ConnectingME | November 2018

Keeping you up to date on recent events, deals and awards, read the latest issue of ConnectingME - the MinterEllisonRuddWatts alumni newsletter.

In the three months that I have been on board as Chief Executive of MinterEllisonRuddWatts, I’ve been highly impressed by our firm’s momentum and clear ambition to be the best firm in New Zealand.

Our reputation as a technologically innovative firm was cemented at this year’s New Zealand Law Awards, as well as through the release of our client portal.

Our firm’s commitment to advancing corporate governance has been highlighted, including:

  • our annual Corporate Governance Symposium;
  • hosting world renowned governance expert Professor Ludo Van der Heyden; and
  • sponsoring the Deloitte Top 200 Excellence in Governance award.

I’m also very proud of the various community investment projects that our teams have been involved with – you can read more about these below.

As we approach the end of the 2018, I’m looking forward to seeing what the new year brings. It’s sure to be interesting as our Auckland team moves into the city’s newest commercial, retail and hospitality precinct and we progress our strategic projects.

Warm regards,

Andrew Poole 

Chief Executive

Welcome to summer!

Last week we welcomed our latest group of summer clerks, who are all ready to take on an action-packed summer! We have 15 law students in Auckland and a further 4 in Wellington who will work at the firm until mid-February.

We also welcomed our two TupuToa interns – Melanie Saluni who joined our BD & Marketing team, and Conor Masila who has joined as a summer clerk. The TupuToa summer internship programme helps create pathways for Māori and Pasifika students into careers in the corporate and professional sectors – an important initiative that we are proud to be involved in for a second year.

Recent deals

Z Energy to acquire Flick Electric as part of the transition to a lower carbon future

MinterEllisonRuddWatts advised New Zealand’s Z Energy on its major investment into electricity retailer, Flick Electric.

The transaction sees Z paying for new shares in Flick, giving it a 22% stake, and buying extra existing shares to take its stake to 70.1%. The $46 million transaction is a future-focused strategic move by Z Energy, as part of the transition to a lower carbon future.

Read more

Zespri launches industry realignment process

MinterEllisonRuddWatts advised world leading horticultural company Zespri Group Limited on its targeted share issue and buy-back as part of its its strategically important industry realignment initiative.

The targeted share issue and buy-back process is a key step in achieving the kiwifruit industry’s aim of strengthening grower ownership and control of Zespri.

Read more

Biotech acquisition by global livestock company

Revolutionary biotech company, Engender Technologies has been acquired by international leader in livestock breeding with operations in New Zealand.

MinterEllisonRuddWatts acted for Engender on the acquisition, having built an in-depth understanding of the business’s drivers through advising the start-up since its establishment in 2011 by the University of Auckland and Pacific Channel.

Engender has developed unique cell sorting technology, essentially helping to determine livestock genders for artificial insemination, it is a significant innovation for the trillion-dollar global livestock market.

Read more

New appointments and returning alumni

Andrew Poole – Chief Executive

Andrew joined MinterEllisonRuddWatts as Chief Executive in August. Prior to joining the firm, Andrew built a successful leadership career in law and professional services, starting as a commercial lawyer and Partner, and as the CEO of another top tier law firm. Outside of law, Andrew has led significant projects including for the NEXT Foundation and for the Rotoroa Island Trust.

Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn. 

Karen Ryder – Special Counsel, Property and Real Estate

Karen has a wealth of experience in cross border real estate deals, having acted for European, US and Asian real estate funds on their Australia and New Zealand real estate portfolios. Karen returns to MinterEllisonRuddWatts after 22 years at global law firm Baker McKenzie in Sydney, 15 of which she spent as Partner of the Australian Commercial Real Estate Team.

Simon Akozu – Senior Associate, Tax

Simon is a tax specialist with more than 10 years experience delivering effective commercial solutions to a wide range of New Zealand and international clients. He has a strong background in tax policy having started his career in the National Tax practice of a “Big 4” accounting firm. Simon has a particular focus on M&A, financing transactions, managed funds, inbound and outbound investments, and corporate insolvencies.

Connect with Simon on LinkedIn.


Kate Jenkison Special Counsel, Banking and Financial Services

Kate is a highly regarded and experienced finance lawyer advising lenders and borrowers across a broad range of matters, with particular expertise in advising on property finance transactions. Having spent time on secondment in General Counsel and Corporate Counsel roles, Kate has built true ‘trusted advisor’ status both in these roles and with many other clients.

Learn more

Jenny Ali Senior Associate, Property and Real Estate

Jenny joined the firm in 2016 and has been involved in some of the most significant transactions her team has handled in the last few years. She acts for a number of leading corporates with national property portfolios and maintains excellent relationships with a range of clients.

Learn more

Emma Peart – Senior Associate, Dispute Resolution and Litigation

Emma joined the firm in upon her return to New Zealand in January of this year, following five years working at Jones Day in London. Since joining, Emma has shown talent and commitment and is playing a significant role in the development of the team’s arbitration practice.

Learn more

Molly Powers Senior Associate, Dispute Resolution and Litigation

Molly joined MinterEllisonRuddWatts in 2015 from a leading Chicago-based firm. She advises on a range of complex commercial litigation, class action defence and internal investigation matters and brings a unique perspective drawing on her U.S. experience acting for large corporate clients.

Learn more

Recent happenings

Top tech accolade at national law awards

Our reputation for being at the forefront of legal innovation and understanding the technology landscape was recognised at the New Zealand Law Awards.

At the prestigious annual industry awards celebrating excellence in the legal profession, we were awarded the ‘Consumer, Media and Tech Deal of the Year’ for acting on New Zealand’s first telecommunications network sharing arrangement.

For the unprecedented deal, Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees joined together to establish the country’s first network sharing arrangement to boost internet connectivity.

Read more

The home of New Zealand’s Disputes Star

Partner Stacey Shortall was named New Zealand’s Disputes Star of the Year at the annual Asia Law Asia-Pacific Dispute Resolution Awards, which honours the top dispute practitioners in 14 jurisdictions within the Asia-Pacific region.

An internationally recognised lawyer, Stacey is an award-winning litigation specialist with more than 20 years legal experience. She won widespread respect for her representation of certain directors and officers of Pike River Coal in the numerous investigations following mining disaster, including at the Royal Commission of Inquiry.

Read more

International accolade for gender diversity leadership

Our firm’s commitment to greater gender diversity in the legal profession was celebrated at the Euromoney Legal Media Group Asia Women in Business Law Awards, held in Hong Kong.

MinterEllisonRuddWatts was named:

  • New Zealand’s best national firm for women in business and law
  • Best national firm mentoring programme in the Asia Pacific region

The Women in Business Law Awards recognise the best initiatives for gender diversity, innovation, mentoring, work-life balance, pro bono work and talent management.

Read more

International endorsement for financial and corporate law expertise

MinterEllisonRuddWatts’ position as market leaders in financial and corporate law has again been recognised in the IFLR 1000 rankings. The firm has retained its previous rankings and is celebrating 12 new individual rankings:

  • John Conlan – listed for Banking and Finance, Capital Markets and Corporate and M&A.
  • Rodney Craig – listed for Corporate and M&A, Capital Markets, Project Development as well as Restructuring and Insolvency.
  • Mark Forman – listed for Corporate and M&A
  • Michael Langdon – ranked for Banking and Finance as well as Restructuring and Insolvency

Cathy Quinn ONZM was also named a Market Leader for mergers and acquisition and capital markets – one of only four lawyers ranked at this prestigious level in New Zealand.

Read more

Key appointment to Culture Change Taskforce

Senior Associate Julia Batchelor-Smith has been appointed to the New Zealand Law Society’s ‘Culture Change Taskforce’ – a group committed to driving systems and culture change within the legal community.

The taskforce is one of the Law Society’s initiatives in response to its Legal Workplace Environment Survey. The survey showed 18% of lawyers have been sexually harassed and 52% of lawyers have been bullied during their working lifetime.

Read more

Legal portal to boost in-house practice

MinterEllisonRuddWatts has launched a fully customisable and configurable client portal designed to create efficiencies for in-house legal operations.

Developed in-house, the portal offers various modules and incorporates some fantastic features including document management and document automation, a compliance risk register, a virtual data room and an artificial intelligence integration system.

Read more

Corporate Governance Symposium

Our annual Corporate Governance Symposium, held in August this year, has become the flagship event for the New Zealand governance community. This year’s symposium topic was ‘What can we learn from the scars on other people's backs?’.

The symposium attracted more than 450 guests, along with our partners and senior lawyers from Auckland and Wellington, to hear a panel of eminent directors talk about what they had learned going through tough times in their careers.

The panel, facilitated by Cathy Quinn ONZM, included Dame Paula Rebstock, Rob Campbell, Susan Peterson, Andy Coupe and Tony Carter, who were refreshingly honest and open in sharing their personal experiences and learnings.

Governance expert shares his knowledge

We were thrilled to host world-renowned governance expert Professor Ludo van Der Heyden from INSEAD University for two exclusive briefings for our clients.

The briefings, one targeting owners and directors in unlisted companies and the other for CEO’s, received excellent feedback from attendees.

Key insights from the sessions:

Deloitte Top 200 Awards

As part of our commitment to advancing corporate governance in New Zealand, MinterEllisonRuddWatts sponsored the Deloitte Top 200 “Excellence in Governance” award again this year.

Sanford took out the country’s top governance award, recognising the company's strong focus on being a good corporate citizen, with broader considerations beyond its commercial activity.

Read more

Growing international relationships

Cameron Taylor, Chris Young, Robert Falvey, Sarah Sinclair, Andrew Monteith and Elena Kim attended the International Bar Association’s (IBA) recent conference in Rome.

Elena was part of a panel discussion on strategies and structures for cross-border equity incentive packages. As the only New Zealand (and indeed the Asia-Pacific) delegate on the panel, she was uniquely placed to discuss different types of cross-border arrangements that may be used, common challenges arising from them and strategies for both companies and managers.

The panel was comprised of leading lawyers and an industry expert from Italy, Germany and the UK.

Newly admitted solicitors

We celebrated a number of admissions in our Auckland office this month.

Soren Adair, Jess Bremner, Dani Findlay, Hai Xin Huang, Adam Hyams, Katie Karpik, Tom Leggat, Vivien Liu, Hazel Meikle-Downing, Holly-Marie Noone, Dani Payne, Jacob Snedden and Katarina Zujovic all reached this career milestone.

Some of our Wellington law clerks – Kalyani Dixit, Antonia Leggat, Max McMahon and Helena Page – will be admitted in a ceremony on 7 December.

Keeping in Touch

We have had another year of very successful Keeping in Touch morning teas. The morning teas are informative sessions organised for staff who are currently on, or have recently returned from, parental leave. Highlights from this year’s sessions include guest speakers from Personality Dynamics and the Brainwave Trust who have provided some fantastic insight, from simple parenting tips through to brain development in children.

We are looking forward to the upcoming Keeping in Touch Christmas morning teas to be held in December.

Community investment

Jammies in June

As part of our community investment programme, we took part in The Middlemore Foundation’s ‘Jammies in June’ campaign again this year – collecting donations of flannelette pyjamas to be distributed to children in hospital as well as to children in teen parent units, refuge centres and other community centres around Auckland. Our generous people donated an incredible 396 pairs of PJs to the Middlemore Foundation.

Yellow Market Day

To support the fantastic work the Cancer Society does in New Zealand helping those with cancer we hosted a Market Day on Daffodil Day. Our team donated delicious home baking and home grown herbs, fruits and veges, children's second hand clothing and toys, and items for a raffle. The grand total raised for the Cancer Society was an incredible $3,089.20.

Foster Hope

Our People & Performance team got stuck in for Foster Hope, assisting with bag tagging for children entering foster care.

Foster Hope supports the more than 8,000 children living in foster care in New Zealand, with volunteers making up kits for children when they are removed from their homes and taken into foster care.

Environmental volunteering

Each year, every member of staff is entitled to take one day of leave to volunteer. Teams from our Wellington and Auckland offices have taken the opportunity to get amongst nature.

In line with DOC’s Conservation Week in September, Wellington staff visited Zealandia Ecosanctuary for their volunteer day, where the team helped to clear gorse that had been overtaking native bush.

Our Auckland BD and Marketing team visited Motuihe Island to volunteer for the day to plant trees and clear a kiwi burrow.

Pro bono work creates New Zealand’s first permanent war memorial museum in Europe

In recognition of the part New Zealand played in the Great War, and then again in World War II, The New Zealand Memorial Museum Trust has established a New Zealand Memorial Museum in the town of Le Quesnoy in Northern France. The museum provides a focal point to honour the exploits of New Zealanders who served.

MinterEllisonRuddWatts is proud to act for the Trust, assisting in this project and its feasibilities, having been appointed by Sir Don McKinnon who is a Patron of the Trust. Ross Pickmere, Andrew Ryan, Philip Dreadon and Charlotte Agnew-Harington have acted for the Trust pro bono, assisting to establish the museum.

The year ahead

In 2019 our Auckland team will shift into new premises in Auckland’s new Commercial Bay development.

The Commercial Bay project is transforming Auckland’s CBD and waterfront – bringing together world class commercial space, public transport, international quality retail, public spaces and hospitality environments.

For us, the move will be a major step in many ways as we shift to a modern, open plan environment with collaboration at its core. We are excited to make the move to an architecturally designed building, surrounded by great neighbours and located in Auckland’s premier location.

Current vacancies

There are opportunities for talented lawyers to join our team. If you are planning on returning to New Zealand, get in touch with Kiri Sullivan – we are always keen to hear from our alumni looking to make the move home.

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