Simmons & Simmons has merged with its long-standing Italian partner, Milan-based firm Grippo e Associati, taking on three new partners as part of the deal.
The two firms have operated under the joint banner of Grippo Associati e Simmons & Simmons since a formal association deal was signed in May 1993, and the merger is described as a "cementing" of a long-standing relationship.
"This will be a fully integrated merger. We will operate in Milan and Rome under the joint name of Simmons and Grippo," said Alasdair Neil, Simmons' managing director in Italy.
"There is a lot of work for an international firm in Italy, which has a strong industrial base and an active banking sector. Grippo has seen the evidence over the past three years that working in an international firm gives the ideal opportunity to exploit the Italian market, which is why it has merged with us."
He added that the Italian firm's founding partner, Eugenio Grippo, would continue as senior partner of Simmons' Italian operation, and that former Grippo partners Bruno Gattai, Filipo Pingue and Stefano Speroni had been admitted to Simmons' partnership.
Simmons partner Julian Berger, who has been based with the joint venture in Milan for the past four years, said: "The merger is an exciting development, it represents a milestone, as well as a new logical progression in the two firms' relationship - it is the result of a gradual coming together."
The Italian office is the ninth overseas operation in the Simmons network and it will be staffed by six partners and 30 legal staff.
Neil, who retired as managing partner of Simmons in December, said the firm has had a close relationship with Eugenio Grippo for 25 years.
Meanwhile, leading Italian firm Gianni Origanni & Partners has opened an office in London headed by partner Paulo Criscione and staffed by two other lawyers. The London operation is the second overseas office for the Italian firm, which has offices in Milan, Rome and New York.