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Bell Gully's dedicated tax practice in Auckland is 'the best in the market - highly technically proficient, timely and great value for money'. The firm handles the tax elements of large corporate transactions, precedent-setting tax disputes and a large volume of indirect tax and customs and excise matters. Practice head Mathew McKay is 'technically brilliant, the best in New Zealand - there is no one better to argue complex tax technical issues'. McKay and rising star senior associate Hayden Roberts assisted Vodafone with all tax aspects of its proposed NZ$3.4bn merger with Sky Network Television. McKay and Graham Murray advised HNA Group on its NZ$660m acquisition of asset finance business UDC Finance. Willy Sussman is New Zealand’s only specialist indirect tax lawyer, focusing on GST, VAT and customs and excise duty. He acted for New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing in a dispute with the Inland Revenue. Jarrod Walker and senior associate Campbell Pentney are also recommended.

Chapman Tripp is 'excellent, very responsive; it has excellent industry knowledge and is good value for money'. The firm handles large corporate transactions requiring taxation law, including M&A deals, securitisations, restructurings, cross-border capital repatriation and dividend issues, as well as tax disputes with Inland Revenue. It acted for Royal Dutch Shell on numerous matters in 2017, including the sales of the Kapuni onshore oil and gas field to Todd Energy and the Great South Basin venture to OMV. Wellington-based David Patterson and senior associate Vivian Cheng were the key lawyers in those matters. The practice is led from Auckland by Bevan Miles, who 'has good commercial acumen and great industry knowledge, and is a good communicator'. He advised several leading financial institutions on the implementation of Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information in Tax Matters. Graeme Olding and senior associate Jai Nario are also recommended.

MinterEllisonRuddWatts has two strong tax practitioners in Auckland, who are recognised for their expertise in Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act and Common Reporting Standard matters, and who frequently handle ruling applications, settlement negotiations and tax disputes with the Inland Revenue. The firm's skill in high-profile M&A transactions saw it advise CITIC Capital Partners Management on the acquisition of Trilogy International, and assist TOMRA Systems with its purchase of BBC Technologies. The practice is 'very responsive, very robust in its advice and good value for money'. Another client remarks that 'the service and advice are exemplary - consistent, accurate and timely'. Lead partner Andrew Ryan is 'consistently thorough, balanced and genuinely happy to assist'. Special counsel Sacha Oudyn, whose early career included stints as a senior policy analyst at Inland Revenue and manager at PwC, plays a key role in the practice.

Russell McVeagh acted in several of New Zealand’s major tax disputes in 2017, which included securing an important decision at the Court of Appeal concerning the depreciation regime, a ground-breaking decision of the High Court, and numerous transfer-pricing cases. The firm continued to advise the country's leading banks on Basel III-compliant capital-raising transactions, and played a key role in managing the tax issues arising from large corporate transactions. It recently handled a high-value acquisition in the energy sector, acting on the sell side. Brendan Brown in Wellington is national chair of the firm's tax practice and specialises in corporate and international taxation, including transfer-pricing matters and tax disputes for leading banks and international corporates. In Auckland, Fred Ward is known for banking transactions and tax disputes. Shaun Connolly left the firm.

Simpson Grierson is known for 'very good service, good response times and availability, and in-depth industry knowledge'. One client remarks that the service is 'unsurpassed, beyond excellent' and highly recommends practice head Stuart Hutchinson and senior associate Nick Bland in Auckland. They count Auckland Council among their most prominent clients. Its recent highlights include advising Austrian oil and gas producer OMV on its US$578M acquisition of Royal Dutch Shell’s upstream oil and gas business in New Zealand, in which Barney Cumberland and senior associate Paul Windeatt played key roles. Cumberland also acted for Tamaki Redevelopment Company, which is a regeneration organisation owned by the Crown and Auckland Council, on the acquisition of housing properties with a total value of NZ$1.63bn. He also advised VF Corporation on its acquisition of Icebreaker Holdings Ltd.

Buddle Findlay in Auckland frequently works with banks and domestic and international corporations on the full range of tax matters, including disputes and advisory work. It frequently advises on specific banking products and other innovative tax issues. It recently acted for US company Newell Brands in its NZ$600m purchase of Sistema Plastics, and handled Vodafone's acquisition of a majority stake in satellite services company Baycity Communications. The practice is led by litigator Neil Russ and lead tax adviser Tony Wilkinson. One client describes Wilkinson as 'by far the most knowledgeable tax provisioner we have ever engaged in New Zealand; we have used all of the big four advisers but they don’t have the depth of knowledge or the practical approach that he deploys'. Senior associate Brett Rawlings has extensive experience in tax aspects of high-profile, multi-jurisdictional M&A transactions.

EY Law Limited has extensive technical understanding of all types of tax law in New Zealand and handles tax disputes, including discovery and litigation phases, as well as strategic tax planning and tax administration. It frequently advises on cross-border matters, including hybrid financing, base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) issues, and transfer pricing. Its recent work includes assisting multinational clients with cross-border financing disputes involving Double Tax Agreements (DTAs), transfer-pricing audits by Inland Revenue, the implementation of BEPS rule changes and the restructuring of the domestic operations of companies in sectors such as paint, technology and pharmaceuticals. Kirsty Keating is the firm's Oceania law leader and Tori Sullivan leads the tax controversy practice. They recently advised a leading insurance company on DTA disputes.

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Legal Developments in New Zealand

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