Mei Fern Johnson

Partner

Corporate Advisory

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Profile

Mei Fern is a Russell McVeagh Board member. She advises on complex commercial contracting and on mergers and acquisitions, with particular expertise in investment in (and procurement of) infrastructure, technology, transport and energy (including oil and gas) projects.

She advises on foreign inbound investments and divestments, the establishment of joint ventures, significant outsourcing contracts (including contracting with the Government), and the introduction of new technologies. 

She is experienced in stakeholder management, having worked on various high profile and sensitive projects. She also provides expert advice in major procurement and tendering processes, including responding to Government tender processes.

She also advises on a full range of Board and statutory risk management and governance matters. 

Mei Fern works with private sector and public sector clients, including having been (Acting) General Counsel for a significant Crown Entity for 18 months.  

Experience

Mei Fern is a transactional lawyer who also provides pragmatic legal advice to clients operating in complex legal and commercial environments. Key clients include Mobil Oil New Zealand, The Dow Chemical Company, Accident Compensation Corporation, New Zealand Police, KiwiRail and Origin Energy.

Recent experience includes advising:

M&A
  • Origin Energy on its divestment of Lattice Energy for AU$1.585 billion - this deal won the 2018 Australasian Law Awards 'Energy & Resources Deal of the Year', the 2018 NZ Law Awards 'International Deal of the Year' and 'M&A Deal of the Year', and a finalist of the 2018 Australasian Law Awards 'Equity Market Deal of the Year'.
  • Sale of New Zealand Bus by Infratil to Next Capital for more than $200 million.
  • Beijing Capital on its acquisition of the largest waste management company in New Zealand for $950 million - this deal won the 2014 NZ Law Awards 'International Deal of the Year' and 'M&A Deal of the Year'.
  • The Dow Chemical Co and DuPont on New Zealand aspects of their US$130 billion merger of equals, and The Dow Chemical Company in relation to its various M&A activities.
  • Capital Environment Holdings Limited (listed on HKEx) on the New Zealand aspects of a US$230 million purchase of a majority share in a significant New Zealand business.
  • A bidder for the Shell NZ assets, which sold to OMV for US$578 million.
  • Obtaining Government consent to foreign inbound investment under the Overseas Investment Act, in relation to acquisition of substantial business assets (exceeding $100 million per transaction) and/or acquisition of sensitive land.
Technology and Outsourcing
  • The New Zealand Government on the establishment of a nation-wide emergency mobile alert service for civil defence and on the establishment of nation-wide mobile caller location services.
  • Ministry of Education on the resolution with Talent2 of issues relating to Novopay, the schools payroll system, as well as on the establishment of Crown company Education Payroll Limited.
  • Accident Compensation Corporation on various ICT arrangements with its strategic partners, including in relation to its $669 million transformation project.
  • Fisher & Paykel Healthcare in relation to the implementation of a new ERP system by SAP.
  • Companies and agencies including MBIE, Ministry of Defence, EQC, NZ Police, Kiwibank, KiwiRail and Kiwi Property Group on outsourcing and technology arrangements.  
Infrastructure
  • Tasman District Council on the proposed funding, establishment and construction of a water augmentation project, in conjunction with private irrigators and Crown Irrigation Investments Limited.
  • Accident Compensation Corporation in relation to its investments in PPP projects, including in the Puhoi to Warkworth roading project.
  • Debt funders of the Tamaki Regeneration social housing project and the Schools 3 PPP project.
  • On projects to redevelop critical port facilities.
  • KiwiRail on its balance sheet restructure involving the vesting of more than $1 billion of railway assets by way of statutory vesting order, on the procurement of $800 million of new metro rolling stock assets and related services, on rail network access agreements, on construction alliance arrangements for the Kaikoura earthquake rebuild and on participation in the City Rail Link project.
  • Wellington Water in relation to water infrastructure related projects.
Oil & Gas
  • Origin Energy on dealings with its oil and gas assets and with its operational contractual arrangements, including processing agreements, pipeline access arrangements, joint development, drilling and option arrangements, water disposal, and royalty sharing agreements, as well as on regulatory issues.
  • A multi-national company on the establishment of its oil and gas upstream operations in New Zealand.
  • Joint venture parties for the Kupe field on their opposition to Trans-Tasman Resources Ltd's marine consent application in respect of a permit overlap area.
  • Mobil Oil in relation to its various downstream retail fuel operations.
  • Origin Energy on its divestment of Lattice Energy for AU$1.585 billion.
  • A bidder for the Shell NZ assets, which sold to OMV for US$578 million.
  • Origin Energy in the divestment of the Tariki, Ahuroa, Waihapa, Ngaere, Rimu, Kauri and Manutahi oil fields to purchasers from North America, New Zealand and Australia.
  • Obtaining consents under New Zealand's petroleum regulatory regime, including for transfer of permit interests and under the change of control regimes.

Credentials

LLB (Hons), BCom, University of Auckland.

Professional

Mei Fern was admitted to practise in New Zealand in 2000. 

She has received a number of independent rankings and awards, including being recognised as:

  • Chambers and Partners - Ranked lawyer for Energy and Natural Resources (2020)
  • Legal 500 - Leading Individual for Corporate and M&A and for Technology, Media and Telecommunications (2020)
  • Best Lawyers® - Leading Lawyer for Corporate Law and for Energy Law (2021)
  • ILO Client Choice Awards - New Zealand Corporate Lawyer of the Year (2018)
  • Euromoney Legal Media Group Asia - Women in Business Law Awards - Finalist for Best in Energy and Natural Resources (2018)

Projects that Mei Fern has led have won various awards, including:

  • 'Mid-Market Deal of the Year' (2019 NZ Law Awards)
  • 'Energy & Resources Deal of the Year' (2018 Australasian Law Awards)
  • 'New Zealand Deal of the Year' (2018 NZ Law Awards)
  • 'International Deal of the Year' (2014 and 2018 NZ Law Awards)
  • 'M&A Deal of the Year' (2014 NZ Law Awards)

She also led projects that were finalists for the following awards:

  • 'Equity Market Deal of the Year' (2018 Australasian Law Awards)
  • 'International Deal of the Year' (2017 NZ Law Awards)
  • 'Consumer, Media and Tech Deal of the Year' (2015, 2016 and 2017 NZ Law Awards)

She co-authored the New Zealand chapters of the Chambers and Partners Public Procurement and Government Contracts Law Global Practice Guide 2019; The Energy Regulation and Markets Review (2nd ed); and Chambers and Partners Corporate M&A Legal Practice Guide 2016. 

Mei Fern is an experienced adviser to Board members and senior executives, including from her time as (Acting) General Counsel at a significant Crown entity.

She is an advisory board member for Totum Limited (a software as a service provider in the oil and gas sector) and formerly chaired Russell McVeagh's Innovation Committee. Mei Fern is also a member of Global Women and the Institute of Directors.

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