Marie McDonald heads the M&A group and is described as "a top lawyer." Her headline transactions include acting for Tronox on its acquisition of Exxaro's mineral sands operations, a matter valued at AUD3.5 billion.
The well-known Garry Besson joined the firm in early 2012. Clients report that "he has an outstanding reputation as one of the leading lawyers in the country, earned over many years of practice."
Gary Lawler also joined the group in early 2012, and is equally well respected for "his sheer breadth of knowledge and really good commerciality." He acted for the Tinkler Group as an investor in Boardwalk Resources when Whitehaven Coal sought to acquire all of the shares in Boardwalk, which was conditional upon the Whitehaven and Aston Resources merger.
Elspeth Arnold is particularly skilled in general corporate and corporate governance matters, as well as handling M&A work. According to a source, "she gives good practical advice and brings a lot of experience as to what other entities are doing." Arnold was a key member of the team acting for Crown on its acquisition of a 10% interest in the Echo Entertainment Group.
Philip Breden has considerable M&A and capital markets experience. He has represented AGL in a number of transactions involving its demerger and the subsequent merger of its infrastructure business with Alinta and a spin-off of AGL Energy, valued at AUD10 billion.
Perth-based Roger Davies acts for a range of resource and energy corporates. His busy year saw him acting for Gold One International on its acquisition of Rand Uranium. He also represented Exco Resources in its sale of the Cloncurry Copper Project.
Bill Koeck's broad experience encompasses restructuring, workouts and equity capital markets, as well as M&A and corporate governance. His clients include Drillsearch Energy and Crane Group, the latter of which he advised on a high-profile takeover bid by Fletcher Building.
Stephen Menzies has considerable corporate transactional experience, and represents a range of investment banks and corporates. Most recently he acted for Mitsubishi Development on a joint bid with Rio Tinto for Coal & Allied.
Mark Stanbridge is described by clients as "outstanding." He acted for Atomredmetzoloto (ARMZ) on its acquisition of Mantra Resources and back-to-back agreement to sell Mantra to ARMZ's subsidiary Uranium One.
John Sartori led the team acting for ConnectEast Management (the responsible entity of the ConnectEast Investment Trust and ConnectEast Holding Trust) in relation to the acquisition of ConnectEast by Horizon Roads. Finalising this complex matter involved dealing with ASIC on various regulatory issues and the Foreign Investment Review Board.
Ashurst's China desk, based principally in its Sydney office, provides advice on all aspects of corporate/M&A and overseas investments, including taxation and environmental issues. The desk is particularly adept at handling energy, resources and mining projects for Chinese companies doing business in Australia and vice versa. A key contact in Sydney is the very experienced Stephen Menzies, and for Melbourne and Perth it is Justin Shmith, who was based in the firm's Shanghai office for three years, where he was the managing partner. He has extensive experience of advising Chinese state-owned enterprises and has been involved in some of the largest deals in the region. The China desk recently advised China Minmetals on the acquisition of the majority of assets of OZ Minerals, a USD1.38 billion deal.
The firm has Indonesia desks based in Melbourne and Perth, which deal particularly with investments into the Indonesia resources sector. In Melbourne, Simon Fraser and Martin Kudnig are the main points of contact. In Perth, the main contacts are Adam Conway, Lorenzo Pacitti and Rupert Lewi (who also handles Japan-related work). The team recently advised the Mercuria Energy Group on the acquisition of Kalimantan Energi Lestari, a company which holds a contract for work at the East Kalimantan coal mine.
The Korean corporate group at the firm is also highly focused on energy and natural resources, and has built up an enviable list of blue-chip Korean clients, including Korea Electric Power, POSCO and the Korea Resources Corporation. A main contact for the group is Ian Williams, whose appreciative clients say that his main strength is "his balanced advice, both legal and commercial." He recently advised SK Group on a share subscription in Cockatoo Coal, a deal valued at AUD313 million.
Another key contact on the desk is Christine Oh, who is praised by clients as being "incredibly well connected with Korean companies and investors." She played a part in the Cockatoo Coal deal mentioned above.
In addition to being a key contact on the Indonesia desk, Rupert Lewi has some 12 years' experience of handling Japan work, and clients praise him for his "good commercial sense." He recently advised Mitsui on its 50% equity participation in an LNG project in Papua New Guinea.
Richard Flynn operates from Brisbane, but remains heavily engaged in Papua New Guinea matters. For example, he led on advising Horizon Oil on the establishment of a USD160 million reserves-based lending facility, and represented Vale in negotiating a farm-in agreement with Goldminex.
David Frecker is based in Sydney and is another member of the group with specialist PNG focus. A mining, oil and gas specialist, he recently served on the team advising BNP Paribas on the provision of a short-term finance facility to Petromin PNG Holdings.