Restructuring and insolvency in New Zealand
Buddle Findlay has one of New Zealand’s pre-eminent insolvency and restructuring teams and counts Bank of New Zealand, ANZ Bank New Zealand, KordaMentha and PwC among its clients. David Perry, who is former board member of INSOL International and past-Chairman of Restructuring Insolvency & Turnaround Association of New Zealand, leads the practice from Auckland, where Scott Abel is a leading light. They frequently advise domestic and foreign banks, insolvency professionals and other organisations on receiverships, liquidations and workouts. Special counsel Myles O’Brien is a rising star who acts for one of New Zealand's largest banks in recovery and enforcement actions. In Wellington, Scott Barker is a leading litigation, insolvency and credit recovery specialist who recently acted for the Reserve Bank of New Zealand in the high-profile CBL Insurance matter.
Other key lawyers:
“The firm has a good range of experienced experts with a good practical focus. Scott Barker is a standout litigator.”
“Buddle Findlay was instrumental in working with the NZ Bankers’ Association and the main lending banks to develop an escrow facility and associated deed to give lenders sufficient security and comfort to lend to customers in multi-unit complexes with building defects. It has been proactive in fine tuning the facility and working through issues as they arose from both the banks and the customers. It also provided regular, accurate, transactional summaries of funds held for each individual customer. I found the firm easy to deal with throughout.”
“Myles O’Brien is a pleasure to deal with and he dealt with any tasks and queries in a timely and professional manner. He actively kept in touch with me to keep abreast of any changes in the remedial repair projects and also updated me with any changes in the banking conditions which may affect our clients.”
“Myles O’Brien dealt with all matters very well. The back room team of associates and finance were also first class. The staff are always available and provide timely and accurate information.”
“Myles O’Brien is very approachable and provides timelines for any work that he is doing for me. Myles provides regular updates so that I never have to chase him up.”
“They are flexible in their approach to problem-solving and not intransigent in working in their clients interest.”
“They are hugely responsive – queries were inevitably responded to within 24 hrs with complete answers where possible.”
“The firm is the best value for money in this sector. Scott Abel’s technical and case law knowledge and David Perry’s service and responsiveness are excellent.”
“Seb Bisley gives me extremely high-quality advice that has helped me out of a number of difficult transactions.”
Bank of New Zealand
ANZ Bank New Zealand
Reserve Bank of New Zealand
- Acting for the Reserve Bank in respect of solvency and capital adequacy issues, interim liquidation application and substantive liquidation application in respect of CBL Insurance Limited (CBLI), and application for directions by interim liquidators relating to commutation agreement with its largest creditor.
- Acted for the plaintiffs, a group of creditors including Callaghan Innovation, Advicewise People, Blue Star Group , in an application to set aside a creditors’ compromise obtained by Trends.
- Advised KordaMentha as administrators, deed administrators and liquidators of Solid Energy New Zealand Limited and 13 of its subsidiary companies.
- Acting as independent escrow agent for body corporates, unit owners and multiple banks in respect of the debt funding (multiple unit title owners as borrowers) for remediation of multi-unit title apartment properties with structural and other building failure issues.
- Acting for Bank of New Zealand as secured creditor of Preet & Co – Harcourts and associated entities in voluntary administration and liquidation.
Chapman Tripp has one of the most prominent restructuring and insolvency practice in New Zealand and has an outstanding track record in debt restructuring and distressed debt, voluntary administration, and the design and implementation of schemes and compromises. It acts for all of the country's leading insolvency practitioners including KordaMentha and PwC, as well as leading banks such as Bank of New Zealand, ANZ Bank and Westpac. Litigator Michael Arthur and restructuring and insolvency specialist Michael Harper in Auckland are the practice heads. Senior associate Janko Marcetic has substantial experience in acting for company directors facing claims for alleged breaches of duty and regulatory charges. Wellington partner Daniel Kalderimis is an experienced advisor and advocate in large commercial disputes and leads Chapman Tripp’s international law practice.
Michael Arthur; Michael Harper
ANZ Bank New Zealand (ANZ)
Bank of New Zealand (BNZ)
Westpac New Zealand
BWA Insolvency Limited
- Acting for ANZ in relation to the voluntary administration of NZX listed CBL Corporation Limited.
- Acting for four of the former directors of Mainzeal, one of New Zealand’s largest construction companies which went into receivership in February 2013, shortly followed by liquidation.
- Acting for Ferrier Hodgson (Morgan Kelly, Phil Quinlan and Stewart McCallum) as administrators of Halifax New Zealand Limited.
- Acting for GFB in relation to a claim against a New Zealand financial service provider, Worldclear Limited, which processes international wire transfers.
- Acting for KordaMentha as receivers of Capital + Merchant Finance Limited.
MinterEllisonRuddWatts handles some of the largest and most complex restructurings and insolvencies in New Zealand, including contentious matters, and in 2018 this included acting for the liquidators in their successful reckless trading claim against the directors of Mainzeal. The firm is on the panel of the four main New Zealand banks for restructuring and insolvency, as well many other financial institutions, and receives instructions from insolvency practitioners including KordaMentha, PwC and McGrathNicol. Litigator Sean Gollin and insolvency specialist Michael Langdon in Auckland are the lead partners, though Mark Sandelin and Wellington-based RITANZ board member Richard Gordon also play key roles in the practice. Partner Mihai Pascariu in Auckland is also closely involved in Mainzeal matter.
Sean Gollin; Michael Langdon
“The firm has good all-round strength, but is particularly strong in insolvency, finance and workouts.”
“Sean Gollin and Mark Sandelin are very experienced and well versed in their areas of expertise.”
- Acting for the liquidators of 13 companies in the Mainzeal Group, in which the High Court upheld the claim that the directors breached s 135 of the Companies Act 1993.
- Acting for KordaMentha as liquidators of Wynyard NZ Limited, which was placed in voluntary administration in October 2016, and in liquidation in February 2017.
- Acting for various investors in Ross Asset Management Limited, which was involved in the RAM fraud, which was New Zealand’s biggest-ever Ponzi scheme.
- Acting for the Restructuring Insolvency & Turnaround Association New Zealand Incorporated (RITANZ) in reviewing and assisting in the drafting of the RITANZ practice standards which support the RITANZ Code of Conduct.
- Advising an offshore aggregator of distressed debt claims on the liquidation of Bitcoinica LP.
Russell McVeagh is 'a large firm that provides the ability to tap into partners with knowledge of specific legal areas'. Its multi-disciplinary practice handles the full range of matters including formal domestic and cross-border insolvency processes, the enforcement of secured and unsecured creditor rights, corporate and debt restructuring and workouts, and secondary debt trading and investment. 'Superb lawyer' Matthew Kersey is the lead partner in Auckland. Polly Pope is recommended by peers and clients alike for her work in contentious insolvency and restructuring, as well as her complementary expertise in construction, infrastructure, financial and regulatory disputes. Kersey and Pope acted for the voluntary administrators of insurer CBL. Partner John Powell is recommended for his work on debt restructuring, workouts and formal insolvency.
“Russell McVeagh has a strong restructuring and insolvency team with talented and hardworking lawyers. They also bring in very good subject matter experts to assist in engagements when required.”
“Partner Matt Kersey is an excellent operator and one of New Zealand’s very best restructuring and insolvency lawyers. Having worked on some of the largest and most complex restructuring deals in the market, he has unparalleled technical knowledge of the law and is a very strong litigator.”
“Matt Kersey has significantly advanced the profession through his role as a Board Member of RITANZ and Chair of the RITANZ Regulatory Affairs Committee.”
ANZ Bank New Zealand Limited
Bath Street Capital
Downtown House (No 2) Limited
NZ Project 29 Limited
- Represented KordaMentha as voluntary administrators and liquidators of CBL Corporation Limited and subsidiaries.
- Acting for McGrath Nicol as voluntary administrators, now liquidators, of the RCR (NZ) group companies following the high-profile failure of its Australian parent company, RCR Tomlinson.
- Act for McGrathNicol, the receivers of the Orange H group.
- Represented Heartland Bank in its restructuring by scheme of arrangement.
- Representing Duncan Brand in his appeal against prohibition as a director.
Simpson Grierson has one of the largest restructuring, insolvency and security enforcement practices in New Zealand. Operating with the banking and finance practice, it frequently acts for the restructuring teams of major trading banks and other institutional lenders, and the large insolvency advisory practices. It handles all aspects of corporate stress and insolvency including corporate recovery measures, corporate reconstructions, administrations, receiverships, statutory managements, and liquidations. Clients appreciate the 'direct, sensible and practical advice is given at competitive rates'. In Auckland, practice head James Caird is a specialist banking and finance litigator with extensive expertise in cross-border insolvencies. The Wellington office's head of banking and finance Josh Cairns frequently handles complex debt restructurings. Michael Robinson is now a barrister at Shortland Chambers.
Other key lawyers:
Josh Cairns; Ben Upton; Steve Flynn
“James Caird is well versed in insolvency and property law, and is easy to deal with.”
Bank of New Zealand
Financial Markets Authority
- Advising PwC on the receivership of Ebert Construction, a major construction firm that traded for nearly 20 years, with a projected turnover in 2019 of NZ$171m.
- Advising the Financial Markets Authority on its investigation into the affairs of CBL Corporation, a global an insurer and reinsurer placed into voluntary administration in February 2018
- Advising KordaMentha as liquidators of crime-fighting software company Wynyard.
- Advised BDO as liquidators on the voluntary administration of construction company Orange H Group Ltd (In Receivership & In Liquidation) and related entities.
- Acted for Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre (Wairarapa), the Trust Board (Taratahi) and Grant Thornton, as interim liquidators and as liquidators, following issues with Crown funding and falling enrolments for a tertiary training establishment for the agricultural sector.
Anthony Harper has a cross-functional, multi-disciplinary and integrated team that works closely with the litigation, banking and finance practices to handle refinancing, restructuring, administration, liquidation and disputes. 'The team takes a holistic approach to all issues' remarks one client who praises the firm's 'fast responses and focus on outcomes and solutions that resolve matters quickly'. Crispin Vinnell in Christchurch leads the practice and he has more than 20 years' experience advising banks, finance companies, chartered accountants, insolvency practitioners, receivers, liquidators, administrators and the Official Assignee on all facets of insolvency and recovery. Dan Hughes in Auckland leads the firm's litigation practice and frequently handles high-profile insolvency disputes. Special counsel Lynne Van and senior associate Chloe Jolliffe are also recommended.
‘The insolvency, workout and recovery team is very well-established and highly competent. The Christchurch team is considered as best in market.’
‘Crispin Vinnell stands out as highly knowledgeable in his areas of expertise. He is easy to deal with, easy to get hold of, practical and comparatively cost-effective.’
‘The insolvency team has a great depth of specialist experience.’
All of Government Panel
Westpac New Zealand Ltd
Ernst and Young
Heartland Bank Ltd
PKF Corporate Recovery & Insolvency
Goldsmith Fox PKF
Insolvency Management Ltd
- Advised PKF Corporate Recovery & Insolvency on various preference claims and potential claims against the directors of Intercivil Group.
- Acting for the liquidators of Northern Crest Investments (parent of Blue Chip Group of companies). Northern Crest traded in New Zealand and Australia and was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.
- Acted for WPL in a dispute with its tenant company, Waiwera Thermal Resort Limited (part of Waiwera Group) where the tenant company sought relief against forfeiture for termination of its lease, but maintained it was solvent.
- Acting for Meltzer Mason the administrators of Harcourts franchise in Auckland following discovery of anomalies in the trust accounts of franchise companies.
- Acting for PKF Corporate Recovery the liquidators of Forex Brokers Limited, a foreign exchange company which collapsed owing at least NZ$16m to creditors.
Bell Gully in Auckland has a busy practice that acts for leading banks such as ANZ, ASB and Bank of New Zealand, as well as accounting firms and receivers including PwC, Grant Thornton and BDO. Practice head David McPherson and litigation partner David Friar are currently acting for KordaMentha as administrators of ten New Zealand-registered companies in the CBL Group, including the parent company, in regard to aspects of the country's most high-profile insolvency. Litigation partner Tim Fitzgerald advises lenders and insolvency practitioners on claims against debtors, directors, auditors and insurers. Rising star senior associate Nick Moffatt, who is involved in the CBL matter, is a key advisor to PwC in insolvency matters.
ANZ Bank New Zealand Limited
- Acting for Brendon Gibson and Neale Jackson of KordaMentha as administrators on aspects of the administration of ten New Zealand registered companies in the CBL Group, including the ultimate parent company, CBL Corporation Limited.
- Advised Pearlfisher Capital on the Wallace Homes dispute. In this proceeding it seeks to recover arrangement fees and facility fees that it says are owing by a prospective lender, Wallace Homes Limited.
- Acting for PwC as liquidators of the Ross Asset Management (RAM) group of companies.
- Acting for the directors, who are the first defendants, on a class action brought by shareholders in Feltex Carpets and funded by a litigation funder.
- Acted for the Partners of BDO as receivers of Kawarau Falls Station (in Receivership) and directors of Kawarau Village Holdings Limited.
DLA Piper New Zealand in Auckland has a multi-disciplinary restructuring and insolvency group that has a long track record of acting for insolvency practitioners and is frequently involved in cross-border matters with other offices in the firm's global network. It also handles corporate restructuring for the large business that constitute its client base, and it is currently acting for the liquidators in the most high-profile insolvency case in the market, that of CBL Insurance. RITANZ members Michael Thompson and Alicia Murray are the lead partners in a practice that brings together the firm's corporate, finance and litigation specialists. Head of litigation Iain Thain plays a key role in the practice.
Michael Thompson; Alicia Murray
Other key lawyers:
Iain Thain; Randeep Robinson
Kare Johnstone and Andrew Grenfell of McGrathNicol as liquidators of CBL Insurance Limited
Bank of Queensland
- Acting for the liquidators of CBL Insurance Limited, which is currently the largest insolvency in New Zealand.
- Advising Heartland Bank Limited, which in 2018 appointed receivers to tech companies Foundry Innovations Limited, The Fulcrum Limited and Ora HQ Limited, as well as a related company Wild Logic Limited.
- Advised Foodstuffs North Island Limited on the appointment of PwC as receivers and managers to retail grocery store BK’s 4 Square on Christmas Eve 2018.
- Defended a receiver – Insolvency Management Limited – against allegations of breach of duty and a claim of negligence arising from the sale of property owned by the company.
- Acted for Trustees Executors Limited in its role as licensed supervisor for Canterbury Mortgage Trust, which was wound up in 2008 owing investors NZ$250m.
Lowndes in Auckland climbs the ranking thanks to the high regard in which its two key partners are held and the firm's role in some of the most high-profile matters in the market. Practice head Mike Whale is lauded as ‘the godfather of the insolvency industry, he knows everything back to the Magna Carta'. Michael Anderson is vastly experienced and acts for receivers in high-value matters. The firm is advising major creditors in the biggest insolvency case in the market, that of CBL Insurance, and frequently acts for specialist insolvency practitioners and financial services institutions. Principal Jennifer Tunna is a banking and finance specialist with a strong insolvency practice. Jacque Lethbridge moved to Martelli McKegg Wells & Cormack.
‘Excellent broad-based team.’
- Acted for Elite Insurance Company Limited registered in Gibraltar the single largest creditor of CBL whose claim accounted for approximately 68% of CBL’s outstanding claims liabilities.
- Acted for the liquidators in this claim which was brought by the Official Assignee under the Insolvency Act 2006 arising from the bankruptcy of Edward Harman who was the director of five companies in liquidation.
- Acting for the liquidators in a claim against a former director for paying a sum of money belonging to the company to the IRD in satisfaction of the director’s personal tax liability.
- For PwC, reviewed a number of complex franchising arrangements between the company and a franchisor to determine the extent of the company’s assets (as distinct from the franchisor’s) and the ability of the receivers to sell these assets together with or separately from the franchisor’s assets and branding.
Mayne Wetherell in Auckland is a specialist corporate, finance and restructuring firm that has built up an impressive track record. Since the global financial crisis, the firm has led or played a central role in all of the major restructuring transactions in New Zealand. Rather than focusing on a high volume of matters, it concentrates on the high-value and complex matters that are of strategic importance to its bank or corporate clients. Among those clients are Bank of New Zealand, Westpac New Zealand Limited, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Goldman Sachs and Windsor Engineering Group. Will Tipping is the lead partner for restructuring and insolvency matters, and he has a particular focus on acquisition financing and special situations.
Bank of New Zealand
Westpac New Zealand Limited
Sankaty Advisers L.L.C.
J P Morgan
The Royal Bank of Scotland, plc
Windsor Engineering Group
- Represented Windsor Group in its acquisition of several parts of RCR Energy Limited (in Voluntary Administration), located at several sites across New Zealand.
Anderson Lloyd's restructuring and insolvency team is based in its Christchurch office but works closely with the firm's banking and finance group in Auckland. The firm has strong relationships with insolvency practitioners based in the South Island, including Ernst & Young, as well as some of New Zealand's leading banks. It also acts for the Official Assignee - New Zealand Insolvency & Trustee Service - on asset recoveries and realisations of bankrupt's estates. Ben Johnston and Simon Munro, who both have broad experience in acting for banks and other financiers, receivers, liquidators and the Official Assignee on recovery and restructuring matters, are the lead partners.
Ben Johnston; Simon Munro
Other key lawyers:
Geoff Busch; Charlotte Houghton
“Ben Johnston is our primary contact and he provides efficient and commercially realistic advice.”
Fund Managers Otago Limited
New Zealand Insolvency & Trustee Service
Ernst & Young
Farmlands Co-Operative Society Limited
ANZ Bank New Zealand Limited
Bank Of New Zealand
K3 Legal is a litigation boutique that works closely with branded partners in accounting and consulting to act for entrepreneurs and business owners. Contentious insolvency is a key part of its offering alongside property, construction, resource management, and relationship property disputes. Practice head James Nolen is a litigator with a broad practice, but he has a track record of involvement in some of the largest insolvencies in New Zealand, including a challenge to the voluntary administration of Solid Energy and a claim by the liquidators of Mainzeal Construction. Brent O'Callahan left the firm and is now a barrister.
Other key lawyers:
“Kerry Puddle and James Nolen are practical and pragmatic.”
Norrie & Daughters
Mangawhai Property Limited
PKF Corporate Recovery and Insolvency
Forestlands N.Z. Limited
- Acting for one of six directors of Mainzeal Property and Construction sued by the liquidators for breach of director duties.
- Acting for one of two partners in a long running partnership dispute dating back to 1991 between two international businessmen concerning a fortune amassed from international steel trading and investment.
- Acting for shareholders in a dispute with other shareholders, who in combination are the majority in a complex series of companies operating hotels in New Zealand and Australia.
- Acted to assist in the sell down of certain properties for a developer that owned a number of lots in a proposed development North of Auckland.
- Defend the liquidation application in excess of $10m on behalf of Vasundhara Enterprises Limited.
The restructuring and insolvency practice at Dentons Kensington Swan is focused on serving banks and insolvency practitioners. Among these are ANZ Bank, BDO, BWA and Deloitte. The firm provides provide specialist legal advice to creditors and insolvency practitioners in relation to financial risk management, receiverships, administrations and liquidations. A unique facet of the practice is its close collaboration with its construction and major projects lawyers to assist with debt recovery and enforcement work, priority disputes and voidable transactions. Practice head and RITANZ member James McMillan and senior associate Mark Broad are the key practitioners, and each has 16 years' experience in commercial litigation.
Other key lawyers:
David Shillson; Mark Broad
ANZ Bank New Zealand Limited
111 Dixon Street Limited
- Advised the liquidators of RGREL and Isola in defending significant claims from the liquidators of King Façade Limited.
- Acted for the interim liquidators of HydroWorks, who subsequently became the permanent liquidators of the company.
- Advising of BDO as receivers of Vinoptima Estate Limited on all matters including: (i) the validity of the receivers’ appointment; (ii) two priority claims between the secured creditors and other creditors.
- Advised KordaMentha in relation to the validity of their appointment as receivers of the Grow companies.
- Acted for development company 111 Dixon Street Limited and related shareholder entities in connection with the NZ$60m three-tower development of the DXN Apartments at 111 Dixon Street, Wellington.
Norling Law Limited
Norling Law Limited is a boutique firm in Auckland that focuses predominantly on insolvency and restructuring, largely in the SME sector. Founded four years ago by insolvency specialist and litigator Brent Norling, who had been senior in-house counsel at Waterstone Insolvency, the firm has carved out a niche in insolvency disputes and clients remark that it is 'a young firm whose key lawyer has been involved in some of the more interesting and leading edge insolvency and restructuring litigation over recent years'. The practice, which includes three lawyers with in-house experience at Waterstone, has successfully argued cases at the District Court, High Court, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
Other key lawyers:
Anna Cherkashina; Alden Ho
“I have dealt mainly with Brent Norling who I would describe as one to watch.”
- In Greenfield Global Ltd v MKAH Ltd the firm successfully obtained an interim injunction precluding the secured creditor’s right to appoint the receiver.
- In Alpine South Fishing Ltd (in Rec) v Kim the firm successfully defeated an application for injunction restraining the receivers from taking further steps pending the determination of the substantive proceeding.