BHP switches advisers as bankers eye fee bonanza

Wed Aug 18, 2010 5:04pm EDT
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By Michael Smith and Quentin Webb

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.   Continued...