NZ Law Awards 2021: Winners revealed

The country's top lawyers, law firms and in-house legal teams celebrated in a virtual ceremony

NZ Law Awards 2021: Winners revealed

The New Zealand legal industry’s standout lawyers, firms and in-house legal teams for 2021 have been unveiled at tonight’s New Zealand Law Awards.

Even though the resurgence of COVID-19 pushed the festivities into the digital space for the second year in a row, the pandemic doesn’t stop the party, hosted by Kiwi news and radio personality Ryan Bridge.

Over the past several months, a panel of expert judges has carefully combed through a batch of quality nominations to determine the best of the best.

Congratulations to the following award winners:

Deal Awards

Debt Market Deal of the Year

WINNER:

Mercury NZ Finance $200 million seven-year green bond offer

  • Lead Firm: Chapman Tripp
  • Other organisations that worked on the deal (firms, banks and accountants): ANZ, Bell Gully, BNZ, DNV GL

This initial NZX-listed green bond offer was part of more than $2bn worth of NZ sustainable bond issuance. Mercury’s $200m seven-year bond offer included $50m in oversubscriptions.

Judges' comments:

  • This transaction involved the issue of an innovative green bond across a range of investors in different jurisdictions;
  • A significant new green bond issue, with a high level of complexity and innovation.

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES:

  • Kiwibank Issue of NZ $275million in subordinated notes
  • NZ $18.4 million refinancing of Electric Kiwi debt facilities
  • NZ $2 billion Warehouse Facilities to assist Shinsei Bank acquisition of UDC Finance Limited
  • Scentre Group US $3 billion subordinated hybrid note issue

Equity Market Deal of the Year

WINNER:

Auckland International Airport NZ$1.2b capital raise

  • Lead Firm: Chapman Tripp, Russell McVeagh
  • Other organisations that worked on the deal (firms, banks and accountants): Citi, Credit Suisse, Jarden, King & Wood Mallesons

Judges' comments:

  • A transaction of significant scale executed under urgency and trying market conditions;
  • The largest secondary offering in NZ history and completed at the height of COVID-19 lockdown; required significant strategic input into the timing, structure and process from external legal counsel;
  • The largest capital raising at a time of distress, providing value to existing shareholders.

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES:

  • Kathmandu Group NZ $207 million capital raise
  • My Food Bag IPO and NZ $342 million capital raise
  • NZ $98 million block trade sell-down of shares in Pushpay
  • Sky Network Television Limited NZ $157 million placement and non-renounceable accelerated rights entitlement offer

Project Finance Deal of the Year

WINNER:

Cardrona Valley Wastewater Treatment Plant NZ $16.5m project financing

  • Lead Firms: Anderson Lloyd, Buddle Findlay
  • Oher organisations that worked on the deal (firms, banks and accountants): BNZ, Spencers Chartered Accountants

A transaction showcasing an innovative solution, via a public-private collaboration. Financing structures allowed for the development of the wastewater scheme with the private sector retaining the risks associated with development while providing the District Council with ultimate ownership and control of the scheme.

Judges' comments:

  • While not a significant dollar value, this clearly involved a lot of legal work, different practice areas, complexity and innovation. Well done.

EXCELLENCE AWARDEE:

  • Transmission Gully public-private partnership NZ $1.25 billion project financing

M&A Deal of the Year

WINNER:

Metlifecare NZ$1.3bn sale to Asia Pacific Villages Group

  • Lead Firms: Bell Gully, Chapman Tripp, Harmos Horton Lusk
  • Other organisations that worked on the deal (firms, banks and accountants): Calibre Partners (formerly KordaMentha), Colliers International, Deloitte, Goldman Sachs, Jarden, Jones Lang LaSalle, King & Wood Mallesons, Meredith Connell, NERA Economic Consulting, Russell McVeagh, Simmons Corporate Finance, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, Stout Street Chambers

NZX-listed Metlifecare was successful in selling 100% of its shares to Asia Pacific Villages Group via a $1.3bn scheme of arrangement. The case raised complex issues including of the impact of COVID-19 and responses to the pandemic on the interpretation of MAC clauses.

Judges' comments:

  • Multiple elements of this notable transaction make it a stand out in its category.

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES:

  • Discovery Inc. acquisition of MediaWorks TV Limited
  • Fonterra NZ $592 million sale of China dairy farms
  • Resolution Life A$3 billion acquisition of AMP's wealth protection and mature life businesses
  • WEL Networks and Waipa Networks sale of stake in Ultrafast Fibre Holdings

Insolvency and Restructuring Deal of the Year

WINNER:

Liquidation of Pacific Aerospace assets

  • Lead Firm: Tompkins Wake
  • Other organisations that worked on the deal (firms, banks and accountants): Bell Gully, Holland Beckett, Khov Jones, Quigg Partners

Finding a solution to the insolvency of an iconic plane manufacturer was a challenge requiring creativity. Interim liquidators were appointed “without notice” and measures were taken to secure CAA certification in order to sell PAL locally.

Judges' comments:

  • A complex transaction with regulatory hurdles and cross-jurisdictional issues to be navigated;
  • An innovative solution to a complex deal involving issues of public interest – a real impetus to make the deal successful.

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES:

  • Claymark Group receivership
  • Distressed sale of Smiths City Group for NZ $60 million in assumed debt and cash to Polar Capital LP
  • Restructuring, insolvency, and exit of Jucy Group
  • Tahua Capital NZ $30 million purchase of Burger King New Zealand under receivership

Mid-market Deal of the Year

WINNER:

Centuria Capital Group NZ$175m takeover of Augusta Capital

  • Lead Firm: Chapman Tripp, Harmos Horton Lusk
  • Other organisations that worked on the deal (firms, banks and accountants): HWL Ebsworth, Mayne Wetherell

Judges' comments:

  • An unusual transaction undertaken on reliance of unique exemptions requiring innovative legal thinking;
  • This deal had a lot of complications to get it over the line, creating many hurdles that they got through;
  • Scores highly in all of the criteria. Great submission – an overall winner;
  • Takeover offer with a variety of non-standard and innovative aspects;
  • A multi-faceted and complex transaction which was ultimately executed effectively in unique circumstances.

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES:

  • Abano Healthcare Group Limited NZ $136 million take-private transaction
  • Freightways Limited NZ$117 million acquisition of Big Chill Distribution
  • Price Industries purchase of Holyoake New Zealand and Australian operations
  • The a2 Milk Company NZ $268 million investment in Mataura Valley Milk

In-house Awards

James & Wells Young In-house Lawyer of the Year (35 or under)

WINNER:

Courtney Dick, Rocket Lab

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES:

  • Brooke White, Calder Stewart
  • Charlotte Moll, Warren and Mahoney
  • Georgina Sanders, Mainfreight
  • Jemimah Giblett, Sharesies
  • Jeremy Jones, AIA New Zealand
  • Jordan Levesque, Westpac Bank New Zealand
  • Matt Morgan, Spark New Zealand
  • Stephen Drysdale, ZURU

Lane Neave In-house Lawyer of the Year

WINNER:

Natalie Bryant, Sharesies

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES:

  • Anton Shead, Goodman New Zealand
  • Beth Keightley, Wellington City Council
  • Chris Bougen, The New Zealand Refining Company
  • Hayley Cassidy, Bank of New Zealand
  • Katharine Armstrong, Metlifecare
  • Kathryn Mitchell, Crown Infrastructure Partners
  • Mary-Elizabeth Tuck, Auckland International Airport
  • Melissa Anastasiou, Spark New Zealand

Financial Services In-house Team of the Year

WINNER:

Westpac NZ Regulatory Affairs, Corporate Services and Legal team (RACLS)

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES:

  • AIA New Zealand
  • ANZ
  • ASB Bank
  • Bank of New Zealand
  • Sharesies Legal Team
  • Suncorp New Zealand Legal Team

Russell McVeagh In-house Team of the Year

WINNER:

Air New Zealand Legal Team

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES:

  • Airways Corporation NZ Legal Team
  • Crown Infrastructure Partners
  • Fonterra Legal Team
  • Genesis Energy Legal Team
  • Serko In-house Legal Team
  • Sky Team Legal

Firm Awards

Employment Law Specialist Firm of the Year

WINNER:

Dyhrberg Drayton Employment Law

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES:

Litigation and Dispute Resolution Specialist Law Firm of the Year

WINNER:

Gilbert Walker

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES:

Intellectual Property Specialist Law Firm of the Year

WINNER:

AJ Park

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES:

  • Ellis Terry
  • Henry Hughes Law
  • James & Wells
  • Zone Law

Property and Construction Specialist Law Firm of the Year

WINNER:

Thompson Blackie Biddles

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES:

  • AlexanderDorrington
  • Domain Legal
  • Kate Sheehan

Insurance Specialist Law Firm of the Year

WINNER:

Wotton + Kearney

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES:

  • Fee Langstone
  • Gilbert Walker
  • Robertsons
  • Shine Lawyers

Boutique Law Firm of the Year

WINNER:

Webb Henderson

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES:

  • BlackmanSpargo Rural Law
  • Couch Harlowe Kovacevich
  • Flacks & Wong
  • Franks Ogilvie
  • Hudson Gavin Martin
  • Morrison Mallett
  • Sykes Legal

Artemis Executive Recruitment Employer of Choice (<50 Lawyers)

WINNER:

Norris Ward McKinnon

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES:

Artemis Executive Recruitment Employer of Choice (51-100 Lawyers)

WINNER:

Tompkins Wake

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES:

Artemis Executive Recruitment Employer of Choice (>100 Lawyers)

WINNER:

MinterEllisonRuddWatts

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES:

Resolution Institute Mediator of the Year

WINNER:

Wi Pere Mita, Laidlaw Consultants & Tūhono Collective

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES:

Young Private Practice Lawyer of the Year (35 or under)

WINNER:

Nick Valentine, DLA Piper

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES:

  • Anna Cherkashina, Norling Law
  • Ashton Goatley, Webb Henderson
  • Beatrix H Woodhouse, John Miller Law
  • Brad Ward, Bell Gully
  • Ed McGimpsey, Buddle Findlay
  • Michelle Needham, Lane Neave
  • Stephanie de Groot, MinterEllisonRuddWatts
  • Tom McLaughlin, Dentons Kensington Swan
  • Will Irving, Russell McVeagh

Managing Partner of the Year (≤100 Lawyers)

WINNER:

Sam Hood, Norris Ward McKinnon, Hamilton

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES:

  • Angela Parlane, Shine Lawyers
  • Edwin Morrison, K3 Legal
  • Philip Maw, Wynn Williams
  • Sally Morris, Morris Legal
  • Tim Walden, James & Wells

Managing Partner of the Year (>100 Lawyers)

WINNER:

Richard Greenaway, Anderson Lloyd

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES:

Regional/Suburban Law Firm of the Year

WINNER:

Norris Ward McKinnon

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES:

  • BlackmanSpargo Rural Law
  • Dean & Coleman Law
  • WRMK Lawyers

Mid-size Law Firm of the Year

WINNER:

Tompkins Wake

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES:

  • Cavell Leitch
  • Harmos Horton Lusk
  • Martelli McKegg Lawyers
  • Mayne Wetherell
  • Norris Ward McKinnon
  • WRMK Lawyers
  • Wynn Williams

Large Law Firm of the Year

WINNER:

Chapman Tripp

EXCELLENCE AWARDEES:

  • Anderson Lloyd
  • Anthony Harper
  • Bell Gully
  • Buddle Findlay
  • Lane Neave
  • MinterEllisonRuddWatts
  • Russell McVeagh
  • Simpson Grierson

Diversity & Inclusion Initiative of the Year

WINNER:

Simpson Grierson

EXCELLENCE AWARDEE

  • Buddle Findlay

The complete winners list can also be found here. The event was sponsored by Russell McVeagh, James & Wells, Lane Neave, Artemis Executive Recruitment and Resolution Institute.

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