Minter Ellison has announced the appointment of Nicola Marley as a partner and head of the firm's London finance team.
A London-based, Australian-qualified finance lawyer, Marley joins the firm from Mayer Brown International LLP.
"Nicola's appointment continues our strategic commitment to London," said John Weber, Minter Ellison's chief executive partner.
Marley's appointment follows Minters’ relocation of partner Nigel Clark, the former head of the firm’s London finance practice, to the Beijing office to develop the firm's finance capability in Greater China and Mongolia.
As the third partner in Minters' London office, Marley joins corporate and capital markets specialists Michael Whalley and Michael Wallin. Whalley is also the firm’s London managing partner.
“The firm made a strategic decision to relocate Nigel Clark to Beijing earlier this year. [Nigel] hit the ground running in Beijing and we continue to work with him there,” said Whalley.
“Nicky's recruitment is a strategic hire [allowing] us to continue to service our existing client base, secure a finance partner who has a real depth of market experience in London, and benefit from Nicola's wide range of relationships across both law firms and banks.”
Marley has experience in finance transactions and specialises in advising private equity sponsors, financial institutions and companies on financing deals and related restructurings.
She holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Applied Science, both from the University of Queensland, and is admitted as a solicitor of the High Court of England and Wales and the Supreme Court of Queensland.
The Minters team in London specialises in providing Australian law advice to UK, US and European law firms and their clients. According to Whalley, the firm’s work for Australian clients in Europe accounts for about half of its activity in the London office "asisting them with their existing operations or with inbound transactions or investments.”
Whalley also said the office has a focus on corporate law, banking and finance, financial services and funds management, competition and regulatory law, and tax and employee benefits.
Minters' Australian clients include Computershare, Flight Centre, Spotless, Campbell Brothers, Crown, and all of the principal Australian banks.
With the ongoing Eurozone market turmoil, Whalley said the lending market “remains challenging” across the UK and Europe, with lending generally restricted, although there is a solid range of restructuring work that continues to feed through.
“We continue to see good deal flow through the office and a strong referral rate to Australia on both lender and borrower sides of transactions. Nicola Marley will certainly be starting with a full desk and a busy team.”
Not afraid of the globals
Despite the increasing number of global firms setting up shop in London, Whalley said Minters was not in London to compete with global law firms, “none of which practice Australian law in London in any case”.
“We work co-operatively with them and benefit from the many referrals we receive from them,” he said.
The recent alignment of some of Minters' Australian competitors with English law firms (Deacons and Norton Rose, Blake Dawson and Ashurst, Allens and Linklaters and DLA and Phillips Fox) has, if anything, made it easier for Minters to compete for work, according to Whalley.
“Freehills and Herbert Smith, should their discussions result in a combination, but the market is reading it as a done deal, and even Mallesons and King & Wood, [these alignments] have seen all of these firms removed from the wider market for referral work without introducing new competition in the Australian market,” said Whalley, adding that Minters is the only viable independent referral partner in the Australian market with an office in London which is able to service the needs of clients and their lawyers in the European and East Coast USA time zones.
“The seven firms in Australia with overseas tie-ups, and their UK-based partner or associate firms are now seen as competitors by the rest of the UK's 100 largest law firms and the vast majority of the AmLaw100 firms who have London offices that practice English law,” Whalley added.
“That's the view being taken on both sides of the Atlantic. Each of those seven firms is also seen as a competitor in the major European markets by the big independent firms in those jurisdictions.”