CMS, Pinsents and Simpson Thacher lead on Blackstone $500m oil company launch

CMS Cameron McKenna, Pinsent Masons and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett have advised on one of the largest ever private equity investments in North Sea oil, with the $500m (£301m) launch of Blackstone and Blue Water Energy-backed company Siccar Point Energy.

Pinsent Masons Glasgow-based partner Barry McCaig took the lead role for PE backer Blue Water Energy and recommended CMS Cameron McKenna partner David Davidson to advise Siccar’s management team.

CMS’ Aberdeen office was strengthened last year with the addition of partners from Dundas & Wilson, which merged with CMS last year (25 April 2014). Dundas’ oil service transactions were said to be appealing to CMS in the run up to the merger.

Blackstone turned to longstanding UK advisers Simpson Thacher, which fielded London partner Michael Wolfson for the deal. The firm is understood to be Blackstone’s favoured UK adviser, taking on a range of real estate and IPO mandates in recent months.

Most recently the firm advised Blackstone on the finance elements of the company’s £320m acquisition of Old Broad Street from Brookfield Property Partners (31 July 2014).

Background to this deal:

Pinsents has retained close links to Blue Water Energy founding partner Graeme Sword since he left private equity house 3i in 2011. The company is understood to use Kirkland & Ellis in the US.

Former managing director of Centrica Upstream Oil and Gas Jonathan Roger heads the new company. The launch reveals the growing appetite for oil and gas investment among private equity houses amid waning public investment and comes amid increasing uncertainty over the future of Scottish independence.

Private equity houses are increasingly lending backing to start-up oil and gas ventures and management teams from listed companies, with KKR and Barclays Natural Resources Investments both backing energy ventures in recent months.

Several high-profile private equity funds are also thought to be in the fundraising process in anticipation of backing similar ventures, with Pinsents thought to be advising.

Blackstone has invested around $7bn of equity in the energy secot over the last decade, the majority focused on funding the formation of new companies and injecting capital to high-growth companies. Siccar is also receiving funding from sovereign wealth fund GIC.