$35bn shipbuilding program gets green light

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$35bn shipbuilding program gets green light

Allens has advised BAE Systems on its involvement in a Royal Australian Navy shipbuilding program.

Firm: Allens (BAE Systems)

Deal: Allens has advised BAE Systems on its involvement in the Hunter Class frigate shipbuilding program for the Royal Australian Navy.

Value: $35 billion

Area: Defence

Key players: For the ASC transfer, Allens’ partner Kate Towey led a team with managing associates Charles Ashton, Sikeli Ratu and Jessica Selby. Partner Andrew Wiseman, senior associate Kaelah Ford, associates Lauren Chamberlain and Jewel Zhu, and lawyer Elise Blume were also involved.


Partner Nicholas Ng led the HCF negotiation, alongside partner Sarah Matheson, and senior associates Chris Case and Nadia Diaz.

Deal significance: The shipbuilding program was signed by Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne earlier this month.

The program “will provide the Navy with world-class anti-submarine warfare capability”, create thousands of jobs and contribute billions of dollars to Australia’s economy, according to an Allens statement.

The transaction involved the transfer of ASC Shipbuilding to BAE Systems Australia and an acquisition contract to provide nine state-of-the-art anti-submarine warfare frigates, Allens said.

ASC Shipbuilding, which was previously part of a government-owned submarine sustainment and naval shipbuilding company, ASC Group, will construct the fleet as a subsidiary of BAE Systems.

The firm said the transaction “involved the issue by ASC Shipbuilding of Australia’s first ever ‘Sovereign Share’, which will be retained by the Australian government”.

The ‘Sovereign Share’ also carries rights “designed to protect Australia’s national interest in relation to ASC Shipbuilding.

Allens’ team worked with BAE Systems on the transfer of ownership, and the inclusion of the government “retaining a call option to reacquire ASC Shipbuilding at the end of the program”, the statement said.

The firm also assisted BAE Systems in negotiating the HCF head contract, involving the “build of ships modified from BAE Systems’ ‘Type 26’ frigate design in build for the Royal Navy in the UK”.

Lead partner for the ASC transfer team Kate Towey said Allens was “delighted to have assisted BAE Systems with the many complex aspects of this nationally significant transaction by incorporating expertise from across our firm”.

HCF negotiation team leader Nicholas Ng said, “This $35 billion program and the contract which underlies it will provide a significant boon for both Australia’s defence capabilities and the national economy more broadly.”

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