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Clifford Chance is setting up a dedicated team to advise Italian banking and financial institutions after signing a partner from top Italian firm Chiomenti Studio Legale.
Alberto Del Din, senior partner in the securitisat ion and structured finance department at the Italian firm, is expected to start on 1 May.
Nick Wrigley, managing partner at the Milan office of Grimaldi e Clifford Chance, says: "The team will initially consist of five people.
"We are planning to transfer two senior associates from Italy, one from our Milan office and the other from Rome."
He says the team will increase to 10 staff by the end of the year.
Wrigley emphasises that the unit will benefit UK clients with international interests.
However, one source says the Italian service desk in London may be used to court more transatlantic work.
He says: "Large corporate clients would be happier sending work into the universally-respected London region. Clifford Chance would then be responsible for the work it pushed out to its smaller Italian offices."
The move coincides with a busy period of consolidation in the Italian market with Erede e Associate, Bonelli e Associate and Pappalardo e Associate announcing merger plans (The Lawyer, 15 March).