Weil, Gotshal & Manges senior private equity partner Marco Compagnoni in London is representing Access on the sale, as well as OGIP Ventures, a joint venture between Access and Renova formed to invest in TNK-BP. Also working on the deal for Weil are tax partner Brenda Coleman, corporate partner Peter King, and corporate associate Simon Lyell, who will be promoted to partner on January 1.
White & Case is advising TNK-BP on certain aspects of the company's sale to Rosneft. The firm represented predecessor the Tyumen Oil Company and its AAR shareholders on their joint venture with BP forming TNK-BP back in 2003.
The TNK-BP sale, which is expected to close in the first half of 2013 pending the approval of Russian and European regulators, isn't the only matter coming out of Russia of late that has pulled in Akin, Cleary, and Skadden.
Skadden's Kovalenko and veteran European M&A partner Pierre Servan-Schreiber, who heads the firm's Paris office, are advising automakers Renault and Nissan on their $742 million investment in an estimated $3 billion joint venture with state-backed conglomerate Russian Technologies. The deal is aimed at taking control of Russia's largest carmaker, AvtoVaz, which is also one of the largest auto manufacturers in Eastern Europe.
Skadden, which previously advised suburban Paris-based Renault when it sold Swedish truck maker Volvo AB for $4.2 billion in 2010, also recently represented Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and his investment firm Millhouse Capital on its roughly $1.5 billion acquisition of a nearly 6 percent stake in Moscow-based metal producer Norilsk Nickel.
As The Am Law Daily reported last week, that deal helped resolve an ongoing dispute between rival oligarchs Oleg Deripaska and Vladimir Potanin. In a separate matter, Skadden racked up nearly $60 million in legal fees representing Abramovich in litigation in the U.K. with exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky.
Akin and Cleary are just two of several firms that have recently grabbed roles on a $1.7 billion initial public offering in London for MegaFon, Russia's second-largest cell phone operator. While Cleary has taken the lead for MegaFon on the listingthe largest by a Russian company in two years, but one that has some investors seeing warning signsAkin is advising MegaFon's largest shareholder AF Telecom, which is controlled by yet another oligarch, Alisher Usmanov.
Cleary is also advising privately owned Russian commercial bank Promsvyazbank on its plans for a $500 million IPO in London and Moscow, and the firm represented the country's largest lender Sberbank in September on its $5 billion sale of a 7.6 percent stake held by the Russian government, according to our previous reports.
The spate of deals comes against the backdrop of Congress's approval of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012. The bill, which breezed through the U.S. House of Representatives by a 365-43 vote shortly before the Thanksgiving recess, is named after a former Russian lawyer at Moscow-based Firestone Duncan who died in jail at the age of 37 three years ago last month after allegedly running afoul of the country's political elite. (The Am Law Daily reported in detail this summer about the challenges facing Russia's legal system and the Magnitsky bill.)
The Magnitsky Act, which was tacked on to legislation normalizing trade relations with Russia, threatens sanctions for human rights abuses by members of Russian President Vladimir Putin's regime. It is expected to be signed into law by President Barack Obama. The bill has been fiercely criticized by the Russian government and others for its perceived selectivity. Russia's parliament responded last week by passing its own legislation targeting U.S. officials accused of human rights violations.