Deals round-up

Davis Polk & Wardell, led by corporate partners John Amorosi and Christopher Mayer, has secured the lead role advising China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) on its $19.6bn (£10.73bn) counter bid for Californian power group Unocal. Herbert Smith’s Hong Kong practice is understood to be assisting with local law issues related to the bid, while Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz, led by Daniel Neff and David Karp, is advising Unocal. Meanwhile, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, led by Robert James and Terry Kee, is also advising US oil giant Chevron on its previously agreed $18bn (£9.85bn) offer for Unocal. Other firms to secure roles on the sale are Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom and Richards Butler, which are advising CNOOC’s non-executive directors on the US and Hong Kong issues respectively.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is advising longstanding client Cinven on the sale of Fitness First for an expected price tag in excess of £800m. The private equity house has instructed corporate partner David Higgins to oversee the auction process, which is expected to take place next month. Higgins secured the instruction following his role on Cinven’s acquisition of Fitness First two years ago.

Shearman & Sterling has strengthened its client relationship with the Berkeley Group after acting on the sale of Berkeley’s subsidiary Crosby Group to Lend Lease Europe. Upon completion of the share sale, Berkeley will receive some £250m, while Crosby’s directors will take home £10m. Lend Lease Europe was advised by Pinsent Masons. Last year, Shearman also advised the Berkeley Group on its plan to return £1.45bn to shareholders.