BG legal chief instructs alma mater A&O on Origin battle

BG legal chief instructs alma mater A&O on Origin battleAllen & Overy (A&O) and Linklaters have won mandates on the A$13.6bn (£6.6bn) takeover battle for Australian-listed gas company Origin Energy.

In the latest of a series of natural resources mega-deals, UK oil and gas giant BG Group, represented by A&O, saw its bid rejected at the eleventh hour by Origin, but has not ruled out making an improved offer.

Linklaters corporate partner Matthew Bland turned out for sponsoring bank Goldman Sachs.

Origin is receiving advice from partners Graham Taylor and Rod Halstead of Australian firm Clayton Utz, while BG Group is using Mallesons Stephen Jaques partner Tim Bednall for advice on Australian law. The instruction is a notable one for A&O, which saw its global projects, energy and infrastructure head Graham Vinter depart to become general counsel at client BG Group in October last year. He was replaced by partner Anne Baldock.

BG Group, which was spun off from British Gas, historically has also instructed Herbert Smith, Linklaters, Shearman & Sterling, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom and Vinson & Elkins on projects and corporate work. Both A&O and Linklaters declined to comment on their involvement in the current deal. Origin, Australia’s second biggest gas and electricity supplier, has been the subject of takeover rumours since announcing it controlled some 280 billion cubic metres of gas in its coal-bed methane fields – more than four times the previous estimate.

Soaring demand for natural resources has sparked a flurry of M&A activity in the sector. Linklaters has also won an instruction on behalf of mining company Rio Tinto, which has been the subject of a protracted £75bn takeover attempt by UK-listed BHP Billiton, represented by Slaughter and May. Two bids have so far been rejected by Rio Tinto.