Berwin Leighton Brussels head joins Italian PFI team

Berwin Leighton’s head of Brussels is stepping down to become head of legal for the Italian PFI Taskforce.

Velia Leone, who specialises in EU and competition law, is relocating to Rome to head the legal department of the government-funded body but will remain as a consultant at the firm.

As part of her new role, Leone, an Italian qualified lawyer, will examine the possibility of Berwin Leighton moving into the region, since the firm’s Brussels office handles a number of anti-trust matters for Italian clients.

Peter Stone, head of EU and competition at Berwin Leighton’s London office, who previously headed up the Brussels practice, will resume his role.

Stone says: “[Leone] has been spending more time in Rome and this will enable things to be more static. We run a substantial Italian practice out of the Brussels office on anti-trust matters.”

Stone is non-committal on whether the firm would enter an alliance, merge or set up its own practice in the region.

He says: “It is too early to tell but I wouldn’t rule anything in and I wouldn’t rule anything out.”

At present the Brussels practice houses two associates, but Stone says the firm is actively recruiting local lawyers from partner to assistant level.

Stone says: “It is difficult to recruit good people in the Brussels market, we have been looking for the past 12 months.”

He adds that the firm is no closer to announcing any appointments. However, the firm will rotate some of its lawyers from its London office to Brussels.

Stone himself will remain based in London but will commute regularly to Brussels while David Robins, corporate partner at Berwin Leighton, will continue to head the management of the office.

The taskforce was set up by the Italian government at the beginning of this year. Recent deals in the region include the development of a waste-to-energy plant being built in Piacenza, northern Italy.