THREE PARTNERS at major national firms are among the eight newest members of the takeovers panel.
Appointed due to their expertise in corporate law and mergers and acquisitions, the new members include Garry Besson of Gilbert + Tobin in Sydney, Rodd Levy of Freehills and Robert Sultan of Deacons in Melbourne.
Speaking to Lawyers Weekly,Sultan said his appointment is the natural extension of his career, along with being a validation of his performance to date and that of his firm.
“Being appointed to the panel is, in my humble opinion, a recognition of myself and my expertise over the last 25 years,” Sultan said. “But I also think that it is a recognition of where Deacons is as a firm.
“We have developed a long way since we re-badged ourselves in 2000 and became a nationally integrated firm, and I think the market has shown a signal to us, that we have come a long way since [then].”
Sultan also believes recent appointments to the panel, which was previously dominated by “the major three or four firms”, recognises an increasingly broad pool from which to draw M&A expertise.
And despite concerns over the panel’s effectiveness following the Federal Court’s Glencore decision, Sultan says the panel remains influential, both through the decisions it makes and the practice notes that it issues.
“Most practitioners, including myself, when we are looking at a particular matter that has a practice note issued, would ordinarily want to fall within the suggestions put out by the panel,” he said. “Because if you do, you know that if you go before the panel you’re not going to have a worry in the world.”
The Glencore decision has been addressed in parliament, with legislation pushed through in the last month to “ameliorate some of the concerns that were raised by Justice [Arthur Robert] Emmett in his decision in the Glencore case”, Sultan said.
And while the panel position is a paid one, Sultan described the level of remuneration as modest. “You’re not in it for the money,” he said.
Notwithstanding, funding levels are set to rise, with the announcement of an additional $250,000 from the Federal Government to help improve the regulatory framework in private equity takeovers, and to provide for additional staff.
President of the panel, Simon McKeon, said the success of the panel was largely due to the time and expertise of its members, who are appointed on a part-time basis, usually for three years.
The Treasurer, Peter Costello, also praised the panel members, whose “skills and experience will help ensure that the panel continues to provide a fair, informal and timely means of dispute resolution of takeovers activity”.
Serving as a peer review body, the panel is the primary forum for resolving disputes that occur during the course of a takeover bid. Its powers are conferred by the Corporations Act 2001 and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001.
Other lawyers joining the panel include Thomas Bathurst QC, member of the Sydney Bar, and David Jones, partner at Jones Young in Auckland and chairman of the New Zealand takeovers panel.