08/06/2015 - 14:23

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08/06/2015 - 14:23


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There has been a significant re-ranking of insolvency firms in WA, with some relatively new brands winning market share from the big players.

growing: WA Insolvency Solutions managing partner Kim Strickland (centre) with principals David Hurt (left) and Liam Bellamy. Photo: Attila Csaszar

There has been a significant re-ranking of insolvency firms in WA, with some relatively new brands winning market share from the big players.

There has been one constant among the many changes in the state’s insolvency sector during the past decade – Ferrier Hodgson has always been the biggest firm in the BNiQ database.

Until this year, that is, when it was pipped at the post by KordaMentha.

This year’s updated ranking has also highlighted the significant growth of FTI Consulting and WA Insolvency Solutions.

KPMG and BRI Ferrier WA, which didn’t operate insolvency practices in the WA market six years ago, have also expanded to become significant players.

These changes have occurred in what is a relatively buoyant market for insolvency firms, with struggling mining companies, mining services contractors and construction companies accounting for many new appointments.

Despite that perception, the industry as a whole hasn’t grown appreciably.

The latest BNiQ data shows there are 319 professional staff working in the top 20 insolvency firms in WA, little changed from two years ago.

With 30 insolvency professionals, KordaMentha is ranked the biggest firm in WA.

Recent appointments include Red Fork Energy, Kaboko Mining, law firm Rockwell Olivier, equipment supplier HVLV, and 81 units in Geraldton’s Broadwater Mariner Resort.

These add to some of its big appointments in recent years, such as engineering firm Forge Group and Raine Square developer Westgem.

Ferrier Hodgson is close behind with 29 insolvency professionals.

FTI Consulting has moved up the list to third place with 26 insolvency professionals.

Five years ago, when it was known as Taylor Woodings, it was ranked eighth with 15 insolvency professionals.

Its recent appointments include mining and civil contractor Carna Group, and Paid International.

Another growing firm is WA Insolvency Solutions, which in September last year became a division of national firm Jirsch Sutherland.

That merger brought together WA Insolvency Solutions’ owners and long-time business partners Kim Strickland and Chris Williamson, with existing Jirsch Sutherland (Perth) partner Bob Jacobs.

The merged firm had planned to build up its forensic accounting and litigation support services, but those plans were put on ice when Mr Jacobs left to set up a boutique practice, Auxilium Partners.

Managing partner Mr Strickland said his firm was one of the few big insolvency specialists to focus on the debtor side of the market, with most of its appointments coming from company directors or through their advisers rather than banks.

“That’s why we’re very busy, because we’re in that part of the market,” he said.

KPMG partner in charge restructuring services, Matthew Woods, said there had been a structural change in the market since he established the operation from scratch in 2009.

“We get engaged a lot earlier by the banks and other lenders,” he said.

“We need to pull together a team that can develop operational and financial solutions for distressed companies.

“Practitioners have needed to upskill themselves and broaden their skills to deal with these changes.”

Mr Woods said the emergence of specialist investors and lenders focused on turnaround situations had also changed the market.

“There is a whole new market for alternative sources of capital that is evolving in Australia,” he said.

Mr Woods said low interest rates meant banks were better able to support turnaround situations.

Many company directors also recognised the change.

“The ones most likely to succeed are the ones that recognise their challenges and seek help early,” he said.

The newest firm in in the Perth market is Cor Cordis, which recruited experienced practitioners Dino Travaglini as partner in charge and Tony Douglas-Brown as an associate director.

Its WA appointments include Azzura Enterprises, which traded as Azzura Gelati, and bulk fertiliser importer and distributor Superfert Dongbu.



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