Energy & Natural Resources: Russia
Due to the number of tables in this section, the editorial is in alphabetical order by firm name.
THE FIRM The firm's global energy credentials speak for themselves, and its Moscow branch is demonstrative of the group's commitment to clients and a high level of service. The 25-lawyer team continues to provide advice to long-standing client Lukoil, recently being instructed with regard to its investment in the West Qurna 2 oil field in Iraq. The firm advised Surgutneftegas regarding its participation in the National Petroleum Consortium and its involvement in a hydrocarbon exploration and production project in Venezuela. Competitors speak warmly of the firm's attention to detail, and provide favourable endorsements of this strong and dependable practice.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Office head Richard Wilkie has plenty of experience handling complex Russian energy mandates, and his skills have earned him a strong position in the market. In the energy sector in particular he can be relied upon for authoritative advice on international capital markets transactions, cross-border M&A and international corporate law. Natalia Baratiants is the first port of call for the firm's prominent Russian clients, and has earned the respect and admiration of colleagues throughout the industry.
THE FIRM This firm's core strength in finance and corporate work sets the tone for much of its work in the energy sphere. It recently advised Rosneft on its agreement with Petroleos de Venezuela to acquire its 50% stake in Ruhr Oel GmbH for USD1.6 billion. The outfit has considerable expertise across a range of industries, from metals and mining to electricity and oil and gas, and it is this broad experience that allows it to service a wide variety of clients.
Sources say: “They aren't just lawyers, they are part of our team. You can ask them for advice on anything.”
KEY INDIVIDUALS Tim Shilling specialises in a wide range of corporate transactions and has built up significant experience within the energy and natural resources sector. His dedication and business acumen win widespread approval from market sources. Edwin Tham is highly regarded for his creative thinking and sound judgement, and clients value that he “has the ability to support us on difficult and intricate matters without being surrounded by hundreds of associates.”
THE FIRM The sizeable Russian branch of Baker & McKenzie is well known for its broad full-service offering, and energy matters constitute a substantial part of its activities. The team has a solid standing within the market, and is particularly noted by peers for its excellent mining practice. It recently represented Exillon Energy in connection with its USD280 million secondary public offering on the LSE. Clients and competitors alike value the firm's commitment and hard work.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Alexey Frolov is particularly well known for his presence in the mining sector. He recently acted for Centerra Gold with regard to various exploration joint ventures in Russia. Carol Patterson is also a recognised specialist on the mining field, and enters the rankings this year on the strength of her important contributions to the firm's portfolio.
Since publication, Carol Patterson has retired from this practice.
THE FIRM This team's compact size ensures frequent partner involvement and consistently high standards, say interviewees. It focuses predominantly on oil and gas projects and transactions, and has experience of working on some of the most high-value and complex matters. For example, the team represented Novatek in its capacity as owner and lead developer of the Yamal LNG liquefaction project to be constructed on the Yamal Peninsula in Northern Russia. It also acted for Gazpromneft with regard to its proposed acquisition of upstream assets in Libya from Eni. Other clients include Rosneft and Gazprombank.
Sources say: “They have a strong profile and the huge benefit of the Texas offices.”
KEY INDIVIDUALS Steve Wardlaw recently moved from Moscow back to the London, and is widely held to be a “very talented and constructive lawyer.” He has substantial experience in energy, projects and corporate matters, and regularly counsels energy companies, regulatory bodies and governments on projects in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Maxim Levinson is fast becoming known as one of the most visible players in the Russian market, and he earns a ranking in this practice area following a number of strong recommendations from peers.
THE FIRM The transactional prowess of this renowned global player continues to gather praise from all corners of the market. The team is a consistent presence on some of the year's most significant deals, and continues to advise a range of high-profile clients including Shell, Rosatom, and Sakhalin Energy Investment Company. The strength of its international network is a vital asset, and the firm also ranks as one of the largest international offices in the country. Clients speak admiringly of this breadth of resources, as well as the group's commitment to its local reputation.
KEY INDIVIDUALS David Griston is widely regarded as a “very strong energy lawyer who is good to do business with.” He recently advised Shtokman Development on the much-publicised development of the Shtokman natural gas field in the Barents Sea.
THE FIRM CMS has a strong regional focus, and relies on many years' experience in the market to attract mandates from some important Russian and international players. Clients appreciate the team's proven track record in oil and gas matters, as well as its combination of Russian and English law capabilities. It recently advised Sberbank regarding the acquisition of a 25% stake in Nitol Salar, a solar power company with production assets in Russia. It has a history of involvement in Sakhalin projects, and was recently instructed by BP on joint exploration activities with Rosneft at the Kaigansko-Vasyukansky block. Other clients include OMV, Technip and EBRD.
Sources say: “They are fast, responsive and knowledgeable. They know all of the issues and can see the reasons behind them.”
KEY INDIVIDUALS Natalia Kozyrenko's expertise is cited as a significant reason for the firm's continuing success in this field. She has been highly active as an energy specialist for many years. According to sources, she has real authority when it comes to Russian subsoil legislation and is widely regarded as a “long-term, quality player.” Senior partner John Hammond focuses his energy practice on the transactional side, handling deals in Russia and Germany. Aside from his noted experience in oil and gas, he also has a strong name for work in the telecoms, financial, chemical and pharmaceutical sectors.
THE FIRM This firm commands considerable respect for its capital markets and corporate work, and these practices drive much of the firm's activity in the energy and natural resources sphere. While largely focused on transactional work, the team is equally capable when dealing with mining and exploration matters, and also gathers praise for its high-quality and flexible service. The outfit has a particularly strong reputation for its mining work in the CIS, and benefits from interaction with its European, Asian, and US offices. A team of lawyers from London and Moscow recently advised KazakhGold Group with regard to its landmark combination with Polyus Gold.
Sources say: “Extremely good track record in energy and mining.”
KEY INDIVIDUALS Dmitri Nikiforov is head of the Moscow branch and a well-known corporate lawyer with more than 20 years' experience in the region. He is well versed in handling major energy and metals companies.
THE FIRM This international firm is a recognised force in the region and is particularly noted for its strong practice in Kazakhstani and Central Asian energy matters. The Moscow office is a key player on the market and continues to focus on transactions in the oil and gas sector. It benefits from a group of 45 lawyers spread across Russia and the CIS.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Doran Doeh heads the Moscow branch and co-ordinates the wider CIS practice. He can draw on more than 30 years in the sector, and sources describe him as “a senior lawyer with great experience.”
THE FIRM This solid and dependable practice continues to attract a wealth of energy work despite the sad passing of department head Pavel Bakoulev. The team is widely respected by peers for its grasp of regulatory matters, and it also advises on a large share of high-profile transactions. The firm is particularly strong when it comes to gas distribution in the region, and it is a recognised authority in this area. For example, it recently acted for Lukoil with regard to the Caspian Pipeline Consortium's pipeline expansion project valued at USD4.5 billion. It also represented Gazprom in its dispute with NAK Naftogaz of Ukraine concerning the transit of natural gas.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Delphine Nougayrède is a key contact for energy matters.
THE FIRM This leading CIS firm offers impressive manpower, allowing it to advise on a diverse range of cases within the energy sector. Though primarily focused on Russian matters, the firm also possesses English law capability and is taking steps to further internationalise the practice. It recently advised UC Rusal with regard to a joint venture with RusHydro to build the Boguchanskoye Energy and Metals Complex at a cost of USD3.6 billion. The team also acted as Russian counsel to the major Benelux firm Nauta Dutilh on a USD839 million acquisition of a 50% stake in Vitol Tank Terminals International by MISC Berhad of Malaysia.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Dmitry Afanasiev is the office head and a key contact.
THE FIRM As a corporate powerhouse, Freshfields is particularly noted for its transactional abilities and business knowledge. The firm continues to be dominant in this field, serving clients on some of the weightiest matters of recent years. For example, it recently acted for Rosneft in connection with its USD1 billion joint development agreement with ExxonMobil that will see the two working together to develop deepwater oil and gas resources in the Black Sea. ConocoPhillips instructed the firm on its USD3.44 billion sale of a 7.6% interest in Lukoil back to the Russian oil giant. The group benefits from its close connection to colleagues spread across its extensive international network.
Sources say: “This firm has a solid and excellent reputation for energy work.”
KEY INDIVIDUALS According to competitors, Sergei Diyachenko “is a well rounded lawyer who can run a serious deal.” He earns further praise for his commercial nous, practical approach and strong relationships with major Russian corporations.
THE FIRM Herbert Smith has boosted its market profile in Russia in recent years, and is becoming a revered firm among peers. Sources applaud the energy team for its commitment to understanding a client's business needs. With a competitive pricing policy, the 40-strong energy team has quickly become a favourite with prominent local and international clients. It recently advised Gazprom, along with its joint venture partners, as sponsors in connection with a project financing to develop the Yuzhno-Russkoye gas field in Western Siberia. It was also instructed by Yamal Development on its USD1.5 billion acquisition of a 51% interest in SeverEnergia. Other clients include TNK-BP, BNP Paribas, and ONEXIM Group.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Following the departure of Robin Wittering, Alexander Currie leads the practice and is an important contact at the firm. He specialises in project finance and debt restructuring, and has more than 15 years' experience of dealing with clients in the oil, gas and energy sectors. According to sources, he is "able to combine really good knowledge of English law whilst keeping on top of all the issues in the local market."
THE FIRM With over 30 lawyers working on energy matters, this team has the manpower, as well as the expertise, to advise on any transaction in the market. The firm's market standing shows no signs of waning, and commentators continue to speak enthusiastically of the team's commitment and dynamism. It recently acted for Total on the acquisition from two principal shareholders of a 12.08% stake in the issued share capital of Novatek, in a transaction valued at USD4.1 billion. It was also instructed by BP in connection with its USD7.8 billion share swap with Rosneft.
Sources say: “The firm is highly responsive, and has a comprehensive approach to legal issues.”
KEY INDIVIDUALS Prominent Russian partner Grigory Gadzhiev exemplifies the hard-working ethic of the group, with commentators speaking admiringly of his “24-hour working days.” Such traits have won him the respect of the market, and his strong business rapport with key players has helped him build an impressive portfolio. Former department head Daniel Tyrer continues to be heavily involved from his London base, and clients are eager to point out his excellent negotiation skills, as well as his sharp and specific feedback.
THE FIRM In May 2012 the entire team from Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP in Moscow joined Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP. All clients and work highlights mentioned in our editorial took place whilst the firm was operating as Dewey & LeBoeuf.
As one of the first international firms to invest heavily into the Russian energy and natural resources market, Dewey & Leboeuf has a deep well of expertise on which to draw. The team is recommended both for its transactional work and market-leading regulatory practice, and such broad coverage means the firm is rated as highly for its mining work as it is for oil and gas matters. It remains at the cutting edge of the sector and is deeply involved in the ground-breaking Shtokman project, as well as representing major international clients like Chevron.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Much of the firm's standing derives from the stellar reputation of Jonathan Hines, whose incredible breadth of knowledge and language skills are vital to the continuing success of the practice. Market commentators agree that “he is a legendary figure in the sector.” With significant emerging markets expertise, London-based Dan Coppel is highly visible and well regarded in Russia. Alexander Marchenko provides valuable support to Hines and enjoys an ever-growing reputation in the market. He focuses on upstream oil and gas projects, as well as mining and metals.
Since publication, Dan Coppel has joined Jones Day
THE FIRM In early 2012, Norton Rose merged with leading mining firm Macleod Dixon. The Macleod Dixon office brings enviable experience in the Moscow and CIS markets, and the staff continue to be considered the authorities on regulatory and subsoil matters. The firm remains a popular choice for clients, attracting recommendations for its tailored service. It continues to advise major player Barrick Gold on a full range of legal services, including the company's development of the Fedorovo project. Other clients on its roster include TNK-BP, National Oilwell Varco, and LHoist Industrie SA.
Sources say: “Highly responsive to requests, and good client management.”
KEY INDIVIDUALS According to commentators, Anatoly Andriash is a “highly respected and experienced lawyer.” His command of subsoil legislation receives particular praise, and his wealth of experience draws further acknowledgements. Aydin Jebrailov is praised for his proactive style, responsiveness and “extremely high level of legal thinking.” He upholds the firm's brand of leading mining expertise. Levon Kocharyan has won a reputation for creative thinking, and his detailed understanding of complex mining and energy matters earns further praise from sources.
THE FIRM This two-partner office works closely with a 20-strong team of CIS specialist lawyers spread over the firm's international network, allowing it retain a strong interest in energy activities in the region. It recently advised Novatek on Total's acquisition of a 49% share in Novatek's subsidiary Terneftegaz, licence holder for development of the Termokarstovoye gas field in Northern Russia. The firm was instructed by Integra Group in connection with its joint venture with WesternGeco.
Sources say: “They are straightforward people. Not a large team, but very reliable.”
KEY INDIVIDUALS Natalya Morozova heads the Moscow office and is regarded as a “person you can trust, who has a good understanding of the processes required.” She earns particular praise for her handling of Russian clients, but also has much experience of the international market. Rob Patterson divides his time between Beijing and Moscow and focuses on transactions in the energy sector, including M&A, and the development and financing of energy and infrastructure projects.
THE FIRM White & Case enjoys long-term relationships with major clients, providing the team with a steady stream of upmarket mandates. The group divides its time between energy-related M&A work, and energy projects both in and out of Russia. In a recent highlight, the firm acted for TNK-BP in relation to the company's USD1.8 billion acquisition of BP's upstream and pipeline assets in Vietnam and Venezuela. Wintershall Holding instructed the group over the implementation of its joint venture with Gazprom and E.ON to explore the Yuzhno-Russkoye natural gas field in Western Siberia. Other clients include Novatek, ConocoPhillips and Sibur.
Sources say: “A large firm with terrific expertise – you are not getting one lawyer but a whole team across many jurisdictions.”
KEY INDIVIDUALS Marc Polonsky heads the projects and infrastructure group from London, and has significant experience of working in the Russian market. He regularly advises investors, sponsors and lenders in a range of projects with a particular focus on natural resources and infrastructure in Russia and Eastern Europe. Igor Ostapets has practised in Russia for 15 years, and brings all his experience to bear when advising on complex cross-border M&A in the oil, gas, power and mining industries.
is a regular visitor to the Moscow office of Dechert LLP, and has many years of experience working on the region's energy deals. According to clients, he is an “excellent Russian speaker with notable expertise in Russian law.” Jennifer Josefson
recently joined King & Spalding's new Moscow office, bringing the in-depth expertise she cultivated whilst at White & Case. According to sources: “She is fantastic in gas field matters. She always meets deadlines and is a very valuable asset.”
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