Malcolm Brennan

Malcolm Brennan

Malcolm is a partner in our Canberra office where he specialises in advising clients on Australia's foreign investment regime.  He is an expert in the application of the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975 and Australia's Foreign Investment Policy and the impact these have on proposed investments into Australia.  Malcolm has over 27 years’ experience in the area. 

He has advised on the application of Australia's Foreign Investment Policy in relation to many major transactions and developments.  As a result of his wide experience he has a unique understanding of the issues and sensitivities surrounding foreign investment.

Through his work, Malcolm deals daily with officers of the Foreign Investment and Trade Policy Division of the Federal Treasury in respect to all matters that require foreign investment notification.

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Recent Matters

  • Glencore International Ongoing work for Glencore on major projects including the acquisitions of Xstrata plc and Viterra Inc.
  • Temasek Holdings (Private) Limited Applications for Australian investments.
  • China Investment Corporation Obtaining approval for various proposals and providing advice regarding investments.
  • Hunan Valin A Chinese Government owned entity in its proposal to acquire an interest in Fortescue was assisted by Malcolm through its Australian foreign investment issues.
  • Airline Partners - Malcolm provided foreign investment, Airports Act and aviation legislation advice to the Airline Partners' consortium's proposed Qantas takeover.
  • Xstrata PLC - As part of his ongoing work for this multinational client, Malcolm regularly advises on the foreign investment regime and its application to Australian investment including proposed takeovers such as MIM, WMC and Resource Pacific.
  • Financial Institutions - Malcolm has a number of financial services clients including Deutsche Bank, National Australia Bank as well as state owned banks where he provides foreign investment advice on structured finance transactions.
  • JP Morgan - As part of his ongoing work with this client, Malcolm has provided acquisition advice as well as assisting in the development of the Foreign Custodian Exemption.
  • Macquarie Bank - For this client, Malcolm advises in relation to foreign investors into Macquarie infrastructure projects.
  • Property developers - Malcolm has a broad range of property development clients (such as Hawaiian Group, Satterley Group and Yanchep Sun City) who require advice in respect to the operation of the foreign investment regime to their various acquisition and development projects in Australia.
  • Infrastructure - Malcolm regularly advises on public private partnerships with State Governments in respect to the application of Australia's foreign investment requirements to infrastructure developments.
  • Resource clients - Malcolm acts for a number of clients with interests in the growing Australian resource sector particularly with a focus on coal, iron, gold and nickel mine developments.
  • Tourism sector - Interest in developing and the acquisition of infrastructure (such as hotel and resorts) has grown considerably over recent years. Malcolm has worked closely with foreign investors seeking returns from this sector in Australia which has involved him assisting with the development of submissions to Government on policy.
  • Foreign governments and their agencies - Malcolm's practice includes advising foreign governments and their agencies, including sovereign wealth fund investment into Australia. He regularly advises clients on the foreign investment policy when the legislation does not apply. This includes addressing the national interest considerations from the perspective of a foreign government investor and their application to investment proposals.


  • Member, Law Society of the Australian Capital Territory
  • Member, Business Law Section of Law Council of Australia.


  • 2007 - present: Special Counsel, Mallesons Stephen Jaques, Canberra
  • 1991 - 2007: Senior Associate, Mallesons Stephen Jaques, Canberra
  • 1988 - 1991: Solicitor, Mallesons Stephen Jaques, Canberra
  • 1987 - 1988: Article Clerk, Mallesons Stephen Jaques, Canberra
  • 1987: Bachelor of Laws, Australian National University
  • 1985: Bachelor of Economics, Australian National University
  • Included in 2013 and 2014 editions of “Best Lawyers in Australia.


Legal insights

On 2 December 2021 changes to legislation came into force that gives the Government strong powers to take action in relation to cyber security incidents affecting ‘critical infrastructure assets’,...

15 December 2021

Australia’s foreign investment regime has undergone significant and widespread change in 2020.

14 December 2020

Late on 9 December 2020, the Treasurer announced that the current $0 monetary screening thresholds for FIRB applications will be lifted on 1 January 2021, resulting for the most part in the standard...

11 December 2020

With a large increase in fees proposed in the FIRB reform package, investors will be thinking twice about investing in Australia and when to make their approach to FIRB.

02 October 2020

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