HFW adds 20-strong team in Australia and China from MinterEllison

Five partners join with core team to bolster HFW’s corporate, projects and regulatory offering in the region

Adam Handley(l) and Bi Chen Images courtesy of HFW

HFW has added a 20-lawyer team including five partners from MinterEllison in Australia and China to bolster its corporate, projects and regulatory offering in the region. 

Most of the partners will join HFW in Australia, with corporate and projects duo Adam Handley and Matthew Knox and restructuring and disputes lawyer David Suttner set to work out of the firm’s Perth office, while corporate and projects lawyer Bryn Davis will be based in Perth and Sydney. Meantime, corporate and projects specialist Bi Chen will be based in Greater China. The Australian partners’ core team of 15 lawyers are also joining HFW, the firm said. 

The team’s arrival continues the growth of HFW’s Australia business, which has more than doubled since FY15 and now accounts for north of 10% of the firm’s global turnover. 

Gavin Vallely, managing partner for HFW Australia, said the hires reflected the firm’s ambition to become the leading sector-focused firm in the region. 

“The addition of a corporate, regulatory and projects team has been a strategic priority for HFW’s Australia business and the development of our regional capability. Adding depth to our insolvency and restructuring capability has also been a key focus,” he said. 

“The team is a perfect fit for HFW, with 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.”

Handley has been a partner for more than 24 years and is regarded as one of the top legal advisors to Chinese enterprises investing in Australia. His practice spans corporate, M&A, projects and regulatory, with a focus on outbound investment for North Asian M&A and project development – primarily in mining, agribusiness and infrastructure. 

At MinterEllison he served in senior roles including China markets leader and as a member of the firm’s executive leadership team. He and Knox, whose practice focuses on competition and regulatory matters across energy and resources and corporate and projects, each also served as MinterEllison’s managing partner for Western Australia. 

Meantime, Davis is an M&A specialist with more than 17 years’ experience across the establishment, regulation and operation of energy and resources projects, while Chen, who was MinterEllison’s chief representative in Beijing, focuses on outbound China M&A across sectors including renewable energy, infrastructure and EPC projects. 

Finally Suttner is a commercial litigation and insolvency specialist, with a strong reputation in the mining and mining services sectors. He also advises on investigations into insolvent and externally administered corporations, often working alongside the incoming corporate team on insolvency and restructuring matters. He led the MinterEllison mining focus group in Perth.

Suttner’s hire continues the growth of HFW’s Perth disputes practice following the hire of a three-strong team last year from Quinn Emanuel led by senior partner Paul Evans, the former State Solicitor for Western Australia.  

HFW 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. The firm also has offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore, and was recently given permission to open an office in Shenzhen Qianhai to support its Greater Bay Area practice. 

The firm posted record results for FY23 in June, growing revenue by more than 13% to £225.3m in the 12 months to the end of March against a 17.5% jump in PEP to £786k, a performance that saw the firm buck the trend among its UK rivals of revenue growth but flat or falling profits. 

Email your news and story ideas to: news@globallegalpost.com