Credit Suisse is set to sue Linklaters for €136m (£115m) for professional negligence over advice it was given for a deal with Italian food giant Parmalat.
The claim dates back to a €500m convertible bond issued by Parmalat’s Brazilian subsidiary Parmalat Brazil in 2001, to which the investment bank subscribed, and a complementary forward sale agreement (FSA) that saw the company pay the bank €248m in return for future share entitlement.
Capital markets partner Simon Firth led the Linklaters team on the deal, which came two years before Parmalat went into administration in December 2003.
The terms of the FSA meant that Credit Suisse was liable to repay some or all of an advanced payment of €248m to Parmalat’s administrator. The administrator brought a recovatory action against the company to unwind the 2001 transaction, with Parmalat ultimately settling for €154m.
A letter before action sent to Linklaters’ counsel Clyde & Co and seen by The Lawyer states that Credit Suisse feels that the magic circle firm’s advice on the transaction was negligent and, as a result, the bank alleges that it was denied the chance to negotiate better terms.
Allen & Overy is advising Credit Suisse with litigation partner John O’Conor believed to be leading. The bank has also taken advice from Brick Court silks Jonathan Sumption QC, Mark Howard QC and Tom Adam QC. Italian firm Chiomenti Studio Legale is also advising the bank.
The letter further states that Credit Suisse would not have entered into the original deal if it had known that the advanced payment was recoverable by Parmalat’s administrator.
The claim centres on what circumstances needed to apply for Parmalat’s administrator to reclaim money paid to Credit Suisse under the FSA.
Firth sought advice from Linklaters’ then Italian alliance partner Gianni Origoni Grippo & Partners and concluded that Credit Suisse would only be liable for claw back proceedings if it had, or should have had, prior knowledge of Parmalat’s insolvency. Credit Suisse alleges that this advice was negligent.