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New Zealand

IFLR1000 Reviews


Solicitors governing body: New Zealand Law Society 

Competition authority: Commerce Commission 

Financial regulator: Financial Markets Authority (FMA) 

IFLR1000 ranking categories for this jurisdiction:

Financial and corporate (published October) – Banking and finance, Capital markets, M&A, Project Development, Restructuring and insolvency 

Jurisdiction overview

Even though New Zealand has had its own courts since the middle of the 19th century, its judicial system didn’t become completely independent until 2003 when the Supreme Court replaced the British Privy Council as the country’s final court of appeal. As a former British colony, its legal system is heavily based on English common law.

New Zealand’s financial and corporate legal market is small, independent and stable. It’s full of familiar names that cover a broad range of practice areas, and within this constrained setting competition is high. Because of its small size and the strength of the local market, international firms prefer to refer matters to the strong domestic firms.

Traditionally, the market has described Bell Gully, Chapman Tripp and Russell McVeagh as the ‘Big Three’ perched atop the legal market. However, this perception is increasingly being challenged by the claim that it is only the perception that creates the distance and that it’s not matched by reality. Firms such as Minter Ellison Rudd Watts and Buddle Findlay are working hard to narrow the gap. 

Adam Majeed - Asia-Pacific Editor

IFLR1000 2019: Australasia market trends and developments

Financial and corporate
Dentons Kensington Swan

In August 2019, Kensington Swan combined with global firm Dentons in a rare international entry into New Zealand’s legal market, easily becoming the largest international firm in the country. The firm has offices in Auckland and Wellington. 

When it comes to transactional matters, Dentons Kensington Swan is solid across the board. The firm’s corporate and finance practice is diversified, and it has a specialised China business group that assists Chinese entrants into the New Zealand market.

Key clients of the firm include NZ Transport Agency, Tamaki Regeneration, HSBC, ANZ Bank, Michael Hill International, Roger Dickie, Nexus Foams and 111 Dixon Street. 

During the research period, the firm’s finance team kept busy with real estate finance, the provision of facilities, bond issues, capital raisings and block trades. 

The M&A team were preoccupied with acquisitions and joint ventures in technology, real estate, manufacturing, forestry and food and beverage; while the projects team advised on PPPs and other projects in manufacturing, real estate, transport, wastewater, wind, technology and social infrastructure. 

The firm has a strong year in restructuring and insolvency, picking up mandates in offshore oil, real estate, insurance, construction, food and beverage and debt recovery. 

In the research period, the firm brought in finance partner Liz Lim from Tompkins Wake and corporate partner Wook Jin Lee from Harmos Horton Lusk. Construction specialist Katrina Van Houtte also joined the firm from Fletcher Building. 

The firm was hit with the departures of partner Nicole Xanthopol to Webb Henderson and construction expert Duncan Halliwell. 

Deal highlights

-111 Dixon Street development

-Pushpay Holdings NZ$45 million block trade

-Skellerup Holdings NZ$6.6 million acquisition of Nexus Foams 

-Slinkskins insolvency

-Tamarind Taranaki insolvency

Client feedback


“Professional expert advice. Documentation, and settlement of property transactions.”

“Extremely responsive, pragmatic, technically good and reasonable on fees.”

“Very knowledgeable. Wide variety of specialist services. The partner we use has been providing services to us for 15+ years.”


“They are professional, technically sound, efficient and always meet deadlines. Their work quality is first-class. Their lawyers are highly commercial and easy to work with. They are great communicators and can deliver complex advice in terms laymen can easily understand.”

“They are highly professional, pragmatic and client-oriented plus solution-focused. Excellent firm with teams of really talented lawyers who are thorough, responsive and always provide excellent advice.”

“Always give timely, comprehensive and accurate advice. They are excellent communicators and very reliable lawyers.”

“The firm is quite professional in the transaction, capable of a variety of significant resources to facilitate this deal. Not to mention that the transactions involved are hugely complex, not only because of the complexities involved in obtaining multiple OIO consents, but also due to the bespoke project issues, cross-border, geothermal, sensitive and Maori land-related issues.”

Project development

“It’s approachable and prompt.”

“Development of deliverables. Outcome focused.”

“They are professional and efficient. They take time to understand our business needs and are highly solution-focused. They possess first-class market knowledge and business acumen. They are reliable and good communicators.”

“Well established in the region in which we operate; understand our business and are able to anticipate our needs well; great customer relationships; extremely responsive to last minute emergency requests.”

Restructuring and insolvency

“Easily available. Cost effective.”

“James McMillian has very broad knowledge of insolvency law and communicated his advice to us in a very clear, understandable way. He was also available for a couple of urgent calls at short notice which was much appreciated. James' previous professional dealings with the customer's administrators meant he was able to offer us useful advice on how to approach the administrators and how to interpret the information we received from them. He was also generally very friendly and pleasant to deal with.”

“Extremely responsive - responds to queries and provides advice quickly day and night. Commercial - provides practical and useful legal advice which focuses on the client's commercial drivers and risks. Consistently willing to provide a recommendation to a commercial problem rather than sit on the fence. Partner level support and cost effective - senior partners always available to provide advice on the run and they do this in a cost effective manner.”

“Provides clear concise advice, tailored for the specifics of the situation and providing the merits of various courses of action.”

Brendan Cash

“Extremely knowledgeable.”

Ezekiel Hudspieth

“Good listening skills and deliverables arrive by agreed dates.”

“Very accessible and responsive. Provides our organisation with accurate and timely risk management and assurance advice. Understands our business priorities and objectives. Works collaboratively.”

Heida Donegan

“Heida is very professional and always provides timely, pragmatic solution-oriented advice. She manages her team effectively to work to tight timelines. She possesses top-notch ability to deal with difficult counterparts and deliver our desired outcomes. She is highly responsive and always delivers high quality work to meet with our and counterparts' needs in different time zones.”

“Heida is very professional and commercial - an excellent lawyer who always delivers timely and pragmatic advice. She manages her team effectively to work to tight timelines. She possesses top-notch ability to solve problems and deal with difficult counterparts in a calm and measured manner. She is reliable, responsive and easy to work with. We are impressed with her dedication and preparedness to working in different time zones to deliver high quality results.”

“Heida is highly skilled and an excellent problem solver. She is always available to take an extra mile to meet timelines. She has great business acumen and always delivers high quality work.”

“Professional, considerate, resourceful and enthusiastic.”

“Heida is highly skilled, focused and patient. I have been involved in numerous M&A and project development transactions internationally with a number of large law firms. Heida is one of the best I have worked with. She is professional, pragmatic and commercial. Her advice has always been astute and easy to understand. We can rely on her and her team to achieve desired outcomes.”

James McMillian

“James is very approachable, always available, gives good written advice and delegates when appropriate. Knowledgeable in the core insolvency areas. Very cost effective.”

“Very responsive - always available to provide advice on the run day and night. Sound legal advice tailored to the key commercial drivers and risks of a client.”

“Very approachable, very contactable, understands our business and professional needs.”

Liz Lim

“Professional, positive, articulate, calm and confident.”

“Integrity, technically excellent, responsive and cost effective.”

Anderson Lloyd

Anderson Lloyd is a mid-sized New Zealand law firm with over 150 professionals across offices in Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown and is the only South Island firms on the national institutional banking panels for three of the four main trading banks.

Focusses / specialisms

The firm is best known for its work in domestic project finance and high-end acquisition and real estate finance. Project development, energy, construction and infrastructure are core areas of the firm. 

Key clients

Key clients of the firm include Tilt Renewables, Waimea Water, Dunedin City Council, Hiringa Energy, New Forests Asset Management and ANZ Bank New Zealand. 

Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)

During the research period the finance team kept busy advising on renewable energy project financing, property development financings and acquisition financings.

The projects team were involved in PPPs, infrastructure sales and other projects mandates in the wind, transport, gas, social infrastructure, power and energy industries. 

Deal highlights: 30th edition (2019/2020)

-Hikurangi Forests Farms acquisition financing 

-Kaiwera Downs Wind Farm

-Suncorp Group Holdings financing 

-Waimea Community Dam

-Waipipi Wind Farm  

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Project development

“Understands risk. Developed contracts well with respect to our risks.”

Project finance

“It has country and sector experience.” 

Anthony Harper

Anthony Harper is an independent New Zealand law firm with 77 lawyers across offices in Auckland and Christchurch. 

Focusses / specialisms

The firm is focused on restructuring and insolvency and handles joint ventures, M&As, and restructuring mandates. It also is known for real estate finance and has experience in dealing with different banking transactions. 

Key clients

Key clients of the firm include McGrathNicol, ASB Bank, BDO Christchurch, Scales Corporation, B.S.A. International, Rhenus Logistics Asia Pacific and Matvin Group. 

Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)

The firm’s M&A team was very active over the research period handling 75 deals including joint ventures and acquisitions in the logistics, social infrastructure, real estate and leisure sectors.

The restructuring and insolvency practice handled asset recovery mandates and liquidations in the financial services, retail, constructions and food and beverage industries. 

In 2019, corporate partner Gill Goodwin left the firm to join the Human Rights Review Tribunal. 

Deal highlights: 30th edition (2019/2020)

-B.S.A. International NZ$136 million acquisition of  New Zealand New Milk, New Zealand New Milk Brands and New Zealand New Milk Trading 

-Cone Enterprises New Zealand insolvency

-Emergent Cold NZ$155 million acquisition of Polarcold Stores and Whakatu Coldstores

-Northern Crest insolvency

-Synlait Milk NZ$112 million acquisition of Dairyworks

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)


“Responsive, professional, timely and approachable.”

Investment funds

“Thorough, knowledgeable, pragmatic and cost effective.”


“Anthony Harper is responsive, timely, supportive, knowledgeable and connected.”

“Anthony Harper provided outstanding communication and guidance throughout the process. Their clear expertise in M&A came through particularly in helping unravel challenging matters and ensuring we were clear on every decision we were making. Additionally a strong financial acumen provided an additional layer of support as the settlement financial positions were worked through.”

Project development

“Accommodating and responds very quickly. The advice is very well considered and always of high quality.”

Restructuring and insolvency

“Anthony Harper excel in their specialist legal advice with respect to insolvency and restructuring matters. They are proactive and think progressively and innovatively.”

“Extremely proactive, agile and responsive. Very good with understanding clients' needs and differences.  Extremely good at handling dispute resolution matters.  I have recommended the firm to my clients.”

Bell Gully

Founded in 1840, Auckland-based Bell Gully is among the Big Three and one of New Zealand’s largest firms with over 400 employees including 200 lawyers and a further office in Wellington.

Focusses / specialisms

In banking and finance the firm maintains a healthy balance between acting for borrowers and lenders, and is a strong choice for New Zealand's blue chip companies, investment banks, retail banks and non-bank financial institutions. The firm has a leading M&A practice and is also strong in securitisations and PPPs (public-private partnership), and it has been at the forefront of the market taking advantage of acquisition finance work and the continued interest in local debt markets by offshore issuers.

Key clients

Key clients of the firm include Synlait Milk, Vodafone Group, New Zealand Infrastructure Commission, KordaMentha, Apax Partners, James Pascoe and Air New Zealand. 

Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Bell Gully had a very strong year in M&A and private equity acting in rare billion dollar deals for the market such as New Zealand’s largest ever private equity acquisition of Trade Me and in the acquisition of Vodafone New Zealand. The firm also handled further acquisitions in the insurance, energy, sports, retail, materials and dairy industries.  

The finance team were preoccupied with large acquisition financings, aviation and project finance, while the projects team handled mandates in the construction, infrastructure, energy, transport, electricity and social infrastructure sectors. 

The capital markets practice advised on the market’s largest IPO alongside capital raisings, securitisation transactions and issuances of corporate and Kauri bonds, while the restructuring and insolvency team advised on CBL Corporation’s insolvency alongside real estate liquidations and debt recovery work. 

In 2019 partner Chris Gordon retired from the firm and setup his own consultancy as did Garry Downs. 

Deal highlights: 30th edition (2019/2020)

-Apax Partners $1.7 billion acquisition of Trade Me

-CBL Corporation insolvency 

-City Rail Link project

-Infratil and Brookfield Asset Management NZ$3.4 billion acquisition of Vodafone New Zealand

-International Bank for Reconstruction and Development NZ$450 million Kauri bond issue

-Napier Port NSX IPO

-Waikeria Prison facility PPP 

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Capital markets: Debt

“Technically sound and pragmatic.”


“Outstanding project management and communication in a very complex transaction; appropriate assessment of legal risk and communications; timely responsiveness and access. Anna Buchly leading is stand out and simply top-drawer.”

“Understands the business of its clients very well. Highly responsive. Very experienced in the technology and communications sector. Highly commercial. Very strong bench strength.”

“Bell Gully has a wide bench of respected legal experts in all relevant specialty areas. We tend to use numerous partners within the firm over a given 12 month period. We have found all of them to be highly knowledgeable and responsive.”

“Very commercial approach to solving legal problems, cutting edge thinking on solving new problems, pragmatic 'little things' such as the world's most effective, team-oriented 'war room', with senior partners sitting next to clients and junior associates.”

Private equity

“Extreme level of client commitment. Always goes above and beyond clear experts in the NZ market.”

Project development 

“Extremely comprehensive skill set and nimble across specialisations within the firm; depth of knowledge; very well respected by government agencies; accessible and professional; timely delivery.”

“Excellent timely responses.  A true ‘trusted advisor’ relationship.”

“High levels of industry expertise.”

“Responsive.  Technical expertise.  Focus on value.”

“Very professional, advice delivered on time. Teams always work well together.”

“Reliable, consistent, easy to deal with, smart, focused.”

“Firm works really well in the collaborative space. Focus on finding effective solutions to problems, they do not 'pad' out work nor are too legalistic. They bring a lot of experience and aim to work with all stakeholders.”

Real estate 

“The firm is very responsive and has superb depth, with strength in the real estate field complemented by excellence in the corporate space.”

“Provides pragmatic, commercially focussed legal advice. Makes an effort to understand their client's business and uses that knowledge to help facilitate the transaction.”

“Very commercially focused firm with highly knowledgeable partners and senior associates.” 

Buddle Findlay

Formed in 1895, Buddle Findlay is an independent New Zealand law firm with 180 lawyers including 46 partners across offices in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch. 

Focusses / specialisms

The full service firm is strong across the board but excels with its finance practice and restructuring and insolvency team owing to its strong networks in banking and professional services.

Key clients

Key clients of the firm include Brookfield Asset Management, Kinetic, Grant Thornton, McGrath Nicol, ANZ Bank, Westpac New Zealand and Sky Television. 

Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)

The firm’s finance practice was busy during the research period advising on acquisition financings, refinancings, conventional lending and financings in student accommodation and renewable energy. 

The restructuring and insolvency team kept busy advising on liquidations in the insurance, construction, cryptocurrency, offshore oil, and retail industries alongside debt recovery work. 

In M&A, the firm handled corporate restructuring mandates and acquisitions in the technology and telecommunications, transport, private equity, sports and automotive industries.    

The firm bolstered its corporate and finance teams with in-house senior associate hires but lost partner insolvency partner Laura O’Gorman to the bar and special counsel Kerry Beaumont to the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.  

Deal highlights: 30th edition (2019/2020)

-CBL Corporation insolvency

-Cryptopia insolvency

-Infratil and Brookfield Asset Management NZ$3.4 billion acquisition of Vodafone New Zealand

-Predict HQ NZ$34 million series B financing

-Southern Cross Cables Group $350 million SX Next submarine fibre optic cable financing 

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)


“Very strong banking practice with one of the best, most collaborative team of partners in the market. You are spoilt for choice when it comes to using Buddle Findlay as all of the partners always bring their A game and provide sound, commercial advice.”

“We find Buddle Findlay to be extremely responsive and client focused. They provide practical commercial advice that is easy to implement and designed to be agreeable to both the lender group and our borrowers.”

“Large Tier 1 law firm with excellent reputation, people and experience.”

“Commerciality, fast response times, understanding of bank processes, trusted advisor.”

“Strong legal advice well balanced with a commercial approach. Timely delivery and cost effective.”

“Approachable, responsive, proactive advice, and able to sharpen the pencil on request.”

“Expertise and an ability to add specialists when required. Very timely and thorough, highly dependable.”

“Very commercial. Great technical advice. Timely and responsive. Excellent client management.  Good people.”

“Responsiveness. Always work to client timelines with partners available at all times for meaningful contribution. Knowledge base and expertise. Practitioners have both a deep grounding in the NZ space and international experience. Commerciality. Practitioners come up with practical but sound solutions to commercial issues to tackle.”

“Easy to approach and discuss legal matters of any nature to do with the transaction at hand. The partners are all commercial in their approach to the legal documentation and have a strong understanding of the banks internal process.”

Capital markets: Debt

“A team with excellent knowledge and great advice. Very professional and a joy to work with.”

“Commercial and pragmatic advice. Adhering to fee estimates. Excellent response times. Easy to deal with.”

Capital markets: Equity

“Very professional and on point. Cut through the detail with good practical and robust advice to achieve very positive outcomes.”

“Extremely energetic team that is solution oriented. They are led by experienced leaders who are passionate about growing and mentoring talent, which brings about a very strong, high potential team of corporate legal experts that are not just the technical thought leaders, but have good commercial empathy for problems.”

“Ability to work commercially in changing environments and being able to quickly raise distinction between practical major and minor issues.”

“Highly responsive. Very commercial attitude. Good communicators with collegial approach.”


“Pragmatic, fast/reactive and easy to work with.”

“Responsiveness and ease of working with them. Very commercial advice. They own the transaction and the project - thinking proactively about the various workstreams and bring the whole firm's skills - rather than requiring in-house legal counsel to manage them.”

“Very commercial, very sound technical legal advice. Extremely responsive.”

“Simply the best at managing a debt project across the line, including providing expert technical advice with a commercial and practical lens.”

“Buddle Findlay led the transaction extremely well and ensured we met our tight timeframes. They gave thoughtful and pragmatic advice.”

“Responsive, accessible, knowledgeable.”

“Provided great service on all aspects of a very large and complex merger which took nine months to complete.”

“Knowledgeable. Gave us good guidance of the process.”

Project finance 

“Good communications, organised, good reporting systems, listens to, and understands client's needs.”

“Strong transactional ability. Willingness to discuss key points to ensure the best outcome is achieved. Commercial thinking with regard to what's needed rather than a 'let's ask for everything' approach. Well thought through and reasoned recommendations provided when questions are raised rather than just outlining all individual options without recommendation.”

Restructuring and insolvency

“Responsive. Access to partners. Knowledge and insight of recent case law.”

“Communication, availability of partners and easy to understand advice.”

Chapman Tripp

Established in 1875, Auckland-based Chapman Tripp is traditionally among the market’s Big Three law firms with 60 partners and 200 legal staff across offices in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.  

Focusses / specialisms

The firm is strong across the transactional board but is particularly known for its capital markets—more recently in developing green bond and sustainable finance markets—and securitisation work and restructuring and insolvency practice. It also has one of the largest M&A practices in the market. 

Key clients

Key clients of the firm include Napier Port, Kathmandu Holdings, Infratil, Fonterra Co-operative, ANZ Bank, InfraRed Capital Partners and KordaMentha.

Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)

The firm had a very active year in M&A advising on top acquisitions in the telecommunications, private equity, insurance, retail, real estate, materials, hotels, and social infrastructure sectors. 

The capital markets team kept busy advising on the largest IPO in the market, corporate, retail and capital bonds and securitisation transactions; while the finance team were engaged in convential lending mandates and PPP work. 75% of all equity capital raisings by NZX listed companies in 2019,

The restructuring and insolvency practice acted on liquidations in the insurance, construction, offshore oil, real estate, timber processors, marketing and technology industries. 

Deal highlights: 30th edition (2019/2020)

-CBL Corporation insolvency

-Napier Port NSX IPO

-Resimac NZ$250 million RMBS

-Synlait Milk NZ$50 million ESG facility

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)


“Very strong banking partnership across New Zealand. Strong teams in Auckland and Wellington who work together to provide commercial and a responsive service to their customers.”

“People are approachable and easy to deal with whilst retaining a high level of professionalism. Also very experienced.”

“Commercial, fast responses and turnaround, experience in the sector.”

Capital markets: Debt


“Strong communication, fast turnaround of work, clear setting of expectations.”

“Sound commercial understanding of the client and industry. Highly responsive with depth of coverage of team.”


“Smart, hardworking team; act like they care about us as a client, make efforts to provide add-on services and work on the relationship.”

“Excellent clear advice and guidance. Excellent industry knowledge of both the domestic and international market. Provision of a comprehensive cross functional service.”

Mayne Wetherell

Mayne Wetherell is a boutique Auckland-based independent law firm. 

It is among New Zealand’s strongest finance firms and enjoys a particularly strong reputation in securitisation work, and for its debt capital markets and leveraged finance work.

Key clients of the firm include Transpower New Zealand, Auckland Council, Macquarie Principal Finance, Universal Robina Corporation, BNP Paribas and Merricks Capital. 

During the research period, the firm was busy with corporate and green bond issues, leveraged and asset finance, joint ventures, private equity and other acquisitions in the financial services and real estate sectors, and confidential restructuring and insolvency mandates in insurance and real estate. 

Deal highlights

-Auckland Council NZ$150 million green bond issue

-Macquarie Group Holdings No.3 NZ$220 million acquisition of 30-year concession to operate SkyCity’s Auckland car parks

-Trade Me NZ$2.6 billion acquisition financing 

-Transpower New Zealand NZ$150 million bond issue 


With offices in Auckland and Wellington, MinterEllisonRuddWatts is part of the Australia-based MinterEllison Legal Group that has 1700 employees across offices in Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Darwin, Canberra, Brisbane, Adelaide, London, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Ulaanbaatar.

Focusses / specialisms

The firm is best known for its restructuring and insolvency team and financing practice but also has expertise in M&A, private equity and project development work.

Key clients

Key clients of the firm include ANZ Bank, Next Capital, Brookfield Capital (Australia), Brookfield Asset Management, Goldman Sachs Australia, Westpac New Zealand and Rabobank New Zealand. 

Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)

During the research period the firm’s insolvency practice was busy advising on enforcement matters and liquidations in the construction, leisure, real estate, agricultural and automotive industries.  

The projects team handled real estate, transport, renewable energy and social infrastructure mandates while the finance team advised on acquisition financings, conventional lending, and private equity backed financing. 

In M&A the firm acted in acquisitions in the healthcare, technology and telecommunications, private equity, insurance, transport, media and electronics industries.

The firm bolstered its corporate team with the hire of Sarah Salmond from Russell McVeagh while Cathy Quinn transitioned to consultant. Insovency partner Mark Sandelin departed for conflict management firm FairWay Resolution. 

Deal highlights: 30th edition (2019/2020)

-City Rail Link project

-Froneri NZ$385 million acquisition of Tip Top ice cream

-Infratil and Brookfield Asset Management NZ$3.4 billion acquisition of Vodafone New Zealand

-Macquarie Principal Finance NZ$220 million carparking concession financing 

-Mainzeal Group insolvency

-Waiwera Thermal Resort and Spa insolvency 

Russell McVeagh

Established in 1863, Auckland-based Russell McVeagh is one among the New Zealand legal market’s Big Three with over 250 lawyers and an additional office in Wellington. 

Focusses / specialisms

Russell McVeagh's finance team is one of the leading experts on financial regulation in New Zealand and transactionally, it specialises in the capital markets, bank lending, structured finance and securitisation and derivatives. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) have remained a focus for infrastructure funding in New Zealand and the firm's finance team has advised financiers to such projects. The firm also has a dominant presence in the corporate bond market acting for issuers, arrangers and supervisors and its M&A and restructuring and insolvency teams are routinely involved in the market’s leading mandates.

Key clients

Key clients of the firm include Westpac New Zealand, Argosy Property, Inspired Education, KPMG, Wellington Water, Trade Me Group and Woolworths. 

Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)

The firm’s M&A and private equity team had a strong year acting for the Trade Me Group in the largest ever private equity acquisition in New Zealand alongside further acquisitions in the transport, healthcare, education, pharmaceuticals, real estate and financial services industries. 

The finance team acted in a range of acquisition financings, refinancing mandates and energy financings while the projects team handled projects in real estate, transport, telecommunications, social housing and the environment.  

In the capital markets, the firm kept busy with corporate and green bond issuances, block trades, capital raising, rights issues and securitisation transactions. The restructuring and insolvency team handled liquidations in constructions, insurance, offshore oil and financial services. 

The corporate team was boosted with the hire of partner Cath Shirley-Brown from Simpson Grierson and the insolvency team welcomed Kirsten Massey from Herbert Smith Freehills in London. However, the firm was hit with the retirement of Pip Greenwood to pursue governance roles and the departure of Cameron Law to the NZ Transport Agency.

Deal highlights: 30th edition (2019/2020)

-Apax Partners $1.7 billion acquisition of Trade Me

-CBL Corporation insolvency

-City Rail Link project

-Halifax NZ insolvency

-Resimac NZ$250 million RMBS

-New Zealand Local Government Funding Agency NZ$1.5 billion dual-tranche syndicated bond issue 

-Next Capital NZ$165 million acquisition of NZ Bus

-Tamarind Taranaki insolvency 

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Asset finance

“The Russell McVeagh deal team took control of the transaction by dealing directly with the more operational aspects and only referred to the bank aspects that would need to be considered. This freed up a lot of time for me. They provided very quick turnaround during drafting and went out of their way to provide extra assistance during closing. Outside of the recent transaction, they always keep in touch to help drive new business for the bank.”


“Exceptionally smart and capable team both at partner and senior associate level.  Well coordinated and responsive.”

“A positive ‘can do’ attitude mixed with strong commercial knowledge and good interpersonal skills.  They also go above and beyond to deliver results as well as making good suggestions on structure.”

“Very professional and capacity to meet any timeline. Very knowledgeable of New Zealand but importantly international trends. Good people and constructive to work with, commercial approach.” 

Capital markets: Debt

“Well experienced team, deep understanding of New Zealand’s capital markets and NZX listing requirements, breadth and depth of team very positive to get the job done.”

“Attentive, astute and very commercial. Understood the key issues quickly and were proactive in seeking the optimal resolutions.”

Capital markets: Equity

“In touch with latest market precedent, gives sound commercial advice.”

“Highly experienced in these transactions so able to bring deep learnings from other comparable market transactions to assist when giving advice. Proactive and commercial in the advice given. Remains at the cutting edge of legal and regulatory developments.”

Financial services regulatory

“Firm has a high level of depth and capability in both M&A and in the finance area, particularly financial regulation. Their in depth knowledge of our business, together with high levels of expertise and capability result in them providing advice of an extremely high quality but that is also pragmatic and practical and easily communicated to our business.”


“Great at supplementing the knowledge and talent of the internal team and working as one team together; advice is pragmatic and commercial, and easily digested and passed onto the business. Always available on short notice and very responsive and able to turn around things for tight deadlines.”

“Commitment to project and timely advice, expertise across all facets of M&A transactions, attention to detail and able to manage large sets of complex documents with great negotiation support.”

“Responsive - regularly goes above and beyond. Sound, practical advice, commercial understanding.”

“Very commercial and provided sound legal advice on structuring the transaction documentation and the terms involved.”

“Excellent diligence and attention to detail. High quality and well considered advice.”

Project development

“Russell McVeagh were subject matter experts, very thorough and detailed. They also worked extremely collaboratively and efficiently under what was a very tight timeframe.”

Real estate

“Expertise on the Resource Management Act. Practical guidance on dispute resolution. Great storytellers which enables the key messages to be heard and have impact. Crafting evidence be focused. Not inclined to waste a client’s resources if the case does not have valid reasons.” 


Tompkins Wake

Tompkins Wake is a Hamilton-based independent mid-sized law firm with over 65 lawyers and further offices in Auckland, Tauranga and Rotorua.

Focusses / specialisms

The firm is best known for corporate and commercial work including corporate financing, construction projects, commercial developments, health and safety and commercial acquisitions, disposals and leasing, and for infrastructure projects, land acquisitions and PPPs in power, social infrastructure, transport and utilities.

Key clients

Key clients of the firm include Business Life Investment Fund, Zip Co, Danaher Corporation, Foster Construction, Hamilton City Council and Zambion Corporation. 

Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)

During the research period the firm kept busy advising in investments, corporate advice and restructuring mandates, joint ventures and acquisitions in education, technology, life sciences and social infrastructure. 

The projects team were engaged in mandates in property development, social infrastructure, transport and healthcare.

The firm was bolstered by the hires of partners Mark Lowndes and Reuben Payne from the now defunct Lowndes but lost partner Liz Lim to Dentons Kensington Swan.

Tompkins Wake has also launched TW Drive, an initiative to aid emerging startups raise capital by getting them investment ready and develop a strategy for capital raising.

Deal highlights: 30th edition (2019/2020)

-Australian Technical and Management Colleges acquisition of Edenz Colleges tertiary education business 

-Danahar $21 billion acquisition of GE Life Sciences biopharma business

-ReadyTech $12 million acquisition of Zambion

-Tamahere Village Development

-Zip NZ$66 million acquisition of Part Pay

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Project development

“Fast, efficient and accurate responses. Very accessible and responsive.”

TWA Legal

TWA Legal is a boutique Auckland-based independent law firm that was established in July 2020 by Jennifer Tunna, Mike Whale and Michael Anderson following the dissolution of corporate and commercial law firm Lowndes.

Focusses / specialisms

The firm is the only boutique restructuring and insolvency firm in New Zealand but also has experience in banking and finance, M&A and capital raising.

Key clients

Key clients of the firm include BDO Tauranga and Gilligan & Company. 

Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)

During the research period, lawyers from the firm were engaged in liquidation and insolvency matters in real estate, medicinal cannabis, sawmilling and manufacturing alongside acting for trustees in bond issues. 

Deal highlights: 30th edition (2019/2020)

-Medicann Group insolvency

-Pacific Pine Industries insolvency 

Vince & Rice

Vince & Rice is a boutique independent Auckland-based law firm that was formed by lawyers Kyra Vince and John-Paul Rice in December 2018. 

Focusses / specialisms

The firm is focused on finance and restructuring matters that spans across banking, debt capital markets, acquisition finance, project finance, real estate finance, structured finance and financial services regulation.

Key clients

Key clients of the firm include Centuria Capital, Orams Group, Manuka Health New Zealand, Icon Property Group, China Construction Bank New Zealand, Freshmax Global and Douglas Pharmaceuticals.  

Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)

During the research period the firm kept busy advising on acquisition financing mandates and other deals involving project finance, restructuring matters, real estate finance and refinancing.   

Deal highlights: 30th edition (2019/2020)

-Airedale Apartment restructuring

-Augusta Capital NZ$204 million acquisition financing 

-Manuka Health NZ$140 million refinancing

-New Ground Hobsonville development

-Orams Marine NZ$70 million refinancing 

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)


“Deep experience, proactive, very commercial, transparent on fees.”

“Good communication, very pro-active and very responsive. Great legal knowledge.”

“Astute, well connected, great expertise and very responsive (all hours of day and night).”


“Hands on partner involvement, extensive bank contacts and commercial acumen.” 

Webb Henderson

Webb Henderson is a boutique independent law firm with offices in Auckland and Sydney comprised of a team of five partners and 13 lawyers.

Focusses / specialisms

The firm is best known for its corporate and M&A work and a finance practice that is gaining traction. It has expertise in the energy and telecommunications and media industries.

Key clients

Key clients of the firm include SilverTree Equity, ANZ Bank, 9 Spokes International, Kentucky Fried Chicken International Holdings and Fonterra Co-operative Group.

Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)

During the research period the firm kept busy with project financing mandates, bridge financing, share acquisition, divestments, joint ventures, and acquisitions in the private equity and food and beverage industries. 

The firm bolstered its finance practice in 2019 with the hire of partner Nicole Xanthopol from Dentons Kensington Swan. 

Deal highlights: 30th edition (2019/2020)

-AMA Group A$420 million acquisition of Suncorp Capital S.M.A.R.T Repairs Group

-Finaccess Capital NZ$881 million acquisition of 75% stake in Restaurant Brands New Zealand 

-Northbridge Lifecare Trust stage 3 financing 

Client feedback: 30th edition (2019/2020)

Capital markets: Equity

“Webb Henderson have an excellent understanding of the area of law in which they practice, with a very healthy understanding of how it need be applied in business and the assessments both the company and the company's directors need to make in arriving at relevant outcome.”


“They understand matters from our perspective. Clear, structured and considered advice. Ego doesn't get involved, advice is commercial in nature.”