BHP switches advisers as bankers eye fee bonanza

SYDNEY/LONDON Wed Aug 18, 2010 5:04pm EDT

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SYDNEY/LONDON (Reuters) - With up to $190 million in potential fees up for grabs, BHP Billiton's bid for Canada's Potash Corp is the deal investment bankers around the world had been hoping for.

However, there was a notable change in the mining giant's lineup of advisers since its failed 2008 bid for rival Rio Tinto.

BHP engaged Rio Tinto's former defense adviser JPMorgan to advise on the Potash deal. Goldman Sachs, which advised BHP on the Rio bid, has emerged on the defense in the Potash camp.

BHP also appointed TD Securities, Banco Santander, Barclays Capital, BNP Paribas and The Royal Bank of Scotland Group as advisers.

Potash is also being advised by Bank of America Merrill Lynch and RBC Capital Markets.

Thomson Reuters/Freeman Consulting estimates the deal will yield potential fees of $170 million to $190 million, which could reshuffle the rankings of the top investment banks in 2010.

Including the possible BHP-Potash deal in the rankings, Goldman Sachs would climb back into the top spot in the so-called league table, having advised on more than $343 billion worth of deals so far this year, according to Thomson Reuters Deals Intelligence.

JP Morgan held on to the third spot in the rankings, having worked on just under $300 billion of deals worldwide in 2010, and is less than $5 billion behind the No. 2 bank, Morgan Stanley.

Barclays and Bank of America held on to the number six and seven spot in the rankings world wide, respectively, and pulled significantly closer to the fourth and fifth spots, held by Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse.

RBC rounded out the top 15 banks with an advisory role in $78.6 billion of deals so far this year.

People familiar with the matter, who declined to be identified because the deal is ongoing, named a slew of senior bankers in London, New York and Toronto who are involved.

JPMorgan is fielding a transatlantic team with New York-based natural resources specialist Doug Petno and industrials banker Rodney Miller working alongside London mining specialists Lloyd Pengilly and Adam Brett.

Pengilly previously worked on a string of deals for Xstrata, and was part of the team that steered JPMorgan's joint venture, now wholly owned, with Britain's Cazenove.

Brett, another JPMorgan Cazenove veteran, was one of the lead advisers to Vedanta on its acquisition of a majority stake in Cairn India, announced on Monday.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch's team is headed up by Patrick Ramsey and Dan Mida, who is head of the bank's Canadian corporate and investment banking business.

Goldman's team is led by bankers John Vaske and Alastair Hunt.

In Toronto, RBC's senior team includes Gordon Bell, the former mining engineer who is the bank's global head of mining and metals; Deputy Chairman Jamie Anderson, who was formerly co-head of the bank's mergers & acquisitions (M&A) business; and current M&A co-head Peter Buzzi.

At TD, Michael Faralla is likely to be playing a key role. A former equity capital markets banker who hails from Johannesburg, Faralla was made its head of global mining last year.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and RBC declined to comment. TD was not immediately available.

(Reporting by Michael Smith in Sydney, Quentin Webb in London, Michael Erman in New York and Pawel Jordan in Toronto; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman, Michael Shields and Carol Bishopric)

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