John Powell


Banking and Finance


John is a specialist in asset, development, corporate and acquisition finance, complex debt restructuring solutions, and export credit financing arrangements. Bringing years of international experience to his practice, John provides expert advice to major New Zealand banks, corporates, mezzanine funders, debtors and insolvency advisors. He is sought after by institutions and individuals for his sharp insight, pragmatic style and wealth of experience.


Having practiced in New Zealand and Asia (ex-Hong Kong), John has applied his considerable skills in funding, structuring and regulatory matters across a variety of jurisdictions. His recent transactions have included:

  • Advising Scentre Group, owner and operator of Westfield in Australia and New Zealand, on its US$3b subordinated hybrid note issue in the United States market.
  • Advising Credit Suisse as lead arranger and underwriter of Kathmandu's facilities to part fund its acquisition of Rip Curl. The transation subsequently won Best New Zealand Deal at the Finance Asia Australian Achievement Awards for 2019. 
  • Advising real estate private equity firm CapitalGroup (FMT) Limited Partnership on its acquisition of First Mortgage Managers Limited.
  • Advising the bank group to Fronieri's acqusition of Tip Top and Dreyer. 
  • Advising The Power Company on its debut USPP issue.
  • Advising Argosy, Scentre Group, Investore, the Warehouse Group and Summerset Group on their borrowing arrangements.
  • Advising on Zespri's limited resource head office and seasonal funding structure.
  • Advising the bank funders to Precinct, Stride and PFI.
Property and Development Finance
  • Advising NZ PropCo on its multi-tranche debt funding of the Todd Property portfolio.
  • Advising bank funders on various subdivision, commercial, apartment and hotel developments.
  • Advising mezzanine lenders on apartment and other shared-ownership structures.
  • Advising developers funding, retail, commercial and student accommodation projects.
Project, Asset and ECA Finance
  • Acting for ANZ Bank on the establishment and utilisation of funded and unfunded export credit programmes with EKF (Denmark) and ECGD (United Kingdom).
  • Advising BOTM on the utilisation of EKF supported funding. 
  • Advising on the construction and launch of various Hong Kong and Chinese satellites.
  • Advising Westpac on the Kiwirail ferry funding arrangement.
Acquisition and Corporate Finance
  • Advising Pencarrow on the senior funding of its acquisition of a stake in New Zealand Frost Fans.
  • Advising the Perpetual Guardian group on its core and acquisition funding arrangements.
  • Acting for International Container Terminal Services (Philippines) on its bid for Vancouver Port.
  • Acting for Barclays on a limited resource, equity put option take-out enhanced, zero-coupon loan to support an equity investment on Hangdarm Island, South Korea.
  • Advising Heartland Bank on its acquisition funding of the Seniors Money Business. 
Debt Restructuring and Insolvency
  • Advising PricewaterhouseCoopers as receivers of the Mainzeal group. 
  • Advising the agent and security trustee in connection with the restructuring of the ownership and debt facilities of the Metroglass business.
  • Advising Oaktree as a significant investor in Mediaworks.
  • Advising statutory supervisors on the restructuring of finance company debenture programme.
  • Acting for Smart Communications on its acquisition of control of Piltel through discounted debt purchase arrangements.
  • Acting for Bank of America and IFC on their refinancing of Star Petroleum Refinery’s (Thailand) US$570 million domestic, international, IFC and JBIC debt.
  • Acting for TRI and Celcom (Malaysia) to refinance their convertible bond obligations.
  • Refinancing of the Sunway group’s US$100 million Euro-convertible bonds (Malaysia).


LLB (Hons), BCom, University of Canterbury.

Notary Public.


John became a partner at Russell McVeagh in 2004. He is on the Russell McVeagh Ethics Committee, was Chair of the Partnership from 2017-2019, and has also previously been Practice Group Chair for Banking and Finance.

Prior to joining Russell McVeagh, John was a consultant at the Hong Kong office of Linklaters.

John is recognised as a leading Banking and Finance lawyer by the Legal 500 2024 Guide and Chambers and Partners 2024 Guide, and as a 'Distinguished Practitioner' by Asialaw Profiles 2022. He is named a 'Highly Regarded' lawyer by IFLR 1000 2024 for Banking, and named a 'World Leader' for Banking/Finance by Who's Who Legal 2023. John was selected by his peers as '2023 Lawyer of the Year' in the Best Lawyers® New Zealand Guide for Banking and Finance Law and is recognised in the 2024 Guide for Banking and Finance Law and Leveraged Buyouts.

John is described by his clients as being "completely on top of all areas of banking and securities law" - Legal 500 2022 Guide. 

John has also been chosen by his peers to be listed as one of the world's leading lawyers for Banking and Finance in the 2017 Expert Guides: Banking, Finance and Transactional Guide 2017 6th Edition.

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