Kiwis and Aussies team up to tackle New Zealand’s largest-ever PPP

by Sophie Schroder08 Aug 2014
A couple of major Aussie firms managed to muscle their way in to acting on Transmission Gully - New Zealand’s largest ever PPP. But those involved say the firms complemented their Kiwi counterparts well.

On the home team, Simpson Grierson advised the Wellington Gateway Partnership (WGP) consortium on its successful bid for New Zealand's largest public private partnership, the availability based $1 billion transmission gully motorway.

WGP will finance, design and construct the project and then operate and maintain the 27km Transmission Gully Motorway for a 25 year period following completion of construction. The project is New Zealand’s first state highway to be delivered as a PPP. WGP aims to have the Transmission Gully highway open for traffic by 2020.
The Kiwi law firm worked alongside the Australian team of Herbert Smith Freehills.

Simpson Grierson’s lead commercial partner Simon Vannini told New Zealand Lawyer that the two complemented each other and drove home a solid end result.

While HSF offered the project and roading expertise, Simpson Grierson brought expertise in local law, consenting and planning to the table he says.

“The Transmission Gully PPP provided the opportunity to help our client deliver a complex and time critical project, by leveraging our specific expertise and experience in large infrastructure projects.”
The sheer size, complexity and length of the project made it particularly unique and challenging and Vannini says it’s one of the biggest transactions Simpson Grierson has worked on, both in terms of the value and its length.
“I think it positions us very strongly from having successfully completed the largest PPP to date – it shows we can efficiently deliver these large infrastructure projects,” he says.

Vannini’s team included Peter Eady and Josh Cairns (banking and finance), Graeme Christie and Sonia Vitas (construction), James Winchester and Matt Conway (resource management) and Nick Wilson (property).

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) lead partner Gerard Pike told NZ Lawyer the project is not just significant for New Zealand, but has wider connotations for Australasia.
“The performance regime under the project agreement with the NZTA contains some new features for roads in the Australasian market. Due to the geography of Transmission Gully the road’s design is also very complex, there are almost 30 bridges over the 27km stretch of road, and this also added complexity to the contractual and financing arrangement,” he says.
He added that although HSF has acted on almost all of the 80 PPPs completed in Australia to date, this is the first it has completed here.
The who’s who of Transmission Gully:
  • For the Transport Agency in New Zealand (the relevant state entity) - Bell Gully in New Zealand.
  • For the banks - King & Wood Mallesons in Australia and Russell McVeagh in New Zealand.
  • For the Sponsors - Herbert Smith Freehills in Australia and Simpson Grierson in New Zealand.
  • For the Accident Compensation Corporation (which was one of the Sponsors and a Lender) - Chapman Tripp in New Zealand.