Links, Lovells oil the wheels as TNK-BP partners make peace

Links, Lovells oil the wheels as TNK-BP partners make peaceLinklaters and Lovells have thrashed out the details of a peace deal between the warring partners in the TNK-BP energy venture in Russia.

The corporate restructuring sees the management of the venture split equally between the two shareholders – Russian consortium AAR and BP. Three independent directors have also been appointed.

Linklaters advised longstanding client BP, led by London-based corporate partners Lee Taylor and Stephen Griffin.

Lovells’ Moscow-based corporate partner Suren Gortsunyan and ondonbased Richard Ufland advised AAR, which is made up of Russian conglomerates Alfa Group, Access Industries and Renova Group.

“AAR consists of three companies with different private owners. Getting instructions and confirming instructions was an interesting challenge.”

TNK-BP, which made a profit of $5bn (£3.59bn) in 2008, has been riven by in-fighting since BP-backed chairman Bob Dudley quit last year.

The Russian shareholders of the business wanted higher dividends, while BP felt it was being “bullied” out of Russia following a police raid on its Moscow office.

The dispute has proved to be a lucrative one for Linklaters and Lovells, which have been advising both sides since last year.

In August, BP launched Swedish arbitration proceedings against AAR, instructing a Linklaters team led by Michael Bennet.

Lovells acted for AAR, led by litigation partner Dominic Pellew and London litigation partners Christopher Grierson and Hugh Lyons.

Lovells is a relative newcomer to the TNK-BP saga.

Jones Day was originally instructed by AAR when the venture was launched in 2003, but Lovells has emerged as the key adviser because of its relationship with Alfa Group, which is headed by Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman.

Lovells partner Chris Hardman advised Alfa Group in a 2006 dispute over its investment in phone operator MegaFon.

Under last week’s TNKBP’s corporate restructuring, both sides have agreed to float part of the business after 2010. Linklaters and Lovells are in the frame for the IPO, although TNKBP’s old management had its own legal advisers, using firms including White & Case, Norton Rose and Herbert Smith.

Hogan & Hartson advised OGIP Ventures, a joint venture between Access Industries and Renova Group, as a stakeholder in TNK-BP. The firm’s team was led by Moscow-based partner Ilya Rybalkin and included London partners Hywel Jones, Peter Kohl, Jonathan Ivinson and Rod Baker.

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