THE FIRM Ashurst continues to be among the top performing firms in this practice area. Its nationally strong team typically acts for banks, restructuring and insolvency firms - including ANZ, HSBC, PwC, KordaMentha and Ferrier Hodgson, among others. It also represents several hedge funds in matters relating to distressed investing and debt trading. It advised the senior lenders (including Anchorage Capital Partners and Nomura International) on the Colorado Group restructuring, as part of which it provided guidance on a debt-for-equity swap with a value of AUD125 million, and acted for the banking syndicate seeking repayment of the AUD200 million previously lent to Timbercorp, one of the country's largest managed investments schemes.
Sources say: "I've used them extensively in my career. The firm has a strong reputation in the market and is one of the more dominant players." "Responsiveness and professionalism is second to none - you get what you pay for."
KEY INDIVIDUALS James Marshall is "very well regarded, extremely competent and probably one of my first ports of call for any difficult matter," according to one client. He was the lead partner advising the senior lenders on a successful debt-for-equity swap for vacuum and cleaning retailer the Godfrey Group, which enabled the company to avoid being placed into receivership.
Seasoned practitioner Ray Mainsbridge is widely recognised for his experience and professional standing in this area. He continues to act on innovative and ground-breaking matters - for example, he is lead counsel to the liquidators of HIH regarding its schemes of arrangement, which are intended to account for all outstanding claims arising from the company's collapse.
Interviewees cite Ross McClymont as "a partner with good technical appreciation who gets on with the job with no grandstanding." He has particular expertise regarding managed investment schemes, and recently brought this to bear acting for the banking syndicate in the Timbercorp matter.
Michael Sloan led on the high-profile restructuring of the Colorado Group and is praised by one client as "a terrific technician - one of a few leading lawyers genuinely investing in personal relationships."
Lucas Wilk is "very strong technically," according to one client. He represented KordaMentha, BankWest and BOS International (Australia) in the matter of the Equus default, appointing and acting for the receivers and managers KordaMentha in all aspects of this AUD90 million receivership.
Anthony Ryan led an Ashurst team acting for the administrators of MF Global Australia, Deloitte, since its appointment in November 2011. Other clients include ANZ, Ernst & Young and Davidson Kempner.
Associate Tim Klineberg is recognised by sources as a lawyer who is "commercial, practical, hardworking - he'll get things done." He worked on the ME Global and Godfreys Goup debt to equity swap matters.