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February 22, 2011 7:13 PM

Linklaters Advises BP on $7.2B India Oil Buy

Posted by Tom Huddleston Jr.

UPDATE: 2/23/11, 10:50 a.m., Linklaters has confirmed that London M&A partner Sandeep Katwala, who heads the firm's India Group, is advising BP along with partner Stephen Griffin. Mumbai firm Talwar Thakore & Associates provided BP with Indian counsel. Also, Allen & Overy confirmed that London M&A partners John Geraghty and Paul Griffin advised Reliance.

British oil behemoth BP took a break from selling to do a little shopping Monday.

After spending much of its time in the wake of last year's massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill selling off assets in an attempt to raise capital and pay off more than $30 billion in damage claims, BP announced Monday that it has agreed to pay $7.2 billion to team with Reliance Industries Limited on a number of oil and gas projects in India. 

The deal would see BP take a 30 percent stake in 23 oil and gas fields operated by Reliance--India's largest private company. Depending on the success of future exploration in those fields, BP could end up giving Reliance performance payments of up to $1.8 billion. Those payments, along with future investments, could eventually bring the total value of the deal to $20 billion.

Linklaters, one of the Magic Circle firms that has kept busy with BP transactional work in recent months, has landed the lead advising role for the British company once again, according to BP spokesman Robert Wine. Most recently, Linklaters advised BP in January on its $16 billion joint venture with Russian state-owned energy company Rosneft. The firm has also advised on various BP sales since last summer, including a $650 million sale of oil wells to the Japanese company Marubeni, in October.

Wine noted that Reliance's legal lineup included Vinson & Elkins, Allen & Overy, and Indian firm AZB & Partners. 

Confirming its role in the deal in a press release, Vinson said its team is led by Hong Kong-based M&A and energy partners James "Jay" Cuclis and Gary Kotara. The firm also advised Reliance last April, when the company agreed on a $1.7 billion natural gas joint venture with Pennsylvania-based Atlas Energy.

The oil and gas fields involved in the agreement cover approximately 104,000 square miles and produce 1.8 billion cubic feet of gas per day, which is equal to more than 40 percent of India's total production.

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