Heavyweights secure oil exploration take-private

A raft of heavyweight advisers have secured one of the biggest take-privates since the credit crisis jammed the market this summer.

Oil exploration group and Pinsent Masons client Abbot has agreed to a £906m takeover by US private equity house First Reserve in its first UK purchase.

First Reserve turned to Slaughter and May’s head of corporate Chris Saul, with corporate partner Robin Ogle, as well as Simpson Thacher & Bartlett London-based corporate partner Euan Gorrie. The firm has a historic relationship with First Reserve in the States.

Abbot is also a longstanding client of Pinsent Masons, with the firm advising the company on a £247m acquisition and refinancing in Norway last year. Corporate finance partner Alan Farkas manages the relationship.

Meanwhile, corporate partner Tim Emmerson at Sullivan & Cromwell advised Abbot’s chairman and largest shareholder Alasdair Locke. He was also advised by Goldman Sachs, which provided the debt finance package. Goldman recommended Emmerson for the job.

The offer is being made by Turbo Alpha, a First Reserve special purpose vehicle. As part of the deal, Locke will subscribe to £25m ordinary shares in Turbo Alpha’s parent company, Turbo Cayman.