Linklaters opposite Freshfields on BP share swap with Rosneft

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Linklaters have been handed the prize mandates on BP’s £10bn share swap with Russian state-owned oil giant ­Rosneft.

London corporate partner Sebastian Lawson, along with Moscow associate Sergei Diyachenko, led the Freshfields team acting for Rosneft.

At Linklaters London ­corporate partner Stephen Griffin and Moscow ­corporate partner Grigory Gadzhiev acted for BP.

The deal will see BP take a 9.5 per cent stake, worth around $8bn (£5bn), in Rosneft, with the Russian company taking a 5 per cent share in BP.

The share swap comes as the two magic circle firms are engaged in their own battle for mandates from the London-based oil company.

Last summer Freshfields established an advisory team featuring London corporate head Mark Rawlinson after it landed a role acting for BP on the defence of any ­potential takeovers.

The mandate was widely seen as a major blow to BP’s traditional corporate ­adviser Linklaters, where senior partner David Cheyne is the key relationship partner for the oil giant.

Freshfields is a longstanding adviser for Rosneft, but a source close to the matter said that no ­conflict issues came into play on this ­occasion.

It is understood that the current tie-up predates the Deepwater Horizon oilrig disaster that led to BP instructing Freshfields.

Freshfields is thought to have advised BP on its involvement with Rosneft before taking on the work.

US firm Sullivan & Cromwell recently advised BP on a deal that saw it sell its 60 per cent stake in its Argentinian joint venture (JV) Pan American Energy for $7bn. The transaction was led out of London by corporate partner Stewart Robertson (TheLawyer.com, 29 November 2010). The sale was part of a proposed divestment of around $30bn worth of assets by BP.

The Rosneft deal, BP’s first strategic venture since last April’s spill, will see the two energy companies form a JV to explore oil and gas deposits in Russia’s ­Arctic shelf.