More firms enter the fray as rival bidders move for ABN

A line-up of UK, US and Dutch firms is advising Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Santander and Fortis on their battle with Barclays for ABN Amro.

The three banks have turned to De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, Linklaters, Slaughter and May and Willkie Farr & Gallagher to advise on their plans to split up ABN. The consortium is due to present to ABN today (23 April) after sending a letter to the Dutch banking giant expressing interest in submitting a rival offer on 12 April.

ABN had already instructed Allen & Overy, Davis Polk & Wardwell and Nauta Dutilh to advise on activist hedge fund the Children’s Investment Fund’s earlier calls to break up the bank, as well as the exclusive talks with Barclays to formulate an £80bn merger that would create the world’s fifth largest bank.

Those talks, which were due to complete on 18 April – just two days after the rival consortium came on the scene – were extended until Friday 20 April. At the time of going to press, the outcome of the discussions was not known.

Clifford Chance and Sullivan & Cromwell are advising Barclays on the talks.

The new consortium took no chances when it came to choosing its legal advisers – it has well-established relationships with all three firms.

RBS is a longstanding client of Linklaters and Willkie Farr enjoys close ties with Belgo-Dutch insurer Fortis. Slaughters’ relationship with Santander dates back to the Spanish banking group’s £8.5bn acquisition of Abbey in 2004. Slaughters advised Abbey, facing its Spanish best friend Uría Menéndez for Santander. Slaughters then scored a place on Abbey’s legal panel after the takeover.

Dutch firm De Brauw was expected to become involved should a rival enter the fray, as fellow Dutch firms Nauta and Stibbe had already been instructed on the deal.

Nauta is ABN’s longstanding Dutch adviser, while Stibbe landed a role advising ABN’s supervisory board. De Brauw is advising both Santander and Fortis on Dutch law.