CORRECTIONS: 7/1/14, 2:15 p.m. EDT. An initial version of this story misspelled the names of John Connally and Zackary Pullin. The third paragraph also misstated Vinson’s role on another deal for Devon Energy. We regret the errors.
Vinson & Elkins continued to ride the oil and gas energy M&A boom in North America this week, grabbing roles for private equity-backed Jupiter Resources on its $1.8 billion purchase of properties in Alberta from Canada’s Encana, as well as Devon Energy on its $2.3 billion sale of noncore U.S. natural gas assets to Linn Energy.
John Connally IV, a member of Vinson’s management committee and cohead of the firm’s energy transactions and projects practice, and associate Mingda Zhao are leading a team from the firm advising Oklahoma City-based Devon Energy that includes tax partner Todd Way, environmental partner Larry Nettles, antitrust partner Neil Imus, finance partner J. Mark Brazzil, real estate partner E. Scot Dixon, labor and employment cohead Thomas Wilson and associates Elizabeth Bellows, Daniel Hatch, S. Grace Ho, Martin Luff, Igor Norinsky, Julia Pashin and Shannyn Piper. Connally is the grandson of former Texas Gov. John Connally, who once worked at Vinson.
Devon’s general counsel is Lyndon Taylor, a longtime partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom who once served as head of the firm’s energy practice in Houston. The Am Law Daily reported late last year on Skadden’s role advising Devon on its $6 billion acquisition of assets from GeoSouthern Energy, while Vinson took the lead for Devon on a partnership with Crosstex Energy. In 2012 Vinson counseled Devon on its $1.4 billion joint venture with Japanese trading house Sumitomo Corp., according to sibling publication The Asian Lawyer. Vinson also advised Devon in 2010 on its $7 billion acquisition of assets in Azerbaijan, Brazil and the Gulf of Mexico from British oil giant BP.
Houston-based Linn Energy, which turned to Latham & Watkins for counsel last year on its $4.3 billion buy of Berry Petroleum, has tapped Baker Botts to advise on its proposed sale of natural gas wells in six U.S. states to Devon. The firm previously advised Linn Energy on its $1 billion acquisition of natural gas properties in Wyoming from BP two years ago.
Baker Botts is currently advising Linn Energy on the acquisition and financing of its purchase of assets from Devon Energy, which it expects to close in the third quarter of this year. Linn Energy plans to finance the deal through the sale of properties in western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle. Baker Botts M&A partner Kelly Rose, energy and infrastructure partner Martin Toulouse, finance partner Shalla Prichard, tax partners James Chenoweth and Matthew Larsen and associates Peter Glenn, Zackary Pullin and Travis Wofford are working on the deal, along with Linn Energy general counsel Candice Wells and in-house counsel Richard Frazier and Benjamin Paul.
J. Larry Nichols, a former clerk to late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren, serves as chairman of the board at Devon, whose other board members include attorneys Robert Henry and the company’s CEO John Richels, a former managing partner at leading Canadian firm Bennett Jones.
Canada is where a second team of Vinson lawyers led by corporate partners James Fox and Jay Cuclis are counseling Calgary-based Jupiter Resources on its purchase of 360,000 acres of Encana’s Bighorn oil and gas assets in western Alberta in another deal expected to close in the third quarter.
Other Vinson lawyers working on the matter for Jupiter Resources include Nettles and associates Elizabeth Cox and Dan Komarek. Jupiter Resources is owned by New York-based buyout giant Apollo Global Management, which assembled a robust outside legal roster on the deal that includes Morgan, Lewis & Bockius antitrust partner Harry Robins and O’Melveny & Myers environmental partner Eric Rothenberg and counsel John Renneisen.
R. Ben Rogers, cochair of the energy and oil and gas group at leading Canadian firm Blake, Cassels & Graydon, is also working on the deal for Jupiter Resources along with antitrust partner Julie Soloway, M&A partner Nancy Diep and associates Chris Harris and Christine Yick. Rounding out the buyers’ legal team is Adam Fanaki, an antitrust and regulatory partner with rival Canadian shop Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg.
Burnet, Duckworth & Palmer, a leading firm based in Canada’s energy capital of Calgary, is advising Encana on the deal through energy transactional partner Alicia Quesnel, oil and gas M&A partner J. Stuart Money and labor and employment partner Gina Ross. Encana’s general counsel is Terrence Hopwood, while Jeffrey Paulson serves as the company’s associate general counsel and corporate secretary. Encana is Canada’s largest natural gas producer, and thus has been a major backer of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project, which remains in a holding pattern by the Obama administration.
As for Vinson, the firm advised Houston-based C&J Energy Services last week on its $2.86 billion cash-and-stock acquisition of a hydraulic fracturing unit of Nabors Industries, according to sibling publication Texas Lawyer, and alsorepresented Oklahoma City-based New Source Energy Partners on its $116.8 million acquisition of two oilfield services companies.