Clifford Chance Hires Poddar for Antitrust in Australia

Dave Poddar, an antitrust lawyer who advised Emirates on a proposed joint venture with Qantas Airways Ltd., has joined Clifford Chance LLP, the U.K.’s highest grossing law firm, in its Sydney office.

Clifford Chance is boosting its workforce in the Asia-Pacific region, where its revenue rose 28 percent in the year ended April 30, helped by offices in Sydney and Perth added in 2011 and a new alliance in Singapore last year. Poddar joined Jan. 7, according to a statement today from the firm.

“Adding dedicated antitrust expertise has been a priority since our establishment in Australia,” Peter Charlton, Clifford Chance’s Asia Pacific managing partner, said in a statement today. “When overseas clients invest in Australia, or local companies acquire or expand domestically, antitrust issues are very likely to arise.”

The value of mergers and acquisitions in Australia slumped 41 percent to $86 billion last year from 2011 and compared with $148.8 billion in 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The slowdown over the past two years doesn’t mean there’s a lack of work for competition lawyers, with companies planning six to 12 months in advance, Poddar said in a phone interview.

Concentration in Australian industries from news media to retail mean tie ups and acquisitions face regulatory scrutiny, he said.

“For competition lawyers giving strategic advice, there is plenty of work,” Poddar said.

Poddar, worked at Mallesons Stephen Jaques for 22 years, then in 2011 joined Allen & Overy, which he left last year. He declined to discuss his departure from Allen & Overy.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission last month issued a preliminary ruling proposing to allow Qantas and Emirates to cooperate on passenger and freight operations. Emirates will gain access to Qantas’s Australian and New Zealand network while Qantas will be able to sell tickets to 60 new one-stop destinations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

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