UPDATE: 5/8/14 12:00 p.m. EDT. Latham’s Munoz is also counseling Freeport on its $1.4 billion acquisition announced Thursday of deepwater drilling blocks in the Gulf of Mexico from Houston-based Apache Corp., which is being advised by Bracewell & Giuliani.
The oil and gas unit of mining giant Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold has agreed to the $3.1 billion sale of its Eagle Ford shale gas assets in southern Texas to Canada’s Encana Corp., the latest in a string of energy deals announced over the past week.
The Associated Press reports that Phoenix-based Freeport has been looking to sell $4 billion in energy assets in order to reduce debt and fund expansion in regions like the Gulf of Mexico. Freeport hopes to complete the sale of 45,500 net acres of oil-producing properties in the Eagle Ford formation to Encana by the second quarter of this year.
Latham & Watkins has taken the lead for Freeport on the transaction. Energy M&A partners Robin Fredrickson and Jeffrey Munoz, two of the top energy lawyers in Texas, and tax partner and master limited partnerships expert C. Timothy Fenn are leading a Houston-based Latham team working on the matter.
Both Fredrickson and Munoz left Vinson & Elkins in May 2012 for Latham, one of a series of key lateral hires by the latter profiled in The American Lawyer for a February feature story on how Latham broke into the insular Houston legal market. (Latham opened its Houston office in January 2010 and raided Vinson a month later for Fenn and three other partners.)
“It was Baker Botts, Andrews Kurth and Vinson & Elkins,” Freeport oil and gas unit general counsel John Wombwell said to The American Lawyer earlier this year. “Now Latham & Watkins is in that conversation.”
Sibling publication Texas Lawyer reported last year that Wombwell, a former Andrews Kurth partner, was one of the Lone Star State’s highest-paid lawyers, with nearly $6 million in 2012 compensation. At the time, Wombwell was general counsel of Plains Exploration & Production Co., which Freeport acquired for roughly $9 billion in late 2012. Latham took the lead for Plains on that deal, according to our previous reports, as the firm had advised the Houston-based company earlier that year on its $5.6 billion purchase of assets in the Gulf of Mexico from British oil giant BP. (The BP deal saw Latham’s Munoz grab Am Law Dealmaker of the Week honors.)
L. Richards McMillan II, a former partner at Jones Walker, has served as Freeport’s general counsel since 2007. U.S. Senate lobbying records show that Freeport paid Jones Walker $180,000 between October 2012 and July 2013 for lobbying work on deepwater port and maritime issues. Clark Hill and Salt Lake City–based Parsons Behle & Latimer have been paid $125,000 and $250,000, respectively, to lobby on environmental-related issues since early 2013, according to Freeport filings.
As for Latham, other lawyers counseling Freeport on its proposed shale sale to Encana include employee benefits partner Laurence Seymour, antitrust partner Abbott “Tad” Lipsky Jr., antitrust counsel Sydney Smith and associates James Cole, Julie Crisp, Sheila Forjuoh, Bryce Kaufman and Brock Naeve. Terry Collier, senior counsel with Freeport’s oil and gas unit, is leading an in-house team working on the matter.
Stuart Hollimon, the chairman of Andrews Kurth’s oil, gas and mineral practice in Houston, is leading a team from his firm advising Encana on the deal that includes tax partner Angela Richards, environmental partner Lisa Shelton, antitrust partner Kay Lynn Brumbaugh, executive compensation partner Christopher Fenelon, labor and employment of counsel Donald Horton and associates Ali Farish, Joe Flack III and Harve Truskett.
Terrence Hopwood serves as general counsel for Calgary-based Encana. Cyrus “Skip” Marter IV, a former Susman Godfrey partner, is leading an Encana in-house team working on the Eagle Ford acquisition from Freeport.
From November 2007 through January of this year, Marter served as general counsel of Denver-based Forest Oil Corp., an independent exploration and production company that this week announced its proposed all-stock sale to Houston-based Sabine Oil & Gas for an undisclosed sum. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz is advising Forest Oil on the deal, while Vinson and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett have taken the lead for Sabine. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher is counseling Sabine’s private equity owner First Reserve on the transaction.
Vinson and Holland & Hart are also representing a subsidiary of Denver-based QEP Resources on the $807 million combined sale this week of three non-core oil and gas properties in North Dakota, Oklahoma and Texas. Baker Botts took the lead last week on the $1.18 billion sale of a natural gas gathering system to EQT Midstream Partners, while a unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway turned to Dentons and Gibson Dunn for counsel on its $2.9 billion buy of Canada’s largest energy transmission company.
Jones Day confirmed Wednesday that it had grabbed the lead role advising Pittsburgh-based Atlas Resource Partners on its $420 million acquisition of a 25 percent stake in the Chevron-owned Rangely oil field in northwest Colorado. And in Australia, legal giants King & Wood Mallesons and Herbert Smith Freehills are counseling energy companies Horizon Oil and Roc Oil on a $740 million merger, according to sibling publication The Asian Lawyer.