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Weil Gotshal & Manges has rewritten its Italian strategy following its failed merger attempt last year, and is building relationships with a number of domestic firms.
London managing partner Mike Francies said: "Our strategy is to build relationships with a number of independent firms, with a view to seeing where they go. We're not in a Slaughter and May best friends position. We're talking to a number of firms. We're trying to formulate plans. We were talking to one firm with a view to merger last year. That didn't happen for various reasons." US capital markets partner Wayne Rapozo, who joined Weil Gotshal from Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom in September 2000, is among those partners taking particular responsibility for Weil Gotshal's Italian strategy. Rapozo said that the firm's immediate objective in Italy was to streamline its relationships with domestic firms. "We're hoping to streamline so that we're dealing with three or four firms more frequently, rather than a larger number," he said. "Senior management is not lining up a specific merger partner. We want to consolidate relationships and make joint pitches with a handful of firms." A merger is only likely to become a possibility for Weil Gotshal in response to further consolidation within the Italian legal market. The US firm currently works with around 10 Italian firms, including most of the remaining major independent firms and a few prominent medium-sized practices. Rapozo said that three or four favourites were already emerging from those relationships. Francies and Rapozo dismissed rumours that Weil Gotshal is about to hold merger talks with Italian firm Studio Legale Sutti, saying that they did not know of the firm.