CC left behind as UniCredito turns to A&O on acquisition of Croatian bank

Allen & Overy

‘s (A&O) corporate department has scooped a major client in the form of Italy’s second-largest bank UniCredito Italiano.

This is the magic circle firm’s first instruction from the Milan-listed bank, which it is advising on its acquisition of a stake in Turkey-based Yapi ve Kredi Bankasi for e2.05bn (£1.43bn).

The mandate is a coup for A&O as UniCredito has had a longstanding relationship with Clifford Chance and its former Italian arm Grimaldi e Clifford Chance (now operating as independent firm Grimaldi e Associati).

A&O London corporate partner Pervez Akhtar, leading the deal for UniCredito, first came across the bank from the other side of a deal in 2002. Akhtar had been Zagrebacka Banka’s adviser when UniCredito, which was advised by Clifford Chance, bought a majority stake in the leading Croatian bank.

Commenting on A&O’s instruction, Akhtar said: “[UniCredito] saw me on the other side and I struck a relationship with them. I would hope to do more deals for UniCredito.”

Under the deal, Koc Financial Services (KFS), a company controlled jointly by UniCredito and Turkish conglomerate Koc Holdings, has agreed to buy a 57.42 per cent stake in Yapi.

“It’s a fairly complicated deal because the target’s in financial difficulty,” explained Akhtar.

After the first stage of the deal is completed, KFS will launch a public tender to buy out Yapi’s minority shareholders. Completion of the first half of the deal is subject to regulatory approval, which UniCredito is hoping to obtain within the next two months.

Yapi is being advised by White & Case, while A&O Italy-based partner Paolo Cerina is handling the Italian aspects of the deal.

Clifford Chance declined to comment.