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David Perry in Auckland leads the team at Buddle Findlay, which also includes the ‘very smart, quick and diligentScott Abel, ‘top-quality litigatorLaura O’Gorman and, in Wellington, Scott Barker, who is ‘a very good insolvency litigation lawyer who provides practical advice’. Newly promoted partner David Broadmore and special counsel Myles O’Brien also play key roles in the team. Perry and Abel acted for KordaMentha in the NZ$550m administration of Solid Energy. The firm acted for an ad hoc group of creditors as plaintiffs in Advicewise People Ltd & Others v Trends Publishing International Ltd, in which it successfully persuaded the High Court to set aside a compromise agreement. Bank of New Zealand, McGrathNicol, Grant Thornton and PwC are also among the firm’s clients.

At Chapman Tripp in Auckland, highly experienced commercial litigator Michael Arthur jointly leads the practice and regularly acts for insolvency practitioners and creditors in the full range of insolvency matters. He recently advised a government working group on new regulations governing insolvency practitioners, and he acted for KordaMentha as receivers of Capital+Merchant Finance. Team co-head and finance partner Michael Harper has a long track record of involvement in the most significant insolvency and restructuring matters in New Zealand. Harper and litigator Daniel Kalderimis, who leads the firm’s international arbitration practice, recently acted for bank creditors of state-owned coal mining company Solid Energy, including ANZ Bank and Bank of New Zealand, in High Court proceedings in which Cargill International challenged a Deed of Company Arrangement for the orderly sale of the insolvent company’s assets. BDO and PwC are also among the firm’s clients.

MinterEllisonRuddWatts is known for ‘good turnaround and strong industry knowledge’, along with ‘good partner support and back up that provides appropriate and commercial advice’. Head of litigation Sean Gollin ‘provides timely, quality advice with a calm and deliberate style’; head of banking and financial services Michael Langdon is ‘concise and pragmatic’; and experienced litigator Mark Sandelin is ‘very experienced, knowledgeable and capable’. Partner Richard Gordon and ‘thorough and smart’ senior associate Mihai Pascariu are also recommended. The firm advised administrators McGrathNicol on the AUD$260m liquidation of Dick Smith Electronics. Another highlight saw the team act for BDO as liquidators of Mainzeal Property and Construction Ltd, which was formerly the country’s largest construction company and has received claims exceeding NZ$150m from creditors. Bank of New Zealand, KordaMentha and KPMG are also clients of the firm.

Simpson Grierson provides ‘practical and tailored advice from a team that is very professional and which builds good, friendly client relationships’. Auckland-based head of banking and finance Michael Robinson is a ‘quiet, deep thinker with a superior grasp of insolvency issues; he has few peers’. Clients also recommend litigator James Caird, ‘commercial and helpful’ senior associate Liz Gellert and, in Wellington, newly promoted partner Josh Cairns and special counsel Steve Flynn, who is ‘a leading insolvency lawyer’. Cairns and Flynn advised Solid Energy on the restructuring of a NZ$380m syndicated facility as part of its administration. The firm also played a key role in the restructuring of the distressed debt of children’s fashion group Pumpkin Patch, which ultimately proceeded with a voluntary administration, in which the firm then acted for administrator and liquidator McGrathNicol. KordaMentha and ASB Bank are also among the firm’s clients.

Anthony Harper provides ‘sound advice with a clear rationale for the actions recommended’ and is ‘proactive in recognising changes in legislation’. In Christchurch, team head Crispin Vinnell (who is ‘calm, balanced and commercial’) and banking partner Nigel Oliver are ‘knowledgeable, extremely capable and always willing to help’. ‘Responsive and capable’ senior associate Chloe Jolliffe and, in Auckland, litigation partner Dan Hughes and senior associate Lynne Van ‘provide an extremely good service’. Highlights included advising PKF Corporate Recovery and Insolvency on the liquidation of ASX-listed Northern Crest Investments. The company collapsed owing NZ$80m and the resulting liquidation raised important questions in regard to the conduct of directors.

At Bell Gully, David McPhersondelivers sound, reasoned advice without trying to score points’ and leads the practice from Auckland following the retirement of leading light Murray Tingey. Newly promoted Tim Fitzgerald is an experienced practitioner and is currently advising Ferrier Hodgson (Australia) as receivers of Dick Smith Electronics, which includes advice on its rights to employees and landlords, and on PPSA claims by creditors. McPherson and Fitzgerald also acted for partners of BDO as receivers of Kawaru Falls Station in a NZ$46m dispute. A further highlight saw the firm advise PwC as liquidators of the Ross Asset Management group of companies, which is alleged to be the largest Ponzi scheme in the history of New Zealand and which left investors with a potential NZ$400m shortfall. The firm also counts ANZ National Bank and KordaMentha among its clients.

Mayne Wetherell in Auckland plays a prominent role in banking, finance and insolvency matters, and it continued to act in the major restructurings in New Zealand last year. In fact, it has been heavily involved in all of the major restructurings since the global financial crisis, including acting for the senior creditors and the agent in the debt for equity restructuring of the MediaWorks group. Will Tippingalways works towards practical solutions’ and leads the team, which also includes the recommended Dave Wetherell and Daniel Meikle. The firm has 20 lawyers who work across banking, corporate, restructuring and insolvency matters for clients such as Bank of New Zealand, Westpac New Zealand, PwC, Sankay Advisers, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan.

Russell McVeagh has ‘strong business acumen and the ability to advise on legal aspects while considering the commercial considerations’. ‘Highly competent’ national litigation chair Matthew Kersey leads the insolvency practice from Auckland and is ‘exceptionally good, he quickly becomes a trusted adviser to his clients’. Head of banking and finance John Powell is recommended for debt restructuring and Polly Pope is a key name for insolvency litigation. Kersey acted for KordaMentha as receivers of Pumpkin Patch in the largest receivership of 2016. The firm also acted for ANZ Bank as a lender to the company. The matter raised novel issues of law in areas such as cross-border insolvency, employee disputes, logistics and international supplier agreements. Another highlight saw the team advise Trustpower on its high-profile demerger by way of a court-approved scheme of arrangement. As part of the deal, the company was placed into solvent liquidation. Credit Suisse and SunEdison are also among the firm’s clients.

Anderson Lloyd has a strong team that operates predominantly on the South Island, though it calls on the in-depth finance expertise of Geoff Busch in Auckland. It is ‘very good in terms of business acumen, industry knowledge and appropriateness of advice’, said one client. The firm receives regular instructions from clients such as ANZ National Bank and Bank of New Zealand. Ben Johnston in Christchurch leads the team, in which Simon Munro and Dunedin-based Frazer Barton are also recommended. The team recently advised on the high-value restructuring of a distressed company in the forestry sector, and assisted a client with the purchase of assets from an insolvent company in the energy industry.

Reuben Woods and Martin Wiseman in Auckland lead the practice at DLA Piper New Zealand, which also calls on the employment law skills of John Hannan in large-scale insolvency matters. Litigators Iain Thain and, in Wellington, Adam Holloway and Sean O’Sullivan also play key roles in the practice. A key relationship for the firm is with Accident Compensation Corporation, which it assists with a high-volume levy recovery matters, leading to significant number of liquidations and bankruptcies. Last year, the firm acted for property finance company DBR Limited on mortgagee sale and security enforcement matters. For insurer Tower Limited, the team handled the insolvency of Stonewood Homes, which was party to several contracts to reconstruct homes after the Canterbury earthquakes and went into receivership and then liquidation.

K3 Legal in Auckland has a three-partner team led by James Nolen, who joined from Lowndes – Corporate & Commercial Law Specialists. Nolen ‘rates very highly’ and clients also recommend partners Edwin Morrison and Mark Kirkland, and ‘very bright’ associate Kerry Puddle. Nolen acted for Cargill International as creditor of coal mining company Solid Energy – which is in administration with debts of $600m – at trial in the High Court to challenge a deed of company arrangement. He also defended a director of entities related to Mainzeal Property and Construction against claims brought by liquidators.

At Kensington Swan, banking and finance partner Nicole Xanthopol and insolvency and litigation specialist James McMillan lead the team from Auckland. The firm has strong relationships with insolvency practitioners and banks, including ANZ Bank, Bank of New Zealand and HSBC. McMillan acted for BDO Auckland as the receivers of marine industry business Hall NZ Ltd. The firm also advised David Petterson as liquidator of PPS, which involved an appeal to the Supreme Court concerning orders by the Court of Appeal that David Browne Contractors Limited and David Browne Mechanical Limited repay to the company sums that had been paid pursuant to transactions that had been set aside by default.

At Lowndes – Corporate & Commercial Law Specialists in Auckland, consultant Mike Whale has more than 30 years’ experience and is one of the foremost practitioners in the market. Michael Anderson, litigator Jacqueline Lethbridge and principal Jennifer Tunna round out an experienced team of specialists. Lethbridge successfully acted for Dimension Data New Zealand in having a statutory demand on debts served by Commit Services set aside. The team regularly advises international accountancy bodies, consultants and insolvency practitioners.

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Legal Developments in New Zealand

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to
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