Slaughters and Freshfields aid biggest Euro bank deal

Slaughter and May and Freshfields are advising on potentially the biggest cross-boarder banking deal completed in Europe between the Alliance & Leicester and the Bank of Ireland.

Freshfields is aiding the Alliance & Leicester, while Slaughter and May are working with the Bank of Ireland to advise on negotiations.

A merger could culminate in creating UK's fifth largest mortgage lender with a market capitalisation of u11bn.

Graham Nicholson, a corporate partner at Freshfields and adviser on the deal, says he is unable to discuss the details of the potential merger at this point.

However, he says: “This case has some interesting features. There are some issues that are unique and not likely to be followed, but there are others that will be.

“I can confidently predict more work from cross-border bank mergers will follow this one.”

William Underhill, a partner specialising in corporate finance at Slaughters, is leading an estimated team of six lawyers.

Ruth Fox, a financial regulation partner on the team, says: “Any deal of this scale is going to make much work for lawyers. There seems to be a lot of consultation in the banking sector generally.

“But I don't think there are many firms outside the 'magic circle' that will have the expertise to handle these sort of deals.”

Fox adds that the major legal problem of a cross-border merger of banks is fulfilling the requirements of regulators in both countries.