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Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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    • Rupert Baker - Herbert Smith Freehills
    • Amelia Fleming - Herbert Smith Freehills

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Allens provides ‘excellent access to and continuity of senior partners’; the team ‘has more depth than its competitors’, and is ‘very active across the entire range of project finance work’. The team advised the Commonwealth Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development on the concessional loan financing of stage 2 for the WestConnex project. It also acted for the New South Wales (NSW) Treasury on the financing aspects of the A$30bn long-term lease of its electricity transmission network business, which is operated by TransGrid, and of 49% of its electricity distribution network business, which is operated by Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy. Michael Ryan and Tim Stewart jointly head the team, which includes Rob Watt and Scott McCoy. Phillip Cornwell retired from the partnership.

Ashurstpicked up some very good work’ in 2016-’17. The widely capable practice has particular expertise with matters involving export credit agency and multilateral financing support; it also handles domestic and offshore capital markets solutions. It advised Sydney Motorway Corporation and Roads & Maritime Services on stage 1 of WestConnex’s project financing via A$1.8bn-worth of senior bank debt, as well as on stage 2 via A$1.5bn-worth of senior debt and A$2bn-worth of subordinated debt from the federal government. A consortium comprising IFM Investors and AustralianSuper received advice on financing its acquisition of a 50.4% interest in a 99-year lease of Ausgrid, the largest distribution network in Australia’s National Electricity Market. Jamie Ng, who is ‘responsive, experienced and knows the project finance space well’, heads the practice jointly with Simon Irvine; the team also includes David Mason.

Herbert Smith Freehills fields ‘top-class lawyers who show strong business acumen and industry knowledge’; there is ‘strong partner involvement in all transactions’, and the team provides ‘a coordinated and seamless service offering’. It advised funds managed by Brookfield on several transactions relating to Brookfield’s A$9.1bn acquisition of Asciano, a logistics firm that comprised Patrick Stevedoring, Pacific National and National Rail, among other companies. A bank syndicate consisting of Crédit Agricole, Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), BNP Paribas and OCBC Bank received advice on the $180m project financing of APA and REST’s acquisition of the Mortlake gas pipeline. Elizabeth Charlesworth has ‘a strong client focus, with deep knowledge of the fundamental issues at stake’, and Erin Wakelin is ‘one of the best – very commercial in her approach and always available to provide urgent advice’. Gerard Pike is also recommended; associates Rupert Baker and Amelia Fleming are other noted practitioners. The team has seen a number of departures to White & Case’s newly established operations in Australia, among them Brendan Quinn, Josh Sgro and Joel Rennie.

King & Wood Mallesons has seen significant growth at partner level with four new promotions; the team also includes Peter Doyle, Jeff Clark, Mark Upfold and Claire Rogers. It acted for Macquarie Group New Zealand as the financiers to the Northern Express Group consortium, which successfully bid to develop the NZ$709m Pūhoi-to-Warkworth PPP motorway project, and advised the financiers in relation to the Lonsdale Consortium’s A$9.7bn acquisition of the 50-year lease of the Port of Melbourne, Australia’s largest container and cargo port. Transurban Queensland received advice on the financing of the Logan Enhancement project as well as on the refinancing of its own existing financing arrangements, involving facilities worth A$820m overall.

Allen & Overy’s team, which is led by Adam Stapledon, can draw on the firm’s global financing capabilities, and attracted a range of cross-border matters. It advised the lenders on the A$398m financing of the development of Melbourne’s Victoria International Container Terminal for Philippines port operator International Container Terminal Services. Another multi-jurisdictional matter was acting as joint counsel to Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank and Export-Import Bank of India on financing the greenfield development of a 29MW wind farm in Mauritius. Sino Gas & Energy instructed the team regarding the extension and amendment of its debt facility with Macquarie Bank for the development of its coal-bed methane project in China. David Christensen and Peter Wilkes are also recommended.

Gilbert + Tobin’s practice, which is led by John Schembri, has attracted a number of infrastructure financings, and has expertise across the health, water, energy and transport sectors. High-value matters include advising Trustpower and Tilt Renewables, which demerged from each other in October 2016, on the comprehensive new A$1.4bn financing package for Tilt Renewables. In the renewables space, the team advised National Australia Bank (NAB) and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation as financiers to Fotowatio Renewable Ventures in relation to the Clare I solar farm project financing. Reliance Rail received advice on its A$2bn refinancing of the NSW government’s rolling stock PPP, one of Australia’s largest PPP projects. Alexander Danne, Simon Lynch and Charles Bogle are also recommended.

Norton Rose Fulbright has expertise with alternative financing methods and a focus on infrastructure project financings. Renewables is an area of growth: the team advised Wirsol Energy on the A$380m financing of a portfolio of three large-scale solar projects in Queensland and Victoria, the first financing of utility-scale solar projects in Australia. The practice also acted for CEFC and NordLB regarding their financing of the 113MW Bodangora wind farm in NSW. The team regularly receives instructions from AMP Capital, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ), Brookfield Rail and Capella Capital. Jo Crew is the names to note. Chris Redden left to join Ashurst. Norton Rose Fulbright and Henry Davis York have announced their intention to merge in late 2017.

Baker McKenzie is noted for its work on behalf of government vendors, bid leaders and consortium partners; it has particular experience in renewable energy project financings and in acting for Chinese banks such as Bank of China, China Development Bank and Industrial Commercial Bank of China. The team advised Neoen as lead sponsor on the Hornsdale wind farm in South Australia, which involved syndicated project financing that used senior debt provided by KfW Ipex-Bank and Société Générale. Highfield Resources received financing advice regarding its proposed A$350m Muga mine development in Spain. The practice acts for both borrowers and sponsors; group head Sean Rush and Chuong Nguyen are the names to note. The department also fields a US-qualified capital markets team, which is led by the Sydney-based Andrew Reilly.

Clayton Utz’s ‘very good’ team ‘performs above expectations’. The team capitalises on the firm’s extensive projects and construction practice groups, and regularly acts for government departments, energy sector clients, investors and financial institutions. It advised the financiers to the consortium comprising IFM and AustralianSuper in relation to its unsolicited proposal to acquire the A$16.2bn Ausgrid distribution network in New South Wales, with a debt funding requirement in excess of $12bn. It also acted for the financiers to the consortium that acquired Asciano’s rail assets as part of Asciano’s A$9.2bn demerger into separate rail, ports and bulk automotive businesses. ANZ, Macquarie Bank, Origin, Alinta Energy and Capella Capital are among the team’s other clients. John Shirbin is singled out along with Bruce Cooper and Marcus Davenport, who has an ‘excellent all-round understanding of what is required to structure, negotiate and close a winning transaction’.

Clifford Chance Australia acts for a wide range of clients, among them export credit agencies, commercial lenders, sponsors, borrowers, investors and governments. It advised the lead arrangers to the Genesee & Wyoming / MIRA consortium on its A$1.1bn acquisition of Glencore Rail, involving lenders such as CBA, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ. Renewables have been another source of work: the team advised NordLB in its role as the sole debt financier on the financing of Australia’s first integrated solar and storage project of scale located in Queensland. JBIC and KEXIM instruct the team in relation to the $2.5bn project financing of a 1200MW coal-fired plant in Vietnam. Richard Gordon and Philip Sealey are singled out.

Minter Ellison acted for Commercial & General Group as developer on the project financing for the A$300m Calvary private hospital to be developed in Adelaide’s CBD. Capella Capital, Lendlease, John Holland and Bouygues Construction Australia received comprehensive advice on the Melbourne Metro project, including on project financing aspects. The team includes Paul Paxton, Daniel Marks and Peter Block, and has particular expertise in matters involving PPPs.

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