Insolvency and Reconstruction

MinterEllison’s insolvency and reconstruction team is consistently recognised by independent, international surveys as one of the leading practices in Australia and New Zealand (including a ranking of ‘top tier’ in Chambers Global, Asia Pacific Legal 500, PLC Which Lawyer? and IFLR 1000: Guide to the World’s Leading Financial Law Firms).

Our team of more than 60 insolvency specialists regularly acts in complex or multi-jurisdictional insolvencies and offers an unmatched depth of capability and service delivery. Our practice spans bankruptcy, creditor claims, cross-border insolvency, directors’ duties, distressed debt trading/acquisitions, liquidation, receivership, turnaround/workouts and voluntary administration.

We have broad experience across numerous industries, including agribusiness, construction, energy, resources and mining, funds management and derivatives, health and ageing, industrial, infrastructure and project finance, real estate, and retail.

We work with liquidators, administrators, receivers, banks and other lenders and have been involved in many of the region’s major insolvencies, corporate collapses and restructures including Great Southern, Timbercorp, Alinta Energy, Burrup Fertilisers, Opes Prime, Primebroker, Centro Property Group, ABC Learning, Griffin Coal, Clive Peeters, One.Tel, Westpoint, Pasminco, Centaur Mining, Western Metals, Sons of Gwalia, Absolute Capital, Green Pacific Energy, Ion and Ansett Australia. Our strong relationships with all major lenders and leading accountancy firms means we can work collaboratively to achieve the best possible outcome for our clients.

A distinguishing feature of our insolvency practice is its genuine international network of specialist insolvency practitioners, which enables us to work in real time across borders, and act swiftly to preserve assets and challenge voidable transactions.

We can assemble teams to service clients from start to finish including experts in employment, tax, insurance, dispute resolution, corporate governance, finance and equity, environment and planning, real estate, intellectual property, M&A, funds management and capital markets.

Chambers Global notes that ‘[MinterEllison] always look at the practical realities when giving their advice’. Clients note our ‘efficient and commercial service’ and ‘cost-effective and eager teamwork’. Asia Pacific Legal 500 notes that ‘the group enjoys the distinction in being top notch not only in formal insolvency work, but also in the restructuring arena’. IFLR 1000 notes that our peers and clients alike recognise us as ‘unmatched when it comes to client servicing’.

A$1.6 billion Lloyds Banking Group sale of Capital Finance and BOS International Australia

Acted together with Allen & Overy as joint legal advisers to the Lloyds Banking Group on the sale of its Australian asset finance business, Capital Finance Australia Ltd (CFAL), and its corporate loan portfolio, BOS International Australia Ltd (BOSI) to Westpac Banking Corporation for approximately A$1.55 billion in total. The sale comprises a motor vehicle finance book of A$3.9 billion, equipment finance book of A$2.9 billion and a corporate loan portfolio of A$1.6 billion.

$500m Raine Square development

Advising Commonwealth Bank on the A$500m Raine Square in Perth (in receivership), the proposed new headquarters for BankWest. Raine Square is a landmark Perth project comprising a major commercial building of 20 levels and will become the biggest shopping centre in the Perth central business district. The 1.2 hectare site consists of 44,000 square metres of office space over 20 levels and 13,000 square metres of retail space over three levels. We have advised on all aspects of the project since early 2009 after Commonwealth Bank of Australia acquired BankWest, including renegotiating various project documents, managing issues related to change of builder, managing disputes over the fit out arrangements, and advising CBA/BankWest on all strategic issues, and we continue to do so. We also advised Bankwest on the fit-out works undertaken to provide an exciting ABW environment for the Bank's 3000 staff, and the fit-out agreement. This A$500 million project is in the hands of receivers, appointed to the developer. Completion was to have been in April 2010.

Opes Prime collapse

Primary advisers to ANZ Bank in the collapse of Opes Prime Stockbroking in 2008 with debts to ANZ of more than A$700m. We acted for ANZ prior to the Opes collapse, and subsequently on the close-out of its stock borrowing and lending positions, in negotiations with the administrators and, after initially appointing receivers for the bank, in various negotiations with the receivers and managers. We also defended ANZ in proceedings initiated by Opes clients seeking title to shares that were loaned to the bank, including in a significant test case on the passing of legal and beneficial title to shares under the standard Australian Master Securities Lending Agreement.

Viking Industries

Acting for ANZ and the bank appointed receivers, McGrathNicol, in relation to the recovery from the Viking Industries Limited Group of Companies of a A$150 million loan. Viking Industries is an industrial property developer with significant property assets adjacent to the Port of Brisbane.

Great Southern restructure and sale program

Acted for the receivers and managers of Great Southern Limited in the restructure and sale of more than 600 properties across Australia, mostly comprising forestry plantations under multi-layered land tenure arrangements. This was one of the largest distressed sale transactions to occur anywhere in Australia in 2010.