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Panel win: Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ announces first-ever EMEA line-up

One of Japan’s largest banks, Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ (BTMU) today announced its first-ever panel for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, with eight leading City firms appointed as preferred advisers after a process described by the bank as ‘extremely competitive.’

Allen & Overy (A&O), Linklaters and Ashurst won places on BTMU’s preferred panel alongside Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP), Hogan Lovells, Norton Rose Fulbright, Slaughter and May and White & Case.

BTMU has also created a separate transactional panel, on which the preferred firms have won a place alongside ‘other market-leading firms in a range of different practice areas’, which the bank would not disclose further.

Born of a merger between the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi and UFJ Bank in 2006, BTMU approached a number of firms to apply for the panel, with an initial submission deadline of September.

A&O has done a substantial amount of work for BTMU in the past, including advising BTMU and Mitsubishi UFJ Securities International in 2011 on the purchase of the Royal Bank of Scotland’s £3bn project finance portfolio.

In July this year, the Magic Circle firm also advised on the submission of a voluntary offer for major commercial Thai Bank Ayudhya, which was valued at $5.75bn, making it the largest-ever acquisition by a Japanese bank in Asia.

Linklaters and Ashurst have also advised the bank in the past, with Linklaters acting on its $3bn refinancing of Abu Dhabi National Energy Co and Ashurst instructed on the A$3bn relaunch of its Australian dollar transferable certificates of deposit programme and A$300m inaugural trade.

A statement issued today (19 November) by the bank said: ‘We are delighted to announce the appointment of the first legal panel of Europe, Middle East and Africa for The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ. The process itself has been highly rewarding and extremely competitive and has resulted in a preferred firms panel and a transactional panel.

‘We are very pleased with the outcome of the tender process and would like to thank all the firms involved in the process for their hard work and cooperation.’

The move comes as Japanese banks have during the past few years significantly strengthened their overseas lending position, as cash-strapped European banks were hit by the financial crisis and tighter capital regulations.

Conversely, Japanese banks face tough competition in their home market due to a high level of competition for a relatively low requirement for loans.

According to the Financial Times, Mitsubushi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) – of which BTMU is the core retail and commercial banking arm – increased overseas lending by 21% in the 2011/12 financial year to Y19,900bn ($251bn) compared with Y16,400bn the year before.