Linn Energy announced Monday that it has agreed to acquire natural gas properties in Wyoming from British oil giant BP for $1 billion, as well as a plan to raise up to $1 billion through an initial public offering for an oil and gas affiliate.
Baker Botts, which has done work in the past for Houston-based Linn, got the call on both assignments. Tax partners Michael Bresson and Matthew Larsen, as well as antitrust partner Paul Cuomo are advising Linn on its purchase of a swath of natural gas-producing land in southwest Wyoming for $1.03 billion. Holly Anderson, senior in-house counsel at Linn, took the lead on that transaction, according to a company spokeswoman. Linn’s general counsel is Charlene Ripley.
Linn said in a statement that it would purchase more than 12,500 net acres at Jonah Field in the Green River Basin, including 750 producing wells, from London-based BP. The company said it expects the property to produce around 145 million cubic feet equivalent per day of liquids-rich natural gas.
Linn, which in February announced a $1.2 billion acquisition of BP properties in Kansas’s Hugoton Basin, will seek an increase in its revolving credit facility note from $2 billion to $3 billion in order to finance the Wyoming transaction. Linn and BP expect the deal to close by July 31, pending certain regulatory approvals.
Douglas Eyberg, the head of the energy industry practice at Gardere Wynne Sewell in Houston, and energy partner Timothy Spear are leading a team of lawyers from the firm advising BP on the sale. Eyberg and Gardere Wynne represented BP last year on its $575.5 million sale of a controlling stake in a Colorado natural gas plant. Eyberg also advised BP on its $7 billion sale in 2010 of oil and gas assets in Canada, Egypt, and the United States to Apache in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico two years ago.
Since that incident, BP has kept its outside lawyers busy advising on a series of asset sales to raise capital and offset potential liabilities related to the disaster. In a statement, BP said it had divested itself of $24 billion as a result of transactions executed since early 2010, including the oil giant’s latest deal with Linn. BP estimates that figure will rise to $38 billion by December of next year.
Rupert Bondy has served as group general counsel for BP since May 2008. Deputy group general counsel and U.S. general counsel John “Jack” Lynch Jr. oversees BP’s in-house legal operations in the U.S., while W. Brad Bryan handles transactional matters as assistant general counsel for global M&A and real estate. Emily Leung, an in-house M&A lawyer for BP in Houston, took the lead on the company’s sale of its Wyoming properties.
As for Linn, the company also announced Monday that a wholly owned subsidiary, LinnCo, filed plans with the SEC to launch a $1 billion IPO on the Nasdaq. In a press release, Linn said LinnCo would purchase a number of Linn assets equal to the number of shares sold in its proposed IPO. Linn would in turn use the proceeds from the public listing for acquisitions and other purposes.
Kelly Rose, the head of the corporate department at Baker Botts in Houston, is advising LinnCo on its IPO. Latham & Watkins corporate partners J. Michael Chambers and Brett Braden in Houston are advising underwriters led by Barclays on the listing, according to securities filings by Linn.
Senior reporter Brian Baxter contributed to this report.