International firms act as Chinese water giant gulps Australasian utilities operator

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A duo of top international firms has acted as a Chinese water business giant adds Australia and New Zealand to its growing empire.

DLA Piper acted for BEWG International, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Beijing Water Enterprises Group (BEWG), which has agreed to acquire all of TRILITY Group. Ashurst acted for TRILITY and the sellers, which were Mitsubishi Corporation, Innovation Network Corporation of Japan, and JGC Corporation.

Hong Kong-listed BEWG operates more than 500 treatment facilities in China, Macau, Malaysia, Portugal, Singapore, and Taiwan. Privately held TRILITY is a leading professional water utility services provider with operations in Australia and New Zealand. The company, which caters to municipal and industrial clients, has a major network of Australian wastewater and treatments plants, including the Adelaide Desalination Plant, and mine-site water treatment operations for industrial clients, including Energy Resources of Australia, and irrigation systems in South Australia and Victoria.

For the deal, DLA Piper fielded a cross-border team led by consultant James Philips, partner Alex Regan, and special counsel Kurt Tiam. Partners John Gallagher, Rhys Davies, Astrid Beemster, Nicholas Turner, and Melinda Upton also provided specialist advice. Senior associate Nicholas Boyle also acted on the deal.

Ashurst advised TRILITY and the sellers on the sale process, vendor legal due diligence, the transaction negotiation, and the securing of third-party consents. Approval from the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) was also required.

The cross-border Ashurst team was led by partners Natsuko Ogawa and Tanya Denning. In Australia, the corporate team included partners Kylie Lane and Simon Fraser; counsel Arabella Dove; and lawyers Angela Li, Ryan Kabat, James McGhie, Tammy Kamil, Carrie Hui, Takako Yoshizawa, Jonathan Bisset, and Stephen Moore. Graduate Jarred Gerson also supported the team.

Partner Jeff Lynn; senior associates Cassandra Wee, and Jo Slater; with lawyers Sara Malek and Jacinta Pitos were part of the resources and utilities team. Competition advice was provided by counsel Justin Jones and lawyer Adelle Elhosni.

Partner Ian Kellock with senior associates Bronwyn Kirkwood and Elke Bremner gave tax advice. Partners Jane Harvey and George Cooper, senior associate Abigail Cooper, and lawyers Bridget Shelton and Olivia McIntosh handled employment matters.

Partner Robert Jamieson, senior associate Jane Hall, and lawyer Sophie Westland worked on environment issues. The IP and TMT team was led by partners Kellech Smith and Tim Brookes, who were supported by counsel Emma Butler, senior associates Geoff McGrath, Stuart D'Aloisio and Liam Nankervis, and lawyers Ted Talas, Ivy Keane, and Tim Rankin.

Partner Andrew Gay and lawyers Jake Saccardo and David Wang provided advice on property. Partners Michael Sloan, Simon Irvine, and Kenneth Nguyen, were supported by  senior associates Douglas Fung and Keith Loke, and lawyers Timon Ibrahim and Alexandra Rennie on the finance team.

Partner Rehana Box worked on insurance matters, while senior associate James Clarke and lawyers Tim Blair, Rebecca Lew, and Melanie Wong provided disputes expertise. Counsel Emma Forbes advised on legal technology matters.

The team in Tokyo included partner Kensuke Inoue and associate Naota Suzuki of Ashurst’s finance and regulatory group.


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