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New York firm White & Case is merging with Italian corporate boutique Varrenti e Associati, providing the firm with a presence in Rome and Milan, with the new joint practice to be called Studio Legale White & Case Varrenti e Associati.
Founding partner Alessandro Varrenti becomes an equity partner at White & Case, while his four other partners become local partners of the firm. Varrenti has 20 lawyers split equally between the two offices.
Varrenti will be joint head of the new Italian practice, along with White & Case partner Kenneth Lee, who is moving in from heading the Mexico office.
Paris-based White & Case partner Anthony Giustini will split his time between Paris and Rome, as he already has a strong Italian client base.
Varrenti has international clients including Bertelsmann/BMG, ENEL Group, Toyota Motor Company and Kone Group.
London-based White & Case partner Colin Potter says: "We're in a number of countries in Europe, but we've really got to be in all of Europe's major centres. Italy is important: there are Italian companies doing things offshore in Italy and there's a lot of Italian work going on elsewhere."
Potter says that Maurice Allen, the firm's London-based banking partner, is already doing a couple of acquisition finance deals in Italy.
The merger gives White & Case corporate, commercial, M&A, intellectual property, dispute resolution and telecoms capabilities, with banking and securities the next step.
Varrenti says: "We do want to grow our size - a significant size would be 70 or 80 lawyers. We're already 30 and we expect to double that size by the end of the year."
He says that growth will come through a combination of lateral hires and partner moves into Italy from other White & Case offices.