The Work

March 25, 2012 6:11 PM

Bennett Jones Keeps Deal Streak Rolling with $1.3 Billion NAL Energy Sale

Posted by Brian Baxter


Canadian oil and gas producer Pengrowth Energy announced Friday that it will acquire billion-smaller rival NAL Energy in a $1.3 billion all-stock transaction, the latest in a string of big deals in which 350-lawyer, Calgary-based firm Bennett Jones has played a lead role.

The NAL Energy acquisition expands the portfolio of light oil properties in western Canada owned by Pengrowth, a company perhaps best known in the United States—at least to some sports fans—for once having the naming rights to the 20,000-seat arena where the National Hockey League's Calgary Flames play their home games.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison corporate partner Andrew Foley is serving as U.S. counsel to Pengrowth on the deal. Foley, the head of the firm's Canadian practice group, also led a Paul Weiss team representing Calgary-based Pembina Pipeline on its $3.1 billion purchase of rival Provident Energy earlier this year. (Paul Weiss opened a Toronto office last year with two partner hires from Shearman & Sterling.)

Corporate and oil and gas transactions partners Grant Zawalsky and Shannon Gangl from Calgary-based Burnet, Duckworth & Palmer are serving as Canadian counsel to Pengrowth on the deal.

John Zaozirny, a former Canadian minister of energy and natural resources and one-time counsel at McCarthy Tétrault, serves as chairman of Pengrowth's board of directors. Andrew Grasby, another former McCarthy Tétrault lawyer, is Pengrowth's general counsel.

Calgary-based NAL turned to its longtime outside counsel at Bennett Jones for advice on the company's proposed sale to Pengrowth. Corporate department cochair John Kousinioris and corporate partner Jon Truswell are taking the lead representing NAL on the transaction, which has been approved by both companies’ boards for directors.

Bennett Jones has been on somewhat of an M&A frenzy this year, nabbing The Am Law Daily's last two Dealmaker of the Week honors.

The firm got things started in mid-February by representing Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi on its $2.9 billion acquisition of a 40 percent stake in a British Colombia shale project from Calgary-based Encana.

Later that month, Bennett Jones picked up the work on another $1.25 billion transaction, when Energy practice coleader Donald Greenfield led a team of Bennett Jones lawyers advising Calgary-based Flint Energy Services—a company headed by former Bennett Jones partner Stuart O'Connor—on its sale to construction and engineering company URS.

Earlier this month, Bennett Jones was one of ten firms grabbing roles on the proposed $6.2 billion deal under which Swiss commodities giant Glencore International will acquire Viterra, Canada's largest grain handler. Bennett Jones corporate partner Kenneth Klassen is leading a team of lawyers from the firm serving as Canadian counsel to Glencore.

The spike in deal work for Bennett Jones and other Canadian firms comes as the national economy enjoys a boom fed in large part by a surge in demand in the natural resources sector, especially for assets connected to Canada's lucrative oil sands.

The uptick in activity has, in turn, helped make law firms north of the border attractive targets for international suitors. Last year, for example, London-based legal giant Norton Rose moved to expand its Canadian operations by scooping up Macleod Dixon, another large Calgary firm.

Photo: Pengrowth Saddledome, James Teterenko, Wikimedia Commons


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