Simmons Milan in double client coup

Two client wins at Simmons & Simmons’ Milan office could signal a renaissance at a firm that was decimated by departures just 12 months ago.

In September 2003, Simmons’ Italian practice suffered the latest in a series of departures that saw the firm lose 10 partners and their related teams in three years; it has since, though, made a number of lateral hires which are now paying off.

“We had some problems with consolidation, but we’re bigger than we were 12 months ago. It’s not an easy time for the Italian legal market. To some extent we anticipated this. Now we’ve done a lot of recruitment and we’re planning for the future,” said Simmons’ European private equity head Marco Franzini.

Last September the firm hired Fabrizio Dotti from the in-house department at Banca Intesa; it has also recruited Ugo Milazzo from Ernst & Young and, over the summer, took three securitisation lawyers from Clifford Chance.

Franzini believes Simmons has turned a corner. He advised Permira for the first time, as well as Private Equity Partners, on their investment in tile manufacturer Marazzi Gruppo Ceramiche last month and has quickly followed up by advising Marazzi on its $103m (£55.6m) acquisition of Russia’s leading tile company Welor Kerama.

Marazzi had previously relied on established family lawyer Marcello Franco, who also assisted Franzini with this transaction.

“The opportunity for an expansion in Russia was encouraged by the institutional investors and they had a very active role in setting it up. It’s been a natural extension for us to advise Marazzi,” said Franzini.