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April 5, 2011 12:48 PM

Weil, Morgan Lewis Advising on BP Sale of Arco Aluminum

Posted by Brian Baxter

BP announced late Monday that it had sold its Arco Aluminum unit to a Japanese consortium for $680 million. The deal is the latest by the British oil giant as it seeks to raise capital to offset some $30 billion in costs related to the company's massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges M&A cochair Michael Aiello, banking and finance partners Douglas Urquhart and Danek Freeman, tax partner Helyn Goldstein, employee benefits partner Andrew Gaines, environmental partner Annemargaret Connolly, and IP partner Michael Epstein are leading a team from the firm advising a group led by Sumitomo Light Metal Industries that is seeking to purchase Louisville-based Arco Aluminum.

Other members of the acquiring consortium include Furukawaw-Sky Aluminum, Sumitomo Corporation, Itochu Corporation, and Itochu Metals Corporation, according to Agence France-Presse. BP CEO Bob Dudley said in a statement that Arco Aluminum was "clearly a nonstrategic asset" for the London-based company.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius energy transactions practice chair David Asmus, business and finance partners Kimberly Taylor and Terrence Dugan, tax partner Paul Gordon, and employee benefits partner Erin Turley are heading up a team from the firm advising BP on the deal.

The Arco Aluminum sale is not the first BP-related transaction for Morgan Lewis and Asmus, a Houston-based partner who joined the firm in June 2009 from Baker Botts. The firm advised BP on the $1.9 billion sale of its Colombian assets last August and earlier this year counseled another client, Buckeye Partners, on the $225 million acquisition of petroleum products terminals and pipelines from BP.

While BP has continued selling off assets this year, most recently tapping Gardere Wynne Sewell for its $575.5 million sale of a controlling stake in a Colorado natural gas plant, the company also has stayed busy on the acquisition front.

Linklaters scored the work in February on BP's $7.2 billion purchase of a stake in oil and gas projects in India. The Magic Circle firm also is advising BP on an alliance with Russian energy giant Rosneft, which a three-member arbitration tribunal in Stockholm struck down last month. BP's global general counsel is Rupert Bondy, while the head of its Americas in-house legal department is John Lynch, Jr.

BP, which acquired Arco Aluminum through its $27 billion takeover of U.S. oil group Arco in 1999, expects its sale of the unit to close in the third quarter of this year.

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