Herbert Smith Freehills secures trio of tax partners from ex-Australian ally as it switches to PwC

International firm pledges to build 'leading tax offering' as bulk of associate firm Greenwoods joins Big Four giant

Melbourne Images courtesy of Herbert Smith Freehills

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has hired a trio of tax partners in Australia from former local tax advisory associate firm Greenwoods, which was acquired earlier this year by PwC. 

Toby Eggleston and Ryan Leslie have joined HSF in Melbourne while Nick Heggart has moved across in Perth, shortly after around 65 employees from Greenwoods, including 15 partners, made the move to PwC earlier this month.  

Eggleston brings more than 20 years' experience specialising in general corporate and M&A taxation matters, with a particular focus on private equity and venture capital. He joined legacy firm Freehills as an associate back in 2000 before moving over to Greenwoods in 2005.

Leslie was at HSF prior to joining Greenwoods ten years ago, making partner in 2020. He advises on the income tax aspects of corporate, international and trust matters, with a particular focus on M&A, internal restructures and disputes in the infrastructure sector. 

Meantime Heggart, who was a partner at Freehills before moving to Greenwoods at the start of 2012, brings expertise across most areas of taxation including income tax, stamp duty, and resource rent tax and royalties, with a focus on the energy and resources and property sectors.

Carolyn Pugsley, HSF managing partner for corporate, described the new arrivals as “exceptional lawyers and leading experts in their field”.

“Many of our clients and our partners already have long-standing relationships with Toby, Nick and Ryan and are looking forward to continuing to work with them,” she said, adding that the trio will work closely with the firm’s other tax specialists in Australia including partners Hugh Paynter and Jinny Chaimungkalanont, as well as others throughout the firm’s global network. 

Also to have joined from Greenwoods are Perth-based special counsel Tristan Boyd and senior associate Louise Van Wyk, along with Melbourne-based senior associates Alistair Haskett and Naison Seery and solicitor Dan Miles. 

Andrew Pike, HSF executive partner, Australia and Asia, said: “We're focused on building a leading tax offering in Australia with the depth and breadth of expertise that clients have come to expect from a full-service firm like Hebert Smith Freehills.

“These appointments are just the start of our ambitious growth plans for the practice,” Pike added. 

Following the new arrivals HSF has 21 tax lawyers across its offices in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney according to its website, including six partners.

News emerged in February that Greenwoods had been acquired by PwC Australia, ending an association with HSF that began in 1985. 

PwC said at the time that 15 partners and 50 staff members from Greenwoods would join it mid-year, with Greenwoods managing partner, Manuel Makas, citing the opportunity to be part of an extensive international network of firms and broaden the suite of services the company could provide to its clients as one of the key drivers for Greenwoods to join the accountancy giant.

Earlier this month, HSF’s former global CEO Mark Rigotti left the firm to take up a leadership role at the Australian Institute of Company Directors. News of Rigotti’s departure came a month after he retired from HSF’s partnership and began a part-time advisory role, having served as the firm’s first sole global CEO between 2014 and 2020.



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