Michael is a partner in our finance team and leads our restructuring & insolvency law team.
Michael Harper is one of New Zealand’s leading restructuring and insolvency lawyers. As one of the few New Zealand lawyers that is completely focused on restructuring and insolvency, Michael brings an unrivalled depth of knowledge and experience to any distressed situation. Over the last 15 years, he has acted for all of the major New Zealand banks, all of the significant insolvency practitioners, distressed companies, distressed debt and special situations participants, acquirers of distressed assets and directors.
Michael has particular experience acting for the boards of directors of distressed companies. He regularly advises board of directors facing the complex legal, regulatory and reputation challenges of insolvency. Michael is the acknowledged market leading advisor to distressed boards of directors. His recent experience includes advising the boards of NZX listed companies (Intueri, Wynyard Group, Snakk Media), high profile private enterprises (BizDojo, McConnell Group), and a number of venture capital and private equity companies.
Michael worked for international firm Allen & Overy between 1997 and 2001. During that time he worked in Hong Kong, Tokyo (on secondment to Sumitomo Corporation), Bangkok and London. He acted for a wide range of clients responding to the 1998 Asian financial crisis and the 2001 ‘tech-wreck’. The highlights of his international work included roles on the restructurings of Telecom Asia (Thailand), GDE corporation (China), Thai Petrochemical (Thailand) and SwissAir.
In 2003 Michael returned to New Zealand and established Chapman Tripp’s market leading restructuring and insolvency team which he has led for the last 15 years. The team has been ranked in the top tier of New Zealand’s restructuring law firms by all of the major directories since 2005. The firm has acted on the most significant receiverships (South Canterbury Finance, Bridgecorp, Strategic Finance, Capital + Merchant, North South Finance, Mutual Finance), restructurings (Solid Energy, Bluestar Print, Yellow Pages, Metroglass, Mediaworks) and voluntary administrations (Solid Energy, Icon Digital).
He is recognised as a Band 1 lawyer in Chambers Asia Pacific 2019, a leading individual in Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2019 and as highly regarded by IFLR 1000 2019.
Michael has a strong commitment to pro-bono work, particularly in the entertainment sector. He has acted pro-bono for New Zealand Fashion Week, Dawn Raid, Alt TV and Groove in the Park. He chaired the committee that established Chapman Tripp’s corporate social responsibility programme and has been a member of the firm’s corporate social responsibility committee since its inception in 2014.
Michael also has extensive governance experience. He was a Chapman Tripp board member from 2012 - 2018 and deputy chair of the Restructuring Insolvency and Turnaround Association of New Zealand (RITANZ) between 2014 and 2018. He was a board member of INSOL New Zealand (the predecessor organisation to RITANZ) from 2004–2010 and 2012–2014.
Michael drafted the recently introduced RITANZ Code of Conduct for accredited insolvency practitioners. He has spoken regularly at conferences on all aspects of restructuring, insolvency and security enforcement. Since 2008 he has lectured part of the Commercial Transactions course at the University of Auckland Law School.
Michael has advised:
- Intueri Education Group in relation to agreeing its financial standstill arrangements with ANZ ahead of its subsequent voluntary administration
- ANZ in relation to the voluntary administration of NZX listed CBL Corporation Limited
- KordaMentha who was appointed receivers of several trading entities in the Stonewood Homes group
- the directors of international software company Wynyard Group Limited during its voluntary administration and liquidation
- Solid Energy's five major bank lenders in relation to the $450m voluntary administration, the largest and most complicated voluntary administration in New Zealand history
- the voluntary administrators of Icon Digital, which was New Zealand's first major voluntary administration
- KordaMentha as receivers of Mediaworks, and
- the receivers of Capital + Merchant Finance, Bridgecorp, NZF Money, Boston Finance, Belgrace Finance, Equitable, North South Finance and Mutual Finance.