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October 10, 2011 7:32 PM

Three Firms Advise on Sinopec's $2.1 Billion Canadian Oil and Gas Buy

Posted by Brian Baxter

The China National Petroleum and Chemical Corporation, better known as Sinopec, announced Sunday that it has agreed to acquire Canadian oil and gas exploration company Daylight Energy for roughly $2.1 billion in cash.

The proposed deal was announced the same day as another big merger in the oil and gas industry—a $2.7 billion merger between Superior Energy Services and Complete Production Services—and marks the latest move by a major Chinese company to secure strategic energy assets abroad.

Sinopec has turned to Vinson & Elkins and Canadian firm Bennett Jones for outside counsel on the transaction. Energy partner David Blumental, comanaging partner of Vinson's Shanghai office, is advising Sinopec, along with energy partner Jay Kolb in Shanghai and capital markets partner Brenda Lenahan in New York.

Vinson has enjoyed a long client history with Beijing-based Sinopec, having advised the company on its $2.45 billion acquisition of Occidental Petroleum's Argentine oil and gas assets in December 2010 and $7.1 billion acquisition of a 40 percent stake in the Brazilian unit of Spanish energy giant Repsol two months earlier. Vinson also advised Sinopec on its $7.2 billion acquisition of Switzerland-based Addax Petroleum in June 2009, the largest-ever purchase of a foreign company by a Chinese buyer.

Bennett Jones corporate cochair John Kousinioris, corporate partner Jon Truswell, and energy cohead Donald Greenfield in Calgary are also advising Sinopec, according to sibling publication The Asian Lawyer. The head of Sinopec's in-house legal department is Shao Jingyang.

Corporate partners Chad Schneider and Pat Finnerty, antitrust and regulatory partner Jason Gudofsky, and tax partner Edward Rowe from Canadian firm Blake, Cassels & Graydon are advising Calgary-based Daylight on its sale to Sinopec. (Blake, Cassels previously advised Sinopec on its $4.65 billion purchase of a 9 percent interest in Canadian oil sands assets held by ConocoPhillips in April 2010.)

Daylight's general counsel, Cameron Proctor, is a former Blake, Cassels lawyer. Jeff Tonken, a former partner at a Calgary-based predecessor firm of Borden Ladner Gervais, and Chris Von Vegesack, a current partner at Calgary's Burnet, Duckworth & Palmer, serve on Daylight's board of directors.

The American Lawyer has reported in recent years on the boom in oil and gas work in Calgary, which is close in proximity to Alberta's lucrative oil sands. This past summer three Canadian firms, including Bennett Jones and Macleod Dixon, landed key advisory roles on a $2.1 billion bid by Chinese government-owned CNOOC for oil sands company OPTI Canada.

Last week Macleod Dixon announced that it will merge with British firm Norton Rose, which was keen on acquiring the Calgary-based firm's oil and gas expertise.

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