CC misses out to Lovells on Italian hospital PFI deal

Lovells has triumphed over Clifford Chance to secure the lead role on Italy’s first ever hospital private finance initiative (PFI).

Lovells beat its UK rival in a competitive tender to advise Italian construction company Astaldi on the Ospitale Di Mestre project. It is the first time the firm has been instructed by Astaldi, which is leading a group of sponsors on the project.

The €210m (£138.5m) hospital development, just outside Venice, represents the first true hospital PFI deal in Italy. The hospital will be more than 200,000 square metres in size and will have 680 beds.

Partner Andrew Welbourn transferred to Milan in November 2002 to spearhead Lovells’ push into the Italian finance market. Welbourn is leading the Lovells team advising on the financing aspects of the deal, working alongside Astaldi’s in-house lawyers and local Italian firm Studio Annoni.

Norton Rose, led by projects partner Mike Taylor, is advising ABN Amro as lead arranger on the financing, with Banco Intesa, Banco Antonveneta and Interbanca also providing funding.

It is understood that the European Investment Bank (EIB) is also looking at stumping up funds, with advice from Allen & Overy project associate John France. The EIB has not as yet committed to the project.

Italy’s nascent PFI market offers lucrative work possibilities for UK law firms, being one of the few practice areas in which instructions flow from competitive tender processes, rather than personal contacts. It is also a practice area in which UK firms have superior experience to their Italian rivals.