ALLENS ARTHUR Robinson ranked the legal advisor with the most deals in Australian project finance for the first nine months of this year. But Australia generally was less productive in this area.
According to the Dealogic Project Finance Review, released in full this week, Allens was the top legal adviser in this area in Australia this year. The firm did 12 deals, worth $1,523 million and taking 23.4 per cent of the market share.
Phillip Cornwell, head of the firm’s project finance group, attributed part of the firm’s success to its ability to service clients locally as well as across Asia.
“We have a very good team and we have a spread of talent in the Asian region as well as the Australian centres. That has helped us pick up some of the more significant transactions done in the past nine months. Perhaps most notably the Pan Australia Phu Kham project financing in Laos,” Cornwell said.
Freehills followed closely behind Allens, doing eight deals and taking 23.4 per cent ($1,204 million) of the market share. Clayton Utz came in third with seven deals ($953 million) and 14.7 per cent of the share.
But Australia itself was not so prominent in the Dealogic global project finance review. While global project finance volume reached record highs, Australasia saw the largest decrease, down 59 per cent.
Cornwell said there are a number of factors leading to Australasia’s position in the market, and he put part of it down to the luck of the draw.
Equity markets have been strong, he said. It has been tempting for some companies that might ordinarily do project finance to raise the equity in the markets.
“A related issue is that some investment banks have been promoting convertible note issues for energy and resources companies, which has again provided an alternative source of funding to project finance,” he said.
There have been relatively few major infrastructure projects in Australia during this time, said Cornwell.
He also listed fewer privatisation transactions and a slowing of renewable energy projects with the RMRET scheme not being extended as factors affecting the current figures.