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08 Jul 2010

Clayton Utz M&A practice defies market trend

Sydney, 8 July 2010: Clayton Utz continues to demonstrate its market-leading position in M&A notwithstanding subdued market activity, with the firm completing more M&A transactions in the first half of 2010 than any other law firm in Australia.

Thomson Reuters' Mergers & Acquisitions Legal Advisor League Tables ranked Clayton Utz first in total number of Completed deals and second in total number of Announced deals for the first half of 2010*.

Commenting on the results, Clayton Utz Corporate partner Rory Moriarty said: "Clayton Utz's Thomson rankings reflect the strength of our national M&A team and the versatility of our lawyers, who have experience across a broad range of industry sectors.

"We have attracted high-end M&A work from major international players and many of Australia's most respected companies and financial institutions, securing lead roles in numerous high-profile deals during the period."

"Several of these have involved complex negotiations with regulatory authorities including the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), The Takeovers Panel and the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) - demonstrating the team's position at the forefront of complex developments in M&A. Our track record in successfully navigating regulatory hurdles as well as our ability to structure complex deals is one of the reasons our clients turn to us."

Mr Moriarty added: "2010 has been a year of uncertainty for M&A in general, which is not surprising given the uncertain global economic conditions. Even small share market movements have resonated loudly and investors have been somewhat gun shy. Having said that, our high volume of deals demonstrates that major transactions are afoot and opportunities are being aggressively pursued if the logic is right."

* Source: Thomson Reuters Mergers & Acquisitions Review - Legal Advisors (Australia and New Zealand Rankings, First Half 2010)

M&A highlights of FY2010

Acting for Australian Capital Equity and WesTrac Holdings Pty Ltd on the formation of a new ASX-listed company, Seven Group Holdings, which has acquired the WesTrac business and has also acquired Seven Network Limited for a scrip for scrip exchange through a scheme of arrangement.

Currently advising AMP Limited in relation to AXA Asia Pacific Holdings Limited, one of Australia’s largest public wealth management and life insurance companies.

Advising ING Groep NV on the 2009 sale of its 51% shareholding in ING Australia Limited and ING (NZ) Holdings Limited to its joint venture partner, ANZ Banking Group (valued at approx. A$1.8 billion).

Advising Macquarie Media Group (now Southern Cross Media) on all aspects of its 2009 recapitalisation, internalisation and corporatisation initiatives.

Advising Bank of Queensland Limited on the A$475 million acquisition of CIT Group (Australia) Limited and CIT Group (New Zealand) Limited and on the acquisition of St Andrew's Insurance (Australia) Pty Ltd and St Andrew's Life Insurance Pty Ltd for A$45 million.

Advising China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Co. Ltd (a state owned enterprise), on its successful takeover bid for Energy Metals Limited, including obtaining the necessary foreign investment approvals.

Advising Tatts Group Limited on its purchase of NSW Lotteries Corporation from the State of New South Wales for A$850 million.

Advising PIPE Networks Limited on the A$390 million acquisition by TPG Telecom by scheme of arrangement.

Advising Woolworths Limited on its entry into the Australian home improvements and hardware sector through its takeover of Danks Holdings Limited as part of a joint venture equity agreement with US home improvement retailer Lowe's Companies Inc.

Advising Brookfield Multiplex Group on its ground-breaking application to the Takeovers Panel, resulting in the unprecedented order for the withdrawal of the on-market takeover bid for the Multiplex Prime Property Fund by Australian Style Investments Pty Ltd.

Currently advising CBH Resources Ltd on competing control proposals received from Toho Zinc Co and Nyrstar.

Currently advising Wattyl Limited on its proposed acquisition by major American coatings manufacturer The Valspar Corporation for approximately A$142 million.

Currently advising Noble Group Limited on its takeover bid for the remaining shares in Gloucester Coal Ltd. This follows its successful takeover of Gloucester including groundbreaking proceedings before the Takeovers Panel - FinanceAsia’s “Best Hong Kong Deal” for 2009.

Advising Barrick Gold Corporation on its off-market takeover of Tusker Gold Limited.

Advising Macquarie Bank Limited on the approximately A$1 billion acquisition of a receivables portfolio of retail auto leases and loans from GMAC Australia LLC.

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Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this communication. Persons listed may not be admitted in all States and Territories.