A&O ousts Clifford Chance on BA/Iberia merger

Allen & Overy (A&O) has edged out magic circle competitor Clifford Chance to win the lead role advising Spanish airline Iberia on its proposed merger with British Airways (BA).

A&O Madrid managing partner Inigo Gomez-Jordana is running the team along with London corporate partner Alan Paul. Clifford Chance had worked on a similar mandate for Iberia last year, when BA made its first approach.

Slaughter and May and Spanish best friend Uria Menendez are acting for long-term client BA. The two firms are fielding a combined four-partner team.

Slaughter and May’s M&A chief Steve Cooke is accompanied by corporate partner David Wittmann and Bertrand Louveaux, who is advising on the competition law aspects of the deal. The Uria Menendez team is led by Madrid corporate partner Juan Francisco Falcon.

At the end of last year, Slaughter and May partner Tom Kinnersly picked up a mandate advising BA on a $1.7bn (£850m) debt facility with Bank of China and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

If successful, the merger between BA and Iberia would create one of Europe’s biggest airlines. British Airways has a market capitalisation of £2.9bn while Iberia is worth €1.6bn (£1.3bn).

BA chief executive Willie Walsh said: “The combined balance sheet, anticipated synergies and network fit between the airlines make a merger an attractive proposition, particularly in the current economic environment.”

He added: “We have had a successful relationship with Iberia for a decade and are confident that both companies’ shareholders would benefit from the proposed tie-up.”