Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ closes in on first ever UK legal panel

Japan’s largest bank, The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (BTMU), is in the closing stages of establishing its first ever UK legal panel.

BTMU was born of a merger between the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi and UFJ Bank in 2006, and serves as the core retail and commercial banking arm of the Mitsubishi UFJ Group.

The bank has approached a number of firms to apply for its panel, asking them to return initial submissions by 27 September.

It intended to perform an initial evaluation by the end of October, and alerted firms that they may be called back to amplify submissions after that date.

Sources expect the process to draw to a close within the next week or two, and the bank confirmed that it plans to announce the results of the process in mid-November.

One source said that the process had been straightforward.

Another source added: “There’s not a disproportionate mention of fees. Like all panels they need to be competitive in pricing, but it’s not the be all and end all. They’re looking for all-round quality and value for money.”

The bank declined to comment on the panel appointment process until the final results are announced.

Despite traditionally being focused on Japanese lending, BTMU increased its overseas lending by 35 per cent in the nine months up to the end of 2011. In April 2012 it said it hoped to increase the amount of its profit generated overseas from 28 per cent to 40 per cent within three years.

Allen & Overy has done a substantial amount of work for the bank in the past, having advised BTMU and Mitsubishi UFJ Securities International on the purchase of the Royal Bank of Scotland’s £3bn project finance portfolio in 2011. In July it also advised the bank on the largest ever acquisition in Asia to date by a Japanese bank – submitting a voluntary offer for major commercial Thai bank Ayudhya, valued at $5.75bn.

In October 2012, Linklaters advised the bank in its $3bn refinancing of Abu Dhabi National Energy Co (TAQA), while just this March Ashurst was instructed by BTMU on the A$3bn relaunch of its Australian dollar transferable certificates of deposit programme and A$300m inaugural trade.