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New Zealand > Corporate and M&A > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


Index of tables

  1. Corporate and M&A
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next Generation Partners

Leading individuals

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Next Generation Partners

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Bell Gully is 'extremely proactive with best-in-class knowledge and an understanding of the realities of the business world', according to one client, who adds that 'the team really goes above and beyond to meet our needs'. 'The pre-eminent law firm in New Zealand for a reason - consistently a class above its peers', remarks another. In Auckland, Anna Buchly and James Gibson 'stand out as fantastic to work with - they think of everything'. They advised US-based Platinum Equity on the acquisitions of Staples Australasia and OfficeMax Australasia. Brynn Gilbertson advised Fletcher Building on a NZ$750m underwritten offer to shareholders. Also recommended are corporate law specialist Glenn Joblin, who handled AIA's A$3.8bn acquisition of insurer Sovereign, and 'has excellent knowledge of the market and is a very trusted adviser'; Toby Sharpe, who advised Gentrack on its NZ$79m acquisition of Junifer Systems; Chris Goddard, who is 'extremely client-centric and brings a diligent manner to the matters he works on'; and 'highly capable' senior associate Jennifer Coote. In Wellington, public law expert Simon Watt and deputy practice head Amon Nunns are respected partners.

Buddle Findlay provides 'the highest quality of service and is always thorough, having a deep tool kit and a senior team with valuable experience and rich networks and knowledge in New Zealand'. 'They understand our requirements and always outperform', says a client. The team, which is led by Auckland-based Simon Vodanovich, frequently acts in some of the largest corporate transactions in the market and Vodanovich recently advised Newell Brands on its NZ$660m acquisition of Sistema Plastics. Partners Nick Bragg and Lisette Hood also played key roles in that transaction. Also recommended are Grant Dunn, who has 'very deep knowledge of the market and a good eye for detail'; senior corporate partner David Thomson, who handled a share sale for Geneva Group; and senior associate Benjamin Sutton, who is 'an emerging talent operating in many ways at a partner level - a safe pair of hands'. In Wellington, Steve Nightingale is a standout practitioner and he advised Infratil on the block trade sale of its NZ$237m stake in Metlifecare.

Chapman Tripp has one of the country's largest corporate and commercial practices and, in 2017, it handled the largest volume of work of any firm. It acts for all of the major New Zealand private equity firms, both of the country's sovereign wealth funds (Guardians of NZ Superannuation Fund and Accident Compensation Corporation), and more than 30 of the top 50 NZX-listed companies. Among its clients are Vector, Z Energy, Royal Dutch Shell and Zurich Insurance Group. The practice is led from Auckland by Tim Tubman, whose  recent highlights include acting for New Zealand Superannuation Fund on the purchase of a 41% stake in Fidelity Life Assurance. Pip England, who stands out for M&A and property syndication matters, also led that transaction. Roger Wallis advised Trilogy on its NZ$205m sale of shares to CITIC Capital Partners. John Strowger acted for Pencarrow Private Equity in the sale of clothing manufacturer Icebreaker. Also recommended are ECM expert Rachel Dunne and Joshua Pringle. Josh Blackmore is the key partner in Wellington and he counts Beach Energy among his clients.

Auckland-based corporate boutique Harmos Horton Lusk Limited handles high-end transactional work, including some of the largest and most complex matters in the market. As well as M&A transactions, the firm also handles the structuring, public offering and underwriting of listed and unlisted securities, public and private capital raisings, board-level strategic and governance advice, and regulatory compliance issues. Andrew Harmos and Greg Horton  (who is 'a class act') lead the practice, and directors Paul Oldfield, Tim Mitchelson and the 'creative and commercial' Nathanael Starrenburg are regarded as leaders in their fields. One client praises the firm's 'dedication to excellence, perceptive thinking, reliability and timeliness'. Another notes the firm's 'quality, reliability, commercial awareness, initiative and high ethical standards'. Horton acted for private equity firm Mpaui Capital in the US$175m of BJ Ball Group and KW Doggett Fine Paper. Starrenburg acted for independent directors of King Country Energy in its US$90m takeover by Trustpower.

At 'one of the top firms in the market'¬†MinterEllisonRuddWatts, 'the¬†service level is excellent, the¬†lawyers are always "on‚Ä̬†and the advice has been valuable'. The firm is known for equity capital markets and M&A deals for international corporations, local trade buyers, listed companies and private equity funds.¬†Silvana Schenone¬†leads the Auckland practice and¬†Rodney Craig¬†is the key partner in¬†Wellington. Schenone acted for CITIC Capital Partners in its acquisition of Trilogy International.¬†'Her legal knowledge and expertise in corporate transactions is outstanding', says a client of Cathy Quinn, who also worked on that transaction.¬†In Auckland, Mark Forman¬†is 'calm and unflappable and has a strong ability to identify solutions'. He advised OneFortyOne Plantations on its acquisition of Nelson Forests. Mark Stuart, who handled a major acquisition for Tourism Holdings, and Neil Millar, who¬†assisted¬†Kraft Heinz with the purchase of Cerebos Pacific, are also recommended.¬†'I respect his no-nonsense style and ability to communicate clearly', says a client of Cameron Taylor.¬†Senior associates Elena Kim¬†and Benjamin Jacobs¬†also earn praise. In Wellington, John Conlan¬†counts Taharoa Ironsands among his clients.

Russell McVeagh has recognised experts in M&A and securities law and acts for blue-chip corporates, among which are Fonterra Co-operative Group, Kiwi Property Group, The Carlyle Group and Origin Energy. In Auckland, greatly respected dealmaker Pip Greenwood leads the practice; in a recent announcement, it has been confirmed she plans on retiring from the firm in the first quarter of 2019. Her recent highlights include acting for banks including ANZ Bank and BNZ Investments in the sale of their holdings in leading payment network Paymark to Ingenico. She also assisted Oceania Healthcare with its NZ$200m IPO. David Raudkivi and Wellington-based Mei Fern Johnson handled the local aspects of Origin Energy's NZ$1.5bn sale of Lattice Energy. The firm's work for Fonterra included its entry into a comprehensive strategic relationship with The a2 Milk Company, with the deal being led by standout partner David Hoare. Key partners Joe Windmeyer and Dan Jones also play central roles in the practice. Special counsel Joanna Khoo is a rising star.

Simpson Grierson is known for 'good response times and availability, as well as specific and in-depth industry knowledge'. The firm is is particularly strong in deals involving inbound investment into New Zealand, and it is consistently one of the busiest in the country for global, small-cap and mid-market transactions. In Auckland, Michael Pollard leads the practice and he acted for Malaysia-listed UEM Edgenta Berhad as controlling shareholder of Opus International Consultants on the sale of shares to WSP Global. Andrew Matthews plays an increasingly important role in the practice and he recently acted for Suntory Beverage & Food Asia in the sale of Cerebos to Kraft Heinz. James Hawes has significant international experience in M&A, joint ventures, private equity and venture capital matters. He recently worked with Welington-based Dave Trueman (who is 'very clear in his advice - he connects the dots well') to assist OMV New Zealand with the purchase of shares in eight Royal Dutch Shell entities. In Wellington, Don Holborow leads the equity capital markets practice.

'The service has always been, and remains, outstanding', remarks a client of Anthony Harper, which has a large corporate and commercial team in both Auckland and Christchurch. 'The advice is astute and balanced, and its knowledge of our business and industry sector is second to none', says another client. The firm's recent work includes significant transactions for leading agricultural goods manufacturer and supplier Donaghys, listed agri-business company Scales Corporation, Canadian venture-capital group Volaris, and the world’s largest commercial vehicle manufacturer Mercedes-Benz. The practice is led by Chris Dann in the Christchurch office. 'His ability to interpret our requirements and wishes into a succinct legal document is extraordinary', says a client of 'practical, commercial, best-in-business' partner David Gould, who led Donaghy's sale of its crop packaging business. Newly promoted partner Megan Compton also played a key role in that transaction. In Auckland, Geoff Hosking, who acted for Volaris, and managing partner Malcolm Hurley are the standout practitioners.

The firm 'meets or exceeds our expectations', says a major corporate client of DLA Piper New Zealand, which not only works on significant cross-border deals as part of its global network, but also acts in large domestic transactions. Auckland-based Martin Thomson, who frequently advises overseas companies and funds on their investments in the forestry, agriculture, dairy, meat processing, wine and food manufacturing sectors, and Wellington-based financial and insurance sector corporate specialist Rachel Taylor  lead the practice. Taylor acted for Libra Partners in its acquisition of a stake in Tenon Clearwood. Thomson is the key partner in the firm's foreign investment practice and with 'highly regarded M&A lawyer' Reuben Woods frequently acts for Chinese clients investing in New Zealand. In Auckland, Martin Wiseman is 'an excellent corporate lawyer, very committed to client service'. He advised Visa on the NZ$150m acquisition of payments solutions provider Fraedom Holdings.

Kensington Swan¬†frequently handles cross-border M&A transactions, as well as a range of domestic acquisitions, joint ventures and asset transfers for both international and local acquirers. It is particularly active in the¬†pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, food, transport and logistics, infrastructure, technology, energy and FMCG sectors. The firm has a notable Asia practice, with senior associate Aaron Patience¬†leading the Japan desk and special counsel Heida Donegan¬†leading the China business group. The firm has a strong team in Auckland, which is led by¬†David Lewis,¬†who counts Johnson & Johnson among his clients. The other key partners are¬†Nick Scott, who recently¬†handled the MBO of a company that provides loyalty and rewards programmes, and¬†Chris Parke, who acted for Persol Holdings Co in the A$778m¬†acquisition of Programmed Maintenance Services, including its NZ$90m of New Zealand assets. The firm has a strong presence in Wellington thanks to¬†David Shillson, who advised¬†Zeta Resources on a partial takeover, and¬†Martin Dalgleish. Consultant Deborah Edmunds¬†leads the¬†MńĀori business practice.

Clients of Lowndes in Auckland report 'a very high level of service and strong business acumen, as well as good value for money'. One client remarks that the firm is 'top quality - very competitive with other boutique firms and also with larger firms', while another notes that 'the lawyers are all from top-tier firms, so you get the top-tier advice - I would recommend them to any business'. The firm is best known for its expertise in M&A, corporate advisory, listed company and investment funds matters. Managing partner Mark Lowndes 'has exceptional knowledge in all areas of company and commercial law'. He recently acted for Horizon Global in the acquisition of Best Bars Limited. Paul Hartland is 'very client-focused with strong industry knowledge, great attention to detail and excellent strategic insight'. Allan McRae advised Corporate Holdings Limited on two major acquisitions. Principal Kerri Dewe is noted for her 'strong commitment to customer service and broad knowledge of commercial law'. Principal Kathryn Hickling is also praised for her 'excellent technical skills and great attention to detail'.

Mayne Wetherell in Auckland handles high-end domestic and international M&A transactions and has particular strength in inbound investment matters for large corporates, institutional investors and private equity firms. Michael Harrod leads the four-partner practice and with key partner Michael Pritchard acted for Eclipx Group in its A$179m acquisition of Grays eCommerce by way of scrip-for-scrip scheme of arrangement. Pritchard and finance partner Will Tipping handled the acquisition of NZ RJs Licorice on behalf of purchaser Quadrant Private Equity. Also recommended are Matthew Olsen, who recently acted for a global fund in relation to its investment in several of New Zealand’s largest private dairy holdings, and Simon Horner, who handled the separation of the Watson & Son business in which Ngai Tahu acquired the honey production assets and the client acquired the functional foods and medical side of the business.

Webb Henderson in Auckland is a specialist corporate law boutique team that has a strong track record in M&A work, joint ventures, partnerships, investment projects, and energy and infrastructure transactions. It now has a team of four partners, following the promotion of Henry Willis to join Garth Sinclair, Graeme Quigley and Michael Gartshore. The firm has a growing list of high-profile clients and has worked on a stream of major transactions. Sinclair recently advised Genesis Energy on its NZ$192m acquisition of Nova Energy's LPG business assets, which involved a complex carve-out from the parent company and transitional service arrangements. Gartshore acted for Australian company IPH Limited in its acquisition of IP law firm AJ Park for NZ$66m. Willis also played a major role in that transaction. Quigley, who is a former senior partner and chair of Russell McVeagh, joined the firm in 2017 and is a corporate and M&A specialist. He recently acted for motion capture technology developer Oxford Metrics in its acquisition of IMeasureU.

Anderson Lloyd handles high-profile domestic M&A transactions for national and international corporates, private equity firms and institutional investors. The practice, which is led by Auckland-based Chris Bargery, has a particular strength in natural resources sectors such as mining, fishing, agribusiness and energy. It is also one of the leading practices for corporate transactions in the irrigation industry. Bargery's recent work includes acting for Azelis in the acquisition of the entire share capital of chemical manufacturer Chemcolour Industries. He also assisted private equity fund TA Associates Asia Pacific with the purchase of a stake in Fisher Funds Management Limited. Highly regarded senior associate Bede Maher also played a key role in that deal. Christchurch-based partner David Goodman is a key adviser to Waimea Irrigators Limited, for which he handled negotiations with key stakeholders in the Waimea Community Dam project. In Dunedin, Anne McLeod, who counts cancer diagnostics company Pacific Edge among her clients, and Sarah Simmers are the key contacts.

Corporate boutique Flacks & Wong is 'very diligent and responsive with top-notch business acumen; it is particularly excellent at tailoring the advice for the client, and it is equally adept across all sizes of transaction'. 'This firm is at the top end and compares very well to others operating in their area', remarks a client. The two-partner firm is highly experienced in M&A transactions, has a fast-growing client list and has been involved in innovative forms of capital raising. For example, it is the only firm to have successfully advised a domestic issuer on a social bond offering. David Flacks is 'the wise old fox who has been there, done that, knows everybody around town and remains a very strong technician'. Daniel Wong is 'the up-and-comer with very broad legal knowledge and a very good network'. Wong acted for Oyster Property Group in a joint venture to acquire a NZ$209m commercial property.

Auckland firm Hesketh Henry provides specialist advice to domestic and international clients in a broad range of industries and frequently assists overseas entities moving into the Australasian market through corporate acquisitions or new ventures. Among its clients are Babcock (NZ), AECOM New Zealand, Dominion Constructors, Independent Timber Merchants Co-operative and Flexi Cards. Managing partner Erich Bachmann leads the practice and was the key lawyer for Mataura Valley Milk in handling an investment by China Animal Husbandry Group and the development of a NZ$230m dairy plant. He was assisted by senior associate Julika Wahlmann-Smith. Key partner Chris Lee advises private New Zealand companies on governance, commercial agreements, shareholder agreements, regulatory compliance and M&A transactions. For Davines, he handled the termination of the distribution agreement with the existing distributor and the negotiation of terms with a new distribution partner. Kate Telford is also recommended.

Lane Neave's corporate practice has a national presence and is building out its capability in Auckland having established itself as one of the largest firms in the South Island. It provides 'a high level of service with advice that is appropriate and takes a practical approach where necessary', according to one client. The firm plays a prominent role in M&A transactions in the mineral and technology industries, and last year it acted for Bathurst Resources in its joint venture with Talleys Energy - later renamed BT Mining Limited - and the subsequent purchase of significant mining assets. Gerard Dale and Claire Evans in Christchurch led those transactions. Evans also assisted CropLogic with its listing on ASX. Corporate and IT partner Graeme Crombie, who 'knows clients' businesses well and takes a practical approach to solutions' is a key practitioner. He counts Pegasus Health and Public Trust among his clients. The firm 'compares well in terms of value, knowledge and service levels'.

Headquartered in Hamilton, Tompkins Wake acts for clients in regulated sectors such as dairy, electricity, telecoms and local government, and among its clients are four of the country's ten largest exporters. Mark Renner leads the practice, in which Phil Taylor is a standout partner. Taylor has more than 20 years' experience in M&A transactions and has particular expertise in the agribusiness and food sectors. He and Renner acted for Waikato Innovation Park in the NZ$25m sale of shares to a private investor, which included identifying all pre-sale restructuring and approvals required in light of the local and central government ownership of the client and its subsidiaries. Senior associate Philip Monahan also played a central role in that deal. In Auckland, Bryce Davey, Tom Arieli and special counsel Robert Bycroft are building the firm's profile. They acted for micro-algae developer Algatechnologies in its acquisition of a majority interest in Supreme Health New Zealand.

Wynn Williams is highly recommended for private M&A transactions and it is active in established sectors such as transport and logistics, as well as handling major deals in growth industries such as food and technology. Its work for innovative companies includes acting for Snowball Effect, which is New Zealand’s first licensed equity crowdfunding platform, as well as equity capital raisings for numerous start-up and growth-stage companies. Hayley Buckley in Auckland leads the practice and is a respected for her work in the equity crowdfunding market. Her work in other sectors included advising Smart Environmental on its sale to Maui Capital. M&A specialist Ash Hill also worked on that deal, and his other highlights included assisting Egmont Honey with the NZ$30m sale of a controlling interest to GO Healthy. Stephen Lowe is also recommended.

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