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2020 Winner New Zealand Law Awards Mid-Market Deal of the Year

December 23, 2020

Chris Dann Partner
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It is nice to be recognised. It is even nicer to win. We are enormously proud to have won the 2020 New Zealand Law Awards Mid-Market Deal of the Year for our work on Synlait’s acquisition of Dairyworks.


The deal was led by Partner, Chris Dann and Jordan Wright with banking and finance support from Partner Nigel Oliver and property and Overseas Investment Act input from partner Tim Barclay, all in our Christchurch office. The award is judged on four strict criteria: size of the deal, complexity, breadth and innovation and the team faced strong competition from other leading law firms including Mayne Wetherell, Russell McVeagh, Bell Gully, Chapman Tripp, Minters and Simpson Grierson amongst others.


“The deal highlighted our ability to be nimble in solving complex problems for our clients with innovative thinking and adaptability” said Chris Dann.


Our role


We were instructed to act for Synlait, on the acquisition of all of the shares in Christchurch-based Dairyworks for NZ$112m.


Our role included acting on all aspects of the transaction, including extensive due diligence, preparation and negotiation of the share sale agreement, obtaining overseas investment consent, third party escrow arrangements, satisfaction of the various pre-completion undertakings (including third party consents, key employee retentions, consultancy arrangements and pre-completion capital works), banking syndicate work (to bring Dairyworks into Synlait’s banking group), and completion.


“The team’s advice and approach needed to be tailored to meet our expectations, commercial imperatives and assessment of risks, as well as the unique characteristics of the FMCG market in which the target operates.  An important feature of the deal was obtaining assurances and mitigating risks in relation to key customers and suppliers. Chris, Jordan and the team provided excellent advice and we greatly valued their responsiveness, especially during lockdown” said Aaron Kenny (Dairyworks CFO and former Synlait executive)


“This transaction was settled during New Zealand’s Level 4, COVID-19 lockdown. This challenging period required flexibility, responsiveness and a collaborative, team approach. We are fortunate to have a great team and the ability to work effectively – even in unusual times” said Dann.


The Anthony Harper team was led by Corporate Partner, Chris Dann and Jordan Wright (corporate advisory), Nigel Oliver (banking and finance), and Tim Barclay (property and OIO).  Synlait was also advised by BDO (financial advisors and tax). 


The background to the deal


Synlait Milk Limited is a 21st century milk nutrition company. The company has seen strong growth since its inception in 2000. Dairyworks supplies New Zealand consumers with almost half of their cheese and a quarter of their butter as well as milk powder and ice cream. 


The acquisition of Dairyworks Limited was strategically important to Synlait as it accelerated the execution of its Everyday Dairy strategy. It provided Synlait with instant scale in the sector, new growth opportunities, and a diversified earnings base for its shareholders. The acquisition also enabled Synlait to extract more value from its milk pool by moving closer to their consumer and owning more of the value chain.

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