GCR 100 - 17th Edition

Russell McVeagh

10 January 2017

New Zealand

Sarah Keene leads a talented team at Russell McVeagh, which balances a considerable amount of contentious local work with a steady stream of multinational deals that require clearance in New Zealand. Keene is the only pure competition partner, but she’s backed by a group of associates and consultants, along with two partners in the firm’s regulatory economics practice.

Though competition litigation is rare in New Zealand, Keene and her team attract it, and it keeps her and partners from the firm’s litigation group busy. Over the past year, the firm has acted for Trade Me, the popular listing site that alleged it was targeted by a conspiracy among real estate agents to stop listing properties on the site in response to a price hike. Keene and her team also took the lead for Kiwibank in the High Court when rival E-Trans accused the bank of closing its currency exchange account in order to unfairly force E-Trans from the currency exchange market. The court in May ruled that Kiwibank’s decision to exclude money remitters as customers, despite competing with them downstream, did not violate competition law.

The team is equally busy handling major deals before the Commerce Commission. The firm is guiding both Fairfax Media and APN through their recently announced tie-up that would create one of the largest media companies in New Zealand. The team also advised Spark New Zealand – formerly Telecom, the largest communications company in the country – on the purchase of radio spectrum, a contentious purchase that won ComCom approval in March. Keene is also counselling a host of international deals, including Dow/DuPont, FedEx/TNT Express and Pfizer/Allergan.

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