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HFW Continues Growth With Hire Of Leading Australia, APAC Corporate, Projects, Regulatory, Restructuring Team

20 November 2023

Global, sector focused law firm HFW has continued to expand its Australia business and further strengthened its Asia- and Indo-Pacific offering with the hire of a leading corporate, projects, regulatory, and restructuring team, led by five partners.

Corporate and projects partners Adam Handley and Matthew Knox and restructuring and disputes partner David Suttner will be based in HFW’s Perth office, while corporate and projects partner Bryn Davis will be based in Sydney and Perth. Corporate and projects partner Bi Chen will be based in Greater China.

The team has a strong Indo-Asia focus and join HFW from MinterEllison, where Adam was China Markets Leader and a former member of the firm’s Executive Leadership Team, having previously led its National Markets and International practice. Adam and Matthew have each previously been MinterEllison’s Managing Partner for Western Australia, while Bi has been MinterEllison’s Chief Representative in Beijing since joining the firm in 2017. The Australian partners’ core team of 15 lawyers are also joining HFW.

This continues the growth of HFW’s Australia business, which has more than doubled since FY15. The firm now has more than 30 partners and 130 lawyers in total across its offices in Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney, working as part of an Asia Pacific team comprising more than 60 partners and almost 250 lawyers. HFW also has offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Singapore, and recently obtained approval to  open an office in Shenzhen Qianhai to support its Greater Bay Area practice

Gavin Vallely, Managing Partner, HFW Australia:

“This team acquisition reflects the firm’s commitment to Australia and our ambition to build the leading sector-focused law firm in the region and globally. We are very excited to welcome the team to HFW.

“The addition of a first-class corporate, regulatory, and projects team has been a strategic priority for HFW’s Australia business and the development of our regional capability. Building further depth into our insolvency and restructuring capability has also been a key focus.

“The team is a perfect fit for HFW, with vast experience in several of our core sectors including commodities, mining, energy and renewables, ports and terminals, and public infrastructure across Australia and the Indo-Asia region. David’s practice will also dovetail with our commercial disputes practice in Perth, led by Paul D Evans, who joined from Quinn Emanuel in 2022.”

Giles Kavanagh, Global Senior Partner, HFW:

“HFW has been in Australia since 2006, and the firm’s core sectors are completely aligned with the industry sectors that drive the Australian economy. Our growth in Australia has been strategic and now accounts for more than 10% of the firm’s global business and AsiaPac accounting for more than 30%. We see plenty of opportunity to maintain our growth trajectory in Australia, as well as in Asia. It is an exciting time for the firm and for our clients.”

Adam, Matthew, Bryn, and Bi have worked together on many leading transactional matters for more than ten years. They are a highly-regarded team with a track record of acting on major matters across a wide range of service areas, geographies, and sectors, including HFW’s core sectors including energy and resources, renewables and energy transition, infrastructure, real estate, and commodities.

Adam Handley is regarded as one of the top legal advisors to Chinese enterprises investing in Australia. Having been a partner for more than 24 years, his practice spans corporate, M&A, projects (including government) and regulatory, with a strong focus on outbound investment for North Asian mergers and acquisitions, and project development – primarily in mining, agribusiness, and infrastructure. He is recognised in Chambers Asia Pacific as a China expert, having twice been named Lawyer of the Year in WA for mining and regulatory, and in Best Lawyers for his regulatory M&A expertise. Adam is the convenor and moderator of the Western Australian’ Premiers WA China Strategic Resources Dialogue and has been held various senior roles in the Australian China Business Council for the past 15 years.

Matthew Knox is a leading competition and regulatory lawyer, across energy and resources, corporate and projects. He has advised the government, regulators and private clients on market rules and commercial agreements, and has also advised on all aspects of the Competition and Consumer ACT 2010, including acting before the Federal Court. He is currently the ‘WA Regulatory Lawyer of the Year’ in Best Lawyers. He is an adviser of choice to the State of Western Australian on its energy market reforms programme.

Bryn Davis is an M&A specialist with more than 17 years’ experience across the establishment, regulation, and operation of energy and resources projects. Bryn specialises in hard rock mining and also has experience of solar and renewables projects, agribusiness. Bryn is listed in The Legal 500 for natural resources (transactions and regulatory), and is the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) lead partner for MinterEllison’s mining team.

Bi Chen specialises in corporate and commercial law, including mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, foreign direct investments, and foreign market entry. Bi’s practice focuses on outbound China M&A across several sectors including renewable energy, infrastructure, and EPC projects. Bi has been recognised by China Business Law Journal as part of the A-List in China’s Top 100 Lawyers and a member of the Top 50 Elite Lawyers.

David Suttner is a commercial litigation and insolvency expert, with a strong reputation in the mining and mining services sectors. He has managed multi-faceted energy and resources-based litigation, including contractual disputes, tenement disputes, and disputes relating to director duties, and misleading and deceptive conduct. He also advises on investigations into the affairs of insolvent and externally administered corporations, often working alongside the incoming corporate team on insolvency and restructuring matters. David led the MinterEllison mining focus group in Perth.

The team’s arrival continues the sustained growth of HFW’s global transactional offering. The firm has added more than 20 transactional partners around the world since 2018, including lateral hires in Paris, Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, London, Monaco, Riyadh, Shanghai, and Singapore.

David’s hire continues the growth of HFW’s Perth disputes practice, following the appointment in 2022 of a disputes team led by senior partner Paul D Evans – one of Australia’s leading commercial litigators and the former State Solicitor for Western Australia

Adam Handley, Partner, HFW:

“Our team is delighted to be joining HFW. The true sector focus of HFW impressed us and will enable us to provide a seamless and integrated offering to clients across major trade and investment routes around the world. With Asia and the Pacific continuing to play an ever-important role in driving global economic growth, HFW’s international platform and sector expertise will enable us to provide clients with expanded services and support.

“HFW’s upcoming launch in China’s Greater Bay Area and their future growth plans to support our team and the wider business are testament to the firm’s commitment to the China market and improves our capacity to support our clients in the APAC region.”

Bi Chen, Partner, HFW:

“Notwithstanding recent declines in Chinese-backed overseas ‘mega-deals’, Chinese outbound M&A will continue to play an important role in global M&A activity. With HFW’s offices across the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Australia and Asia, we are looking forward to supporting our long-term Chinese clients with seamless legal services on multi-jurisdictional transactions and regulatory matters.”

Press Contact
Chris Johnson
Head of Communications