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Australia > Energy (transactions and regulatory) > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


Index of tables

  1. Energy (transactions and regulatory)
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next Generation Partners

Leading individuals

  1. 1
    • Stuart Barrymore - Herbert Smith Freehills
    • Meredith Campion - Allen & Overy LLP
    • Louis Chiam - King & Wood Mallesons
    • Tracey Greenaway - Allens
    • Michael Harrison - Ashurst
    • Peter Jarosek - Corrs Chambers Westgarth
    • Robert Merrick - Herbert Smith Freehills
    • Alan Murray - King & Wood Mallesons
    • Paul Newman - Ashurst
    • Robert Nicholson - Herbert Smith Freehills
    • Peter Rose - Johnson Winter & Slattery
    • Geoff Simpson - Allen & Overy LLP
    • Peter Vaughan - Ashurst

Next Generation Partners

  1. 1
    • Tara Graneri - Ashurst
    • Fiona Lewis - Minter Ellison

Allens has a strong offering across the oil and gas, power and utilities sectors; led by power and utilities sector leader Andrew Mansour, the 46-partner practice has attracted some of the market's major transactions. In the renewables arena, Mansour advised Goldwind on its successful bid to purchase the Stockyard Hill wind farm project. John Greig, who has a substantial government practice, assisted the NSW government with the partial 99-year lease of Endeavour Energy’s NSW electricity distribution network. Kate Axup, who has a focus on energy and water, advised AGL Energy on the sale of the 453MW Coopers Gap wind farm project to the Powering Australian Renewables Fund (PARF). The latter client also instructed Anna Collyer on the sale of its Active Stream subsidiary, Australia’s largest digital metering business, to Ausgrid. In the same industry, Collyer acted for Alinta Energy regarding its implementation of electricity metering reforms that will drive Australia’s rollout of smart electricity meters. Also recommended is commodities trading expert Tracey Greenaway.

Ashurst’s 26-partner team is jointly headed by Peter Vaughan, who leads on the oil and gas side, and Shane Kyriakou, who heads the firm’s power and utilities practice. It maintains a busy practice across the oil and gas, power, renewable energy, water, waste and regulated gas industries, and has been involved in novel matters such as waste-to-energy projects, an area of expertise for Richard Guit and Michael Harrison. Government sector work included advising the Victorian government on the sale of its 29% share in Snowy Hydro to the Commonwealth government. Tanya Denning advised government-owned electricity generator CS Energy on a joint venture with electricity retailer Alinta Energy, and Paul Newman’s work in the gas infrastructure sector included advising Jemena Gas Pipelines on its acquisition of Origin Energy’s Darling Downs pipeline. A number of partners come in for praise, but particularly singled out is ‘outstanding lawyer’ Vaughan, who ‘thinks across the legal, commercial and regulatory spectrum and consistently makes significant contributions to the commercial and legal outcomes that we achieve’; clients are 'very fortunate to have access to his services’.

Herbert Smith Freehills is ‘outstanding in terms of capability and the quality of its advice’; the 50-partner team, which is led by the ‘exceptional’ Robert Merrick, has ‘great understanding of the industry and always provides strategic added value’. High-value transactions included Merrick’s advice to Origin Energy on the sale of Lattice Energy to Beach Energy, the biggest energy transaction in Australia in 2017. The 'insightfully knowledgeable' David Ryan is ‘very experienced in renewables matters’; he advised the NSW Treasury on the sale of New South Wales’ 58% shareholding in Snowy Hydro to the Commonwealth of Australia. Simon Reed acted for Mitsui in its successful off-market takeover bid for AWE, Mitsui’s first Australian public M&A deal. Offering ‘quite simply the best regulatory practice in the energy sector’, it frequently assists clients with merger control regulatory matters, capitalising on Liza Carver, who is ‘without peer in the industry’. Also recommended are LNG sector expert Stuart Barrymore and Robert Nicholson, who has a focus on utilities transactions. Alison Dodd has been promoted to the partnership.

King & Wood Mallesons’ 71-partner practice is ‘commercially astute, with extensive understanding of the industry and current market trends’; ‘the level of its service and depth of its knowledge are excellent’. The department is jointly led by Craig Rogers, who ‘achieves commercial outcomes’, and Louis Chiam; the latter assisted Hong Kong’s CK Consortium on its multibillion-dollar acquisition of formerly ASX-listed infrastructure group DUET, capitalising on the firm’s strong ties with Asia, which leads to a regular stream of Chinese inbound work. In a high-value matter, Alan Murray provided Australian counsel to ENGIE in relation to the $1.1bn sale of its worldwide petroleum exploration and production assets to Neptune Energy. Rogers and Shannon Etwell advised APA Group on its strategic acquisition of the Orbost gas plant, APA Group's first major gas processing transaction. Renewables transactions included Roderick Smythe’s and Vishal Ahuja’s advice to Lighthouse Infrastructure on its acquisition of the Emerald solar farm through its Lighthouse Solar Fund.

Allen & Overy LLP fields some ‘very talented individuals’, with its 16-partner team being led by Geoff Simpson, who is rated for his ‘strong expertise’. It regularly capitalises on its international network: Aaron Kenavan, for instance, led advice to Hong Kong based Chow Tai Fook Enterprises on its multibillion-dollar acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Alinta Energy. Other notable matters for international clients were Simpson’s advice to Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company (KUFPEC) on the sale of its 19% interest in the Harriet joint venture on Varanus Island to Quadrant Energy, and the team’s ‘expertise in advising Japanese companies on Australia’s oil, gas and mining sectors is unrivalled’. Regulatory and competition issues have kept the team busy; Peter McDonald acted for Alinta Energy on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) retail electricity pricing inquiry as well as the ACCC gas inquiry, and also advises BHP on similar matters. Also recommended are Angus Jones, who ‘cuts through complexity and develops solutions for complex challenges’, Goran Galic, Meredith Campion and Peter Wilkes. Simon Huxley joined from DLA Piper, and David Jenaway has been promoted to partner.

Clayton Utz’s ‘excellent’ 27-partner team ‘takes the time to listen and distil issues, and provides advice that can be implemented immediately, rather than advice that requires more follow-up and refinement’. Its transactional offering is coupled with significant regulatory capabilities in relation to gas and electricity networks; highlights included advice to longstanding client Origin Energy on the ACCC’s review of retail electricity prices, a matter led by Emma Covacevich and Linda Evans. Practice head Stuart MacGregor, who is ‘knowledgeable, realistic and very easy to deal with’, advised Senex and Chinese Fosun as bidders in relation to the acquisition of Lattice Energy, holder of Origin Energy’s multibillion-dollar oil and gas assets, as part of a dual track IPO and trade sale auction process. Dan Howard and Covacevich assisted longstanding client Alinta Energy with its entry into the Queensland electricity market in partnership with government-owned CS Energy under a 50/50 joint venture arrangement. Faith Taylor and Simon Truskett are also recommended.

Corrs Chambers Westgarth’s 27-partner practice, which is headed by Michael MacGinley, has seen some change with the addition of former Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer Singapore managing partner, transactional lawyer and new firm CEO Gavin MacLaren , and with Vaughan Mills joining from Allens; Mills now leads the firm’s Papua New Guinea (PNG) efforts, splitting his time between Brisbane and the new Port Moresby office. Peter Jarosek advised Woodside Energy on its $400m acquisition of a 50% interest in the Scarborough gas field from Esso Australia Resources; he also assisted Macquarie with its proposed acquisition of Central Petroleum. Domestically, Clare Corke acted for Australian Questus Energy regarding the acquisition of Origin’s Lattice energy assets in a competitive bid process. Nick Thorne has been promoted to the partnership.

Johnson Winter & Slattery’s ‘responses have always been quick, and its advice is accurate and commercially astute’. The 20-partner team led by John Keeves and Jee-Seon Lee advises on acquisitions and divestments in the energy sector as well as on the regulation of essential services. Notable work included James Marshall’s advice to the Casino Henry joint venture, consisting of Cooper Energy, AWE and Mitsui E&P Australia, on the acquisition of the Minerva gas plant and associated land parcels from BHP. On the regulatory side, Amanda Seaton, whose ‘key strength is her ability to get across complex issues and subject matter’, and who ‘remains calm under pressure and provides quality outputs in a timely manner’, has rendered advice to the Gas Market Reform Group on the implementation of capacity trading reforms. Roxanne Smith assisted ATCO Gas Australia in the regulatory review process with the Economic Regulation Authority of Western Australia. A large number of partners come in for praise, among them Anthony Groom for his ‘strong commercial and technical expertise’ and ‘ability to explain and discuss complex issues’, as well as Martin Kudnig, Peter Rose and consultant Michael Dulaney.

At Minter Ellison, Simon Scott leads the 29-partner team, which includes the ‘very knowledgeable’ Mark Carkeet, who ‘provides useful support and context in emerging regulatory environments’; he was part of a team that advised the Qatar Investment Authority as a consortium member of the successful bidder, Advance Energy Consortium, on taking a $5.6bn stake in Endeavour Energy. Brendan Clark, who leads the oil and gas industry team, acted for an energy and infrastructure sector company in relation to its bid for a significant pipeline network. Notable work also included advice to China Energy Reserve and Chemical Group Australia on its off-market takeover bid for energy company AWE. The team has seen the departure of Allison Warburton, who has been appointed as commissioner of the Australian Energy Market Commission by the Commonwealth government. Paul Shillington, Matthew Knox, Clay Wohling and special counsel Fiona Lewis are also recommended.

Baker McKenzie’s ‘highly competent’ team is valued for its ‘very good understanding of the renewable energy sector’ and the ‘high involvement of very senior lawyers’. Renewables made up a significant part of the team’s work; highlights included advising London-based Foresight Solar Fund on its simultaneous acquisition of equity interests in three Queensland solar farms, DP Energy on the proposed sale of its combined wind and solar project in South Australia, and acting for Whitehelm Capital on its proposed acquisition of 17 small-scale energy generation assets, including landfill gas, bio generation, compressed natural gas refuelling and co-generation, from AGL Energy. Paul Curnow ‘provides excellent strategic insights’ and has ‘remarkable network of contacts in the industry’; he jointly leads the 16-partner team with Christopher Saxon and Sean Duffy. The practice has seen some change, with Darren Fooks leaving for Thomson Geer, Martin Irwin departing to Norton Rose Fulbright, and environment and climate change lawyer Meredith Gibbs joining from HWL Ebsworth.

Clifford Chance capitalises on its network and regularly acts for international oil and gas companies, as well as domestic Australian utilities and power companies. It advised Royal Dutch Shell on the multibillion-dollar sale of its interest in Woodside, and, in a notable renewables transaction, assisted Global Infrastructure Partners with its $5bn acquisition of Equis Energy’s renewable power assets in Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand and Taiwan. Practice head Paul Lingard is set to join Norton Rose Fulbright in late 2018, a significant loss for the team. However, Ben Luscombe, who ‘provides succinct, commercially sensible advice even when considering technically complex legal questions’; Asia-Pacific renewable power head Philip Sealey; and co-head of the firm’s global oil & gas group Tracey Renshaw all come in for praise. The team has also been bolstered at the senior associate level.

Gilbert + Tobin regularly handles high-value energy transactions and has strong expertise in energy and utility regulation, where it acts for governments, energy retailers, as well as transmission and generation businesses. Highlights included advising US private equity firm Harbour Energy on its proposed multibillion-dollar acquisition of Santos, assisting Beach Energy with its acquisition of Lattice Energy, Origin’s conventional upstream oil and gas business, from Origin Energy, as well as advising Neptune Energy on the Australian aspects of its €4.7bn acquisition of Engie E&P International. Christopher Flynn heads the eight-partner team, which includes Justin Little, Luke Woodward and Simon Muys.

Norton Rose Fulbright renders ‘commercially appropriate, timely, well-considered advice that assists with closing complex transactions on an accelerated schedule’. Practice head and former global head of energy Simon Currie left to set up advisory firm Energy Estate, though former Clifford Chance practice head Paul Lingard, who has ‘a strong understanding of commercial drivers’ and ‘finds effective solutions to bring about a satisfactory outcome, often for both parties’, is set to join in late 2018. Further additions to the team include Natalie Lonergan, who joined from Herbert Smith Freehills, Gavin Scott from Ashurst, Martin Irwin from Baker McKenzie, Penelope Ford from Minter Ellison, and Jasmine Sprange from Clayton Utz. Currie remains a consultant to the firm.

DLA Piper’s ‘excellent’ team is ‘proactive, reliable and easy to deal with’, and possesses ‘strong industry knowledge and business acumen’. The practice, headed by Stephen Webb, has been busy with renewables transactions and often attracts cross-border matters. It acted for ActewAGL in regulatory matters, drawing on the team’s energy pricing expertise, and remains a key adviser to the government of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. Kate Papailiou is ‘willing to make judgement calls’ and is rated for her ‘strong expertise’ and ‘clear understanding of evolving energy market dynamics’. Alex Regan and regulatory experts Fleur Gibbons and Rhys Davies are also singled out. Dan Brown left to join Ashurst.

Jones Day’s eight-partner team led by Andrew Smith capitalises on its global reach, assisting Tonen General Sekiyu, Japan’s third-largest oil refiner, with the oil and gas aspects of its $4.3bn merger with JX Nippon Oil & Energy, a matter that involved offices in Australia, the US, Japan and Singapore. The team also advised Japanese Suntory Holdings on its joint venture with Anellotech, a renewable chemicals and fuels company; both matters were led by Darren Murphy, who relocated from the firm’s Singapore office in order to boost the new Melbourne presence, and who ‘finds solutions and proactively drives outcomes in complex transactions that involve a need to prioritise headline issues'. Of counsel Tony Wassaf provides ‘practical and commercial legal advice and is very responsive to pressing legal matters’.

At HFW, ‘industry knowledge is excellent’, ‘value for money is very good’, and 'the advice is pragmatic'; Simon Adams heads the group. It has a busy utilities practice, regularly acting for the largest utility in Western Australia, Synergy, and often assists clients with regulatory matters, having acted for the Economic Regulation Authority since its establishment. Adams is valued for his ‘high level of expertise’, recently rendering regulatory advice to Synergy in relation to its joint venture with industry super fund CBus and Dutch Infrastructure Fund to create a renewable energy investment company. The Australian Energy Market Operator instructed the team in relation to network access regulatory amendments in order to allow the connection of more new electricity generators. Caroline Brown is ‘very pragmatic and decisive’ and has ‘a depth of knowledge she can apply easily’. Robert Desmond is another name to note.

Hive Legal’s ‘industry knowledge, business acumen and advice have been outstanding’; the practice is particularly prominent in electricity and gas market regulation as well as renewables matters. Alcoa of Australia instructed the team in negotiations with the Australian Energy Market Operator, and it assisted new market entrant Risen Energy with the acquisition of the Yarranlea 121MW solar farm development in Queensland. The team is co-headed by Andrew Brookes and the ‘exceptional’ Mitzi Gilligan, whose ‘depth of knowledge in the regulatory landscape and ability to interpret and apply new laws to commercial operations is a clear strength’.

Squire Patton Boggs is active in the electricity and power sector and regularly represents North Asian clients in relation to joint ventures in oil and gas. The team acted for Complete Power Solutions in relation to its acquisition by a subsidiary of AmpControl, and continues to render advice to the Fiji government on its electricity industry regulation reform. Greg Steinepreis, Margie Tannock and Simon Rear are the names to note. Clare Pope left to join PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal.

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