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Billionaire Sawiris Wins U.K. Lawsuit Over $88 Million Deal Fee

Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris won a lawsuit at the U.K.’s highest court over a 67 million euro ($88 million) brokerage fee against Alessandro Benedetti, an Italian businessman.

Benedetti overcharged Sawiris by 31 million euros for advice on the purchase of Wind Telecomunicazioni SpA, based on market rates for deal advice, judges at the U.K.’s Supreme Court said in a decision published today. Benedetti had challenged a lower court ruling from 2010 that reduced his fee to 36 million euros.

“Since that figure is significantly greater than the market value of the services rendered, namely 36.3 million euros, it follows that he is not entitled to any further payment,” David Neuberger, one of the judges, said in the ruling.

Benedetti originally sought a 3.7 billion-euro stake in Rome-based Weather Investments II Sarl, the investment company used to take control of Wind Telecomunicazioni, in an unsuccessful court battle in 2009. Weather purchased 63 percent of Wind Telecomunicazioni for 3 billion euros in a 2005 transaction and took on about 7 billion euros of debt, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“My family and I are very happy with the Supreme Court’s decision that puts an end to this dispute once and for all,” Sawiris, the chairman of Cairo-based Orascom Telecom Media & Technology SAE, said in an e-mailed statement.

Sasha Radoja, a spokeswoman for Benedetti’s lawyers at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, didn’t immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment.

The case is Benedetti v. Sawiris, High Court of Justice Chancery Division, HC07C2262.

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