Billion dollar deals highlight for Dealmaker of the Year

by Hannah Norton29 May 2015
For Chapman Tripp corporate partner John Strowger, it’s hard to pin down his number one favourite deal over the past twelve months.

Strowger was named New Zealand Deal Maker of the Year at the 2015 Australasian Law Awards last week.

“I think every deal is important, isn’t it?

“But I think the three that probably stand out for me include the TPI transaction, where we sold a waste management business here to Beijing Capital,” he told NZLawyer.

The $950m deal went as well as could possibly be expected, he said.

“Everything went well, and in fairness to the purchasers, they contributed to that. They did what they said they were going to do; it was done in pretty quick time, good outcome for the client, at a good price – so I have only very fond memories of that deal.”

The second one was Oji’s purchase of Carter Holt Pulp and Paper – a deal worth $1.037b.

“It was a much more difficult deal, but it was very satisfying to get it over the line for our Japanese consortium clients. So it was one where you kind of earned your pay, I suppose.

The clients were relatively risk-adverse, Strowger said.

“We were on the buy-side for a start, and for TPI we were on the sell-side, so your approach to risk is different. And we had to be responsive to that, their cultural requirements and their manner of doing things, and the risk tolerances around the transactions.”

The third deal that stood out for him was the GoBus for Ngai Tahu and Tainui.

“[That] which was a first from my perspective and I think from theirs – an entirely iwi-led and comprised consortium purchasing a significant non-real estate asset in New Zealand. So it was great to get the opportunity to work with them on that.”

He anticipated seeing iwi-led and comprised consortiums being more active in terms of the purchasing of such assets.

“Whether we see iwi partnering with other financial investors or going it alone is the moot point.

“I don’t think you’ll see iwi doing deals by themselves all the time. I think that they recognise there is a need to sometimes partner with people who are more transactional animals with all the resources that they have and can access. You’ll see a mix of both.”

M&A transactions this year appeared a little slow to get off the ground.

“I think last year was pretty frenetic and one of the best in ‘living memory’. This year I think there are processes underway, but they’ve taken longer to get going. We are involved in things that I thought we might have missed out on but it turns out we didn’t – we’re now involved in them, they just started later than we thought they would.”

He commented that he couldn’t go into the specifics of these deals.

His predictions for the rest of 2015 included some “chunky deals”.

“I don’t think we’ll see the chunky deals that we saw last year, but I think there will be some. I think the back half of the year in terms of announced deals will be busier than the front half. I think that’s got to be the case, because there haven’t been a lot of things announced and done in the first half.

“I think there’s quite a bit now – people queueing up with genuine intent.”

Chapman Tripp’s Corporate and Commercial team was also named New Zealand Deal Team of the Year at the awards.