Olivetti law firm chief in directorship link

The senior partner of an Italian law firm which is advising Olivetti Group on its hostile billion-pound bid for Telecom Italia is a director of a company in which the computer giant has a substantial stake, The Lawyer can reveal.

Sergio Erede, senior partner at Milan-based firm Erede & Associates, is on the board of directors for Wang Global, in which Olivetti holds an 18.5 per cent stake.

An industry source confirms that the firm has been approached to advise Olivetti Group on its bid, although he says a final decision has not been made.

“Erede & Associates is Olivetti's main corporate lawyer, it does a lot of work for the company,” he says.

Industry observers say that the little-known law firm's involvement in such a high-profile deal has the potential to propel it into the mainstream.

Erede & Associates could become a target for a potential merger as more UK law firms move to consolidate throughout Europe, say sources.

Chiomenti Studio Legale, which has offices in London, is understood to be acting for Telecom Italia in the company's bid to hold off Olivetti's u36bn onslaught.

However, sources say that New York-based Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, which is a regular adviser to Telecom Italia on regulatory matters, is about to be appointed to work on the deal.

But Bill McGurn, corporate partner at Cleary Gottlieb's Paris offices says: “We are not involved in the deal in any way, but we would have loved to have been.”

It is unclear which firms are acting on behalf of Olivetti's four financial advisers, Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette Securities, Lehman

Brothers, Chase Manhattan and Mediobanca.

However, at the time of going to press, the future of Olivetti's bid hangs in the balance, after Italy's stock market regulator Consob ruled it was invalid as a legal takeover because it needed too many regulatory approvals.

Olivetti's financial advisers are working to raise a u15.4bn syndicated loan, a major exercise which could necessitate the use of heavyweight UK city or US law firms.