Ashurst targets Australia M&A with twin Gilbert + Tobin partner hires

Neil Pathak joins as Ashurst’s first Australia head of M&A alongside Susannah Macknay as firm looks to build public and private M&A offering

Ashurst has bolstered its M&A offering in Australia with the hire of partner Neil Pathak and Susannah Macknay from rival firm Gilbert + Tobin (G+T).  

Pathak previously co-led G+T’s corporate/M&A group and has been named as Ashurst’s first head of M&A for Australia, a move the firm said formed part of a plan to expand its offering across both public and private M&A in Australian and international markets.

“Ashurst has identified a number of practice areas that we will target for further investment by 2027 as part of our firm-wide global strategy,” said firm global CEO, Paul Jenkins. “This includes building on our corporate team’s strong public M&A and private capital offering to meet growing client demand.”

He added that the hire of Pathak and Macknay was “evidence of our commitment and is an important step towards delivering on our plans to be the leading law firm in Australia." 

Pathak has worked on some of the largest public M&A and private equity transactions in Australia, including advising OZ Minerals on its proposed $9.6bn takeover by BHP, Brookfield/EIG on its proposed $18.7bn takeover of Origin and Anheuser-Busch InBev on its $16bn sale of Carlton & United Breweries to Asahi Group, the biggest M&A transaction in Australia in 2019-20. His practice covers the full range of M&A/corporate transactions, with a particular focus on listed company takeovers, cross-border acquisitions, private equity deals and corporate governance advice.

Pathak has left G+T after 12 years at the firm, prior to which he was a partner at legacy firm Freehills. He has joined Ashurst in Melbourne alongside Macknay, who brings particular expertise advising on private equity and cross-border M&A transactions. She joined G+T in 2020 from the partnership of Slaughter and May in London, in a rare lateral move away from the UK Magic Circle firm. 

Standout work at Slaughters included advising Vodafone Group on its €19bn acquisition of Liberty Global’s business operations in Germany and Central and Eastern Europe in 2019. At G+T she worked with clients including Hong Kong-based investment firm PAG and Telstra, the latter of which she advised on its $2.48bn acquisition of Digicel Pacific, PNG’s leading digital network. 

In Melbourne, Pathak will join John Brewster who co-leads corporate transactions for Australia alongside Sydney-based Anton Harris. Pathak is already familiar with Brewster, having sat across the table from him for Powering Australian Renewables’ $2.2bn acquisition of Tilt Renewables in 2021, which saw Ashurst advise Tilt and G+T advise the PowAR consortium that included AGL Energy and the Future Fund.

"We are thrilled to welcome Neil and Susannah to Ashurst,” Brewster and Harris said in a joint statement. 

“Neil has a stellar reputation in the market and as head of M&A for Australia, and will work with us to expand our offering to listed corporates and private equity clients on market-leading deals. Susannah adds significant expertise to our M&A team, in particular bolstering our private equity and private capital capability. Their decision to join us demonstrates that we are delivering on our strategy to stand out from our peers in M&A in Australia.” 

The duo’s arrival follows Ashurst expanding its corporate team in Sydney last month with the hire of partners Patricia Paton and Jo En Low from Hamilton Locke and Bracewell, respectively. In April the firm also promoted four corporate lawyers to partner across its Sydney, Perth and Melbourne offices. 

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