Parmalat firms forgo fees after spurning bank claims

Gianni Origoni and Weil Gotshal stick by deal with Bondi not to pursue action against ‘potential clients’

Gianni Origoni Grippo & Partners and Weil Gotshal & Manges will miss out on millions of pounds in fees after refusing to litigate against investment banks in lawsuits connected to bankrupt Italian dairy group Parmalat.

The decision by Gianni Origoni – which is acting for Enrico Bondi, the Italian government’s appointed administrator on the restructuring of Parmalat, with Weil Gotshal providing UK and US advice – mirrors reticence in the UK legal market to sue investment banks.

Just last year, the Brascan consortium, in its bid for Canary Wharf, was forced to instruct the bar directly after hitting a brick wall when it sought a firm to help halt the sale of £1bn of property to Royal Bank of Scotland.

Gianni Origoni managing partner Francesco Gianni said: “Firms like ours and Weil Gotshal do not want to take a position affecting the rights of other clients or potential clients.”

Gianni has been earning around €1m (£660,500) a month on the restructuring.

Last Friday (6 August), Milan litigation boutique Studio Legale Lombardi Molinari, which is leading the litigation for Bondi, launched a €290m (£191.6m) claw-back action in the Parma courts against UBS. Meanwhile, on 29 July, a complaint was filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey seeking compensation and punitive damages for Citigroup’s alleged role in the Parmalat scandal.

Gianni said: “We indicated to Bondi that, as a result of our relationships with Italian and international banks, we did not wish to act against the banks.”

He added: “Our agreement with Bondi was that we would advise on the restructuring plan but not pursue litigation other than against the Parmalat directors or in administrative actions.”

US litigation firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, led by Los Angeles partner John Quinn, is coordinating the action against Citigroup alongside New Jersey firm DeCotis Fitzpatrick Cole & Wisler.

It is understood that Lombardi and Quinn Emanuel are already advising Bondi on potential claims against Parmalat’s other banks, specifically Bank of America and Deutsche Bank.

Citigroup has instructed its traditional Italian advisers Chiomenti Studio Legale, led by litigation head Andrea Bernava, to defend the claim.