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October 24, 2008 5:50 AM

Dealmaker of the Week: Gilbert + Tobin's Gina Cass-Gottlieb

Posted by Brian Baxter

Gina_cassgottlieb

This week, The Am Law Daily looked to the Land of Oz to select a dealmaker worthy of our weekly accolades. We noticed on Thursday that Australia Treasurer Wayne Swan had approved Westpac Banking's $12.5 billion buyout of St. George Bank.

Swan said the deal, which is the largest banking acquisition in Australian history, was the "best possible outcome" for the customers and employees of both banks. His decision, he said, was grounded in "enhancing the competitiveness and the strength" of Australia's banking system.

Making all that possible is Gina Cass-Gottlieb, a competition and regulatory partner at prominent Sydney corporate firm Gilbert + Tobin, who advised Westpac on the deal. When it was first announced in May, the antitrust aspects of the deal quickly became of particular importance because any final merged entity would be Australia's largest bank.

The proposed union of Westpac and St. George, Australia's fourth- and fifth-largest banks, respectively, threatened Australia's 'four-pillar policy' that forbids any of the nation's four largest banks from merging with one another.

But the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said in August that it wouldn't oppose the transaction. Now, given Swan's stamp of approval, the deal is expected to close sometime next month.

Cass-Gottlieb, a Fulbright Scholar who graduated from UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law with an LLM in 1987, led a G+T team that included M&A partners John Williamson-Noble, Gary Lawler, and Jason Lambeth. (We reached out to Cass-Gottlieb for a comment about the record-setting Aussie merger, but time differences stymied us.)

The global banking crisis undoubtedly helped Cass-Gottlieb obtain the appropriate regulatory approvals--bank mergers aren't exactly a rare occurrence these days--but the size and scope of the Westpac-St. George union is certainly worth noting.

Ewen Crouch, cohead of the M&A and capital markets at Australia's 800-lawyer Allens Arthur Robinson, led a 15-lawyer team that advised suburban Sydney-based St. George on the acquisition.

Final completion of the merger depends on a vote by St. George shareholders.

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