BLAKE DAWSON WALDRON’S work on mergers and acquisition deals ranked a value of more than US$15.4 ($18.8) billion in just the first quarter of the year, making it the highest ranking legal adviser in M&A work with any Australian involvement.
The firm has attributed its success in the Thomson Financial league tables in part to its strength in ACCC work, the competition aspects of M&A, as well as its work in tax. A lot of these big transactions, partner Bill Koeck told Lawyers Weekly, are coming through these areas.
Even if a client has another tax adviser, the firm is offering value through its tax expertise, which Duncan Baxter heads up. In this way, the ACCC work and tax work are closely related, Koeck said.
“You can’t separate them because to develop strategy you need to cover all those aspects. We work together a lot so whatever ideas and structures we come up with in a corporate sense, and whatever we recommend to a client, we know it is going to work,” he said.
As well, the M&A practice works hand in hand with its equity capital markets practice, which is also busy. Koeck said many transactions involve the issue of some securities as consideration, or are partly funded through the issue of securities. So the ECM and M&A practices often converge.
Not surprisingly, Koeck attributes the firm’s recent success in M&A to its national team, not just one or two individuals. Sharing the position of joint head of M&A with Koeck is Marie McDonald, who is currently working on the sale of Alinta. As well, David Williamson works in the practice. “We have many young lawyers in Melbourne and Sydney, and really across the board, coming through,” he said.
The firm’s success in the Thomson tables is “the depth of talent and expertise being recognised”, he said.
“We have a really strong national team that is able to execute these deals. And these are only the headline deals. We have a great number of smaller deals that are very important to us.”
But Koeck won’t accept all the limelight, and said it is a very busy time for all major Australian firms involved in M&A.
Allens Arthur Robinson ranked second in the tables, with six announced deals worth US$5.4 ($6.6) billion since 1 January, taking 11.2 per cent of the market share. Baker & McKenzie came in at 13, with seven deals and 6.2 per cent of the market share in the Australian involvement tables.
Blakes acts for Alinta on the estimated US$6.1 ($7.5) billion deal, and the sale by Eastman Kodak of its Health Group to Onex Healthcare Holdings, with an estimated value of US$2.5 ($3.1) billion.
Koeck said despite its success and obvious ability to handle the big deals, the firm would welcome more talent in the M&A area.
“We would certainly like to add to our team — really from two to three year lawyer out to senior associate level,” he said.