Clifford Chance and Skadden advise as Shell sells Australian business to Vitol

Clifford Chance, Skadden Arps Meagher & Flom and Australian firm Gilbert + Tobin have taken lead roles in Shell’s $2.6bn deal to offload its Australia downstream business to Vitol.

Clifford Chance Royal Dutch Shell on the binding agreement to sell its Australia downstream businesses to Vitol, including Shell’s Geelong Refinery, a 870-site retail business and its bulk fuels, bitumen, chemicals as well as part of its lubricants business in Australia.

The magic circle firm’s team was led by London corporate partner Kathy Honeywood, Singapore managing partner Geraint Hughes and Perth corporate partner Tracey Renshaw. The firm’s team worked alongside Shell’s in-house legal team, led by Malaysia-based in-house counsel Damis Shaharudin.

Skadden and Gilbert + Tobin have acted for Vitol as international counsel and Australian counsel respectively.  Skadden’s team was led by London M&A partner Shaun Lascelles and energy partner Douglas Nordlinger, while Gilbert + Tobin’s Sydney corporate partner David Clee provided Australian advice.

The deal is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to close in 2014.

Clifford Chance is a long-standing adviser to Shell. Last year, the oil company instructed the firm for an investigation relating to the price of oil, refined products and biofuels initiated by European Commission (16 May 2013). In 2012, the client sought out the firm again for its £992m abandoned bid of Africa-focused oil and gas group Cove Energy (23 February 2012).

Skadden has also previously worked with Vitol on transactions. In 2011, the firm, also fielding Nordlinger, advised the group in its acquisition of the majority of Shell’s shareholding in most of its African downstream businesses (22 February 2011).