The Bell Gully tax practice is 'incredibly professional and technical - you have confidence that they will provide the correct answer'. The firm has one of the largest specialist tax practice in New Zealand, with 16 lawyers handling tax aspects of significant corporate transactions, tax advisory work and precedent-setting tax disputes. The firm also has a busy private client tax practice, and is a leading adviser on indirect tax and customs and excise matters. Mathew McKay in Auckland leads the three-partner practice. Willy Sussman, New Zealand’s only specialist indirect tax lawyer, and Graham Murray are highly respected in the market. Special counsel Campbell Pentney and litigator Hayden Roberts are also recommended.
Tax in New Zealand
‘The Bell Gully tax team is incredibly professional and technical. You have confidence that they will provide the correct technical answer, and where areas are grey, trust them to advise how to manage risk. The team is exceptional in the M&A space and has incredible attention to detail. You can also trust the team to turn around urgent matters incredibly quickly. The tax team also works incredibly close to other areas of the practice to ensure tax outcomes are optimised.’
Frucor / Danone
Fletcher Building Limited
SkyCity Entertainment Group
Vodafone Group Plc
NorthWest Healthcare Management
Westland Co-Operative Dairy
Napier Port / Hawkes Bay Regional Council
Air New Zealand
- In 2018, the firm acted for Frucor Suntory New Zealand Limited as taxpayer (Bell Gully’s client is Danone Asia Pte Ltd) in a rare victory on tax avoidance in the High Court. The taxpayer successfully rebutted the allegation that its use of convertible note financing to fund its New Zealand business was a tax avoidance arrangement.
- The firm advised Fletcher Building on the sale of the Formica Group.
- The firm advised SkyCity Entertainment Group on its grant of a long-term concession over its Auckland car parks for NZ$220m.
At MinterEllisonRuddWatts, 'the individuals are all specialists in their area of expertise' and one client remarks that 'they make the time to ensure the service provided meets high standards and reflects commercial reality, not just legal reality'. The firm has a lean and highly experienced tax group with a particular focus on tax disputes with New Zealand Inland Revenue and NZ Customs, though its work also spans advice on tax planning and due diligence for high-profile corporate clients. Andrew Ryan in Auckland leads the practice. Up-and-coming partner Sacha Oudyn is a key tax adviser on warranty and indemnity insurance policies. Senior associate Simon Akozu is also recommended.
‘The strength of the tax team was local knowledge of the situation and knowledge of New Zealand tax law. I found the capabilities of the MERW personnel very competent and flexible in that they were able to make things happen the way we needed them to.’
‘I found Simon Akozu knowledgeable in relation to taxation implications of the transaction and able to provide advice on the best way forward.’
‘The team is smaller than peers in other large law firms. The main advantage is that you are more likely to get partner access and oversight, with the resulting uplift in expertise.’
Marriott International Inc
Froneri International Ltd t/a Peters Ice Cream
Brookfield Asset Management Limited
AMP Capital Investors
Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities (formerly Ministry of Housing and Urban Development)
Generate Investment Management Limited
Jasper Property Limited
Resource Management Service LLC (RMS)
- Advised Spark on crucial tax aspects of the sale of the Lightbox subscription video on demand business to Sky Network Television
- Advised global ice cream giant, Froneri, on acquisition of New Zealand’s iconic Tip Top ice cream business from Fonterra.
- Acted for AMP on complex tax issues associated with the acquisition of a 40% stake in SecureFuture Wiri Holdings Limited, which in a public private partnership with the New Zealand Department of Corrections constructed and operates the Kohuora Auckland South Corrections Facility.
Russell McVeagh is known for its work across the full spectrum of direct and indirect taxation, encompassing matters relating to financing and capital raising, M&A deals, business reorganisation, investment products, PPPs, employee remuneration packages, customs and excise and transfer pricing, as well as tax investigations and disputes. The firm's key lawyers have also been closely involved in the domestic tax reform process, having appeared before parliamentary committees and made representations at ministerial level. Fred Ward in Auckland leads the eleven-lawyer practice. He has extensive experience in corporate finance matters, M&A deals and structured investment products. The team lost Brendan Brown who joined Mayne Wetherell in March 2021.
ANZ Bank New Zealand Limited
Bank of New Zealand
ASB Bank Limited/Commonwealth Bank of Australia
Westpac New Zealand Limited
Heartland Bank Limited
Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited
Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation
Spark New Zealand Limited
- Acted for Spark New Zealand as the majority shareholder in the Southern Cross Next transaction, which involved a restructure of the Southern Cross group, and entry into arrangements for the financing and construction of the NEXT undersea data cable (SX NEXT), a new approximately US$300m internet cable between New Zealand, the United States and Australia.
- Advised NZ Propco Limited (a new joint venture) on the structuring of its acquisition of the Todd Property Group’s portfolio of retail, investment and development property assets. It was the largest financing of a property acquisition or development in New Zealand in 2019.
- Advised ANZ New Zealandon the sale of its asset finance business, UDC Finance Limited (UDC), to Japan’s Shinsei Bank, for $762m.
Buddle Findlay has a strong reputation for corporate tax matters, having advised a blue-chip domestic and international client base on the tax elements of large corporate transactions. Auckland-based practice head Tony Wilkinson is a prominent figure in large M&A matters, though he also handles excise tax disputes. He recently acted in a large dispute with the chief executive of the New Zealand Customs Service on behalf of a multi-national corporation. Senior solicitor Maria Clezy and Wellington-based senior associate Fiona Heiford are among the talented junior lawyers.
Brookfield Asset Management
Vodafone New Zealand
Bank of New Zealand
The Growth Fund
All of Government (NZ)
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
- Advised a consortium comprising of Infratil Limited and Brookfield Asset Management Inc. on the NZ$3.4bn acquisition of Vodafone New Zealand Limited. This is the largest M&A transaction in New Zealand’s history.
- Advised Canberra Data Centres in relation to an approx. NZ$1.5bn refinancing of the existing term loan and working capital facilities. The facilities are to be used in part for the construction of three new data centres, including two at its Eastern Creek site in Western Sydney
- Advised Auckland Council on a reorganisation and transfer of the ownership and control of approximately NZ$750m of assets and businesses comprising the Auckland waterfront, including marinas, wharves and land.
Chapman Tripp has a large tax practice that frequently is primarily focused on handling the tax aspects of large corporate transactions, particularly M&A deals, financings, restructurings, cross-border capital repatriation and dividend issues. Alongside its transactional and advisory work, it acts in contentious matters involving the Inland Revenue. In Auckland, Graeme Olding and practice head Bevan Miles are the lead partners. In Wellington, David Patterson, who has more than 25 years' market experience, and special counsel Vivian Cheng are highly recommended.
EY Law Limited has recognised expertise in a range of tax work, including customs and ACC matters. Its prime focus is on contentious tax issues, including cross-border tax disputes. Among its recent work in this area are cases involving base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) issues, transfer pricing and mutual agreement procedures (MAP). The tax controversy practice, led by Kirsty Keating and Tori Sullivan in Auckland, also handles a broad range of tax advisory, tax structuring work and tax risk mitigation. The practice is part of a global network of specialist tax lawyers who act for an impressive raft of blue-chip clients.
'The greatest value is the advice given has technical skill and expertise which transforms into a pragmatic and solutions focus,' says a client of Simpson Grierson. The firm has a lean tax practice that balances emerging young talent with experienced senior lawyers, who handle the tax aspects of large corporate transactions, tax disputes and audits. Barney Cumberland, who leads the practice in Auckland, has more than 20 years’ experience in domestic and international tax law. Senior associate Nick Bland is adept in public sector taxation and also works for clients in the non-profit sector. Senior associate Paul Windeatt and consultant Stuart Hutchinson are also recommended.
‘They have wide experience in local government legislation. Being closely involved in the Auckland Supercity merger ten years ago, they are extremely knowledgeable when it comes to restructuring of group activities. Local government tax issues are completely different to the private sector and they fully understand the implications.’
‘Nick Bland is our main contact and he is supported by the other tax partners in particular Barney Cumberland. Nick is always available to provide insights to difficult issues.’
‘The greatest value is the advice given has technical skill and expertise which transforms into a pragmatic and solutions focus.’
‘We appreciate their practical approach. They are solution-focused and they take time to understand our business.’
Auckland Council Group
Watercare Services Limited
Transdev New Zealand Limited
OMV New Zealand Limited
nib Holdings Limited
The A2 Milk Company Limited
Tait International Limited
Constellation Brands New Zealand Limited/Constellation Brands Inc
Tāmaki Redevelopment Company group
- Advised OMV, part of the Austrian oil and gas conglomerate, on the sale of its majority interest in NewZealand’s largest producing oil field.
- Continue to advise TRC on the redevelopment of approximately 2,800 social housing properties that the TRC group acquired at a cost of NZ$1.63bn – the largest transfer of social housing in New Zealand history.
- Represented the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in its successful appeal to New Zealand’s second highest court, the latest chapter in a long-running, significant Court battle with the New Zealand Tax Authority, which has now sought leave to appeal to New Zealand’s Supreme Court.
Anthony Harper joins the ranking due to its growing workload in international, corporate, property and personal tax matters. The work spans advice on business structuring, asset planning, M&A transactions, share sales, employment obligations and tax residency. The firm has one tax specialist in senior tax advisor Bridget Riley, who has a broad range of expertise in international and domestic matters, drawing on her experience at one of the big four accountancy practices. Her track record includes advice to large corporate and SMEs in sectors as diverse as medical supplies, insurance, motor-vehicle, primary produce, property development and energy.
CLL Holdings Limited
Longridge Village Limited Partnership
Munro Footwear Group – Cowell Clarke
Synlait Milk Limited
Vetoquinol Australia Pty Limited
- Advised Vetoquinol Pty Ltd to ensure a tax efficient and compliant structure was set up which would facilitate and accommodate market growth, enable tax efficient and compliant repatriation of profits to Australian shareholders, compliance with local tax laws and utilisation of relevant tax incentives for carrying on research and development activities in New Zealand.
- Advised 5R Solutions on the application of the Inland Revenue Departments restricted transfer pricing concessions and on appropriate method selection, transfer prices and documentation. This included drafting intercompany agreements and modelling profit repatriation using the recommended methods. We advised on appropriate interest rates, management fees cost uplift and license fees.
- Advised Longridge Village Limited Partnership on the risks and negotiate appropriate warranties from the existing partners to the satisfaction of the new investor.
DLA Piper New Zealand has a strong corporate transaction practice, which requires the input of its tax group in high-value domestic and cross-border M&A deals. This work encompasses transaction structuring, as well as negotiating the tax aspects of sale and purchase agreements. As part of a global firm, the tax practice calls upon expertise across its office network to handle cross-border matters, including corporate transactions, employee share plans and fund structuring. The practice led by newly promoted partner David Johnston in Auckland also has a strong track record in advising warranty and indemnity insurers on M&A tax issues and due diligence.
‘DLA Piper offers tax expertise in Australia and New Zealand and has supported us as underwriting counsel (tax and non-tax) on a wide range of deals.’
‘David Johnston is a commercial, client-focused adviser who understands well the product we offer and the tax considerations that apply to us.’
‘Because my business is a financial service provider taking a completely novel approach to B2B payments, a firm understanding of our legal position was a pre-requisite to bring our innovation to market. Lawyers are often perceived as slowing business transactions down. I was referred to David Johnstone in DLA Piper and the tax issue was approached in a pragmatic, practical way, with the right level of detail and support required for the job.’
‘They are effective communicators that point out and resolve the important issues and understand commercial realities.’
Foodstuffs North Island Limited
Accel-KKR / Seequent
Discovery Communications, LLC
- Advised Sean Parker in connection with his investment in Weta Digital Limited.
- Advised Foodstuffs in connection with its investment in Leigh Fisheries and subsequent sale of Leigh Fish USA.
- Advised AIG in connection with providing W&I insurance for a number of the largest transactions completed in New Zealand in the last 12 months.