Legal strategies at work

19/01/2015 - 10:58

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Clifford Chance, Ashurst and Gilbert + Tobin have been ranked as the top law firms in the Business News 2014 corporate finance league table, but for very different reasons.

Legal strategies at work
EXPERTISE: Gilbert + Tobin partner Michael Blakiston. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Clifford Chance, Ashurst and Gilbert + Tobin have been ranked as the top law firms in the Business News 2014 corporate finance league table, but for very different reasons.

The number one ranking of Clifford Chance reflects the ability of its Perth office to utilise the firm’s top-tier global profile.

Ashurst and Gilbert + Tobin also had a successful year but with a very different client base, as they worked primarily for a range of Perth-based businesses.

The league table also highlights the large number of deals won by Steinepreis Paganin, which appears to have strengthened its niche position servicing small to mid-cap listed companies.

The Steinepreis team worked on 40 capital raisings and 11 M&A deals last year, much higher than any of its competitors.

Clifford Chance’s deal listing for 2014 is dominated by two very large transactions.

Perth partner Tracey Renshaw, along with colleagues in London and Singapore, led the firm’s work on Shell Australia’s $2.9 billion sale of its downstream assets to Vitol.

The second big transaction, led by former Perth partner Michael Lishman, was advising Apache Corporation on the $US2.75 billion sale of its interests in the Wheatstone and Kitimat LNG projects.

The Perth office also had a support role on Shell’s sell-down of its Woodside stake, but this was not included in the league table.

Ashurst’s corporate practice, led by long-serving partner Roger Davies, worked for a wide range of clients including Aurizon, MMA Offshore, Sirius Resources, Northern Star Resources and Fitness First.

Mr Davies said it had been a challenging year for everyone in the market, with most businesses focused on productivty and cutting costs rather than doing deals.

He predicted small to mid-tier businesses would look to merge to become more competitive, but this would ony happen when there was more certainty about pricing and values. 

Similarly, G+T’s Perth office, led by partner Michael Blakiston, worked for a range of companies such as Auroa Oil & Gas, Iron Ore Hodings and City Farmers.

Mr Blakiston said the ability of the Perth team to win work had been helped by its ability to tap into the expertise of east coast colleagues.

A prime example was its ability to win work on the innovative restructuring of nickel miner Mirabela Nickel, where Perth partner Sarah Turner worked with Sydney insolvency expert Dominic Emmett.

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