International law firm Pinsent Masons is to launch an infrastructure sector-focused practice in Melbourne and Sydney later this year.
It will be led by David Rennick, former CEO of Maddocks, which is one of Australia’s top 20 law firms, and who led a strategic review of the firm’s options in relation to market entry in Australia.
Pinsent Masons five-partner Australian practice will initially focus on the firm’s existing international client base of providers and major funders of infrastructure projects – particularly those situated in Asia Pacific and currently served by the firm’s offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, Beijing and Shanghai.
The addition of an Australian practice will benefit Scottish firms exporting goods and services to Australasia, believes Pinsent Masons Scotland chairman Kirk Murdoch.
A recent Global Connections Survey commissioned by the Scottish Government showed Scottish firms export more than £435 million in goods and services to Australia, while the wider Asian market accounts for £2.8 billion of exports.
A number of Aberdeen-based oil and gas specialist firms are engaged in the construction and commissioning of AUD$ 70 billion worth of LNG projects in north east Australia, which will result in Australia providing 8% of the world’s global LNG production.
Kirk Murdoch said: “Our extensive oil and gas expertise in Aberdeen and elsewhere, will dovetail seamlessly with experienced Australian lawyers who know their home patch inside out. This will be a powerful asset for Scottish firms already doing business in Australia and new entrants looking to carve out a slice of the market, in what the World Bank rank as one of the 10 easiest places to do business.
“While extremely important, Scottish exports extend far beyond oil and gas and we will be ready to assist operators in the food and drink, textiles, engineering, telecommunications sectors and professional services, who have identified opportunities in Australia.”
Australia is the 9th largest direct investor in the UK and last year Australian oil and gas contractor Clough created 100 jobs when it opened an operations centre in Glasgow to serve North Sea and European clients.
Joining Rennick as founding partners are Greg Campbell and Simela Karasavidis, currently partners of Maddocks, Michael Battye, a former Pinsent Masons lawyer currently in private practice in Adelaide, and Andrew Denton, a construction disputes partner who will relocate from Pinsent Masons’ London headquarters. Adam Perl also joins the team from a senior in-house legal position at Australian infrastructure giant, Leighton.
Richard Foley, Senior Partner at Pinsent Masons, said: “This is a significant and hugely exciting development for the firm. Our vision is to be an international market-leader in the global sectors in which the firm operates.
“We have done our homework on the market and taken the time to recruit a top quality team. We are confident that, through a keen focus on the infrastructure sector initially and a real commitment to innovative delivery of high quality legal services, we will have a compelling proposition for existing and potential clients.”
David Rennick added: “Pinsent Masons has one of the strongest brands of any law firm operating in the global infrastructure sector and I am thrilled to be involved in helping the firm further extend its reach by opening in Australia. It is clear that there is significant opportunity and appetite for the firm here and we have an opportunity to bring a new kind of law firm to the Australian market, with an internationally recognised brand, and that excites me.”
“The firm’s 30-year heritage in Asia is a particular distinguishing factor, as is the depth of its specialism in particular sectors.”
The firm’s decision to open in Australia comes following a period of significant international expansion by Pinsent Masons. In 2012 the firm opened offices in France and Germany, while in 2013 the firm launched in Turkey through a joint venture.