Orrick and Slaughters called in to oversee £1.1bn North Sea gas talks

Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe and Slaughter and May have been appointed to advise on talks between Centrica and North Sea gas producer Venture Production.

Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe and Slaughter and May have been appointed to advise on talks between Centrica and North Sea gas producer Venture Production.

British Gas owner Centrica paid £239m for a 22.3 per cent stake in Venture last week and is reported to be considering a £1.1bn bid for the rest of the company.

Orrick corporate partner Hilary Winter is representing longstanding client Venture, the tenth largest holder of gas reserves in the North Sea.

Centrica, which is said to be mulling over a cash offer for the remaining shares, turned to panel firm Slaughters.

Corporate partners Charles Randell and John Papanichola are leading the Slaughters team on the deal.

It is understood that Ashurst, which is also on the Centrica panel, began advising the company but was conflicted out.

Aberdeen-based Venture has close links with Winter from her time at Jones Day. She joined Orrick in April 2008, bringing the client with her.

In 2007 as Jones Day partner she advised the company during the £200m joint investment by 3i and Arclight.

Both private equity investors retain places on Venture’s board. Travers Smith partner Alasdair Steele advised 3i, while Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner Jeffrey Roberts represented Arclight.

Centrica is currently involved in negotiations to buy a 25 per cent stake in British Energy.

Linklaters is advising Centrica, with Clifford Chance partner Mark Poulton acting for British Energy.

Centrica’s share price dropped last week as investors showed concern about the group’s ability to carry out two large deals at the same time.

Peter Roberts, group ­general counsel at Centrica, uses a panel of firms that includes Allen & Overy, Ashurst, Eversheds, Herbert Smith, Linklaters and Slaughters.