Dealmakers of the Year

Signing on the dotted line

The inaugural Australasian Lawyer and NZ Lawyer’s Dealmakers of the Year award celebrates 25 of the best exponents of advising and working on behalf of their clients.

They were rated for their deal involvement across the following factors:

  • quantity

  • quality

  • importance

  • innovativeness

The winners showcased an impressive array of skills, working on domestic and global deals involving complex matters and multiple legal jurisdictions. They also displayed the ability to remain focused, under control and unaffected by expectations and time pressure. 

Ilan Kraus – Maddocks

Practice area:
Banking and finance
Standout deals:

  • Qualitas: advised Monarch Toowong Senior Debt Facility; Value: A$330 million; Completed: July 2023

  • Seafarers Finance: advised Asset1 Debt Facility; Value: A$279 million; Completed: September 2023

  • MA Financial: advised Bondi Beach Construction Facility; Value: A$63 million; Completed: July 2023

“Every transaction has its stressful moments; it’s important as a key adviser on the transaction to be balanced and less emotional than the parties who are actually invested,” Kraus says. “I’m not the principal; I’m there to be impartial and try to be the cooler head.”

Despite being such an established lawyer, Kraus is mindful of never overlooking the basics.

He adds, “You get used to moving from transaction to transaction, but at the same time, it’s critical to show the clients that you care.”

A standout attribute that Kraus brings to the table is his commercial nous, over and above his extensive legal expertise.

He says, “I’m known for having a really good sense of what everyone is out to achieve and for not getting caught in the weeds. There are a lot of people who can document a transaction. I’m not unique in that regard; that can be done by dozens of other people on the market. What distinguishes me from the crowd is my commerciality, and when the big issues need to be resolved, I look beyond standard documentation and try to get the outcome with the least amount of fuss.” 

Ilan Kraus, Maddocks
“There’s always a constant process of improvement, learning and betterment. And I suspect that’ll be the same for the remainder of my career”
Ilan KrausMaddocks


When probed on what recent deals have given him a sense of pride, Kraus highlights cases involving finance coming from overseas with the institutional credit fund, Qualitas.

He says, “We’ve had to navigate around very large overseas-funded groups with capital, ensuring that’s appropriately subordinated, just looking at the risk of funding being turned off overseas and how that interplays.”

Constant professional development is another of Kraus’ commandments. He is aware enough to admit that he still learns from his peers and competitors.

“I’m never too proud or too set in my ways to not be able to look across the fence and say, ‘Wow, they did that really well.’ The practice of law is a very open book in a lot of respects,” he says. “When you’re a junior lawyer, you walk down the hall and see lawyers that are five years and 10 years more experienced and see how they’re doing things. And when you’re a senior practitioner, you can see how other firms are handling themselves on any given transaction and learn from that too.”


Part of Kraus’ professional refinement has been learning to remain objective. He regularly acts for financiers. 

“I regularly used to wake up at night going, ‘Wow, I’ve got a client that’s got $200 million out the door, and it’s all on me,’” he explains. “Then you realise you can’t survive like that. There are many deals and clients with so much money out the door; you just have to learn to live with it; you can’t ride the success and failure of every transaction.”


  • “I’ve got a couple of people in the industry I kick issues around with. Ilan is definitely on that list, and he usually picks up the phone on the first ring or calls me immediately.”

  • “If I had a quirky deal that I needed a senior lawyer, Ilan would be one of two people I would pick up the phone to use.”


Mark Forman – MinterEllisonRuddWatts

New Zealand
Practice area:
Corporate and commercial
Standout deals:

  • L'Oréal’s acquisition of Aesop, an Australasian luxury beauty brand from Natura & Co; Value: A$3.7 billion; Completed: August 2023

  • ANZ purchasing data analytics business, Dot loves Data; Value: confidential; Completed: March 2023

  • Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) NZX block trade sale of 15% of the shares in Precinct Properties; Value: A$250 million; Completed: February 2024

  • Bupa on the sale of a collection of its care home facilities; Value: Confidential; Completed: January 2024

“I think the key to my approach is really listening to clients and taking time to understand what they want to achieve from a transaction. I show that I am fully aligned with what they want to achieve, and that allows me to make a difference,” Forman says. “It’s definitely not about taking a cookie-cutter approach. I’m not interested in wasting time or a client’s money on arguing points that they don’t care about. It’s really about personalising the approach and understanding the commercial imperatives.”

One major personal highlight of the past 12 months was Forman’s work for L’Oreal, advising them on acquiring Aesop, which included:

  • legal due diligence

  • advice on competition matters

  • negotiation of the transaction documentation

Forman underlines why his approach made a difference in the deal, which came from a longstanding relationship with Latham & Watkins LLP in Paris.

He says, “Those larger deals are always exciting, as it really allows you to focus on what matters because the small stuff on those bigger deals tends to get lost in the margins, so the really complex and difficult issues become super important.” 

Mark Forman, MinterEllisonRuddWatts
“My mantra is to ensure that I’m fully across every deal that we’re working on. I think that’s the only way that you can really deliver consistency in quality”
Mark FormanMinterEllisonRuddWatts


An area that Forman has forged ahead of is forestry, a serendipitous pathway that has opened up for him.

“It’s a big business in New Zealand,” he says. “I did a couple of deals in the forestry space when I was younger and suddenly became the forestry guy. As I’ve done more and more, I’ve started to really enjoy it.”

This was encapsulated as Forman advised one of the largest global timberland investment funds, Global Forest Partners LP, on the sale of 100% of its 20,000-hectare Waonui estate, one of New Zealand’s premium forestry estates.

The target was a Cayman Islands company (with forestry assets in New Zealand), the vendor was US/Cayman Islands-based and the purchaser was a New Zealand company with Canadian owners.

Forman says, “It was quite complex among a lot of regulatory issues and an uncertain market backdrop. There was quite a lot of pressure on our side, and we delivered an outstanding result by getting through regulatory approvals and getting the transaction done in a tight timeframe.”

With so much experience on his CV, Forman has learned when he needs to really engage and be reactive.

“You have to stay calm and make sure that you stay methodical about what you have to do,” he adds. “But there’s no doubt that when the pressure does come on, you need to up the ante and make sure you're highly responsive. When you see that the client is highly stressed, they need to see you responding to that. It’s an interesting balance.” 

As evidenced by his work, Forman has forged strong client relationships and feels this is fundamental to standing out as a dealmaker.

He says, “Building a personal connection is absolutely critical, but there’s no escaping the fact that you do have to deliver for them when they need you. And if you do that, then they will reward you with work.”


  • “Mark is an outstanding lawyer with pragmatic and practical solutions to multifaceted, complex commercial and legal issues.”

  • “Mark sets himself apart as New Zealand’s leading transactional lawyer; he is pragmatic and comes up with innovative solutions to deliver excellent results for his clients. Mark has advised on all our recent New Zealand transactions.”


Dealmakers of the Year

  • Anastasiya Gamble
    Simpson Grierson
  • Anna Buchly
    Bell Gully
  • Antonella Pacitti
    King & Wood Mallesons
  • Con Boulougouris
    Co-Head of M&A/Capital Markets
  • David Wilkie
    Clayton Utz
  • Dean Alderton
    Bell Gully
  • Deemple Budhia
    Russell McVeagh
  • Guy Alexander
    Partner and Head of M&A
  • Ian Beaumont
    Russell McVeagh
  • Mark Forman
  • Matt Baumgurtel
    Hamilton Locke
  • Michael Gartshore
    Webb Henderson
  • Michael Pollard
    Simpson Grierson
  • Michael Ziegelaar
    Partner, Head of Melbourne Corporate Group and Co-Head of Equity Capital Markets Group
    Herbert Smith Freehills
  • Philippa Stone
    Partner and Joint Global Head, Capital Markets
    Herbert Smith Freehills
  • Rachel Brown
    DLA Piper
  • Rebecca Maslen-Stannage
    Chair and Senior Partner
    Herbert Smith Freehills
  • Reuben Woods
    DLA Piper
  • Russell Philip
    Corrs Chambers Westgarth
  • Sandy Mak
    Partner and Head of Corporate and M&A
    Corrs Chambers Westgarth
  • Stuart Cormack
    Gilbert + Tobin
  • Tony Damian
    Herbert Smith Freehills
  • Waldo Jones
    Partner and Head of Australia Practice
    Sullivan & Cromwell


In February, Australasian Lawyer and NZ Lawyer accepted nominations for the inaugural Dealmakers of the Year list. The standout dealmakers from the ANZ’s legal profession were invited to put their names forward; those who knew of and wished to highlight such talent were also asked to submit nominations.

Nominees must be permanently employed within a law firm in Australia and/or New Zealand, and they are evaluated based on the quantity, quality, importance, and innovativeness of their deal involvement during the 2023 calendar year. 

The team considered any noteworthy initiatives of the nominee for the past year and testimonials from clients or co-workers in the review process conducted after the nomination period. After considering all aspects of the many submissions received, 25 emerged as the best dealmakers of 2024.