What do you like about Melbourne?
My wife is a restaurateur. A significant part of our lives concerns eating. Melbourne is a terrific city for that—interesting restaurants in the central business districts and the suburbs, all within two hours of fabulous wineries in every direction.
Do you have any tips for someone visiting Melbourne?
Melbourne is a walking town. You should start the day by getting lost in the laneways and arcades of the central business district. Grab brunch on Flinders Lane right behind our offices. Head south on Swanston Street and cross the Yarra River with the Flinders Street Station on your right and Federal Square on your left, two architectural icons a street and a century apart. Stroll the grounds of the Botanical Gardens and see the Shrine of Remembrance—a ceremonial side of Melbourne. Then make your way back across the Yarra on one of the footbridges and head north on Nicholson Street toward the Royal Exhibition Building, a grand 19th-century building that sought inspiration from Florence and was the site of two world expos. Afterward, have dinner on nearby Gertrude Street in Fitzroy.
How is the culture of Melbourne different from other S&C offices?
The culture of our Melbourne and Sydney offices, to an extent, reflects the business culture of Australia, which is interestingly similar in certain respects to that in China and Japan. Clients expect face-to-face interaction, so there are more in-person meetings.
Can you describe your S&C experience?
S&C combines a confident organizational culture with a thoughtful global outlook. It’s a remarkably rare combination that drew me to the Firm in the first place. Time in New York, for me, was an important part of the acculturation—it was as much about taking in the New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty from the 30th floor of 125 Broad Street as it was about learning to prepare a defensive profile and negotiate an underwriting agreement. It was law and lore and learning to get things done right.
I arrived in Hong Kong at a transitional moment—a few years after the United Kingdom handed Hong Kong over to China, just as private companies in China began raising capital in the United States, and a few years before large Chinese state-owned enterprises began making acquisitions and investments abroad. I got to Beijing right when the Chinese outbound investments took a decisive turn, signaled by the establishment of our client China Investment Corp. in September 2007, and not long before a wave of investments and acquisitions by Chinese enterprises in the resource sector in Australia and elsewhere, and on the eve of the global financial crisis. My experience in China and the Firm’s collective experience there provide significant credibility when our Australian clients plan and negotiate transactions with a China nexus. Our work for our long-standing Melbourne-based client Telstra on a complex disposition of its majority stake in Beijing-based SouFun is a case in point, but the theme carries across sectors and geography. This is the story of our international experience—having the strategic presence to maximize opportunities to act for the world’s most important and most promising enterprises in areas of our core strengths.
Favorite readings: “‘Tables for Two’ blurbs in The New Yorker, which are restaurant reviews of the highest form—all in just two paragraphs. They’re what ambitious tweets aspire to be.
“Pete Hamill’s liner notes to Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks album. It’s literature—liner notes and record, echoing Emerson, Melville, Steinbeck, Ginsberg and Rich—that takes you across America while sending you into the world. Sort of like S&C.”