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August 29, 2011 5:11 PM

Skadden, Linklaters Advise on Greek Banking Merger

Posted by Brian Baxter

UPDATE, 3/14/12, 11:45 a.m. EST. Reuters reports that Alpha Bank and Eurobank have scrapped their proposed merger.

Amid Greece's sovereign debt crisis, the country's second and third–largest lenders announced plans Monday to merge in a transaction that will create an institution with $212 billion in total assets.

A merger between Alpha Bank and Eurobank, both based in Athens, would make the combined entity the biggest lender in Greece and the largest bank in southeastern Europe.

By merging their operations to create an entity with more than 2,000 branches in ten countries, the two banks hope to strengthen their capital position in a tough time for the Greek and European economies, according to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Reuters reports the deal could also signal the beginning of consolidation in the Greek banking sector.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom global transactions cohead Scott Simpson and cross-border M&A partner Lorenzo Corte in London are serving as international counsel to Alpha Bank. Pantazis Karamanolis, a name partner at Greek firm Karamanolis & Associates, is acting as local cocounsel to Alpha Bank.

Magic Circle firm Linklaters is representing Eurobank on the proposed merger through corporate partners Matthew Middleditch and Michael Sullivan, capital markets partner Nigel Pridmore, and antitrust partner Christian Ahlborn, all of whom are in London.

Under the terms of the deal, Alpha Bank will absorb Eurobank under Greek merger law, but Eurobank will pay a 27.5 percent premium for the acquiror's shares, according to Dow Jones Newswires. The boards of directors for both banks have approved the merger, which is expected to be completed by mid-December. One member of Eurobank's board, Panayiotis Tridimas, is a professor at Penn State University's Dickinson School of Law.

As previously reported, the Greek government turned to Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton international finance partner Lee Buchheit to advise the country on its sovereign debt issues.

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