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Leading individuals

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Who Represents Who

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Clients praise the ‘breadth of skills and work ethic’ of Bell Gully, which provides ‘knowledgeable, commercial and concise advice’. High-profile deals for the team included advising Vodafone on its proposed NZ$3.4bn merger with Sky Network Television, and acting for resin manufacturer Nuplex Industries in its NZ$1bn acquisition of Allnex Belgium by way of a scheme of arrangement. Recommended are Auckland-based Anna Buchly and James Gibson, who ‘always go above and beyond to assist’ and who led on the Vodafone deal; Brynn Gilbertson, who advised Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation on major acquisitions; corporate law specialist Glenn Joblin; ‘canny corporate practitionerToby Sharpe; newly promoted Chris Goddard, who ‘understands the commercial context of a deal’; Wellington-based public law expert Simon Watt and the ‘simply outstandingAmon Nunns. The firm counts Blackstone, HNA Group, First State Investments and Hewlett Packard among its clients.

At Buddle Findlay, ‘solutions are always focused and cost-effective and achieve the client’s outcomes’. ‘There is little they haven’t seen and a lot in their toolkit’, says one client. Auckland-based team head Simon Vodanovich is ‘a great asset, bringing a strong mix of commercial nous and legal discipline’. He advised Chevron South Asia on the NZ$785m sale of shares to Z Energy. Grant Dunn is ‘a top-rate thought partner’ and advised Caltex Australia on the NZ$340m acquisition of Gull’s service station and fuel terminal assets. David Thomson, Nick Bragg and, in Wellington, ‘valued adviserSteve Nightingale are recommended. The firm acted for Sky Network Television in its proposed merger with Vodafone New Zealand, which included drafting and negotiating the sale and purchase agreement as well as several key services agreements. Another highlight saw it advise NYSE-listed Newell Brands on the NZ$660m acquisition of Sistema Plastics.

Chapman Tripp is ‘outstanding, particularly in high-value corporate sales and acquisitions – one of the best in the field’. The team is New Zealand’s largest and advises the leading domestic private equity firms, both sovereign wealth funds, and 32 NZX50 companies. In Auckland, John Strowger (who advised Canada Pension Plan Investment Board on a NZ$580m acquisition), Roger Wallis (who advised Tower Limited on its NZ$220m takeover by Fairfax Financial), corporate team head Tim Tubman, Pip England and ECM expert Rachel Dunne are among its many standout practitioners. Newly promoted Joshua Pringle is ‘commercial, intelligent, efficient and swift’. The firm also acted for NZ Post on the NZ$494m sale of a 47% stake in Kiwi Group Holdings to the NZ Superannuation Fund and Accident Compensation Corporation, which involved complex financial services regulatory issues. NZME, Vector Limited and Academic Colleges Group are also clients of the firm.

At MinterEllisonRuddWatts, ‘response times and access to partners are excellent and the team has a broad range of knowledge’. Mark Stuart, who leads the Auckland practice and has ‘excellent commercial and contract skills’, advised Tegel Group and Affinity Equity Partners on the NZ$300m Tegel Foods IPO. Silvana Schenone is ‘a very experienced lawyer who is nice to work with’ and with top commercial lawyer Cathy Quinn she advised Synlait Milk on its NZ$98m accelerated pro-rata entitlement offer to support a capex expansion project. Neil Millar, Cameron Taylor and, in Wellington, Rodney Craig are also recommended. A further highlight for the team saw it act for campervan rental operator Tourism Holdings Limited in its NZ$93m strategic acquisition of the US-based business of El Monte to become the second-largest business in its sector in the US. Blackstone Tactical Opportunities Fund, NZ Refining and Z Energy are also clients of the firm.

Russell McVeaghprovides outstanding service’ and is known for its roles in high-profile deals for a blue-chip client base that includes Fonterra Co-operative Group, Meridian Energy, Goodman Property Trust and KiwiRail. The team is led by Dan Jones in Auckland and also includes standout practitioners Joe Windmeyer and David Raudkivi, who advised NZ$2.3bn renewable energy company Trustpower on its separation into two companies; Pip Greenwood, who acted for Fairfax New Zealand on its sale to NZME; and M&A specialist David Hoare, who handled a NZ$168m acquisition on behalf of Genesis Energy. The firm also acted for Hancock Natural Resources Group, The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company, UniSuper and Taumata Plantations Limited in the sell-down of stakes by investors in the group that holds extensive forestry assets in New Zealand. The firm also counts Meridian Energy, Goodman Property Trust and Pacific Equity Partners among its clients. Graeme Quigley joined Webb Henderson.

One of the top three firms in the country’, according to one client, Simpson Grierson is ‘very responsive and has deep knowledge of New Zealand’s securities and takeover laws’. Clients describe it as ‘one of the best for equity capital markets work’ and note its ‘pragmatic approach to difficult commercial problems’. The 14-partner team includes Auckland-based practitioners Michael Pollard (who has ‘good commercial judgement and listens to the client’s view’), the ‘very experienced, commercial and professional’ James Hawes, firm chairman Kevin Jaffe, and Wellington-based head of ECM Don Holborow. The firm advised Canada-based global insurance company Fairfax Financial Holdings on its proposed NZ$197m acquisition of Tower Limited. The team also acted for Japanese company Toshiba on the local aspects of its US$5.9bn sale of its medical technology business to Canon Inc, and assisted Shanghai Maling Aquarius Co with its subscription for a 50% stake in New Zealand’s largest meat processor Silver Fern Farms.

Clients are ‘very happy with the service’ from Anthony Harper, which is headquartered in Christchurch. David Gould leads the team, in which ‘quiet achiever’ Chris Dann and senior associate Megan Compton (who is ‘very knowledgeable and has a good manner’) are praised by clients. The Auckland team, including managing partner Malcolm Hurley and the ‘pragmatic and helpfulGeoff Hosking, is also recommended. Hurley advised Hilton Haulage on the investment of new capital from Ngāi Tahu for a 50% stake in the company, and acted for property and equity investment company Tailorspace Investments in the acquisition of a stake in New Zealand’s largest residential homebuilder Mike Greer Homes. Hosking acted for The Selwyn Foundation in a NZ$250m social housing joint venture with Auckland Council. The firm also counts Lyttelton Port Company, Soletanche Freyssinet and Scales Corporation among its clients.

DLA Piper New Zealandunderstands its clients’ business and meets or exceeds their expectations’. The five-partner team includes, in Auckland, ‘excellent corporate lawyerMartin Wiseman, who is ‘very committed to client service’, Reuben Woods, who is ‘excellent in every respect, including practical thinking, communication and problem solving’, cross-border transaction expert Martin Thomson and, in Wellington, financial and insurance sector corporate specialist Rachel Taylor. Clients also praise consultant Brian Bray and senior associate Hayden Smith. Wiseman advised Pfizer New Zealand on the local aspects of its US$900m sale of global infusion therapy business Hospira Infusion Systems to ICU Medial. He also acted as local counsel to Newell New Zealand Limited in the US$1.95bn sale of its tools businesses, including the Irwin and Lenox brands, to Stanley Black & Decker. Woods advised MTS Global on the sale of assets to Intuit Limited, which included complex licensing arrangements.

Auckland-based Harmos Horton Lusk Limited is ‘a strong corporate boutique with highly experienced partners’. Between 2014 and 2016, the firm has played a role in two-thirds of all announced takeover activity in New Zealand. Directors Andrew Harmos, Greg Horton, Paul Oldfield, Tim Mitchelson and Nathanael Starrenburg are all highly respected. The firm focuses on high-end corporate and transactional matters and its recent highlights include advising Dunedin-based agricultural co-operative Silver Fern Farms on the NZ$311m sale of 51% of its shares to Shanghai Maling Aquarius Co. The team also acted for Hellaby Holdings in its NZ$351m takeover by Bapor. Abano Healthcare Group and Fonterra Co-operative Group are also clients of the firm. A further highlight saw it advise Restaurant Brands New Zealand, which operates the domestic outlets of brands such as KFC and Starbucks Coffee, on its NZ$105m acquisition of Pacific Island Restaurants in Hawaii, Guam and Saipan.

Auckland firm Mayne Wetherell’s team acts for corporates, institutional investors and large private equity firms on domestic and cross-border M&A transactions, with a particular focus on inbound investment and Overseas Investment Office approvals. The firm advises on numerous deals in the FMCG and financial services sectors. Matthew Olsen acted for Philippines-listed company Universal Robina Corporation in its NZ$600m acquisition of Consolidated Snacks. Australian financial services enterprise FlexiGroup is a key client of team head Michael Harrod. Daniel Meikle advised 2degrees Mobile on the NZ$936m reverse listing of Alignvest Acquisition Corporation. A further highlight saw Olsen act for TPG Capital in the AUD596m IPO of the chicken business of Ingham, which is one of the largest vertically integrated chicken producers in Australasia. Deutsche Bank, Quadrant Private Equity and Pacific Equity Partners are also clients of the firm.

Anderson Lloydcompares well to others for PE sponsored investments and divestments’ and has ‘corporate and M&A specialists who deliver a cost-effective service’. Auckland-based team head Chris Bargery is ‘a pragmatic dealmaker who is focused on the issues’. Clients also recommend ‘very responsive’ associate Bede Maher, Christchurch-based partner David Goodman and, in Dunedin, Anne McLeod and Sarah Simmers. Highlights included advising Pioneer Capital Partners and Oriens Capital on their investment in Rockit Global Limited, and assisting Farmlands Co-operative Society with the sale of its finance business. The team also acted for Pioneer Capital Partners in its acquisition of natural health products business Lifestream International through a structured MBO. Amuri Irrigation Company and AgResearch Limited are also among the firm’s clients.

Auckland firm Hesketh Henryprovides a very high-quality service and has in-depth knowledge and experience and an outstanding reputation’. Managing partner Erich Bachmannleads the business and stands out for his knowledge, experience, tact and diplomacy’. Bachmann and senior associate Julika Wahlmann-Smith, who is known for her ‘expertise, attention to detail and outstanding service’, advised Mataura Valley Milk on an investment from China Animal Husbandry Group and the development of a NZ$200m dairy plant. Also recommended are Kate Telford, who advised National Aluminium Limited on a joint venture, and Chris Lee, who acted for Davines in the negotiation of distribution agreements. The firm also counts AA Insurance Limited, AIG, Allied Mills and Independent Timber Merchants Co-operative Limited among its clients.

Kensington Swan is known for its combination of expertise, experience and value for money. David Lewis leads the team in Auckland and he acted for Scottish Pacific Group Limited on the AUD293m listing of shares on ASX. Nick Scott acted for Whānau Tahi Limited on the purchase of SimplHealth Solutions and MBBO Holdings. Chris Parke led the firm’s work for Temp Holdings, alongside Allen & Overy’s Singapore office, regarding the expansion of its North Asia joint venture with TS Kelly Workforce Solutions. The co-heads of the Wellington team are Martin Dalgleish and David Shillson, who advised Range International Holdings on its ASX listing. Also recommended are Gerald Fitzgerald for mergers and acquisitions, overseas investment, corporate governance, debt financing and equity; head of the Maori business team Deborah Edmunds; and senior associate Aaron Patience, who leads the firm’s growing Japan practice.

Lowndes – Corporate & Commercial Law Specialists in Auckland is known for ‘immediate response times and clear, comprehensive answers’. ‘Professional and client-focused’ managing partner Mark Lowndes, partners Allan MacRae and Paul Hartland, and principal Kerri Dewe (who is ‘incredibly intelligent and leaves clients feeling the situation is in good hands’) are highly recommended. The firm advises many overseas clients, including a large infrastructure company that made two significant asset acquisitions in 2016 and a major Chinese telecoms company. The firm’s highlights included advising insurance broker Rothbury Group on the acquisition of assets from financial advisory network Lifetime Group, including its general insurance broker operations.

Headquartered in Hamilton, Tompkins Wake is known for ‘excellent service, advice and value for money; its super team gives clients total confidence’. The firm develops ‘well-balanced, open, honest and value-add relationships with clients’. Mark Renner and Phil Taylor advised WEL Networks on its NZ$189m buyout of Ultrafast Fibre from Crown Fibre Holdings. Clients also recommend Bryce Davey (who is ‘very commercial and never overcomplicates things’) and Tom Arieli (who is ‘smart, accessible and, in the heat of a deal, honest; he has a tremendous read of the situation’). Robert Bycroft played a key role in the firm’s standout deals, including advising an international software as a service company on the launch of a global peer-to-peer app store, and acting for a well-known domestic food manufacturer in the sale of a high-profile brand to a competitor.

Clients are ‘very happy with the excellent advice’ from corporate boutique Flacks & Wong in Auckland. ‘Seasoned practitionerDavid Flacks and the ‘exemplary, client-driven and commercially focusedDaniel Wong are ‘highly competent and well known for their knowledge of securities, corporate and takeover laws’. The firm advised six shareholders of Compac Holdings on the company’s sale to Tomra Sorting in one of the most significant mid-market deals of 2016. Wong also acted for Zeffer Brewing in a NZ$1.2m crowdfunded capital raising in a deal that enabled the client to execute its Asian export strategy. The firm also handled New Zealand’s first issue of social bonds by APM Workcare.

Webb Henderson joins the ranking having recently expanded its team with the hire of prominent and well-respected corporate and M&A lawyer Graeme Quigley from Russell McVeagh. The firm now has three partners in Auckland – Quigley, Michael Gartshore and Garth Sinclair – who work closely with the firm’s Sydney office on trans-Tasman matters. Recent highlights include its work for Genesis Energy in the NZ$192m acquisition of the Nova Gas LPG business from Todd Corporation; acting for Pacific Equity Partners in the acquisition of frozen convenience foods supplier Leader Products to create a combined frozen food group operating across Australia and New Zealand; and advising Hellaby Holdings Limited on the sale of its equipment division to a private equity fund managed by Maui Capital.

Wynn Williams is one of the leading firms in New Zealand for private M&A transactions ranging in value from NZ$5m to NZ$100m. It also has a prominent practice for capital raising transactions in the high-growth business sector, acting for issuers and investors in seed capital raising rounds, angel investments, Series A investments and public offerings. Hayley Buckley leads the three-partner team in Auckland, which acts for clients such as Ports of Auckland, Hitachi and crowdfunding platform Snowball Effect. Buckley advised Punakaiki Fund on its NZ$15m public share offering. Ash Hill acted for HW Richardson Group in its NZ$60 acquisition of a 50% stake in Dynes Transport and the sale of Southern Logging and Farmers Transport into the merged group. He also advised Sky TV on its Series A investment in 90 Seconds. Stephen Lowe’s highlights included advising Maui Capital on its acquisition of convertible notes in NZ Minerals.

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