Mei Fern Johnson

Partner

Corporate Advisory

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Profile

Mei Fern is a Russell McVeagh board member and practises in the areas of corporate and commercial law, including in the specialty areas of M&A (including restructuring and joint ventures), oil and gas, energy, technology, and infrastructure.

Mei Fern brings to clients a deep understanding of the applicable regulatory frameworks of the industries in which her projects are based, including obtaining regulatory consent for foreign investment in New Zealand.

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.

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 M&A, oil and gas, and technology projects include advising:

M&A
  • Beijing Capital on its purchase of the largest waste management company in New Zealand (to date, this is the largest single equity investment by a Chinese company in New Zealand) - this deal won the 2014 NZ Law Awards 'International Deal of the Year' and 'M&A Deal of the Year'.
  • Origin Energy on its divestment of Lattice Energy for AU$1.585 billion, including in relation to applicable regulatory consents - this deal won the 2018 Australasian Law Awards 'Energy & Resources 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.
  • Proposed acquisition of a significant package of oil and gas assets in New Zealand.
  • 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.
  • WPP in the merger of its Australian and New Zealand businesses with STW Communications Group in Australia and New Zealand, a deal with an enterprise value of AU$512 million.
  • Proposed part acquisition of the second largest electricity transmission company in New Zealand with an enterprise value of more than NZ$1 billion.
  • Proposed overseas investment in a healthcare company in New Zealand.
  • Meridian Energy on the acquisition of electricity projects in New Zealand, Australia, California and Tonga.
  • 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 in the establishment of nation-wide emergency mobile caller location services - this deal was a finalist in the 2017 New Zealand Law Awards Consumer, Media & Tech Deal of the Year.
  • New Zealand Bus on the acquisition and implementation of new fuel-agnostic hybrid technology for urban transport - this deal was a finalist in the 2016 New Zealand Law Awards Consumer, Media & Tech Deal of the Year.
  • Ministry of Education in the resolution with Talent2 in relation to the Novopay schools payroll system, as well as the establishment of Crown company Education Payroll Limited - this deal was a finalist in the 2015 New Zealand Law Awards Consumer, Media & Tech Deal of the Year.
  • New Zealand Police on various ICT arrangements, including in its response to the Wynyard voluntary administration, procurement of a new payroll system and outsourcing contracts.
  • Accident Compensation Corporation on various ICT arrangements with its strategic partners, including in relation to its $450 million transformation project.
  • Fisher & Paykel Healthcare in relation to implementation of a new ERP system by SAP.
  • Meridian Energy on its business-critical generation control system and various other IT arrangements.
  • Ministry of Defence on various technology and other capability projects, including in its network-enabled army project.
  • Companies and agencies including Fonterra, Kiwi Property Group, KiwiRail, New Zealand Qualifications Authority and MBIE on their technology outsourcing arrangements.  
  • Various introduction and implementation of cloud-based technology solutions.
Oil & gas
  • Origin Energy on dealings with its oil and gas assets, 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 offshore Kupe field on their opposition to Trans-Tasman Resources Ltd's marine consent application in respect of a permit overlap area, including negotiation of a risk mitigation agreement between the parties.
  • Mobil Oil in relation to its various downstream retail fuel operations and its arrangements with Refining New Zealand.
  • Origin Energy on its divestment of Lattice Energy for AU$1.585 billion, including in relation to applicable regulatory consents.
  • Proposed acquisition of a significant package of oil and gas assets in New Zealand.
  • 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.
  • One of China's largest national oil and gas companies on a proposed farm-in to an offshore field.
  • Obtaining consents under New Zealand's petroleum regulatory regime, including for transfer of permit interests and under the change of control regimes.
Infrastructure
  • 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 and associated depot (new construction) and services, as well as on long term bilateral access agreements to the rail network and multilateral Common Access terms, and on construction alliance arrangements for the Kaikoura earthquake rebuild.
  • Accident Compensation Corporation in relation to its investments in various infrastructure PPP projects, including in the Transmission Gully and Puhoi to Warkworth roading projects.
  • Debt funders of the Tamaki Regeneration social housing project and the Schools 3 PPP project.
  • 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.
  • Wellington Water in relation to water infrastructure related projects.
  • Transpower on its long facilities maintenance arrangements.
  • One of the largest network companies in New Zealand on its capital structure review, including in relation to management of its stakeholding relationship with local territorial authorities.
  • An insurance provider in relation to project management and Canterbury earthquake rebuild arrangements valued at more than $100 million.

Credentials

LLB (Hons), BCom, University of Auckland.

Professional

Mei Fern was admitted to practise in New Zealand in 2000. She co-authored the New Zealand chapters of the Chambers and Partners Public Procurement and Government Contracts Law Global Practice Guide 2018; The Energy Regulation and Markets Review (2nd ed); and Chambers and Partners Corporate M&A Legal Practice Guide 2016.

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

  • a finalist in the Best in Energy and Natural Resources category for the Euromoney Legal Media Group Asia Women in Business Law Awards 2018;
  • a leading lawyer for Corporate Law by Best Lawyers® 2019 New Zealand;
  • an 'Up and Coming' lawyer by Chambers Asia-Pacific 2018 for Energy and Natural resources;
  • a leading individual for Technology, Media and Telecommunications by Legal 500;
  • a 'Notable Practitioner' in M&A by the IFLR100;
  • New Zealand General Corporate Lawyer of the Year at the 2018 ILO Client Choice Awards (for which lawyers can only be nominated by clients, not by firms);
  • 2012 Rising Star Award at the Euromoney Australasia Women in Law Awards; and
  • a finalist in the 2011 Asia Women in Business Law Awards.

She led the teams that:

  • won the 2018 Australasian Law Awards 'Energy & Resources Deal of the Year'.
  • won the 2014 New Zealand Law Awards ‘International Deal of the Year’ and ‘M&A Deal of the Year’.
  • were finalists in the 2015, 2016 and 2017 New Zealand Law Awards ‘Consumer, Media and Tech Deal of the Year’.

Mei Fern is an experienced adviser to Board members and senior executives, including from her time as (Acting) General Counsel at a substantial and high profile 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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