New phase for Yukos sell-off as Italian utilities come to the table

The politically charged auction of Yukos assets to Italian utility companies Enel and Eni has cemented Salans’ relationship with Enel on Russian acquisitions.

The firm was lead counsel to Enel when it paired up with Eni to bid for $5.3bn (£2.66bn) worth of gas assets formerly held by Yukos, the bankrupted Russian energy giant.

The state receiver auctioned several of Yukos’s assets, including Arctic Gas Company, Neftegaztechnologia and Urengoil. The companies own licences for exploration and production in the Yamal-Nenets region, the world’s largest gas-producing area.

The receiver, as well as the auction’s organiser, the RF Property Fund, did not instruct outside counsel.

As part of the deal Enel and Eni will receive Yukos’s 20 per cent stake in Russian state utility Gazprom.

Salans fielded a team out of Moscow led by corporate partner Jane Tarassova and advised on US, English and Russian law aspects.

Off the back of a recommendation from Salans, Amsterdam-based Van Doorne advised on Dutch aspects. In 2006, Salans advised Enel on a joint venture with a Russian partner in the wholesale electricity market. Enel teamed up with Eni to form a joint venture called Enineftegas, with Enel contributing 40 per cent and Eni 60 per cent.

Italian firm Bonelli Erede Pappalardo advised longstanding client Eni on Italian law aspects, with London-based finance partner Riccardo Sallustio leading alongside corporate partner Alberto Saravalle in Milan.

Bonelli also has ties to Enel, which it is advising on the ongoing acquisition of Spanish utility Endesa alongside construction group Acciona.

The financing on the Yukos deal was provided by Deutsche Bank, which was advised by Allen & Overy. The financial advisers were Merrill Lynch and JPMorgan.