SJ Berwin bags Morano for Italian launch

SJ Berwin has confirmed its launch into the Italian market, first reported in The Lawyer (11 July), with the hire of private equity and acquisition finance heavyweight Alberto Morano and a team of three partners.

Morano will head up the silver circle firm’s Italian operations, which will officially launch on Monday (5 December) with offices in Milan and Turin.

He will be supported by partners Massimo Chiaia, and Fabio Cigna, who move across from White & Case, and partner Arturo Meglio, who joins from Lombardi Associati.

Massimo Chiaia was previously a partner in White & Case’s Milan office and Cigna an associate in the firm’s Turin office, while Meglio was previously a senior associate at Lombardi Associati.

Morano was also previously White & Case’s Italian managing partner, but quit the US firm in August, following the firm’s closure of its Rome office.

Before joining White & Case in October 2004, Morano was the name partner of Italian independent private equity boutique Morano e Associati. Chiaia was part of the team that moved across with him at the time.

SJ Berwin’s Italian offices will initially focus on private equity, M&A, acquisition finance, real estate, corporate and labour law. However, a spokeswoman said it this would be expanded to include EU and competition law with further hires over the next few months.

Senior partner David Harrel said the office openings were in line with the firm’s European expansion strategy. “A presence in Italy has always been a vital part of that strategy.”

The offices in Milan and Turin follow the launch of offices in Paris, Madrid, Munich, Berlin and Frankfurt and brings the number of partners to 143 across the combined European business.

Meanwhile, White & Case’s Italian operations have come under increasing pressure following a spate of partner losses. Most recently, two partners left in June to join Varrenti Bassan Lenzi & Associati, which itself split off from the US firm in 2004.