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Energy run: Clifford Chance advises Shell on series of major M&A deals

Clifford Chance (CC) has secured a run of major mandates for Royal Dutch Shell including last week’s A$2.9bn ($2.6bn) agreement to sell the global energy giant’s Australia downstream businesses to Vitol and the sale of a number of businesses in Italy to affiliates of Kuwait Petroleum International.

The Vitol deal, which was announced on 21 February, saw CC led by London-based partner Kathy Honeywood, Singapore-based Geraint Hughes, and Australia-based Tracey Renshaw advise on all aspects of the transaction, which included the sale of Shell’s Geelong refinery and 870-site retail business in Australia.

The CC team provided English and Australian law advice on environmental, IT, branding and IP, tax, employment, pensions and antitrust issues.

US firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom advised Vitol, one of the world’s largest independent energy trading companies, with a team led by London partners Shaun Lascelles, Doug Nordlinger and Tim Sanders.

Shell’s legal team was led by Damis Shaharudin of the downstream portfolio group. The deal is subject to regulatory approval and expected to close this year.

The deal follows the announcement on 20 February of the sale of Shell’s retail, supply and distribution, logistics and aviation businesses in Italy to affiliates of Kuwait Petroleum for an undisclosed sum.

CC’s team for Shell was led by Milan-based Umberto Penco Salvi, while Hogan Lovells provided English and Italian law advice to Kuwait Petroleum led by Italy corporate head Leah Dunlop.

Dunlop was supported by London-based corporate partner and co-head of the firm’s oil and gas working group Ben Higson as well as Rome-based commercial law partner Marco Berliri, environmental and energy regulatory partner Francesca Angeloni, tax partner Fulvia Astolfi, and antitrust partner Gianluca Belotti, while Milan-based employment partner Vittorio Moresco and Brussels-based partner Matthew Levitt also worked on the deal.

In a statement Shell said on 20 February: ‘The sale is consistent with Shell’s strategy to concentrate Shell’s downstream footprint on a smaller number of assets and markets where we can be most competitive.’

Other recent mandates have seen CC advise Shell on its $4.4bn acquisition of part of Repsol’s LNG portfolio, announced in February last year.

Shell’s panel review announced last June saw CC named as one of 11 firms appointed to serve the energy corporation in three or more jurisdictions. The review, which was headed by former legal director Peter Rees, was pitched to firms as an opportunity to grow their links with Shell, with those who develop the best relationship with the bluechip expected to win more work on a reduced panel in three years’ time when rates are reviewed.