Latham among lineup on BP’s latest US sell-off

Latham & Watkins has joined Texan firm Gardere Wynne Sewell advising on BP’s $5.5bn (£4.3bn) sale of its interests in a range of oil and gas fields in the Gulf of Mexico to US petroleum rival Plains Exploration & Production.

Latham advised Plains on the deal, under which the Houston-based group will acquire BP’s interests in the so-called Marlin hub covering the Marlin, Dorado and King fields, as well as in the Horn Mountain, Holstein, Diana-Hoover and Ram Powell fields.

The US firm’s Houston deal team was led by oil and gas partners Jeffrey Muñoz and Michael Darden alongside associates Stephen Szalkowski, Wesley Thoman, Christopher Bennett and Dane Johnson.

BP turned to Gardere, which fielded corporate Houston corporate partners Douglas Eyberg and Timothy Spear and associates Eunice Song, Jennifer Smith, Rex Baker and Austin Ke, with further roles for Houston corporate and energy partners Charles Meacham and Frank Putman and associates Khurram Jiwani and Felisa Sanchez.

Background to this deal:

Gardere’s relationship with BP is longstanding, with the firm advising the UK petroleum group’s US arm BP America Production Company even on deals outside Texas, including its $1.03bn sale of interests in the Jonah and Pinedale upstream operations in Wyoming to LINN Energy earlier this year. Eyberg led on that mandate.

Latham’s previous record for Plains includes advising it on the 2010 sale of its shallow-water Gulf of Mexico properties to McMoRan Exploration for US$818m.

BP’s latest sell-off is part of a strategy of divestments to raise money following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010, a crisis that saw the energy client turn to Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer for advice (7 July 2010). DLA Piper recently advised BP on another major divestment when it sold its Carson refinery in California to Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman client Tesoro Corporation for $2.5bn (14 August 2012).