The ‘technically astute’ Graham Murray leads the team at Auckland-based Bell Gully, which is noted for its skills handling complex tax controversies, Inland Revenue audits and transfer pricing disputes. The team offers expertise in private client work, indirect tax, customs and excise matters, and on tax aspects of migration and local property acquisitions and investments. On the contentious side, Mathew McKay, a ‘trusted adviser and a safe pair of hands’ together with Hayden Roberts acts for taxpayers throughout both the taxpayer disputes procedures and resulting litigation. Willy Sussman specialises in indirect and private client taxation, as does the ‘swift, responsive and cost conscious’ special counsel Campbell Pentney.
Tax in New Zealand
‘We found the Bell Gully tax team to be extremely responsive, commercial and pragmatic – as well as very technically strong.’
‘We worked with Graham Murray and thought Graham was brilliant. He managed to balance being very technically astute with commercial pragmatism. He was always quick to grasp complex technical issues (both UK and NZ) and deliver helpful practical advice. ‘
‘Mathew McKay always delivers high quality, commercial advice, on short turn-around times. When you are in a tight spot it is comforting to know that you have Mathew in your corner – he is a trusted adviser and a safe pair of hands.’
‘Hayden Roberts provides excellent customer service.’
‘Willy Sussman is my first point of contact and he takes a personal interest in providing an outstanding service.’
‘Bell Gully is incredibly professional and their subject matter experts in the area of taxation is technically very strong and capable. I am particularly impressed by their degree of integration/collaboration with their colleagues responsible for advising in other areas.’
‘Bell Gully is excellent to work with. They are our go to for New Zealand legal issues on complex topics, including cutting edge emerging technologies’
‘Campbell Pentney deserves special praise for being highly adept at tackling complex matters, as well as being swift, responsive and cost conscious.’
Frucor / Danone
Vodafone New Zealand
Emirates Team New Zealand
Modern Times Group MTG AB
- Advised the Downer Group on the New Zealand aspects of a refinancing projected relating to Downer’s increase of its shareholding in the Spotless group to 100%.
- Advised Swedish digital entertainment company Modern Times Group MTG AB on tax aspects of its acquisition of Ninja Kiwi.
- Advised Emirates Team New Zealand on a proposed restructuring.
MinterEllisonRuddWatts is particularly experienced in advising on the tax aspects of corporate transactions, while its equally strong litigation team is adept at handling tax disputes with the New Zealand Inland Revenue. Clients additionally praise it as the ‘best private equity tax team in New Zealand’. Transfer pricing, financial services and investment fund transactions and warranty insurance matters are also frequent sources of work, alongside a niche expertise which the team advises on the tax aspects of cryptocurrency investments. Andrew Ryan has a balanced tax controversy and corporate tax practice; he advised Healthscope and Brookfield on the $550m sale of Healthscope’s New Zealand pathology business. Senior associate Simon Akozu is noted for transactional tax work and his expertise in the infrastructure sector. Special counsel Sacha Oudyn now concentrates on M&A.
‘Best private equity tax team in New Zealand; commercially oriented; responsive to transaction deadlines.’
‘I found Simon Akozu fabulous to deal with, he is thorough, proactive, helpful and inclusive. I would be happy to recommend him to anyone.’
‘Particular expertise on digital assets and an ability to extrapolate tax concepts to cover this complex and nascent asset class.’
Healthscope and Brookfield Asset Management
Ngāi Tahu Holdings and Tainui Group Holdings
E & J Gallo Winery
Aintree Finance Limited
Wellington Gateway Partnership
Mediaworks Holdings Limited
ANZ Bank New Zealand (ANZ) (and related entities)
Pioneer Capital Management Limited
Milford Asset Management Limited
- Advised Wellington Gateway Partnership on the tax treatment of a PPP agreement to construct, operate and maintain a 27km four-lane motorway.
- Advised MediaWorks Holdings Limited on the sale of a television network to Discovery, Inc.
- Advised ANZ Bank New Zealand on all tax aspects of the closing of the public offer of Bonus Bonds and winding up of the Bonus Bonds Scheme.
Focusing on corporate tax advisory, Buddle Findlay‘s team works within a large multi-disciplinary group to advise on tax aspects of high-profile and complex M&A transactions across all major sectors including healthcare and industrials. In a recent mandate, Tony Wilkinson took the lead on advising Infratil and its manager HRL Morrison & Co on a transaction to acquire approximately 55% of Pacific Radiology Group for up to $350m. Senior associate Maria Clezy assists Wilkinson on transactional and contentious matters.
Other key lawyers:
‘Deep technical knowledge in the tax area. Superb ability to integrate work across other legal workstreams. Focus on reducing risks for us. Above all of our advisers BF is very focused on protecting our interests.’
Brookfield Asset Management Limited
Vodafone New Zealand
Sky Network Television Limited
Kinetic TCo Pty Ltd
Bank of New Zealand
- Advising Infratil, as majority shareholder in Tilt Renewables, on the acquisition of Tilt by Powering Australian Renewables and Mercury NZ.
- Advising Sixth Street Partners on the off-market acquisition of a $320m stake in Pushpay Holdings Limited from Christopher & Banks V Limited.
- Advising Canberra Data Centres on an approx. NZ$1.5 billion refinance of an existing term loan and working capital facilities.
Chapman Tripp houses tax specialists with varied expertise in the financial services sector, FATCA/AEOI, cross-border disputes and iwi. Key areas of work include restructuring, international transactions and transfer pricing, significant M&A, financing and capital raising transactions, tax disputes and tax risk management.
EY Law combines extensive knowledge of all tax types with expertise in strategy and administration, with particular focuses on cross-border tax issues as well as tax litigation. The Auckland-based group is led by Kirsty Keating and Tori Sullivan, both specialists in structuring, tax corporate governance, and tax controversy, who act both for and against Inland Revenue in domestic and overseas disputes involving allegations of tax avoidance, alongside transfer pricing, international tax and customs cases.
‘Tori Sullivan – smart , practical and proactive. Excellent communication.’
‘Compared to other law and accounting firms that I receive instructions from, EY Law stands out for the quality of their assistance to their clients and the advice that has been provided to those clients, as well as being a market leader in tax advice and tax disputes. EY Law has a strong and established brand in the market. Working with them means working with blue chip clients on complex cases, often involving novel legal issues. Their clients are of a high quality, as are their lawyers.’
‘Tori Sullivan’s strength is her ability to marry her strong understanding of tax technical issues, with strategy and practicality. Tori’s knowledge of tax compliance enables her to understand the complex calculations arising from the legal interpretation of the statute. Regardless of the area of tax involved, Tori can come to grips with the facts and technical legal position to create good outcomes for her clients. Tori’s technical knowledge is second to none and she has an advocate’s knack of translating complex issues into digestible explanations that non -tax experts can understand.’
‘Kirsty Keating’s strength is her ability to bring together her commercial acumen and strong tax technical knowledge. Kirsty far outperforms her peers to predict how Inland Revenue may respond to a particular argument from the Revenue Authorities and formulate a strategy in response. She is one of a handful of true specialists in tax dispute resolution, tax avoidance law, and tax administration. Also well known in the market for legal technology and innovation, as well as investing significant time and energy in developing the next generation of lawyers.’
Anderson & O’Leary Limited
- Represented a forestry support company in a precedential District Court case in relation to accident compensation levies.
Mayne Wetherell‘s tax practice was established in spring 2021 with the high-profile lateral move of the tax team from Russell McVeagh, comprising partners Brendan Brown and Chris Harker, special counsel Tim Stewart, and senior associate Mitchell Fraser. The newly-formed team has quickly established a strong name for itself in transactional tax and tax disputes, and continues to win new instructions from New Zealand’s leading corporates, attracted by the opportunity to work alongside its finance and corporate practices. Harker was made partner in May 2021 and specialises in M&A and restructuring transactions, financing arrangements, and tax audits and disputes.
Prospa NZ Limited
Corporate Taxpayers Group
- Advised Prospa on the tax consequences of the structure and establishment of a $37.5m securitisation warehouse funded by Lion Asia VII (RB) Limited.
Russell McVeagh has a strong record in transactional tax and is also well placed to advise on transfer pricing, customs and excise duty matters, employee share schemes as well as policy development and law reform. In a landmark cross-border transaction, practice co-head Fred Ward advised ANZ Bank of New Zealand on tax aspects of the sale of its NZ$762m asset finance business, UDC, to Japan’s Shinsei Bank. Also leading the Auckland-based team, Greg Neill handles general corporate tax transactions.
‘Commercial, trustworthy and solution focused. Can articulate complex solutions in a simple, easy to understand manner.’
ANZ Bank New Zealand
Bank of New Zealand
ASB Bank Limited/Commonwealth Bank of Australia
Westpac New Zealand Limited
Heartland Bank Limited
Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited
- Advised Bank of New Zealand as the lenders on the financial settlement in relation to the $1.25bn Transmission Gully project.
- Advised Smartpay Holdings Limited and its subsidiary entities on the sale of its New Zealand EFTPOS terminal business to Verifone, Inc.
- Advised Fonterra on the tax aspects of the sale of its 50% interest in DFE Pharma to CVC.
Simpson Grierson is equally experienced in tax controversy and transactional work, handling high-profile deals in several key industries alongisde tax disputes and audits. Barney Cumberland leads the practice, which is also developing its public sector and not-for-profit taxation offering, demonstrated by its work with the state-owned Tāmaki Redevelopment Company group on its ongoing large-scale housing redevelopment project. Other areas of activity include insolvency proceedings and employee equity schemes. Consultant Stuart Hutchinson and senior associate Paul Windeatt are noted for their work on investment into and out of New Zealand, acquisitions and divestments, and taxation disputes. Senior associates Nick Bland, who possesses ‘a rare mix of a tax, not-for-profit and charity law expertise’ is also noted.
‘They have extensive local government knowledge and were involved in the drafting of the supercity legislation.’
‘Pragmatism- they have the ability to explain tax law and implications simply and concisely.’
‘Barney Cumberland is business-focused, pragmatic, accessible, and good value.’
‘Simpson Grierson has both tax and not-for-profit experts, who understand charitable status and are responsive to our unique cultural context.’
‘Nicholas Bland is a rare mix of a tax and not-for-profit, charity law technical expert.’
Auckland Council Group
BP Oil New Zealand
OMV New Zealand Limited
The a2 Milk Company Limited
Baker & McKenzie
Tāmaki Redevelopment Company group
Constellation Brands New Zealand Limited/Constellation Brands Inc
Matariki Forests Trading
Tait International Limited
nib Holdings Limited
- Advised Shinsei on its acquisition of UDC Finance Ltd (UDC) from ANZ Bank New Zealand Limited through a 100% share purchase. Work included advising on tax-related clauses of the sale and purchase agreement, informed by its review of the tax due diligence report on UDC, and on local tax implications of a management agreement.
- Advised Matariki Forests Trading Ltd on establishing the biggest log exporter in the Southern Hemisphere, in a joint venture with Hancock Natural Resource Group Australasia Pty Limited. Advised on the goods and sales tax implications of the arrangement, and ensured that the joint venture, structured as a limited partnership, did not give rise to a permanent establishment for tax purposes of Matariki in Australia.
- Advised New Zealand – Restructure Arena on critical issues concerning the New Zealand tax implications of an expansion and restructure of cross-border lending.
‘Seasoned tax lawyer’ David Johnston leads the tax practice at DLA Piper New Zealand, offering significant experience in transactional and contentious tax matters in in New Zealand and the UK. He is particularly sought after for his ‘deep understanding‘ of transfer pricing, inbound and outbound investments and capital raises. The firm draws upon its wide network of offices to advice on tax aspects of M&A transactions, fund-related work, employee share option plans and warranty and indemnity insurance.
‘David Johnston is a seasoned tax lawyer and provides excellent, timely and commercial advice.’
‘The team, although smaller, is very experienced and able to not just address legal tax questions but also provide them with the overlay of an understanding of the accounting that underpins the tax assessments which is quite unique in my experience.’
‘David Johnston is a very practical advisor who has a deep understanding of both the accounting and legal sides of the tax equation. He is able to get to the root of issues quickly and provide meaningful commercial advice.’
Foodstuffs North Island Limited
Accel-KKR / Seequent
Discovery Communications, LLC
- Advised Accel-KKR on the sale of Seequent Holdings Limited to Bentley Systems.
- Advising Totara on the implementation of the group’s ESOP following its acquisition by Five V Capital.
- Advising AIG on providing W&I insurance in connection with a number of underwritten transactions in New Zealand and internationally.