La Fondiaria battle reaches next round

Ashurst Morris Crisp and Grimaldi Clifford Chance are engrossed in the latest twist in a seven-month battle for control of Florence-based insurer La Fondiaria.
Ashursts' Milan office is acting for insurance company Società Assicuratrice Industriale (SAI) in connection with the acquisition of the majority shareholding of La Fondiaria.
SAI first tried to take control of La Fondiaria last summer by buying 29 per cent of the company, but ran into regulatory problems. Since then, a complex corporate battle has developed with Fiat's insurance company Toro also wanting to merge with La Fondiaria.
Matters reached a turning point last weekend when JP Morgan, Interbanca and Francesco Micheli made separate offers to Montedison – a holding company taken over by a Fiat-led consortium in late July 2001 – to acquire 85.5 million La Foundiaria shares at a price of k9.5 per (£5.8) share.
Conditional upon Montedison's acceptance of the offers, the three investors will each have the right to sell the acquired La Fondiaria shares at the end of a lock-up period to SAI. SAI will in turn have the right to purchase some or all of La Fondiaria's shares acquired by the investors from Montedison from each investor at any time, if SAI receives the necessary permission. Each investor is guaranteed the potential upside deriving from its respective investment in La Fondiaria shares.
Nicholas Wrigley and Alberta Figari of Grimaldi Clifford Chance are advising all three investors.
Ashursts Milan partners Daniele Raynaud and Riccardo Agostinelli are leading the team for SAI.