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In a move that will shock the Italian market, the legal partners of Andersen's now defunct Italian practice have broken off their merger plans with Deloitte & Touche in favour of a deal with big five rival Ernst & Young (E&Y)
The merger with E&Y law firm Studio Legale Tributario will create Italy's largest law firm, with more than 300 lawyers. The enlarged firm plans to rebrand, probably as part of a worldwide branding exercise by the E&Y Law Alliance. A total of 95 lawyers from Andersen Legal-Studio di Consulenza Legale e Tributaria will join the E&Y firm, instead of pursuing the deal with Deloitte. The Andersen partners are also understood to have been courted by a number of magic circle firms before clinching their deal with the accountant. It is understood that a key driver behind the switch is the appeal of E&Y's more advanced international network of lawyers. The deal with Deloitte (The Lawyer, 24 June) went against the accountants' conservative policy towards developing a legal capability, although it has picked up Andersen Legal teams in France, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden. However, the bulk of Andersen's French operation is merging with E&Y's associated French law firm HSD Ernst & Young; and Andersen Luther in Germany has also joined the E&Y network. E&Y has also clinched deals with Andersen lawyers in Argentina, Chile, CIS, Ecuador, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru and Switzerland. In Italy, Paolo Tanoni, managing partner of Studio Legale Tributario, will take on the role of president of the firm's advisory board, while Andersen Legal head Francesco Marotta will become managing partner of the enlarged firm. In a joint statement to The Lawyer, Tanoni and Marotta said: "In one leap, we're creating a law firm with the ability to perform the most complex transactions globally. The combination will better serve our clients and will give the added value we need in order to play a leading role in the legal market in Italy and abroad." The partners from Andersen include: M&A specialists Raffaele Caldarone, Giuse-ppe Barreca and Raffaele Pendibene; intellectual property lawyer Massimiliano Mostardini; and public law professor Fabrizio Cassella.