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December 14, 2010 2:45 PM

Freshfields, Dewey Advise on BP Sale of Pakistan Assets

Posted by Brian Baxter

The latest BP asset sale to offset costs from the company's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year involves the divestiture of its operations in Pakistan.

London-based BP has agreed to sell its Pakistan assets to Hong Kong-based United Energy Group Limited for $775 million in cash, according to press reports and a statement from the British oil giant. (Click here for a list of assets included in the Pakistan deal compiled by BP.)

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer corporate partners Pratap Amin and Jonathan Rees, corporate counsel John Conlin, senior corporate associate Sam Newhouse, and associate Sam Brown are advising BP on the deal. In-house, BP managing attorney Jackson Cooley is working on the deal from an office in suburban Chicago.

The firm previously has represented BP. In July 2009 it handled the company's $500 million sale of its Greek fuels business. Freshfields also negotiated the $95 million sale of BP's Indian wind farm business in September 2009. The oil giant turned to Freshfields this summer for takeover defense and other corporate work when rivals began sizing up the company in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, according to U.K. legal publication Legal Week.

Thomas Moore, cohead of the energy M&A practice at Dewey & LeBoeuf in Houston, is advising UEG on the deal, along with associates Catherine Harlan and Dina Yin. In a statement, the firm noted the importance of the deal for UEG, which does not have in-house counsel.

"UEG is the first Chinese company not owned by the state to have made a major acquisition outside China," Moore said. "It will be very interesting to see whether this is the start of a trend where investor-owned Chinese energy companies pursue the same aggressive acquisition strategy around the world as that pursued by state-owned companies."

Chinese billionaire Zhang Hongwei is UEG's largest shareholder. Reuters reports that UEG, an investment holding company listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, owns oil and gas interests in China and Indonesia, while also operating in the oil field services sector. Delpha Ho, a corporate partner with Reed Smith Richards Butler in Hong Kong, advised UEG on HKEX matters related to the deal with BP. (Reed Smith merged with Richards Butler in April 2006.)

The sale of BP's Pakistan assets to UEG is expected to close in the first half of 2011.

Firms that BP has turned to for past asset sales include Sullivan & Cromwell, Linklaters, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, Fraser Milner Casgrain, Gardere Wynne Sewell, and CMS Cameron McKenna. BP started a review of its outside legal advisers in the U.K. last month, according to Legal Week. Previous transactions, which can be found in the stories listed below, covered assets located in Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Egypt, the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S., and southern Africa.

 

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