NZ firm among world’s best

An international niche firm with a New Zealand practice attributes its recent selection as one of the top twenty law firms in the world to its strategy of remaining highly focused and specialised.

Webb Henderson has been selected by Who’s Who Legal 100 as one of the top twenty law firms in the world for Telecoms, Media and Technology (TMT) work.

The multinational firm has carved out a niche by establishing the TMT sector as one of its key areas of practices, with one of the largest specialist TMT teams regionally, with offices in Auckland, Sydney and Singapore.

Auckland-based TMT practice area senior partner Malcolm Webb took the time to speak to NZLawyer from Dubai.

He described winning the award as testament to the firm’s strategy of remaining highly focused and specialised.

“We have built up one of the most significant TMT teams in the region, with market leading engagements for private sector operators and government agencies in our home markets of Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, as well as a range of very significant client engagements throughout South-East Asia and the Middle East.”

Dominating that niche meant a the firm was “able to be recognised as a market leader in the TMT space alongside some of the largest and most established law firms in the world”.

“The business model of the large international law firms is to have great depth and capability globally in corporate, banking, litigation and a few other areas.  This leaves space in the market for specialist offerings like us and we have sought to take advantage of this when operating outside of New Zealand.”

Webb said the biggest deal in the last twelve months was two tower lease deals that Ooredoo Myanmar entered into to develop, construct and lease several thousand telecommunications towers in Myanmar.

“Ooredoo Myanmar is one of the two new mobile licensees in that country.  The value was in the hundreds of millions.”

The main hurdles when advising on such deals are the travel and time zones, he said.

“Most of our international clients are in Asia or the Middle East, so it means late nights on the phone if I’m at home.”

As well as Myanmar, in the past year he’s been working in South Africa on a broadband project, in Bahrain on another broadband project, in UAE on a large managed services deal, in Indonesia and Malaysia for a telecoms client that is looking to enter these markets, in Malaysia for an operator on some regulatory issues and Indonesia again advising an ISP.

Ara Margossian, a partner in Webb Henderson’s TMT practice, added that TMT was one of the firm’s “core practice areas and an area where we possess marketing leading expertise”.

“Our TMT team has had the pleasure of working with our clients in a number of strategic areas, including super-fast broadband projects, undersea cable projects, network sharing and convergence transactions. This announcement from Who’s Who Legal 100 is testament to our role in these projects.”

But TMT isn’t the only thing the firm does.

“Inside New Zealand, the firm has a broader offering of corporate, commercial and regulatory across a whole range of sectors,” Webb said.

“We’ve done deals like advising IAG acquiring Lumley Insurance, SKYCITY on its deal with the Government to construct the New Zealand International Convention Centre, Arthur J. Gallagher acquiring Wesfarmers' insurance brokering business and Harvard Management Co on the disposal of its interest in the Kaingaroa Forest. 

“And when I am doing work for domestic clients, it is mainly in the telecoms and energy sectors.”

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