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Discussions centre on joint marketing and training; future merger not ruled out
Linklaters and Italian ally Gianni Origoni Grippo & Partners have launched a review of their alliance aimed at strengthening integration between their practices. The review marks a turning point in Linklaters' relationship with Gianni Origoni, which was a latecomer to the Linklaters & Alliance venture and which so far seemed reluctant to merge. Francesco Gianni, managing partner at Gianni Origoni, is working closely on the integration with Linklaters senior partner Anthony Cann. Gianni said he wants clients to experience a service no different than that offered by a merged firm. Their discussions are focusing on expanding joint marketing, setting up joint training programmes and increasing the exchange of lawyers between offices. Joint marketing is currently limited to banks and investment banks. "We believe it's now time to start approaching investor companies. We're now working on that project. The sooner we can do it, the better it will be," said Gianni. The Italian firm tends to play host to Linklaters lawyers who specialise in securities and M&A, but is particularly keen to expand this into project finance. The integration plans do not yet stretch to fees and profits. Gianni said: "The priority is professional integration. Clients have to consider us as one firm. How we share profits is not a matter they are interested in. "At a certain point we'll have to start discussing the location of fees and profits, but the first step is full professional integration." Gianni also told The Lawyer that his firm is in favour of a merger with Linklaters. Negotiations could start in the next six to 18 months, but growing the firm in Italy is currently taking priority. "Italy is still a growing market. There are lots of opportunities," said Gianni. "We believe jointly with Linklaters that, if we started talking about merger, we'd have to dedicate management time to the talks rather than trying to tap the market. "Our objective is to provide clients with the same facilities as if we are merged. It is not a question of whether we want to merge or not."