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Corrs taps Middletons for M&A team
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Corrs taps Middletons for M&A team

Corrs Chambers Westgarth has bolstered its Perth M&A team by appointing the three former directors of Franklyn Legal, a little over a year after the Franklyn Legal team completed a merger…

Corrs Chambers Westgarth has bolstered its Perth M&A team by appointing the three former directors of Franklyn Legal, a little over a year after the Franklyn Legal team completed a merger with Middletons and Salter Power.

The appointments include former Franklyn Legal managing partner Robert Franklyn, who previously heralded that the merger, which took effect in December 2008, would create "a new force in the Western Australian legal market".

Former Franklyn Legal executive directors Christian Owen and Russell Philip joined Franklyn in making the move.

Franklyn told Lawyers Weekly his move to Corrs was prompted by a call from an executive search team that convinced him to join the firm.

"It was an attractive opportunity. I think Corrs has been building up a top-tier quality office here in Perth [with] a very strong national M&A capability and good international practice," he said.

When asked why he made the move, given the recent merger with Middletons and Salter Power, Franklyn simply said: "I think that's all history. [I am] much more focused now on moving forward with Corrs."

The departure was "very, very amicable" according to Middletons managing partner Nick Nichola, who said "it was just a question of working through an orderly transition process".

"There was an opportunity which made sense for Robert and the crew. These things happen," he explained.

Nichola said the firm expects significant growth for the Perth office over the next 12 to 18 months and with the departure of Franklyn, Owen and Philip, the firm will focus more on growing the M&A sector of the practice.

"We will now look more closely at anyone who's in the market and available in that space," he said.

Franklyn Legal was founded by Franklyn - who was once the head of the Freehills Perth M&A team - in 2004. In 2005, Owen and Philip left Clayton Utz and Freehills respectively to join Franklyn in Perth.

As a team, Franklyn, Owen and Philip have advised on transactions including Murchison Metals's proposed $3 billion merger with Midwest Corporation Limited, Emperor Mines's sale of its 20 per cent interest in the Porgera Gold Mine in PNG and DRD Gold Ltd's sale of its Australasian mining operations to Emperor Mines.

Together with their experience in the resources industry, the new team will strengthen Corrs's national and international expertise in the resources sector and boost its national M&A and capital markets practice.

The broad plan for 2010, according to Franklyn, is "just building on Corrs' existing strong M&A capability. They've been very successful, nationally, from an M&A perspective and also in winning a lot of Chinese investment work in the resources market We hope to provide a bit more capability and depth in relation to Corrs's existing position in the marketplace."

- Briana Everett

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