Recently appointed managing partner of the Melbourne office, Alex Wolff, anticipates sustained growth for the Melbourne office despite many challenges facing the legal industry and global economic and political uncertainty.
Baker McKenzie's national managing partner, Anthony Foley on announcing Alex's appointment commented: "Alex is a skilled lawyer and an experienced leader who takes up the role at an exciting time for our growing Melbourne office. He is someone who will always ensure we are aligned with what our clients need from us."
Assuming the new role, Alex remarked: "I am immensely proud to lead a key office of a unique law firm and, indeed, the first global law firm to have entered Australia, in 1964. For clients, that means access to an unrivalled global platform from an office which is key to our global network."
Looking ahead, Alex is optimistic about growth opportunities for the Melbourne office, commenting: “Victoria has long been attractive for Japanese trade and investment and our Australian offices foresee further activity by Japanese companies seeking Australian acquisition opportunities. Recently the Firm advised Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corporation (MUTB) on its agreement to acquire Colonial First State Global Asset Management from Commonwealth Bank of Australia for A$4.1 billion. Low interest rates in Japan combined with limited investment opportunity at home have created an environment of increasing foreign direct investment into Australia. Indeed, our Melbourne office acted on the first ever occasion that a company has offered Tokyo Stock Exchange listed shares as consideration for an Australian listed company in the scheme of arrangement for Tokyo Stock Exchange listed LIFULL Co Ltd on its acquisition of ASX listed Mitula Group Limited."
He also pointed out that: “The Victorian Government has introduced a bill to Parliament which – if passed - will legally enshrine a new renewable energy target of 50 per cent renewables by 2030 – the first State in Australia to do so. Renewables are now the cheapest form of new-build power generation in Australia and, as a result, we are seeing an increasing uptake of corporates entering into power purchase agreements with wind and solar projects. These are Corporate PPAs and we have recently acted, for instance, for Mars Australia to match 100% of its electricity use with renewable energy by 2020. From this emerges an expected pipeline of work in large-scale wind, solar PV, pumped hydro, and waste to energy projects – from greenfields project development, construction, and project financing to brownfield M&A.” said Alex.
When asked what this means for Baker McKenzie, Alex said: "We expect continued engagement with our clients in the renewables space. Our focus is to stay close to our clients and to develop our talent pool in these and other areas of growth to meet our clients' needs."
Baker McKenzie's Melbourne office continues to be busy and the growth is sustainable according to Alex, stating: "If the past 3 years are any guide to the future, we have seen our Melbourne Energy, Resources and Infrastructure group experience phenomenal growth, requiring a 75% increase in headcount, and our Melbourne Dispute Resolution group has increased 40% (by headcount) in response to client driven demand for our legal services."