Clifford Chance duo leads the way on bank mergers

Clifford Chance's head of corporate David Childs and regulatory finance partner Tim Plews have scored a hat trick advising on all three of Europe's bank mergers this winter.

They are currently acting with Allen & Overy on the merger of Swiss Bank Corporation with Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS).

In November they advised Credit Suisse First Boston on paying £100m for the European equities business of Barclays investment banking arm BZW (The Lawyer, 2 December). At at the same time they advised Deutsche Morgan Grenfell (DMG) on buying the European derivatives business of NatWest Markets for £50m in a deal which was announced at the beginning of December.

Clifford Chance and Allen & Overy have teams in Zurich this week jointly advising on the merger of the two Swiss banks, which will see 7,000 jobs lost in Switzerland and more than 3,500 in London.

Most of the two banks' operations are in Hong Kong and London. US firms Sullivan & Cromwell and White & Case are advising UBS and Swiss Bank respectively on the merger in New York.

As well as Plews and Childs, Clifford Chance has banking partner Stuart Popham and corporate/banking partner Habib Matani working on the merger.

Allen & Overy's team is led by corporate partner Alan Paul and banking/corporate finance partner David Rowley.

Paul also played a part in the NatWest Markets sell-off, leading the Allen & Overy team – with partners Jeremy Thomas and Colleen Keck – advising Bankers Trust, which bought NatWest's European equities business for £129m.

Linklaters corporate partner David Cheyne led the team advising NatWest Bank on the sale over six hectic weeks in October and November. His team included partner Andrew Brackfield and tax partner Connor Hurley.

Although DMG made the first approach to NatWest in October, its initial offer to buy most of the merchant bank was rejected as it would have meant hundreds of redundancies in Europe. Cheyne said that after the Bankers Trust offer was accepted in November, NatWest accepted a second offer from DMG for £50m for just the programme trading operation and associated equity derivatives business of NatWest Markets.

There will be no redundancies in Europe as a result, although NatWest Market's US equities operation will be closed with the loss of 200 jobs, and Linklaters will be advising NatWest on selling its Asian equities business and Australian investment bank.