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Macfarlanes combines with Wachtell for new client Visa on €21.2bn European transaction

Macfarlanes has scored a lead role advising US company Visa on its €21.2bn acquisition of Visa Europe alongside US firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, while Linklaters also secured a leading role advising the other side.

In a transaction with up-front consideration of approximately €16.5bn and the potential for an additional earn-out of up to €4.7bn on the fourth anniversary of its closing, Visa and Visa Europe said the deal creates a ‘single global Visa business.’ Visa Europe, an association owned and operated by over 3,000 European financial institutions, has annual payment volumes of over $1.5trn and processes over 18 billion transactions each year.

The Macfarlanes team, working alongside Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, was led by M&A partners Graham Gibb and Nicholas Barclay. The two firms previously combined to great effect to advise Verizon on its acquisition of Vodafone’s 45% interest in Verizon Wireless for $130bn.

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy also assisted Visa on the deal with a team lead by the firm’s London co-managing partner Julian Stait. 

The Linklaters team advising Visa Europe comprised US corporate partner Scott Sonnenblick in New York, as well as partners Aedamar Comiskey and Stephen Griffin from the London corporate team.

Recent transactions for Macfarlanes include advising client Exor on its increased investment in The Economist Group for £469m in July, while Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer advised seller Pearson.

Last year Linklaters advised Visa Europe on high profile litigation work, alongside Milbank, to secure a judgment in favour of the company after 12 major UK retailers led by the Arcadia Group sought damages in relation to Visa’s setting of interchange rates.

Commenting on the merger, Visa chief executive Charles Scharf said: ‘This transaction is beneficial for financial institutions, acquirers, merchants, cardholders, and other partners, as well as for our employees and shareholders.’

The deal is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2016.