy with restructuring work, such as advising Ansteel on the restructuring of its 52%-owned subsidiary, Karara Mining. The Newlake Alliance Management consortium received advice on its bid for ASX-listed Arrium Australia, which entered voluntary administration in April 2016. Head of mining Jake Howard and head of infrastructure, mining and commodities Keira Brennan are recommended; the latter ‘is highly specialised in the coal industry but also understands Japanese company culture well’. Norton Rose Fulbright and Henry Davis York have announced their intention to merge in late 2017.

Clifford Chance Australia’s team is headed by Paul Lingard and frequently draws on the firm’s network, most recently advising the London-listed Evraz on its disposal of fully owned subsidiary Evraz Nakhodka Trade Sea Port to its majority shareholder Lanebrook for $354m. It also regularly acts for BHP Billiton, Glencore, BGC Contracting and Churchill Mining. The team has seen some change: Paul Vinci and Justin Harris both left to join Johnson Winter & Slattery, and Jon Carson retired from the partnership.

DLA Piper regularly acts for the government of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, among others representing the client in a high-profile maritime boundary dispute in which the firm has been involved since 2014. The team also acted for ResCap Investments on a number of acquisitions, and counts Fortescue Metals Group, Batchfire Resources and Gold Road Resources among its clients. Stephen Webb, Dan Brown and David Nancarrow are singled out.

Dentons’ ‘excellent’ team ‘brings a commercial perspective and problem-solving capability to complex issues’. Kym Livesley and David Perks are singled out, the latter for ‘his knowledge, calm manner and strong ethical approach to challenges’. It advised gold explorer Metminco on its A$214m acquisition of Minera Seafield from RMB Australia, and acted for the receivers on the sale of assets belonging to Compass Resources.

Johnson Winter & Slattery’s practice has been bolstered by Paul Vinci and Justin Harris from Clifford Chance Australia. Regulatory work included advising the Queensland Competition Authority on its review of the Aurizon Network Draft Access Undertaking, which regulates the terms and conditions under which Aurizon provides access to its central Queensland coal network. Macmahon received advice on a transaction with PT Amman Mineral Nusa Tenggara under which the latter will award to Macmahon a $2.9bn life-of-mine mining services contract at its Batu Hijau copper-gold mine in Indonesia. John Keeves and Jee-Seon Lee jointly head the team, which includes Martin Kudnig and James Marshall.

Jones Day acted for Dart Mining on its farm-in and joint venture agreement with Northern Mine Ventures on gold exploration tenements in Victoria, and advised Highlands Pacific in relation to its PNG Frieda River copper-gold joint venture dispute with PanAust. Australian Coalbed Methane, Resource Generation and Slipstream Resources are also clients. Tony Wassaf heads the team.

K&L Gates’ team, which is headed by Simon Salter, has a focus on M&A, especially regulated M&A and project acquisitions and disposals; it also has a strong mid-cap mining client base. It advised Waratah International on its A$46m off market takeover offer for Amex Resources. Rox Resources received advice on the A$16m sale of its interest in the Reward Zinc-Lead project to Teck Australia. Eric Fethers has specialist knowledge of Brazil’s mining legislation.

Squire Patton Boggs advised General Mining on its A$700m merger with Galaxy Resources, and acted for Coal of Africa on its A$126m takeover offer for Universal Coal. Eastern Goldfields instructed the team on corporate transactions with an aggregate transaction value of A$115m. Clare Pope, John Poulsen and Simon Rear are the names to note.

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