Parmalat advisers jostle for legal fees as wind-up hits snag

Lawyers acting for Parmalat’s creditors will have to fight it out among themselves over the distribution of legal fees as negotiations over the reorganisation hit stalemate.

Bingham McCutchen, Clifford Chance, Linklaters, Mazzoni e Associati Studi Legali and Studio Legale Chiomenti are among the firms acting for an array of creditors of the bankrupt Italian food group, which is currently fighting to set up a creditors’ committee.

According to a number of sources, it will be up to the committee to decide which law firms’ fees are reimbursed by the debtor. However, only one international and one domestic firm will be paid in this way – the other creditors will have to stump up their own legal fees.

It is normal practice in the US, and becoming more commonplace in the UK, for a debtor to pay advisory fees. However, one source said: “There’s no precedent in Italy where a company will pay for a creditor’s advisers.”

A recommendation on the amount of fees is likely to be determined by Enrico Bondi, the Italian government’s appointed administrator, who will make a recommendation to the Ministry of Productive Activities.
However, at this stage, despite Parmalat filing for bankruptcy on 24 December last year, a creditors’ committee is yet to be established.

This would allow the companies that are owed money to work more closely and establish a restructuring plan with Bondi, who is being represented by Gianni Origoni Grippo & Partners, with US and UK advice being provided by Weil Gotshal & Manges.

Clifford Chance is acting for Citigroup and Linklaters has been retained by Bank of America, while Chiomenti is acting for both of the financial institutions. Bingham McCutchen is representing a range of bondholders, with local law advice provided by Mazzoni.