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Deal watch – Norton Rose Fulbright and Freshfields lead on BMO’s $1.2bn takeover of F&C

Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) is advising one of its oldest clients, Edinburgh-based UK and European asset manager F&C Asset Management on its $1.2bn acquisition by Bank of Montreal (BMO Financial Group) led by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

The NRF team is being led by London corporate partners Chris Randall and Paul Whitelock, with BMO’s former senior vice president, deputy general counsel and chief compliance officer John Jason, who joined the top 10 LB100 firm’s Toronto office as of counsel earlier this month, also involved on the deal.

The Freshfields team for BMO, Canada’s fourth largest lender, is headed by City co-head of the international asset management group, Matthew Cosans. The Magic Circle firm’s team also includes corporate partner George Swan, regulatory partner Mark Kalderon and employment partner Nick Squire. According to Bloomberg, this is the second-largest takeover in the bank’s 196-year history.

F&C is a longstanding client of Norton Rose, which previously advised on its 2010 acquisition of the Thames River Capital group, a specialist asset management business in a deal worth £53.6m. The firm also advised F&C when the High Court ordered the asset manager to pay indemnity costs stemming from a disagreement with hedge fund managers and former partners of F&C, and had the ruling quashed in the Court of Appeal in 2012.

The 2647-lawyer firm secured a base in Canada following its merger with Canadian firm Ogilvy Renault in 2011 and subsequently consolidated its position in Canada with the acquisition of Calgary-based Macleod Dixon.

Chris Randall told Legal Business: ‘The firm has been working with F&C since 1868, when it was the first-ever investment trust. It is one of the firm’s oldest clients and it was a pleasure to work with them on this transaction.’

BMO said in a statement that it expects the deal to complete by May 1, although it is likely to be subject to regulatory approval.

(with additional reporting by