Levon Kocharyan

Head of Natural Resources, Mining and Infrastructure

Levon Kocharyan heads the Natural Resources, Mining and Infrastructure practice of Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (Russia) LLP. Levon Kocharyan specialises in energy and natural resources, corporate and tax law.

Levon has built an impressive mining and oil and gas practice and earned an enviable reputation as a leading practitioner in his specialised field of mining as well as oil and gas law in Russia. He has great experience in undertaking and supervising work for oil and gas service companies, including setting up operations in Russia, corporate registrations, work permits, tax advice, drafting and negotiating equipment supply and oil services agreements. His practice area includes not only the corporate structuring of mining and energy projects and carrying through M&A transactions, but also drafting and negotiating crude oil/petroleum and metal sales agreements; participating in litigation over title issues; obtaining and transferring mineral licenses; advising on complex tax structures and conducting complex tax work related to oil and gas and mining projects; issuance and transfer of shares; and preparing and drafting legal documentation on behalf of clients participating in the auctions granting mineral rights in Russia.

For many consecutive years Levon is recognised as a top energy and natural resources lawyer by the leading legal directories, such as Chambers and Partners, Legal 500 EMEA, Who's Who Legal Mining, Best Lawyers.

In 2008-2017 Chambers and Partners awards Levon with a Band 1 ranking saying that Levon “climbs the rankings on the basis of excellent market endorsement”.

Levon Kocharyan has particularly deep knowledge of the mining sector, including regulatory issues. He regularly advises a wide range of global and Russian natural resources companies. "He is very good on technical matters and very attentive to detail," a source says. (Chambers Global 2017)

“Detail-focused” Levon Kocharyan is active on mandates in the mining sector, advising key clients such as Barrick on their Russian operations. He also acts for energy companies on subsoil and other regulatory issues. (Chambers Global 2015)

Levon Kocharyan “is one of the best mining lawyers in Russia”, according to sources. He handles a variety of corporate and tax issues for clients from both the mining and the oil and gas sectors. (Chambers Global 2014)

"Clients praise his sharp analysis, responsiveness and practical approach." (Chambers Global 2013)

“Levon Kocharyan has won a reputation for creative thinking, and his detailed understanding of complex mining and energy matters earns further praise from sources.” (Chambers Europe 2012)

In 2005-2015 Who’s Who Legal, Legal 500 and European Legal Experts also acknowledge Levon’s outstanding capabilities, the latter stating that he is “one of the country’s finest mining and subsoil lawyers”.

Levon is ranked as a Leading Individual in Energy and Natural Resources in Legal 500 2014-2017.

Levon is also ranked as a top lawyer in Energy and Natural Resources in Best Lawyers 2011-2018 and named the Mining Law "Lawyer of the Year" for Russia in 2018.

Projects

Levon’s recent projects1 include advising:

MINING

  • A public company listed in Australia (ASX), on their two key coal projects in the Russian Far East.
  • Rio Tinto on divestment of their interest in several mining exploration projects in Kamchatka region in Russia. The engagement covered advice on structuring the transaction, advice on Russian antimonopoly and other regulatory matters. In addition, the legal advice covered Russian tax, mining and general corporate / commercial law matters
  • A leading Russian private equity firm, on the acquisition of a stake of a company in the mining sector, including corporate, subsoil matters and mineral licence due diligence
  • Petropavlovsk PLC, one of the three largest gold producers in Russia listed on the main market of the London Stock Exchange, on its refinancing which completed on 18 March 2015
  • A Top 10 Russian Gold producer on the purchase of interest from a Russian bank by way of share purchase
  • Barrick Gold Corporation, the top number 1 gold producer, over the course of several transactions for a period over the course of 12 years, including legal advice on transactional, corporate, subsoil, regulatory, land and metals sales matters. In particular, the Fedorovo project represents one of the largest foreign investments to date in the Russian mining industry sector; the amount of the investment is over US$1 billion. The Fedorovo project is classified as a strategic project which triggers a number of complex subsoil law issues such as the permit to mine required from the Russian Government. The team of lawyers led by Levon has been one of the first in Russia to advise a client on such type of matters
  • High River Gold Corporation, a Canadian company, in a Russian acquisition. Advised on tax and hard currency issues, prepared all necessary corporate and acquisition documents, and negotiated and conducted due diligence on the project. This transaction was significant in the multi-jurisdictional application of law and represents the company's second largest project worldwide. Advised on project financing of the company's gold properties and transfer of mineral licences. Also provided advice to a subsidiary of High River Gold in relation to its acquisition of a 50% stake in the large scale Prognoz Silver Project. Advised on structuring the company's business operations, the transfer of a mineral licence, corporate and acquisition documents and provided further legal assistance in obtaining financing for the project
  • Amur Minerals Corporation on structuring an equity financing transaction in light of strategic investment law and related restrictions. Advice on the effect of foreign investment restrictions on the Russian nickel property owned by the company's subsidiary. Advice on conversion of geological exploration licence into a production one
  • Standard Bank London on secured pre-export finance facility provided by Standard Bank to a Russian commercial bank with respect to gold produced by Russian gold producers; advice on corporate, tax, hard currency issues
  • Rio Tinto - Setting up a joint venture with major Russian diamond company. This work implied structuring the transaction in compliance with challenging legal background, complex due diligence of the JV target and its mineral license as well as intensive negotiating of the deal
  • Rio Tinto - Representation in a Diamond project; assisted with gold exploration in the Magadan Region; assistance in participation in an auction for various minerals including diamonds and potash; legal advice relating to a joint venture for exploration in the Amur Region, tax advice related to corporate matters. Also provided assistance on legal matters arising out of a joint venture with Norilsk Nickel
  • Kuranakh Gold Mining (subsidiary of Echo Bay Company) - Preparation of all documents for a large US company's 50% participation in a joint venture with Aldanzoloto. This entailed worked closely with relevant government authorities to achieve clear and pragmatic solutions to complex and often contradictory matters relating to legislation on subsoil licenses and production sharing agreements, and assistance on general corporate, taxation and currency transaction issues. We subsequently represented the client in court, achieving a positive result
  • Placer Dome Exploration Inc. - Advising a top five gold mining company, on setting-up a joint venture and on acquisition of a project located in the Urals. Advice and preparation of documents for mineral licences, corporate organization, taxation and hard currency matters relating to two of client's Russian projects. We were also retained by them to assist in the unwinding of their Russian operations, which involved the preparation of sale and purchase agreements, liquidation of branch offices, termination of labour agreements and advising on tax implications of the withdrawal
  • Representation of a major foreign bank in the secured, guaranteed pre-production financing of gold in Russia. Our engagement was the bank's first offshore pre-production financing and involved preparation of all security documentation

OIL AND GAS

  • A major oil service company: representation of a major oil field equipment producer for over 20 years on a wide range of their Russian legal affairs. The work relates to all legal aspects of their entire business in Russia such as contractual, corporate work, export and import transactions, labour, real estate and regulatory work. We have acted, in particular, on the restructuring of their business in light of new acquisitions made in Russia
  • a leading Russian oil and gas company on the tax aspects of its sale of a minority stake in one of its beggest upstream projects to an Asian investor
  • Rosneft on export contract-backed $10 billion financing of up to 67 million cubic meters tonnes of crude oil agreed with oil traders Glencore and Vitol
  • Itochu (C. Itoh), a top 5 Japanese trading house on currency law aspects of oil sales agreements, repayment of loans and with respect to the customs issues relating to exports
  • Deutsche Bank on a private placement of shares of an independent gas producer. The worked involved due diligence of the oil and gas properties held, corporate, securities and subsoil legal matters
  • A mid-sized Russian oilfield services company and its group on a wide range of legal matters, from providing counsel on the most appropriate form of corporate presence in different regions of Russia, including an extensive analysis of options in terms of benefits and drawbacks from taxation perspective, and full legal assistance in setting up the relevant corporate structures, to complex legal advice on a multi-stage acquisition of part of the Russian business of the group by Polish and US purchasers, preparation of all the relevant documentation on transfers of interest, obtaining antimonopoly clearance of the respective transactions and ensuring compliance with all other formalities attributable to the acquisition
  • Vermilion Resources Ltd. - Acted for a Canadian company in their proposed buyout of a foreign shareholder in a joint venture located in Ukraine. As a result of our careful due diligence, the client chose not to proceed
  • Tengizchevroil - Representation of one of Kazakhstan's largest oil producers, partly-owned by a supermajor, in the largest oil project in Kazakhstan. This entailed preparation of joint venture agreement, subsequent oil sales agreements and advice on hard currency issues

1Including projects before joining Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (Russia) LLP in April 2019