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Andersen Legal in Australia has won a mandate to act on the administration of collapsed airline Ansett.
A team led by partner Dominic Emmett is working in conjunction with Ansett administrators, Andersen partners Mark Mentha and Mark Korda. PricewaterhouseCooper's (PwC) Peter Hedge was originally appointed as Ansett's administrator, but the company was obliged to resign from its position because of a conflict of interest. Andersen duly picked up the instruction. Australian firm Allens Arthur Robinson was initially brought on board by PwC but was replaced shortly after the work moved to Andersen. The relationship between Andersen and its associated law firm Andersen Legal is understood to have brought the high-profile instruction to the firm's door. Managing partner of Andersen Legal Australia Adrian Ahern said: "This is one of the biggest matters we've been involved in with Andersen." Andersen Legal is taking the primary legal role in the administration. Assistance will be provided by Melbourne-based Arnold Bloch Leibler. Mentha said: "Dominic and his team are with us on the tarmac at head office and in the skies. They are very much part of the Andersen team." Prior to Ansett's financial difficulties, the airline and Australian rival Quantas had dominated the domestic scene, accounting for 50 per cent of the market. The airline's 16,000 employees comprise the single largest group of creditors. Emmett's team is working with the administrators to come up with a rescue plan for Ansett. Ahern said: "This is a complex and fast-moving administration featuring a host of legal issues including insolvency law, employment law, M&A, aviation, state aid and banking and finance issues." The firm has dedicated a team of 20 people to the work. Ahern said: "The airline industry worldwide is facing tremendous pressures and we're working alongside our colleagues at Andersen to assist in Ansett's recovery process."