Firms To Watch: Restructuring and insolvency

Hamilton based Stace Hammond has experience acting for international corporates through to small local businesses in New Zealand’s largest insolvencies. Its team is also skilled in debt restructuring, debt recovery, personal property securities and phoenix companies.

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 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. Auckland-based special counsel 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

Calibre Partners (formerly named as KordaMentha)

PwC

McGrathNicol

Kiwibank

Grant Thornton

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.
  • Advising The Department of 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

Chapman Tripp's insolvency practice handles debt restructuring, special situations and workouts, Part 14 creditor compromises and schemes of arrangement, distressed debt transactions and distressed asset acquisition, receiverships, liquidations and security enforcement.

Practice head(s):

Michael Arthur; Michael Harper

Other key lawyers:

Laura Fraser; Janko Marcetic

Testimonials

‘Michael Harper and Michael Arthur are go to people’

MinterEllisonRuddWatts

MinterEllisonRuddWatts is a trusted advisor to New Zealand’s major banks and insolvency practitioners as well as an advisor to The Treasury 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, insolvency and receivership disputes practice. 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

Bank of New Zealand

Westpac New Zealand

ASB Bank

ANZ Bank New Zealand

Kiwibank

BDO

KPMG

Rabobank

Grant Thornton

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 in 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 Matthew Kersey acts predominantly for secured creditors and insolvency professionals, alongside Polly Pope who handles contentious mandates, and John Powell who 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

KPMG

PWC

General Motors

Calibre Partners

McGrath Nicol

Meltzer Mason

Bath Street Capital

ANZ Bank New Zealand Limited

Westpac

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 which traded as a non-bank deposit-taking finance company providing commercial loans and finance leases, in receivership and liquidation.

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 restructuring 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. Auckland-based Ben Upton 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

Calibre Partners

PwC

ASB Bank

McGrathNicol

KPMG

Bank of New Zealand

BDO

Heartland Bank

Grant Thornton

Work highlights

  • Acting for Atlas Assett Management, as a representative investor in collapsed online investment broker Halifax New Zealand Ltd, which the liquidators issued parallel proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia and the High Court of New Zealand.
  • 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.
  • 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 by Crispin Vinnell out of Christchurch with support from insolvency litigator Dan Hughes and his Auckland based team. The group is regularly 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 works with Hughes on high-value insolvency claims, and special counsel Chloe Jolliffe focuses 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

Westpac New Zealand Limited

ASB Bank

Ernst & Young

KPMG

Heartland Bank Limited

Kiwibank Limited

Deloitte

McGrathNicol

Work highlights

  • Acting for the liquidators of CBL Insurance, McGrathNicol, on a breach of directors’ duties claim following the collapse of the company.
  • Acting for the liquidators of Decmil Construction New Zealand (Decmil) in a high profile, contentious liquidation which 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 US$25m 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; Nick Moffatt

Testimonials

No client feedback

Key clients

PwC

ANZ Bank New Zealand Limited

KordaMentha

McGrath Nicol

KPMG

ASB Bank

BNZ

Grant Thornton

Work highlights

  • Advising Worldwide Leisure Limited on a dispute arising from a dispute between two parties that claim to have an interest in the assets of the client that owned Huka Lodge.
  • Acting for Calibre Partners as receivers of three recent high-profile receiverships.

Dentons Kensington Swan

Dentons Kensington Swan has an impressive portfolio of banks, trade creditors, directors and insolvency practitioners; it 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 Wellington-based David Shillson 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

Calibre Partners (formerly known as KordaMentha)

KPMG

Borelli Walsh

PwC

Sarsfield Engineering Limited

Heartland Bank

Work highlights

  • Advised the administrators, and then liquidators, of three STA Travel entities in relation to all matters arising from the collapse of the global business.
  • Advised the receivers of five DentalCare companies in relation to their appointment, the ongoing trading of the businesses during the receivership, the realisation of assets, and the sale of the businesses as going concerns.
  • Assisted the receivers of FE Investments with a number of secured and unsecured debt recovery matters.

DLA Piper New Zealand

DLA Piper New Zealand‘s restructuring practice combines the experience of two co-heads; Alicia Murray’s expertise acting on 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 another name to note.

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

Heartland Bank

Foodstuffs

Humm Group (previously FlexiGroup New Zealand Limited)

McGrathNicol

Dual NZ

Trustees Executors

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.

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 specialist 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 a boutique specializing in insolvency. Mike Whale – respected technical skills’

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

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

Key clients

McGrathNicol New Zealand Limited

BDO Tauranga Limited

Deloitte

Chapman Atkins

Rodewald Consulting Limited

Khov Jones

Ecovis KGA

Meltzer Mason

PKF Corporate Recovery and Insolvency

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, on its purchase of assets from PwC as liquidators.

Anderson Lloyd

Anderson Lloyd's insolvency and restructuring team advises banks, insolvency practitioners, and other creditors and debtors on a broad mix of debt restructuring, liquidation, bankruptcy and enforcement of creditor rights. Christchurch-based Ben Johnston and Simon Munro are the main contacts.

Practice head(s):

Ben Johnston; Simon Munro

Work highlights

    Webb Henderson

    Webb Henderson advises on financial restructuring and distressed debt matters.