Dewey’s corporate team bags double deal for Bank Audi

Camille Abousleiman

The firm acted for a group of existing and new shareholders – understood to include the Mikati family’s M1 Group – that bought out EFG-Hermes Holding’s 29 per cent stake in the Lebanese bank. The $913m (£564.2m) transaction is thought to be the largest ever in the country.

London-based corporate partners Camille Abous­leiman and Louise Roman Bernstein led the Dewey team acting for the bank. Newly launched Egyptian firm Zulficar & Partners advised EFG-Hermes, led by founding partner Mona Zulficar.

Louise Bernstein

EFG had been the largest shareholder in the bank, which is the biggest in Lebanon. None of the new or existing shareholders now owns more than 5 per cent of the bank’s shares.
The sale came in the wake of EFG’s 2006 investment in Bank Audi. Initial plans are thought to have included a simultaneous listing on four stock exchanges before talks began about combining the two entities in what an insider described as “effectively a hostile takeover”.

The decision to divest the stake came following the economic downturn of 2008.

Abousleiman, who has advised Bank Audi for 15 years, said the resultant deal was good for both sides.

“EFG has made a good return from the initial investment, while Audi has new shareholders to allow it to continue its successful growth,” he said. “Lebanese banks have come out of the recession very well. Commercial bank deposits are at an all-time high.”

Meanwhile, a multi-­jurisdictional Dewey team acted for Audi Bank on its purchase of Dresdner Bank Monaco from Commerzbank. Abousleiman was joined by Paris corporate partner Nicola Mariani on the deal.

Ashurst acted for Commerzbank, which is making a series of divestments of former parts of Dresdner Bank following its acquisition in 2008. Frankfurt ­corporate partner Claudia Junker led the team for the City firm.