GCR 100 - 16th Edition

Russell McVeagh

Professional notice

New Zealand

RUSSELL MCVEAGH remains a forceful presence in New Zealand’s small competition bar, despite losing a handful of lawyers from its team two years ago. Well-regarded partner Sarah Keene continues to lead the group. Keene devotes her entire practice to competition law, and she is supported by two senior associates and a host of outside consultants when needed. The Russell McVeagh team boasts an impressive roster of international clients considering its size, including Pfizer, Staples, Woolworths, Fonterra, Meridian Energy and FedEx.

Last year, Keene and her team advised GlaxoSmithKline on all New Zealand competition law aspects of its three-part conditional transaction with Novartis. The work included GSK’s successful Commerce Commission clearance to create the combined consumer health-care business, approval of GSK’s acquisition of Novartis’ global vaccines business, and Novartis’ acquisition of GSK’s oncology portfolio. Russell McVeagh’s competition team also advised Staples in obtaining NZCC clearance of its purchase of Office Depot in June 2015.

Meanwhile, the group is also guiding FedEx through the merger review process in New Zealand for its acquisition of TNT Express. UPS failed to get worldwide approvals for its proposed takeover of TNT in January 2013, so the team has its work cut out for it. Keene and her colleagues have already submitted the New Zealand merger filing and are representing FedEx in the NZCC’s investigation.

About us

Russell McVeagh is New Zealand's premier law firm. The firm's Competition practice, lead by partner Sarah Keene, is highly regarded as pre-eminent in the field of competition and regulatory law in the country as a top performing, multi-disciplinary practice.

Unique in the New Zealand market, the firm has a single team dedicated to competition law that has expertise across litigation, investigations, commercial advisory, merger filings and law reform, providing an integrated approach to competition, regulatory and public law which is noted by clients for its seamless, forward-thinking, expert and strategic advice on these issues.

The team advises on all aspects of competition law in New Zealand including:

  • advice on structuring joint venture and exclusive supply arrangements
  • obtaining clearances and authorisations for mergers
  • responding to investigations and prosecutions by New Zealand's Commerce Commission (NZCC)
  • working with economic advisors; and
  • acting on appeals of NZCC decisions.

The team is particularly regarded for its strong working relationships with regulators including the NZCC, and its ability to work seamlessly with multi-national teams on global transactions. The team acted on over a third of all merger clearance applications handled by the NZCC in the last two years, and received NZCC informal approval in respect of double that amount in the same period.

Russell McVeagh is also seen as a leader in considering, and consulting on, law reform by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment and the NZCC - with the quality of its analysis on reform issues regarded as market-leading.

The team is notable for the depth of expertise and experience of its Senior Associates - with 20 years' experience between them and operating at a level exceeding that of many competition law partners in New Zealand.

Key transactions and clients

During the last year, the team has acted on a large number of market-leading deals and litigation.  This includes acting for Fairfax and APN on the merger of their print, radio and other publishing businesses with a view to establishing the only media company in the NZX Top 50; defending Kiwibank against allegations of anti-competitive behaviour in terminating the account of a money remittance provider for due to AML risk; advising the two major New Zealand TV companies and the two major print companies on the creation of a programmatic digital advertising exchange; acting for Reckitt Benkiser in relation to its Nurofen advertising; acting on the largest global tech deal (Dell/EMC); and Pfizer/Allergan (the largest pharma deal in New Zealand last year). Russell McVeagh are regular anti-trust advisers to significant New Zealand and multi-national companies such as Spark, Fonterra, Fairfax, Meridian Energy, NBC Universal, Westpac, and Auckland Airport.


  • Best Lawyers 2017 Lawyer of the Year Award in Competition and Consumer Law for New Zealand (Sarah Keene) 
  • International Law Office Client Choice Awards 2016 - Exclusive winner in Competition & Antitrust (Sarah Keene)
  • Lawyer Monthly – Women in Law 2016 Award in recognition for outstanding legal expertise and contribution within Competition and Regulatory Law (Sarah Keene). Sarah was the only New Zealand winner.
  • NZ Law Awards 2015
    • Employer of Choice
  • M&A Today Global Awards 2016 Law firm of the Year (Competition) - New Zealand
  • Global Competition Review 2015 New Zealand competition bar review
    • Ranked as Elite​
  • Global Competition Review 2015
    • 'Elite' practice in the Global Top 100
  • International Law Office Client Choice Awards 2014
    • New Zealand Law Firm of the Year
    • Competition lawyer of the Year (Sarah Keene)
  • Euromoney Guide to World's Leading Women in Business Law
  • Sarah Keene ranked as a Leading Practitioner in Competition/Antitrust

Russell McVeagh

Sarah Keene, Partner
Tel: +64 9 367 8133 | Fax: +64 9 367 8596
Mobile: +64 27 535 5034 | Email: [email protected]

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