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A €350bn asset manager: Slaughters and Links lead on Santander and UniCredit’s asset management merger

Slaughter and May and best friend firm Uría Menéndez plus Davis Polk & Wardwell in the US were instructed by Santander to combine its asset management arm with Linklaters-client Unicredit’s Pioneer Investments to create one of Europe’s biggest asset managers.

In a move that will see the banks improve their balance sheets to meet more stringent rules doled out by the European Central Bank. The deal sees Santander and UniCredit each take a 33.3% stake in the new company, with private equity houses Warburg Pincus and General Atlantic taking the remaining 33.3% stake in what will be called Pioneer Investments. The transaction values Santander Asset Management at €2.6bn and Pioneer Investments at €2.75bn.

Pioneer Investments’ operations in the US will be hived off into a separate company owned by UniCredit, which will take a 50% stake, and Warburg Pincus and General Atlantic .

The Slaughter and May team advising Santander on the deal is led by corporate and commercial partners Mark Zerdin, Michael Corbett and Roland Turnill, who became a star in the City in 2013 when he ran Vodafone’s $130bn disposal of its stake in Verizon. Uria’s team was led by partner Antonio Herrera while Luigi De Ghenghi led for Davis Polk.

Meanwhile UniCredit turned to a Linklaters team led by Carlton Evans and Italian boutique Gianni, Origoni, Grippo, Cappelli & Partners which was led by Roberto Capelli.

While Santander is known to use a host of firms in the City, including Magic Circle rival Linklaters, Slaughters has for some time been the bank’s go-to firm for major M&A work. Turnill arranged for Santander to acquire 318 of the Royal Bank of Scotland’s UK branches in 2010, but the deal fell through two years later and the British bank instead spun-off TSB Bank to meet demands placed on it by regulators. He was recently instructed by Shell to lead a team that helped it to complete the largest oil and gas M&A since 1999, acquiring BG Group for $70bn in April.