Sydney-based Gilbert + Tobin announced Friday it was acquiring Perth alliance partner Blakiston & Crabb Lawyers. The acquisition of the 31-lawyer firm will give Gilbert + Tobin an office in the capital of Western Australia's booming mining industry and take its headcount to over 300 lawyers.
Blakiston & Crabb, established in 1984, primarily advises on matters relating to the energy and resources industry, including mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance and litigation. It entered into an alliance with Gilbert + Tobin last June. The full-fledged merger will become effective June 1.
Gilbert + Tobin founding partner Danny Gilbert praised Blakiston & Crabb's expertise in the resources sector, which he called "one of the main drivers of Australia's economic prosperity."
Buoyed by demand from growing Asian economies, particularly China, Australia's mining and energy sectors have seen a flurry of investment in recent years. Much of this activity has centered on Perth, located on the edge of a vast, mineral-rich desert, rather than the more traditional economic centers of Melbourne and Sydney.
International law firms, eager to participate in large cross-border resource deals, have also targeted Perth as part of their Australia expansions. Clifford Chance opened an office there when it moved into the Australian market earlier this year, as did Allen & Overy in 2010.
Though still considerably smaller than Australia's large national firms like Freehills or Mallesons Stephen Jaques, Gilbert + Tobin has been on an expansion kick of late. Early last year, Gilbert + Tobin also established its Melbourne office after recruiting five partners from Baker & McKenzie and Blake Dawson. Nationally, the firm has recently advised on several significant deals, including its representation for U.S. private-equity firm The Blackstone Group on its $700 million acquisition of Sydney-based Valad Property Group in May.
Since 2007, Gilbert + Tobin has participated in an alliance with leading Beijing law firm King & Wood. Partners at neither firm could be reached for comment on the significance of the Perth acquisition for their future cooperation.