The Italian legal market has entered the New Year in a flurry of activity with Cam-eron McKenna's CMS alliance signing an Italian member for the first time and Simmons & Simmons' Italian operation sealing a merger in Padua.
Nineteen-partner Adonnino Ascoli & Cavasola Scamoni will join CMS on 1 February, giving the network a total of seven members and extending its coverage into Southern Europe.
Adonnino – the product of a three-way merger two years ago – is a full-service firm with offices in Rome and Milan and is one of the few Italian firms with equal strengths in legal and tax consultancy.
Managing partner Pietro Cavasola said his firm had already been considering a formal cooperation with Bureau Francis Lefebvre (BFL), before the French firm joined CMS in March 2001. BFL introduced Adonnino to the alliance and discussions began shortly afterwards. During 2001, Adonnino has worked with BFL, Camerons and Dutch member Derks Star Busmann.
Cavasola said: “We feel that this network works very well and is becoming increasingly integrated. We also feel that it missed an Italian member.
“We accept all of the principles of the existing members in CMS, and further integration is something that is under discussion. We will participate in that.”
With international Anglo-Saxon firms rushing to gain an Italian presence, the firm has not been without its suitors over the last couple years. “We preferred the approach of CMS because it wasn't the approach of acquisition, but of an alliance and integration,” said Cavasola. “We didn't want to be just an affiliate of a big Anglo-Saxon firm, as has happened with many firms in Italy.”
Chairman of CMS Richard Taylor said that the alliance had conducted a series of exploratory talks with Italian firms over the last 18 months, but was particularly attracted by Adonnino's dual legal and tax capability.
The CMS deal in Italy comes as Simmons expands its Italian presence by merging with a two-partner Paduan firm. Partners Paolo Brugnera and Paolo Gnignati join the Simmons partnership with five other lawyers. Padua is seen as the third key Italian market due to its high concentration of entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises. Simmons is also implementing plans to set up an Italian desk in London.
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