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Steven Palmer

Partner

Steven Palmer

Melbourne

T:+61 3 8686 6294

Steven Palmer is a restructuring and insolvency lawyer based in Melbourne.

Leading the Restructuring & Insolvency practice at Norton Rose Fulbright Australia, Steven has extensive experience across a range of industries.  His areas of expertise include corporate restructuring and insolvency, cross border insolvency, security enforcement, insolvent trading and preference claims, managed investment schemes and complex financial instruments, directors' obligations and duties, and advice on trusts and equitable rights.  He advises financiers, creditors, directors, and insolvency practitioners and has acted in numerous complex litigious matters as well as many informal restructures.

Steven has played a key role in some of the most significant and complex insolvency matters, including acting for the receivers and managers of Opes Prime Stockbroking during 2008-9, the liquidators of Sonray Capital Markets Pty Ltd, the administrators and liquidators of large forestry managed investment schemes including the Great Southern companies and Environinvest Limited and the receivers and managers of the Raine Square development in Perth’s CBD and the receivers and managers of Forge Group Limited and its subsidiaries.

Steven has also been involved in significant restructuring matters including acting for the court appointed receivers of the Black Swan dips business in its restructure and sale, acting for the responsible entities of the Elders Ltd Managed Investment Schemes in their restructure and in numerous confidential assignments.

Steven has been recognised as a leading insolvency lawyer in various legal directories, including Chambers and Partners, who recently refer to him as “…incredibly commercial, switched on and street smart.  He doesn't waste time and doesn't litigate for sake of it.” He is also ranked in the Experts Guide to the World’s Leading Insolvency & Restructuring Lawyers, APL500 and IFLR.

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  • Representative experience

    Major recent transactions

     

    • 2014 (ongoing) – Acting for Ferrier Hodgson, voluntary administrators of Toman Investments and Man to Man (Imports), trading as Man to Man, a large national retail mens clothing chain with 80 stores nationally.

    • 2014 (ongoing) – Acting for National Australia Bank and Ferrier Hodgson in relation to Gregory’s Transport Pty Ltd and Transport and Asset Management Pty Ltd.

    • 2014 (ongoing) – Acting for Sedco Forex International Inc in relation to the administration of Nexus Energy Limited and advising on potential debt recovery avenues.  Our team advised Sedco Forex International in relation to their claim of alleged breach of contract relating to the charter of the Transocean Legend drilling rig and during the administration and DOCA process, the court proceedings gave leave to the deed administrators to transfer all shares in Nexus.  This matter was particularly complex as Seven Group Holdings, Nexus’s largest creditor, sought to buy the company prior to administration as part of its strategy to move into the energy sector.  The board of Nexus voted down several offers put forward by Seven amidst a perceived conflict of interest by Nexus’s former chairman, also Seven’s chief executive.  Once in administration, Seven Group Holdings preferred a Deed of Company Arrangement.

    •  2014 (ongoing) – Acting for National Australia Bank Ltd in relation to the US Bankruptcy of Dr Geoffrey Edelsten.

    •  2014 – Acting for Ferrier Hodgson, the receivers and managers appointed of the Wettenhalls Transport Group in relation to the receivership and sale.

    • 2014 – Acting for PPB Advisory in respect of the voluntary administration of Bevilles Pty Ltd, a retail jeweller.  Bevilles was an 80-year-old family-owned jewellery store chain which employed about 477 people across 27 stores.  We were instructed to advise in relation to the Asset Sale Agreement entered into by the company, investigate competing priority of claims of secured creditors and the proposed DOCA.

    • 2013 (ongoing) – Acting for KordaMentha, the receivers and managers appointed to Forge Group Limited, the ASX-listed engineering, procurement and construction company with operations in Australia, South Africa, Asia and the US.  Our team has advised KordaMentha on a broad range of issues, including enforcement of Bank Guarantees and performance bonds, PPSR registrations, claims and disputes over goods in excess, notices of termination and dispute on over 10 Power, Construction and joint venture projects in Queensland and WA.

    • 2013 (ongoing) – Acting for Deloitte, the court appointed receivers of Black Swan, Australia’s leading dip manufacturer and a profitable, solvent entity.  We assisted in the operational restructure which the directors and receivers worked on cooperatively to improve the financial performance and enhance the likely sales price in the imminent sales process.

    • 2013 – Acting for RMS, a US based private investment firm in its acquisition of 21,804.13 ha of forestry assets, roads and infrastructure that was part of the Gunns MIS scheme.  Steven and his team advised on the transactional issues and FIRB issues, as well as on the court process being undertaken by the receivers and liquidators to deal with MIS interests which is a complicated but critical aspect of the transaction to ensure that clear title is given by the insolvent vendor.

    •  2012 (ongoing) – Acting for McConnell Dowell Constructors (Aust) Pty Ltd in respect to the Queensland Curtis Island Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Export Pipeline.  Steve has assisted the Construction and Engineering team in dealing with specific aspects of this $1 billion dispute.

    •  2011 (ongoing) – Acting for KordaMentha, the receivers appointed of Westgem, a special-purpose company established to construct a prominent building in Perth’s CBD, Raine Square.  Steven worked with the receivers and the financiers to progress the completion and sale of the building and acts in a number of related legal proceedings involving claims and cross claims with director interests and with the Westgem liquidator (some of which are funded by Bentham IMF), which are currently being heard in the Supreme Court of Western Australia.  Those matters include applications for a Special Purpose Liquidator, declarations as to alleged breach of duty, access to receiver documents, an application for directions to approve a settlement, a defamation claim as well as assisting in the defence of a damages claim against the financiers for an amount alleged to be approximately A$200 million.

    • 2011 (ongoing) – Acting for two subsidiaries of ASX listed, Elders Limited in the successfully and largely fully implemented staged divestment of the managed investment scheme forestry assets under their control.  The subsidiaries were the responsible entity for one of the of the largest forestry businesses in Australia.  Steven assisted in implementing the staged divestment process following an evaluation by Elders Limited that determined it should withdraw from the forestry sector to explore various divestment strategies.

    •  2011 - 2014 – Acting for Ferrier Hodgson, voluntary administrators and now liquidators of Sonray, which was one of Australia's largest providers of CFDs and other complex financial instruments, where A$46m of client funds was misappropriated or lost in unauthorised trading by directors and officers.
      A claim against third parties was settled using ADR and complex court directions were obtained to streamline the process of determining rights and distributing property and dividends.  The matter was legally complex and involved over 4000 investors asserting proprietary rights to financial instruments via tracing claims.

    •  2009 (ongoing) – Acting for the administrators and now the liquidators of Great Southern Limited (receivers and managers appointed) (in liquidation) and 38 of its subsidiaries, with debts of approximately $1 billion.  Great Southern was Australia's largest promoter of managed investment schemes, was listed on the ASX and has almost 12,000 shareholders.  A subsidiary managed funds on behalf of more than 43,000 investors in 45 forestry and horticultural managed investment schemes.

    •  2008 - 2009 – Acted for the receivers and managers of Opes Prime Stockbroking Limited (and its related entities).  In addition to being very high profile, it involved complex share lending arrangements, and arrangements with financiers.  There were a variety of interests involved in addition to litigation and disputes between numerous counterparties.  We assisted with unravelling complex financial dealings leading to significant recoveries made in Australia and overseas.  The receivers were parties to a settlement which included a novel scheme of arrangement which fully settled all claims between the liquidators, the receivers, the financiers and the Opes clients in respect of their direct and third party claims.  The scheme of arrangement was nominated for Insolvency & Restructuring Deal of the Year at the 2010 Australasian Legal Business Law Awards in May 2010.

    •  2008 - 2009 – Acted for the administrators and then the deed administrators of 15 companies within the Raptis Group which were involved in the development and construction of the A$700 million Hilton Hotel complex in Surfers Paradise in Queensland.  The Deed of Company Arrangement, put forward by the companies’ financiers, encompassed a very complex restructure where a number of issues between the companies, their various financiers and the creditors were all resolved whilst allowing for the construction of the project to be completed despite being in the very early stages as at the date of appointment.

    Career history

     

    1999 - Norton Rose Fulbright Australia (Partner)
    1998 - 1999 Deacons Graham & James (solicitor)
    1995 - 1998 JM Smith & Emerton (articled clerk and solicitor)


    Appointments


    Insolvency and Reconstruction Committee, Law Institute of Victoria and Law Council of Australia
    Australian Partnership Council – Norton Rose Fulbright Australia
    Memberships and associations
    Australian Restructuring Insolvency Turnaround Association
    INSOL International
    Law Council of Australia, Business Law Section
    IWIRC, Victorian branch
    Law Institute of Victoria
    Turnaround Management Association


    Professional qualifications and admissions


    2002 Admitted, Supreme Court of Western Australia
    1996 Admitted, Supreme Court of Victoria
    1996 Admitted, High Court of Australia
    1993 Bachelor of Laws, Monash University
    1991 Bachelor of Economics, Monash University

  • Admissions
    • Supreme Court of Western Australia 2002
    • Supreme Court of Victoria 1996
    • High Court of Australia 1996
  • Languages
    • English