MALLESONS STEPHEN Jaques has been praised in the Chambers survey for its role in advising Airline Partners Australia on the $11.1 billion bid for Qantas airlines.
Allens, on the target side of the acquisition, was described as “particularly visible” by the Chamber’s editorial team. Freehills acted on the other side of the transaction, advising Newbridge Capital, a member of the Airline Partners Australia consortium.
Mallesons partner David Friedlander received two honourable mentions in the Chambers rankings, Capital Markets: Equity (Band 1) and Corporate/M&A (Band 2). He agreed that Qantas played a very significant role in cementing the firm’s dominant position in the latest survey.
Friedlander said the last-minute collapse of the deal in May last year did not take away from the quality of the legal work involved. “Most important is that the deal did not proceed, but the reason it didn’t go ahead had nothing to do with the legal [side of the transaction],” he said.
“I think it was just such a significant deal because it had so much legal complexity, and you know you hear people talk about legal complexity in any old vanilla deal, but I’ve been working here for 21 years,” Friedlander said. “I worked on the NRMA demutualisation which was really hard, and did that alongside Freehills and Corrs, and I think all the lawyers on that deal would acknowledge that it was just one of the hardest deals of all time. And yet Qantas was harder.”
Navigating three sets of ownership regulations, a public relations nightmare regarding the public reaction to the sale of Australia’s most well-known public company and run-ins with the Takeovers Panel offered plenty of variety for Friedlander’s team.
Friedlander’s clients reported that they “just couldn’t imagine a more complex deal, and they gave us good feedback on way we dealt with the issues … I think if that translates into survey results on three points: the people in the deal thought we worked well given the legal complexity; second, people outside the deal thought [the same]; and last of all, it was just bloody hard”.
A Freehills spokesperson downplayed the importance of the Qantas deal. Instead, the firm focused on its involvement in the Rinker Group CEMEX takeover bid. Freehills partner, Andrew Pike said: “It was the largest hostile takeover in Australian history at the time. The execution of this complex and innovative deal required legal advice from most practice areas including corporate, employment, banking and finance and insurance.”
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