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Restructuring and insolvency in New Zealand

Buddle Findlay

Buddle Findlay has extensive knowledge of insolvency regulations, complemented by expertise in banking and finance, debt and corporate restructures. 'Highly experienced a sought after legal advisor' David Perry leads the practice from Auckland where he advises domestic and foreign banks, insolvency professionals, corporate trustees, and Crown entities on restructures, workouts and on the full range of insolvency assignments. Scott Abel also specialises in debt restructuring, and is singled out for his expertise in Personal Property Securities (PPS). In Wellington, Scott Barker primarily handles debt and asset recovery litigation and enforcement mandates, along with Seb Bisley , who has specialist experience in contentious bond restructurings. Special counsel in Auckland, Myles O’Brien acts in enforcement and recovery actions.

Practice head(s):

David Perry

Testimonials

‘Scott Abel(Partner) – Quick and pragmatic legal advice.  David Perry (Partner) – Approachable and pragmatic.’

‘David Perry is a highly experienced a sought after legal advisor. Scott Abel has a deep understanding of the technicalities of restructuring and insolvency law.’

‘Strong depth of capability.’

Key clients

Bank of New Zealand

ANZ Bank New Zealand

KordaMentha

PwC

McGrathNicol

Kiwibank

Grant Thornton

BDO

Reserve Bank of New Zealand

ICBC

Work highlights

  • Advising Grant Thornton New Zealand as appointed liquidators in the ongoing liquidation involving novel and cross border legal issues in respect of US$300m+ of cryptocurrency assets following the liquidation of Christchurch-based cryptocurrency exchange, Cryptopia.
  • Advised Norwegian companies, DOF Deepwater AS and BW Offshore as creditors in the administration and subsequent receivership and liquidation of Tamarind Taranaki Limited (TTL). TTL was the active entity in the Tui oil field joint venture with two other New Zealand companies and one Australian company, all of which are members of the Tamarind Resources group. The Tui field is located in the Tasman Sea off the Taranaki coast.
  • Advising The Department of Corrections (New Zealand) Corrections in relation to its creditor claims and issues arising out of the appointment of an overseas based liquidator, following the liquidation of Decmil Construction.

Chapman Tripp

Practice head(s):

Michael Arthur; Michael Harper

Other key lawyers:

Laura Fraser; Janko Marcetic

Key clients

KordaMentha

ANZ Bank New Zealand (ANZ)

Bank of New Zealand (BNZ)

Westpac New Zealand

BWA Insolvency Limited

Baker Tilly Staples Rodway

BDO

McGrath Nicol

ASB Bank

KiwiBank

MinterEllisonRuddWatts

MinterEllisonRuddWatts is a trusted advisor to New Zealand’s major banks and insolvency practitioners, counting ANZ, KiwiBank and PwC among its clients, as well as an advisor to The Treasury New Zealand on insolvency and restructuring assignments involving the Crown. It often acts for directors of liquidated companies in response claims alleging breaches of their duties. Asset transfer disputes, distressed debt sales and corporate restructurings are also key areas of activity. Sean Gollin impresses clients with his 'exceptional technical skills, and very good communication'. He maintains a busy advisory and insolvency and receivership disputes practice; he continues to advise Bauer Media NZ on the closure of its magazine publishing business in New Zealand. Michael Langdon is a prominent advisor on distressed debt, recovery, restructuring and security enforcement issues. Elsewhere, Wellington based Richard Gordon is noted for his banking and securities law and voidable transactions-related expertise.

Practice head(s):

Sean Gollin; Michael Langdon

Other key lawyers:

Richard Gordon

Testimonials

‘Sean Gollin – exceptional technical skills, and very good communicator’

‘Simply the level of competence and an ability to cut to the point quickly. This is of course built up over the course of a relationship. Richard Gordon is excellent to deal with.’

‘A cohesive and diverse team, well led and focused. They integrate well with other areas of the firm to provide timely, seamless and appropriate advice.’

‘Lead Partner, Sean Gollin, is calm and reassuring. When required, access is not an issue, and long hours by Sean and his focussed team are a given.’

Key clients

BDO New Zealand Limited

Restructuring Insolvency & Turnaround Association New Zealand Incorporated

Westpac New Zealand Limited

KordaMentha

Rabobank

Kiwibank Limited

ANZ Bank New Zealand

Institute of Directors in NZ

Bauer Media

Bank of New Zealand

Work highlights

  • Acted for Bank of New Zealand on the enforcement of its security over a number of entities comprising the James Bull Group, which had a long-established presence in agribusiness with significant holdings in New Zealand and Australia.
  • Advised JUCY Group and then its receivers, Calibre Partners, on a variety of matters relating to the Jucy Rentals business following the impact of COVID-19.
  • Acted for Westpac New Zealand Limited on the enforcement of its security over a number of companies in one of New Zealand’s largest stone and pip fruit processing and supply businesses – the Sunfruit Group, which supplied major supermarkets throughout the country under the “Pickme” brand.

Russell McVeagh

Russell McVeagh continues to be involved on many of the country’s high profile insolvencies, such as the cross-border liquidation of Halifax, as well as significant domestic instructions, such as the receivership of FE Investments, and on recent property development collapses, Sanctuary No 8 and Lighthouse. The team is increasingly taking instructions on corporate distress and insolvencies in the construction, forestry and retail sectors. Practice head and 'clear leader in the market' Matthew Kersey acts predominantly for secured creditors and insolvency professionals, alongside the 'highly respective across the industry' Polly Pope, who handles contentious mandates, and John Powell assists both banks and corporates on restructuring issues. Nathaniel Walker and senior associate Jeremy Upson are recommended for insolvency litigation. All individuals are based in Auckland.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Kersey

Testimonials

Matt Kersey (Partner) – Respected and knowledgeable in the insolvency industry. Polly Pope (Partner) – Excellent lawyer, thoughtful legal analysis of issues.’

‘Russell McVeagh has a very strong team with good breadth and depth of personnel and expertise.’

‘Polly Pope is a strong analytic thinker. She gives clear and realistic advice.’

‘Matt Kersey – Matt gives strong, well thought advice that standards the rigour of legal challenge. Polly Pope – Polly is a highly respective across the industry.’

‘Personalised communication (for a full service firm) and application of right sized resource for the workstreams. The Russell McVeagh R&I team display a high level of EQ as well as commercial nouse as value add to their technical R&I legal gravitas.’

‘Partner Matt Kersey is an outstanding practitioner and a clear leader in the New Zealand restructuring and insolvency market. He is a pleasure to work with and his approach to contentious matters is consistently pragmatic and constructive. His advice is always clear, accurate and well considered.’

Key clients

KordaMentha

KPMG

PWC

BDO

McGrath Nicol

OCP Asia

ANZ Bank New Zealand Limited

Westpac Bank

ASB Bank

Bank of New Zealand

Bridgewest Finance

Marina Bay Sands Pte Ltd

Hogan Lovells

Work highlights

  • Acting for liquidators, KPMG, on a cross-border, highly complex matter involving the liquidation of a trans-Tasman brokerage with $250m in funds claimed by over 11,000 investors.
  • Advising OCP Asia Pacific as secured creditor to Tamarind Taranaki Limited (in receivership and liquidation) and acted for PwC as the receivers of that company on this high-profile upstream oil and gas insolvency.
  • Acting for Calibre Partners, the receivers of FE Investments Limited (in receivership and liquidation). FEI traded as a non-bank deposit taking finance company providing commercial loans and finance leases. It is perhaps New Zealand’s highest–profile receivership of 2021.

Simpson Grierson

Simpson Grierson's insolvency practice benefits from operating as part of the wider banking department, offering a deep bench of specialists in all aspects of corporate stress and insolvency, restructuring loan facilities, distressed debt trading and restructuring investment. In Auckland, litigator James Caird is a leading practitioner in cross-border insolvencies, often advising on property related aspects of such mandates. Elsewhere in Wellington, Josh Cairns focuses on debt restructurings and formal insolvency assignments. Special counsel Steve Flynn continues to work on the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre liquidation, in which contested issues relating to the proposed sale by liquidators of land gifted to the Crown are being litigated in the New Zealand Court. Ben Upton, based in Auckland, is singled out for his handling of insolvency and securities enforcement in cross-border disputes involving Pacific Island nations.

Practice head(s):

James Caird

Other key lawyers:

Josh Cairns; Steve Flynn; Ben Upton

 

Testimonials

‘The team at Simpson Grierson are really good at balancing risk with the commercial reality of various situations we have to deal with whilst managing an insolvent entity, which fits really well with our approach. They always provide us with our options, noting which one would achieve the outcome we are after in the most efficient way.’

‘Josh Cairns – approachable / personable, knowledgeable, commercially minded, able to balance risk with efficiency.’

‘Steve Flynn – an expert in various matters of law, he is always our go to person for questions we have that could have quite ambiguous answers based on a straight reading of the legislation, commercial approach for all matters he deals with us on; well respected, approachable / personable’

Key clients

Westpac

KordaMentha

PwC

ASB Bank

McGrathNicol

KPMG

Bank of New Zealand

BDO

Heartland Bank

Grant Thornton

Financial Markets Authority

EY

Work highlights

  • Acting for Atlas Assett Management, as a representative investor in collapsed online investment broker Halifax New Zealand Ltd. The liquidators issued parallel proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia and the High Court of New Zealand. This is a ground breaking engagement that saw the High Court of New Zealand sitting concurrently with a foreign Court for the very first time.
  • Representing Financial Markets Authority in its proceedings against CBL Corporation, its directors, and its Chief Financial Officer, for breaching the Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013. The CBL Group operated globally as an insurer and reinsurer across 25 countries before being placed into voluntary administration in February 2018. CBL Insurance, being CBL Corporation’s main operating entity, was placed into liquidation by the High Court on the application of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.
  • Acted on the restructuring of statutory betting agency TAB New Zealand’s facilities – a unique transaction that involved the Crown granting funding to support an existing bank facility for a statutory entity.

Anthony Harper

Anthony Harper’s national team is led the 'personable yet highly professional' Crispin Vinnell out of Christchurch with support from insolvency litigator Dan Hughes’ Auckland based team. The group is regular mandated by major banks and finance companies, on administrations, liquidations, refinancings and restructurings, as well as offering specialist advice to liquidators, administrators and investigative accountants on matters relating to distressed businesses and the prioritising of securities. Promoted to partner in January 2021, Lynne Van often works with Hughes on high value insolvency claims, and special counsel Chloe Jolliffe assists Vinnell on repossession of goods and real property, and personal and corporate insolvency.

Practice head(s):

Crispin Vinnell

Other key lawyers:

Lynne Van; Dan Hughes; Chloe Jolliffe

Testimonials

‘Very experienced team who are readily available and quick to respond. Offer well thought out, clear and concise advise which includes options as to steps that can be taken along with their recommendation as to which course to follow. The team are regarded as experts in their field and very commercial in their thinking.’

‘Crispin Vinnell is the partner we deal with. We have used his services for over 10 years and value his legal knowledge and the ability to practically apply this in a commercial situation to obtain the best possible outcomes. He is readily available and returns calls promptly and can be relied on to meet deadlines.’

‘The Anthony Harper team are a very experienced, knowledgeable and highly skilled group of Solicitors. The proactively seek innovative solutions to solve, at times, complex legal issues. They also use the breadth/depth of the entire Anthony Harper team whom work in a collaborative manner in order to deliver solutions.’

‘Crispin and Chloe are personable yet highly professional individuals. They constantly strive to exceed our expectations in regards to turnaround times, standard of advice and innovative solutions. Crispin and Chloe are constantly keeping us up to date with advancements in legal precedents and pending changes to law, which is greatly appreciated.’

 

Key clients

All of Government Panel

ASB Bank

Deloitte

Ernst & Young

Goldsmith Fox PKF

Heartland Bank Limited

Kiwibank Limited

KPMG

Work highlights

  • Acting for the liquidators of CBL Insurance, McGrathNico, on a breach of directors’ duties claim following the collapse of the company. The collapse of the CBL Group has been widely publicised with an estimated loss of NZ$747 million arising as a result of the collapse of parent company, CBL Corporation. It is the first case in New Zealand involving the collapse of an insurance company.
  • Acting for the liquidators of Decmil Construction New Zealand (Decmil) in a high profile, contentious liquidation. The liquidation has involved a range of novel issues, including retention trust funds under the Construction Contracts Act.
  • Acting for the Court appointed receivers to the shares of Worldwide Leisure to facilitate the sale of Huka Lodge and/or Dolphin Island in Fiji to realise USD $25 million for payment into Court.

Bell Gully

Bell Gully consistently works on high-profile restructurings, insolvencies and property receiverships for New Zealand's leading receivers, banks and accounting firms. Recent work saw David McPherson and Tim Fitzgerald advise Antares Restaurant Group, the operator of the Burger King franchise in New Zealand and its directors, on its creditor compromise and the receivership of its holding company. Fitzgerald is an experience litigator for lenders and insolvency practitioners on claims against debtors, directors, auditors, and insurers. McPherson is an authority on debt restructuring, distressed debt acquisitions and receiverships.

Practice head(s):

David McPherson

Other key lawyers:

Tim Fitzgerald

Testimonials

No client feedback

Key clients

PwC

ANZ Bank New Zealand Limited

KordaMentha

McGrath Nicol

KPMG

ASB Bank

BNZ

Grant Thornton

BDO

Ferrier Hodgson

Work highlights

  • Advising Worldwide Leisure Limited in respect of the contentious applications concerning the appointment and conduct of Court-appointed receivers, including the first decision in New Zealand to interpret the duties of Court-appointed receivers to obtain the best price reasonably available at the time of sale.
  • Acting for Calibre Partners as receivers of three recent high-profile receiverships. The first is the receivership of the parent company of Villa Maria Estate. The second concerns the Van Leeuwen group, one of the biggest farming companies in New Zealand. And the third receivership is in respect of the 700 home Ormiston Rise subdivision (which includes a large number of KiwiBuild homes).

Dentons Kensington Swan

Dentons Kensington Swan has an impressive portfolio of banks, trade creditors, directors and insolvency practitioners, among them ANZ, HSBC, Deloitte and KPMG, and Borrelli Walsh. The practice works closely with the construction and major projects department to assist with debt recovery and enforcement work, as well as priority disputes and voidable transactions. In addition, it advises on distressed debt acquisitions and restructurings. Practice head James McMillan  advises across a comprehensive range of administration, receivership and liquidation-related issues. Banking partner Liz Lim in Auckland and David Shillson , based in Wellington, are also of note.

Practice head(s):

James McMillan

Other key lawyers:

David Shillson; Liz Lim

Testimonials

Key clients

ANZ Bank New Zealand Limited

HSBC

Deloitte

BDO Auckland

KordaMentha

KPMG

Borrelli Walsh

Work highlights

DLA Piper New Zealand

At DLA Piper New Zealand's restructuring practice combines the experience of two co-heads; Alicia Murray’s expertise acting litigation insolvency proceedings and advising on various structures and options, with Michael Thompson ’s strong  track record in cross-border financial transactions and restructuring mandates. Iain Thain  is the other key partner, he leads the team acting for the liquidators of CBL Insurance, currently the largest insolvency in New Zealand.

Practice head(s):

Michael Thompson; Alicia Murray

Other key lawyers:

Iain Thain

Testimonials

‘DLA Piper benefits from a strong team and international connections. It is also innovative in its approach.’

‘Alicia Murray is a gutsy lawyer who will stand her ground when needed. She has very good legal and courtroom skills and sound judgment.’

Key clients

Kare Johnstone and Andrew Grenfell of McGrathNicol as liquidators of CBL Insurance Limited

GE Financial Services and GE Renewable Energy

China Construction Bank

Heartland Bank

Foodstuffs

Thorn Group Financial Services

DUAL NZ Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising Auckland Council on various issues relating to the liquidation of a contractor engaged to complete the refurbishment of a Council building.
  • Provided debt recovery and insolvency legal services to WestCity the owner of WestCity Waitakere Mall, a major regional shopping centre in Auckland.
  • Acting for Kare Johnstone and Andrew Grenfell of McGrathNicol as liquidators of CBL Insurance Limited, following an application made by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) for breaches of regulatory requirements. The liquidation of CBLI is currently the largest insolvency in New Zealand. Currently acting in proceedings seeking to avoid a transaction entered into shortly before the liquidation with one of the company’s major creditors, Alpha Insurance Ltd.

Mayne Wetherell

As one of New Zealand’s top corporate and finance law firms, Mayne Wetherell is often involved in many of the largest and most complex public and private transactions, with the restructuring team led by Will Tipping, acting on the restructuring and insolvency mandates emanating from those deals. Tipping  specialises in acquisition financing and special situations.

Practice head(s):

Will Tipping

Testimonials

‘Highly capable individuals with a strong work ethic – always available. Highly commercial approach. Strategic thinkers.’

TWA Legal Limited

Boutique restructuring and insolvency practice TWA Legal Limited comprises of three highly reputable lawyers; Michael Anderson, chartered accountant Mike Whale and Jennifer Tunna, who have extensive experience in acting for secured and unsecured creditors of insolvent companies and distressed corporate borrowers and their directors. The firm is distinguished as the only insolvency practice in New Zealand.

Practice head(s):

Michael Anderson; Mike Whale

Other key lawyers:

Jennifer Tunna

Testimonials

‘Mike Whale – excellent technical skills , and the advantage of dealing with Mike direct.’

‘It is also a boutique specialized insolvency practice. Mike Whale – respected technical skills’

‘Commercial advice from 3 leading lawyers – at small firm price! A focus on solutions, not problems.’

‘Commercial and engaged. A pleasure to deal with.’

Work highlights

  • Advising BDO Tauranga Limited, as receivers on the sale of a sawmill and complex issues under Personal Property Securities Act (PPSA).
  • Advising Khov Jones and Rodewald Consulting Limited, receivers on technical aspects of the PPSA relating to international shipping and warehousing liens.
  • Acting for Advance Scaffold (Auckland) Limited, the purchaser of assets from PWC as liquidators.

Anderson Lloyd

Practice head(s):

Ben Johnston; Simon Munro

Work highlights

Webb Henderson

Practice head(s):

Nicole Xanthopol;  Henry Willis

Key clients

ANZ Bank New Zealand Limited

9Spokes

Stevenson