In-house heavyweight Graham Vinter is set to retire as the general counsel (GC) of BG Group later this year, with Norwegian aluminium manufacturer Sapa’s GC, Tom Melbye Eide, lined up to take on the role from 1 September.
The moves were confirmed before it emerged that BG was the target of a takeover by Royal Dutch Shell which values the energy company at £47bn and it is currently unclear how the takeover will affect both companies’ in-house legal teams. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is advising BG on the bid while Slaughter and May is acting for Shell.
Vinter joined BG in 2007 after 27 years with Allen & Overy (A&O), including two decades as a partner and acting as the Magic Circle firm’s global head of projects from 1996 to 2007. BG Group’s legal team currently comprises 82 lawyers and recently worked on the $5bn sale of its Australian gas pipeline network to APA Group.
During his tenure at BG, Vinter led a panel review in 2013 which saw the oil and gas major slim down its roster to just three firms: Clifford Chance, Freshfields and CMS Cameron McKenna with A&O and Herbert Smith Freehills losing places.
One of the most prominent moves from private practice to in-house, Vinter was described in the GC Power List 2013 as ‘such a big name that his views will always get taken seriously both inside and outside the company’.
He is also the current chair of the GC100 after succeeding Centrica’s GC and company secretary Grant Dawson in February last year. The group, which launched in 2005, was created in response to the increasing volume and complexity of domestic and international regulations and their impact on UK-listed companies.
Melbye Eide, who was set to fill Vinter’s shoes, is currently executive vice president and general legal counsel for Oslo-headquartered Sapa – a leading Norwegian manufacturer of aluminium solutions. He joined the company in 2013 after eight years at energy company
Statoil, where he first held the position of GC for StatoilHydro, before becoming head of legal for global strategy and business development across the entire company.
During his time at Statoil, he sat on the board of directors from 2011 – which included BG Group’s current chief executive Helge Lund, who was acting as Statoil’s chief executive at the time – and helped to develop a legal mergers and acquisitions unit for the company.