Ashurst wins $700m finance role for Brazil’s Petra after taking on legal chief as secondee

Ashurst and SNR Denton have landed UK roles on a finance agreement that sees Citibank provide an affiliate of Brazilian oil and gas group Petra Energia with an estimated $703.6m (£452.6m) credit line to fund its exploration projects.

Citi’s New York branch has entered into a secured credit agreement with Stein SP Participações, with the credit line secured by parent company Petra through a fiduciary assignment of its receivables and a surety agreement whereby Petra is the guarantor. The facility is intended to allow Stein to further develop oil and gas exploration projects in Brazil.

Ashurst advised Stein and Petra on the UK law aspects of the transaction. London finance partner Nicholas Moore and associate Laura Ho acted for the two companies, which are both part of Brazilian oil and gas holding group STR Projetos e Participações Recursos Naturais.

São Paulo-headquartered Machado Meyer Sendacz e Opice Advogados advised Stein and Petra on the Brazilian law aspects of the agreement, fielding a team consisting of partners Nei Zelmanovits, Celso Costa, Rafael Carretero and Marcos Jarne.

SNR Denton was retained to advise Citi on the UK aspects of the deal. The team consisted of finance partners Geoffrey Wynne and Simon Cook and associates Thomas Plowman and Alexandra Tillbrook.

Pinheiro Neto Advogados banking and corporate partner Ricardo Russo and associates Luis Arthur Terra Alves and Camilo Gerosa advised the bank on Brazilian law.

The transaction also involved negotiating amendments to an existing agreement between Petra and Rio de Janeiro-based HRT Participações em Petróleo, as well as an agreement with the holders of debentures issued by Petra last year.

Ashurst has a longstanding relationship with Petra, with energy partner and former Centrica Energy general counsel Peter Roberts acting as the primary relationship partner. Petra’s chief legal officer, Brazilian-qualified Eduardo Pereira, was recently seconded to Ashurst’s London office for six months as part of a scheme that sees the firm’s energy, transport and infrastructure group regularly take on secondees from its energy clients.

In 2011 Roberts acted as UK counsel to Petra in a farmout agreement with BP’s Russian joint venture TNK-BP under which TNK-BP acquired a 45 per cent stake in HRT’s 21 oil and gas exploration blocks in the Solimões basin from Petra for $1bn. TNK-BP retained DLA Piper and its associated Brazilian firm Campos Mello Advogados, while Vinson & Elkins acted for HRT on the transaction.

In December that year HRT agreed to pay Petra $715m in exchange for giving TNK-BP ownership of the 45 per cent stake following arbitration proceedings. Local Brazilian firms Barbosa Müssnich & Aragão, Sergio Bermudes Advogados and Ferro Castro Neves Daltro & Gomide Advogados represented HRT in the arbitration, while Wald e Associados Advogados acted for Petra.