The boutique was founded in 1990 by former Citibank in-house counsel Alberto Morano and is understood to have informal relationships with US firms including Weil Gotshal & Manges and Shearman & Sterling.
The new team is to be led by corporate heavyweight Enrico Zattoni, who will join as managing partner of Morano from Simmons. Corporate finance lawyer Massimo Chiai, who joined Simmons as a salaried partner only a year ago from Studio Legale Bisconti, will join Morano's partnership, as will senior tax consultant Giovanni Bandera and real estate associate Daniele Zanni.
Senior partner Morano said that the team hire was prompted by the need to bolt on M&A, commercial and tax capabilities to the firm's private equity and structured finance practice. “We wanted the ability to work for the target once it has been acquired by our client,” he said. “The other reason is that these people wanted to create something new, and then, obviously, we work with international firms and it's important to them that we also have commercial and tax capabilities.” Morano counts CVC Capital Partners and Doughty Hanson among its clients.
The departures mark the fourth raid on Simmons' Italian offices in the past three years, all at the hands of domestic firms. In 2000, former name partner Eugenio Grippo and 11 other lawyers went to Gianni Origoni & Partners (now Gianni Origoni Grippo & Partners). In January 2002, Rome managing partner Antonio di Pasquale went to Pavia & Ansaldo and in August that year, financial markets partner Manfredi Vianini Tolomei took four associates to Chiomenti Studio Legale.
Simmons is left with 13 partners in Italy, including big billers Marco Franzini and Bruno Gattai.
Senior partner Janet Gaymer said: “The firm remains committed to Italy and we intend to build the practice further. It's actually a very successful part of our network and turnover has increased year on year, so we don't anticipate that these departures will have a significant effect on this overall aim.”