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The Italian arm of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has scored a lead role on Italy's banking mega-merger, advising San Paolo IMI on its ?64bn (£43.15bn) tie-up with Banca Intesa.
The merger comes after Bank of Italy governor Mario Draghi transferred his antitrust veto to the Italian competition authorities in June, finally opening the door to consolidation in the Italian banking sector.
One banking lawyer in Italy said: "Italian banks are now more than ever pressed to do something. They can't just stay and wait because there's the feeling that politics will no longer protect them just because they're Italian."
The Freshfields team includes Italian partner Bruno Castellini and US corporate partner Carlo Kostka because San Paolo is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. He will work alongside Marco Weigmann of Turin boutique Tosetto Weigmann e Associati.
Citigroup is San Paolo's financial adviser. It recommended general counsel Piero Luongo to instruct an international firm. Freshfields had advised Italy's largest bank UniCredito on its ?15bn (£10.11bn) merger with Germany's HypoVereinsbank in June.
Banca Intesa has instructed 77-year-old Pedersoli e Associati founding partner Alessandro Pedersoli, who has a longstanding relationship with Banca Intesa president Giovanni Bazoli.