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Linklaters poised to launch in Italy as it splits from reluctant alliance partner
Linklaters in divorce from Gianni Origoni" />Linklaters and Gianni Origoni Grippo are dissolving their alliance with mutual consent after they reached the inevitable conclusion that they will never merge, despite having signed a new agreement re-establishing their referral exclusivity to one another last year.
The ending of the four and a half year alliance will signal a concerted hiring push by Linklaters to boost its Italian presence – although it will be lagging behind Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Allen & Overy, which all have established practices in Italy. Linklaters currently has three partners there, all of whom handle finance work.
Linklaters managing partner Tony Angel told The Lawyer: “It’s been increasingly apparent over a period that we weren’t getting to a merger, so we decided to bring the formal association to an end. These things have to lead to a merger or they don’t work.”
The two firms began their association in 1999 but have operated increasingly at arm’s length and stopped submitting jointly to Thomson Financial and Mergermarket over a year ago – unlike Slaughter and May, which makes joint submissions with German best friend Hengeler Mueller. Gianni Origoni topped the Italian deals tables again last year, according to Thomson Financial, while Linklaters was tenth.
The split comes after frustration on Linklaters’ side that the association was impeding its progress in such a key European jurisdiction.
Two sources within the firm said bankrupt Italian food group Parmalat underlined the problem. Although the two firms never shared IT systems, there was never any question of conflicts. However, as Grapevine (part of Lawyer News Weekly) revealed in January, Linklaters is acting for Bank of America, which is suing Parmalat, while Gianni Origoni is acting for Parmalat’s administrator Enrico Bondi.
A spokesperson for Gianni Origoni said: “There isn’t one thing that accelerated the separation. It’s something that’s happened very naturally. It’s important for the two firms to continue to work together.”