08/06/2004 - 22:00

Davies, Cochrane top corporate list

08/06/2004 - 22:00

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FOR the second year running, Perth’s corporate lawyers provided a closely run contest in WA Business News’ Legal Elite survey.

Davies, Cochrane top corporate list

FOR the second year running, Perth’s corporate lawyers provided a closely run contest in WA Business News’ Legal Elite survey.

The chief legal officer in one of Perth’s major companies summed up the competition by saying that: “All of the big firms have lawyers who are great. The lawyers you work with mostly depends on relationships, it’s a case of finding someone that you work well with.”

Corporate lawyers attracting support in this year’s survey included Freehills’ Rob Franklyn, Mallesons’ Stephen Jaques Nigel Hunt and Clayton Utz pair Peter Wiese and Mark Paganin.

From smaller firms, Fearis Salter Power Shervington’s Neil Fearis and Blakiston and Crabb’s Michael Blakiston also featured.

However, the two corporate lawyers who featured most prominently this year were Blake Dawson Waldron’s Roger Davies and Mallesons’ Ian Cochrane.

Mr Davies worked on two of the biggest corporate transactions in Western Australia in recent years, both involving Alinta.

He was responsible for preparing the prospectus for Alinta’s $465 million renouncable rights issue to help fund this year’s $1.69 billion purchase of Duke Energy’s Australian and New Zealand assets.

Last year, he advised on Alinta’s $130 million issue of reset preference shares as part of its innovative Aquila transaction.

Mr Davies believes Blake’s corporate team, which includes former Mallesons partner Leigh Warnick, and its energy and infrastructure team, led by Jon Carson (see article below), are two of its strengths in Perth.

As a national practice, the staff at Blakes find themselves working on assignments outside of Perth.

Last year, for instance, Mr Davies helped his Melbourne colleagues organise a $3.6 billion ‘jumbo’ rights issue for ANZ Bank, which was one of the first and certainly one of the largest rights issues to use a compressed time schedule.

He also works on smaller transactions, recently advising French firm Lyreco on its on-market takeover of office products supplier National 1.

Mr Davies’ recent transactions reflect his specialist focus on mergers and acquisitions and capital raisings.

“It’s a key area for any full service national law firm,” he said.

Mr Davies’ practice also covers the increasingly important field of corporate governance.

He said regulatory moves to tighten governance standards in Australia were “pretty good” but could be improved.

“There is a sense of frustration at some boards that it has become a box ticking exercise when they are already doing a good job,” he told WA Business News.

“However, we haven’t overreacted anywhere near the degree the US has.”

Mr Davies migrated to Australia in 1989 and, apart from a brief stint with Blakes in Melbourne, has worked in the Perth office ever since.

His arrival coincided with a period of rapid growth for Blakes and his colleagues at the time included Mr Fearis, who had transferred from Blakes Sydney office to help establish a corporate practice in Perth.

Mr Cochrane migrated to Australia in 1986 and joined Keall Brindsden, now trading as Corrs Chambers Westgarth, before moving to Mallesons in 1989.

His latest big project was being Mallesons’ lead partner on the sale of Epic Energy’s pipeline interests in Australia.

While the debt-burdened Epic completed the sale of its smaller pipelines, its major asset, the Dampier to Bunbury natural gas pipeline, has been placed in the hands of receiver managers.

Mr Cochrane provides general corporate advice to the boards of companies including BankWest, WA Newspapers and Coventry Group on issues such as corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions, capital adequacy and employee and executive share plans.

Mr Cochrane acted for the Franco Nevada Group in relation to the contested three-way merger with Normandy Mining and Newmont Mining.

He also did a lot of work for the former Challenge Bank, including on its merger with Westpac, the integration of their businesses and the sale of its Victorian business to Bank of Melbourne.

Other transactions include acting for BankWest in relation to the outsourcing of its technology function with Unisys Australia Limited and acting for Liberty Liquors in the sale of its national business to Woolworths.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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