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Clifford Chance advises Webuild on restructure and acquisition of Clough

20 February 2023

Clifford Chance advises Webuild on restructure and acquisition of Clough

Leading international law firm Clifford Chance has advised global construction group Webuild on the successful restructure and acquisition of Australian engineering and construction company Clough Group through a deed of company arrangement.

The transaction represents the largest successful trade-on and turnaround of a construction group through voluntary administration in Australian history.

This complex transaction was achieved through a sale implementation deed, deed of company arrangement and creditor's trust relating to five group companies as well as a number of related share and asset sale arrangements, and the simultaneous restructure of many of Australia's most significant ongoing infrastructure projects such as the Snowy 2.0 2,000MW hydroelectric project, the 1,700km Inland Rail project, the 300MW Tallawarra Stage B gas/hydrogen power plant, the Waitsia Gas Project and the Lombrum Naval Base.

Finance, Restructuring and Insolvency partner Mark Gillgren, who led the transaction commented, "This transaction highlights Clifford Chance's strength in helping clients to navigate challenging cross-border restructurings and insolvencies. We are delighted to have been part of the team supporting Webuild to achieve such a remarkable outcome for the Clough business, its people and everyone dependent on the successful delivery of these landmark projects. We are proud of everything that the collaborative approach we bring as a firm, with our clients and with all other stakeholders has yielded. We wish the Clough and Webuild teams every success going forward."

Mark was supported by leading experts in Finance, Restructuring and Insolvency (Scott Bache, James Hewer, Genevieve Guiney, Joe Osgerby-Lacey, Isabella Bogunovich, Ee Ming Wong, Amelia Hirst and Belinda Brady), Corporate M&A (Mark Currell, Nicole Backhouse, Sarah Jenkins, Sarah Bowe and Evan Thomson), Construction (Spencer Flay, Sandy Hall, Jamie Calvy, Emma Clarke, Simon Smith and Sean Marriott) and Litigation (Naomi Griffin, Penelope McCann and Lana Ristic) as well as many others. Clifford Chance in Italy, Singapore, Hong Kong, New York (Andrew Young, Benjamin Sibbett, Mark Sheehy, Christina Sauma, Rebecca Isaacs, Thomas Gawel and Jill Rudurfer) and London advised on the cross-border aspects of the transaction.

Spencer Flay commented, "Webuild should be commended for their energy and determination to rescue this iconic Australian business from collapse. They have demonstrated to the market that it is possible for contractors and project proponents to resolve their differences and put major construction projects that face difficulties onto a sustainable path forward for the mutual benefit of all."

Litigation partner Fabio Guastadisegni and senior associate Michele Curatola helped to coordinate the relationship with Webuild in Italy. Fabio Guastadisegni commented, "We have been very pleased to assist Webuild, one of the most prominent Italian companies fostering Italian entrepreneurship and excellence throughout the world."

With this transaction, Webuild has established itself as one of the largest and most well credentialled construction and engineering firms in the Australian market, acquiring more than AU$6 billion of uncompleted works and guaranteeing ongoing employment for 1,100 Clough employees.

Webuild, formerly known as Salini Impregilo, is a leading global player in the construction of large, complex projects for sustainable mobility (rail, metro, bridges, roads, ports), hydropower (dams, power plants), water (treatment and desalination plants, wastewater management, irrigation dams) and green buildings (civil and industrial buildings, airports, stadiums, hospitals).

The combined Webuild-Clough group in Australia has around 3,000 employees and a combined order backlog of over AU$18 billion including projects for which they are preferred bidders.