AS ALLENS Arthur Robinson celebrates its top position in last year’s Dealogic Asia Pacific project finance legal adviser league tables, top tier firm Freehills is also celebrating a success: its top place in another league table, also project finance and also in the Asia Pacific.
Eyes are now on the detail of the tables, which rate the firms according to their work in the project finance market. Project Finance International (PFI) magazine’s survey for Asia Pacific project finance work looks specifically at deals with a minimum project size of US$500 million.
“Freehills claimed joint first position in the Asia Pacific region,” the magazine’s November 2004 report on the table says.
“The survey noted that Freehills ‘has broken from the pack’ ahead of other major law firms in Australia through its senior advisory roles on its deals. Globally Freehills shared sixth spot with several international law firms,” the magazine reports.
However, according to Dealogic’s tables, Allens topped Asia Pacific work last year. These tables show Allens as completing 27 deals with apportioned value of more than US$5 billion. Freehills completed 18 deals worth US$2.7 billion.
Focusing on providing integrated, multi-disciplinary legal advice over the past year, Freehills has secured roles in many large, high profile Asia Pacific infrastructure projects.
Freehills project finance partner Brendan Quinn said the firm is involved in most of the big projects, but last year Allens came out ahead in the Dealogic tables. “This coming year there may be a reversal,” he said, “sometimes it works out better for us and sometimes it doesn’t.” Quinn suggested the firm had some large deals coming up in 2005.
According to Phillip Cornwell, project finance practice leader for Allens, Freehills had a good year on the large deals, but the criteria used by PFI is narrow.
“Freehills were credited with roles on three out of the four projects valued at over US$500 million last year,” said Cornwell. “However, the publication credits only financier and sponsor advice, and ignores government, credit wrapper and other major roles. It also only covers the ‘mega deals’, rather than providing a measure of overall market activity and law firm depth. That said, we have high regard for the PFI publication. We also respect the Freehills project finance team and enjoy working with them.”
The landmark deals for Freehills included acting as sponsors’ counsel in the $3.5 billion sale of Victoria’s Loy Yang A power station and coal mine to the AGL-led Great Energy Alliance Corporation consortium. As well, Freehills worked on advising the financier of Alinta’s $1.7 billion acquisition of power company Duke Energy.