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Australia > Project finance > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Project finance
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next Generation Partners

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next Generation Partners

  1. 1
    • Rupert Baker - Herbert Smith Freehills
    • Amelia Fleming - Herbert Smith Freehills

Allens’ ‘great depth of experience’ enables the team, which is led by Michael Ryan and Tim Stewart, to regularly handle high-value matters as well as devise novel funding options for infrastructure projects. Stewart and senior finance counsel Phillip Cornwell assisted Sydney Motorway with the WestConnex refinancing and sale of stage 1 and 2, and with the project financing of (and sale of equity in) stage 3; Ryan advises the Sydney Desalination Plant on the refinancing of its syndicated bank debt facilities. The team handles an interesting spread of work, recently advising First Solar on the Beryl solar farm project financing, and the Plenary Health consortium on the expansion financing of the existing Casey hospital. Cross-border work included advice to Nghi Son Refinery & Petrochemical on the financing of the multibillion-dollar refinery project development in Vietnam. Also recommended are the ‘pragmatic and commercial’ Rob Watt, Nicholas Creed for his ‘depth of experience and understanding in the banking and finance arena’, and Nick Adkins. The team is valued for its ‘outstanding service’, ‘cost-effectiveness and quality of outcomes’.

Ashurst's ‘strong commercial focus makes it stand out’; the strong team, led by Global Division Head of Finance, Funds and Restructuring, Jamie Ng, includes Chris Redden, who is ‘respected by sponsors and lenders’ and ‘drives transactions forward’. It advised Sydney Trains and the state of New South Wales on the $1.5bn recapitalisation and refinancing of Reliance Rail, and Simon Irvine led advice to Sydney Motorway on the project financing for stage 1 of WestConnex, involving senior debt, and stage 2, involving debt from the federal government, with a combined value of several billion Australian dollars. Outside the public transport sector, David Mason acted for an insurance company on the refinancing of corporate debt facilities, and Ng assisted Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group and NCIG Holdings with updating its long-term funding strategy and simplifying its financing structure as well as with refinancing matters, with a total value of $1.13bn. The ‘commercial and sensible’ Matthew Bubb is also recommended.

Herbert Smith Freehills adeptly handles the financing of energy and renewable projects, PPPs and social and economic infrastructure; the ‘very responsive’ team possesses ‘deep knowledge’ and provides ‘adequate resourcing to ensure smooth progress of transactions’. Head of finance Erin Wakelin and Gerard Pike, who is ‘very respected by both lenders and borrowers’, jointly head the eight-partner team. Wakelin advised the senior lenders on financing the New Grafton Correctional Centre PPP project, set to be the largest correctional facility in Australia, and assisted Celsus Securitisation with its refinancing of the New Royal Adelaide Hospital PPP in South Australia. Pike acted for the financiers on the Stockyard Hill wind farm project financing, and Elizabeth Charlesworth, who possesses ‘strong experience’ and ‘high level of expertise’, advised the financiers, Commonwealth Bank, Natixis and Clean Energy Finance, in relation to the financing of the Daydream and Hayman solar farms owned by BlackRock Real Assets and Edify Energy. ANZ, BNP Paribas and Westpac instructed Andrew McLean in relation to the financing of Dacian Gold’s Mt Morgan project in Western Australia. Miles Wadley and Jon Evans made partner; Amelia Fleming was promoted to executive counsel. Senior associate Rupert Baker is also recommended.

King & Wood Mallesons has seen a strong workflow in PPPs, privatisations and renewables projects, possesses ‘very strong offering for complex multi-party deals’ and ‘exhibits great balance between black-letter law and knowing what the deal situation requires’. Clients say ‘it’s a pleasure to pay their bills’. The 29-partner team, which is led by Craig Rogers and Mark Upfold, has a very deep bench and the ‘ability to quickly identify key issues in transactions and suggest practical solutions’; Upfold, who is ‘always ahead of the issues’, advised the financiers on the first two stages of the Gold Coast Light Rail project. Claire Rogers, who is ‘efficient and knows where the important issues lie’, advised the senior financiers on the construction financing for 65 high-capacity metro trains, the largest order of new trains in Victoria’s history. It also acted for the financiers on the financial close of the Victorian government’s Western Roads Upgrade project. Jeff Clark ‘works on sponsor or lender side with no issues’ and ‘knows how to get a deal done’. Peter Doyle joined Gilbert + Tobin in July 2019.

Allen & Overy LLP’s ‘excellent’ team handles matters in the infrastructure, energy and resources sectors, often with a cross-border element, and clients include export credit agencies, domestic and international banks as well as government and institutional bodies. Adam Stapledon heads the eight-partner team; it includes David Christensen, whose ‘commercial acumen and service focus' come in for praise. The latter advised Sino Gas & Energy on the refinancing and extension of an existing facility provided by Macquarie Bank. A team in Singapore and Sydney advised EMR Capital and Adaro Capital on the $2.25bn acquisition financing for Rio Tinto’s Kestrel coal mine. Peter Wilkes specialises in energy and natural resources sector financings, comprising both debt and equity; he advised Capricorn Copper on a loan to fund a copper development project.

Gilbert + Tobin has expertise in a diverse range of sectors, including infrastructure, health, water, energy, transport and social housing. Practice head John Schembri assisted Reliance Rail with its multibillion-dollar recapitalisation and refinancing, and in the energy sector, Simon Lynch advised Cooper Energy on a funding package for its sole gas project and acted as lead global counsel to Pacific Hydro's financiers on two financing deals, establishing one of the first cross-border portfolio financings for large-scale renewable energy. Alexander Danne acted for Veolia Water Australia and Infrastructure Capital Group in relation to their successful bid to finance a water-treatment plant in New South Wales. The six-partner team also includes David Kirkland and Adela Smith, who were recently promoted.

Norton Rose Fulbright has seen a steady flow of renewables matters, increasingly handles alternative financings and continues to advise on infrastructure project financings. Jo Crew heads the five-partner practice, which includes Rob White, who joined from the now-defunct Henry Davis York, and Chris Patten, a recent addition from Allens. Crew advised a syndicate of domestic and foreign banks on one of the largest PPP refinancings to date in Australia, and in a novel renewables matter, the team advised two financiers on the financing of a wind farm in South Australia. Chris Redden departed to Ashurst.

White & Case LLP provides ‘high level of service’ and has ‘significant depth of team’. The practice led by Brendan Quinn enjoys ‘an almost unmatchable reputation in the lending market on either side’ and has seen a busy year since the team arrived from Herbert Smith Freehills. Energy-sector work included Joel Rennie’s advice to the senior lenders to Chow Tai Fook Enterprises on the financing of the latter's acquisition of brown coal-fired power plant Loy Yang B in Victoria from Engie and Mitsui. Ged Cochrane and Adeline Pang advised Neoen on the project financing of its Coleambally solar farm in New South Wales. The team also acted for the financiers in connection with the $650m refinancing of the Worsley multi-fuel plant in Western Australia. Rennie and Quinn are ‘great communicators’ and ‘almost without peer in terms of industry knowledge and ability to execute on deals’. Josh Sgro is also singled out.

Baker McKenzie has seen particular growth in renewable energy financings and acted as lenders’ counsel to KfW IPEX-Bank, Société Générale and Korea Development Bank on the financing of Neoen’s integrated wind farm and Tesla battery storage facility in Victoria. London-based Foresight Solar Fund instructed the team on the financing of the equity interest acquisitions in three Queensland solar farms. The practice also assisted a solar power projects developer with the financing of a solar thermal power plant in South Australia, the first of its kind in the country. Sean Rush and Sean Duffy jointly head the 11-partner team.

Clayton Utz delivers ‘excellent service', 'knows how to get a message across' and its ‘advice is always on point’. The broad client base includes government departments, energy and resources companies, financial institutions and investors. Marcus Davenport advised financier IFM as debt finance provider for the consortium bid to the University of Tasmania in relation to its student accommodation project. In the energy sector, Rohan Mishra, who ‘combines being highly commercial with great technical skills’, advised Sun Brilliance on a solar power project financing, among the largest in Western Australia; he also acted for the Canada-based Sprott as senior lender on its debt financing agreement with Metro Mining, which will fund its Bauxite Hills mine development in Queensland. Bruce Cooper leads the 12-partner team, which also includes John Shirbin and Peter Staciwa.

Clifford Chance’s two-partner team, led by Richard Gordon, has a strong international focus and regularly attracts cross-border work for a range of clients including export credit agencies, development finance institutions and commercial lenders. It acted for the sponsors on the development of the Formosa offshore wind farm development in Taiwan, the first of its kind in Asia, and advised the lenders on the project financing for the Tailem Bend solar farm in South Australia. A particular highlight is the team’s continued advice to JBIC, K-EXIM and other lenders in relation to the financing of a coal-fired power plant project in Vietnam. Philip Sealey heads the Asia Pacific renewables practice and has a focus on project financings in the sector.

Minter Ellison regularly handles the financing of infrastructure projects and has attracted several strong matters in the student accommodation sector. The team, which is led by Paul Paxton, assisted AMP Capital with the multibillion-dollar equity restructure and refinancing of the Reliance Rail project, and Paxton and Daniel Marks assisted the H.R.L. Morrison & Co, Macquarie Capital and Spotless Services consortium with its successful bid for the multibillion-dollar Australian National University student accommodation portfolio. In a similar matter, the AMP Capital and Bank of Tokyo MUFG consortium instructed the team on its bid for the University of Tasmania’s student accommodation concession. Peter Block is the other name to note.

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