EWEN CROUCH of Allens Arthur Robinson is currently the lead partner on three of the five biggest deals Australia has ever seen, leading the firm to describe him as the “49 billion dollar man”.
The current co-head of the mergers and acquisitions team at Allens, Crouch is leading the firm’s advice to clients involved in the first, second and fifth largest deals in the country’s history.
“I started working in September last year for Cemex in relation to its bid for Rinker, then in November was retained by Qantas, and more recently we were retained by Wesfarmers to act on the proposal that it’s putting for Coles,” Crouch said.
“To have the three things get into the public arena and be active at the same time is quite remarkable really.”
Describing his approach to juggling so many giant deals as both intense and focused, Crouch said he was a little embarrassed by the 49 billion dollar man title given the contribution made by his team.
“It’s never really happened before but it’s quite extraordinary that there should be a confluence of three of the biggest transactions Australia has ever seen all happening at once,” he said. “I’m lucky to have a fantastic team of people. We couldn’t do it without a great team, both broad and deep in terms of number and talent.”
Asked whether these concurrently occurring deals are a sign of things to come, or mere coincidence, Crouch said the strong market should continue in the short term, although he had had no expectation by mid-2006 that it would be as active as it is now.
“We do have a very buoyant economy and we have some very strongly performing companies that are looking for investment and expansion opportunities,” Crouch said.
“We are also going through really quite a sea change in the way in which the investment markets look for returns in the future, and that is meaning that corporates who are buyers for strategic reasons and private equity are competing for deals.
“In that investment climate, one can be fairly confident that there is a good period of time to run with this level of activity. But one doesn’t want to get ahead of oneself.”
Despite whatever lies ahead in the market, Crouch said there was no doubting Allens’ satisfaction with the M&A deals it has been involved with lately.
“We are absolutely thrilled with the support that our clients are providing to us, and to be chosen by companies as prestigious as Cemex, Qantas and Wesfarmers to undertake their major transactions is really a great honour,” he said.
“It’s terrific for the firm that the talent of the team can be recognised in that way and we are really grateful for those opportunities.”