Banks embark on Parmalat action

Stephenson Harwood has been appointed by several banks to coordinate fresh litigation against Parmalat.

The new action concerns alleged misrepresentations made to the banks when they took over the troubled dairy company’s debt.

Stephenson Harwood has assumed a ‘quarterbacking’ role, involving the management of separate, but connected, claims being planned in several states, which will be run by a number of law firms.

The firm’s instruction comes as it emerges that Milan firm Lombardi Molinari has been brought in to assist Gianni Origoni Grippo & Partners to represent Parmalat’s administrator, Enrico Bondi, in litigation.

Bondi is reeling after recently losing his application to appoint PricewaterhouseCoopers as administrators of Parmalat’s large Cayman entities, which was won by Ernst & Young.

Richard Gwynne, a commercial litigation partner at Stephenson Harwood, who specialises in the enforcement of foreign judgments, said several banks, via their law firms, have asked him to coordinate the litigation against Parmalat.

The pending litigation is understood to have no English connections, although experts said some of the contracts the banks arranged with Parmalat may be governed by English law.

A Parmalat spokesman said he was unaware of any such potential actions. Gwynne refused to disclose the identities of his clients.