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New Zealand > Restructuring and insolvency > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Restructuring and insolvency
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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Chapman Tripp  is 'outstanding', according to one client, who adds: 'if you want the right answer, go to them - overall, it is very good value'. Another remarks that it is 'the leading firm in New Zealand and certainly stands out from others of its size by making its clients feel like they are really looking after their best interests'. Its key skills include debt restructuring and distressed debt matters, finance company receiverships, and innovative schemes and compromise agreements. It has represented all of New Zealand’s major insolvency firms including KordaMentha, McGrathNicol and PwC, and counts ANZ Bank, Westpac and Bank of New Zealand among its clients. In Auckland, commercial litigator Michael Arthur, whom one client describes as 'probably the leading expert in the country on personal property securities legislation', and finance partner Michael Harper lead the practice. They advised ANZ Bank on the NZ$144m administration of CBL Corporation. Newly promoted senior associate and experienced litigator Janko Marcetic is 'a "go-to" person' for insolvency matters. In Wellington, litigator Daniel Kalderimis is highly recommended.

MinterEllisonRuddWatts is 'knowledgeable, delivers fast turnaround times and is a top-tier firm in this area of practice', according to one client. The firm is on the panels of all four major trading banks - ANZ Bank, ASB, Bank of New Zealand and Westpac - for restructuring and insolvency work, and also acts for the country's leading insolvency practitioners. In Auckland, head of litigation Sean Gollin leads the practice and has more than 25 years' experience as a commercial litigator, focusing predominantly on receivership and insolvency law. He handled the NZ$120m liquidation of software company WNZL on behalf of KordaMentha. 'Available, approachable, practical and timely' head of banking and financial services Michael Langdon advises all of the country's major trading banks, as well as numerous international banks, on solvent and insolvent workouts, the sale of distressed debt and security, security enforcement and recovery strategies. He acted for BDO in the liquidation of Mainzeal Property and Construction. Experienced litigator Mark Sandelin and, in Wellington, litigator Richard Gordon are also recommended.

Buddle Findlay has a ten-partner team across three offices which blends insolvency expertise and litigation experience to create one of the deepest practices in New Zealand. It counts Bank of New Zealand, ANZ Bank, ICBC, KordaMentha, PwC, McGrathNicol, Deloitte and Grant Thornton among its key clients. For administrator and liquidator KordaMentha, the practice handled the NZ$550m administration and subsequent liquidation of companies in the Solid Energy Group. David Perry and Scott Abel in Auckland led that deal, with support from experienced litigator Laura O’Gorman. Litigator David Broadmore and special counsel Myles O’Brien are also recommended. In Wellington, Scott Barker is a key practitioner and peers also speak highly of Sebastian Bisley, who acted for a group of creditors, including Callaghan Innovation, in an application to set aside a creditors' compromise obtained by Trends Publishing, which resulted in a favourable decision in the High Court. In Christchurch, newly promoted partner Kelly Paterson specialises in commercial litigation, with a focus on insolvency.

Simpson Grierson has one of the country's largest insolvency and restructuring practices, which brings together specialist banking, finance and litigation expertise. Its clients include Westpac, KPMG, KordaMentha and Bank of New Zealand. Auckland-based head of banking and finance Michael Robinson leads the practice. Specialist banking and finance litigators James Caird, who is also head of securities enforcement, and Ben Upton advise on all aspects of insolvency litigation, including liquidations and receiverships. Robinson and Cairns are currently advising the Financial Markets Authority on its investigation of insurer CBL Corporation, which was placed into voluntary administration in February 2018. Head of the Wellington banking and finance practice Josh Cairns is an expert in debt restructuring and was a key adviser to state-owned coal mining company Solid Energy in its NZ$380m pre-packaged deed of company arrangement, which included the sale of all of the company's assets. Special counsel Steve Flynn also played a key role in that matter.

Anthony Harper 'rates very highly', according to one client, who praises the firm's 'overall knowledge of case law and statute'. The dedicated restructuring and insolvency team works closely with the banking and finance practice to handle refinancing, restructuring, administration, liquidation, litigation and recovery. Among its key clients are ASB Bank, Ashton Wheelans, BDO, Deloitte, KPMG, Kiwibank, Westpac and McGrathNicol. Leading light Crispin Vinnell leads the practice from Christchurch and his recent highlights include acting for EY in the receivership of a large dairy farm in Rural Southland, which included advice on an existing contract for the sale of the property and the relationship with dairy giant Fonterra. Senior associate Chloe Jolliffe is a rising star and played a key role in that matter. One client notes that she is 'quick and prepared to give the client options'. In Auckland, litigation partner Dan Hughes and rising star senior associate Lynne Van are recommended. For PKF Corporate Recovery and Insolvency, they handled the  liquidation of Northern Crest Investments.

Bell Gully in Auckland frequently advises leading banks such as ASB, ANZ Bank and Bank of New Zealand, as well as accounting firms and receivers including PwC, McGrathNicol, Deloitte and BDO, on some of the largest contentious and non-contentious insolvency matters in the market. For instance, practice head David McPherson is currently acting for KordaMentha as administrator of ten companies in the CBL Group; this is one of the most high-profile matters of 2018, given the complexity of the group structure and the importance of the companies to the insurance and reinsurance market. Litigator and senior associate Nick Moffatt is also playing a central role in that matter. The other key partner in the practice is Tim Fitzgerald, who acted for Ferrier Hodgson as receivers of DSE, which is the New Zealand arm of the Dick Smith group of electronics retail companies. McPherson and Fitzgerald also acted for KordaMentha in all aspects of the receivership of Stonewood Homes Limited.

Kensington Swan acts for numerous banks and insolvency practitioners, including ANZ Bank, BDO, Deloitte, BWA Insolvency and HSBC. Insolvency and litigation specialist James McMillan and banking and finance partner Nicole Xanthopol lead the team from Auckland. One client describes McMillan as 'an excellent insolvency practitioner', while another remarks that he is 'an expert in insolvency and has a natural ability to home in on exactly what his clients need'. McMillan and Senior associate Mark Broad acted for Deloitte as liquidators of HydroWorks Limited, which involved complex lease issues, the sale of assets, and considering the recovery of a contested voidable transaction. Finance partner David Shillson in Wellington also plays a key role in the practice and recently handled a complex restructuring matter for The Brightwater group of companies.

Mayne Wetherell is best known for its strong finance practice, which includes insolvency and restructuring expertise. The firm continues to work on some of the major corporate restructurings in New Zealand, and has been a key player in almost all of the key mandates in the market since the global financial crisis. A notable matter in which it played a major role was the debt-for-equity restructuring of the MediaWorks group, in which the firm acted for both the senior creditors and the agent. Key partner Daniel Meikle recently acted for Deutsche Bank in the refinancing of MediaWorks. Banking and finance partner Will Tipping and capital markets, corporate and restructuring partner Dave Wetherell also play pivotal roles in the practice, which frequently acts for Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Sankaty Advisers, Värde Partners and Westpac in special situations investing, credit opportunities and restructuring exercises.

Russell McVeagh has a multi-disciplinary practice that handles formal domestic and cross-border insolvency matters, the enforcement of creditors' rights, debt restructuring, secondary debt trading, recovery actions, schemes of arrangement and much more. National litigation chair Matthew Kersey in Auckland leads the practice and is a specialist in insolvency and restructuring matters. He is currently advising KordaMentha, as the voluntary administrators of CBL Corporation, in a complex insolvency instigated by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. Head of banking and finance John Powell focuses on debt restructuring and workouts, as well as formal insolvency matters. Litigation partner Polly Pope has extensive experience in financial litigation and contentious insolvency matters. She worked with Kersey to advise KordaMentha as receivers of Pumpkin Patch.

Anderson Lloyd's restructuring and insolvency team is based predominantly on the South Island, with Ben Johnston and Simon Munro in Christchurch the key practitioners, but this is complemented by the banking and finance expertise of Geoff Busch in Auckland. The firm acts for some of New Zealand's largest banks in insolvency matters and is also engaged by market-leading accountancy firms and insolvency practitioners. Munro recently acted for PwC as the liquidators of Kairmore Construction in issuing proceedings for declarations of trust in relation to properties held by former directors of the company that had been obtained using company funds. Johnson recently acted for another of the Big Four accountancy firms in numerous matters, including the liquidation of a property development company.

K3 Legal is a litigation boutique that acts for insolvency practitioners, trade creditors and lending institutions in debt enforcement and insolvency-related  matters. The firm, which works works under the same brand as an independent consultancy and an accountancy practice, has five partners including practice heads James Nolen and Brent O’Callahan. Nolen specialises in civil and commercial disputes, as well as contentious insolvency matters. He is currently acting for May Kwan, as a director of two companies related to construction firm Mainzeal, in claims brought by liquidators. Associate Kerry Puddle is also involved in that matter and is recommended as a commercial litigator, particularly in matters concerning property and personal property securities claims. Partner Mark Kirkland is also recommended.

At Lowndes in Auckland 'the people are very nice, very reasonable to deal with and very client-focused'. Consultant Mike Whale has more than 30 years’ experience and leads the practice. He is currently advising PwC on a potential appeal to the Supreme Court following a successful application in the Court of Appeal by a creditor against the liquidators of a construction company to have insolvent transactions set aside. Director Michael Anderson advises on a wide range of banking, restructuring and insolvency matters and last year he handled a complex matter that involved a tracing exercise to define the proceeds of commingled goods. Litigator Jacque Lethbridge is currently acting for PwC in an application to increase the rates that liquidators can charge for their work. Principal Jennifer Tunna, who with Whale is advising former directors of a flooring company on claims made by liquidators, 'cuts straight to the chase and her advice is very clear and pragmatic'.

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