Allen & Overy's Australian partners have sat opposite their former Clayton Utz colleagues on opposing sides of a major cross-border mining M&A deal.
Clayton Utz acted as the Australian legal adviser for the world's largest gold mining company, Canada's Barrick Gold, on its $7.1 billion takeover offer for the dual Canadian and Australian listed company Equinox Minerals.
National M&A practice head John Elliott and tax partner Mark Friezer led the Clayton Utz team.
Canadian firm Ogilvy Renault, who will be joining Norton Rose's international stable on 1 June, acted as the Canadian adviser to Barrick. The firm had eight partners across five practice groups and four offices work on the deal.
New York based Sullivan & Cromwell partners James Morphy and George Sampas also advised Barrick on the transaction.
Equinox Minerals used Allen & Overy as its Australian advisers. Perth based partners Geoff Simpson and Meredith Campion led the team, which also included lawyers from the firm's Sydney office.
Simpson was formerly the head of the Perth office at Clayton Utz, with Equinox being one of the key long-standing clients that he and fellow Clayton Utz defector Campion brought across with them when they joined Allen & Overy in early 2010.
"We have acted for Equinox for a long time," Simspon said when asked about the links he and Campion have with the initially Perth based company that was launched 18 years ago.
"I have acted for them virtually from day one, when it had its IPO many years ago. I have done bits and pieces of work subsequent to that, which were obviously Australian law based, which was a restriction at Clayton Utz, but that restriction doesn't apply as much with Allen & Overy."
Other work Simpson has carried out on behalf of Equinox include its re-domicile and incorporation as a Canadian company in 2004 and its hostile bid for Lundin Mining earlier this year, that was subsequently withdrawn. The majority of the company's current operations are in Zambia.
Simpson told Lawyers Weekly that his dealings with Clayton Utz on this deal were extremely limited and that there was "no lingering tension with John Elliott and all the gang".
Canadian firm Oslin Hoskin & Harcourt acted as the Canadian legal advisers for Equinox.
On 25 April the Equinox board accepted Barrick Gold's offer, with the Australian - Canadian company also attracting the attention of China's Minmetals Resources for some months. Minmetals dropped its bid after Equinox accepted Barrick's larger bid.
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