Alan Karter, who manages Simmons' relationships, including that of HFC Bank, said he was keen to see if there was a “much more European way of doing things”.
He put himself forward for the post after the idea was suggested by the Italian partners last year, before they were hit by the departure of 12 lawyers to Linklaters & Alliance's Italian firm Gianni Origoni & Partners (now Gianni Origoni Grippo & Partners).
Karter said: “The Italian partners are keen to work more closely as a firm and participate in the way the firm is moving internationally.
“I'm a corporate partner who's done a lot of finance work, particularly private equity financings, which makes me a much more interesting commodity to my European colleagues. I'm not just an M&A lawyer.”
“This is almost about catching their attention. I'm not expecting to do any managing, I'm going there to do deals”
Alan Karter, Simmons & Simmons
Karter said his recent role in the acquisition of the Diners Club International businesses in the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands was crucial to his decision to relocate. The deal involved five Simmons offices.
“I found it a very challenging and rewarding transaction,” said Karter. “I just had a feeling that this was the way the world was moving. We're trying to read where our clients' businesses are going and how we can best support them.”
His move to Italy is aimed at generating new business as well as servicing existing clients. “This is almost about catching their attention,” said Karter. “I'm not expecting to do any managing. I'm going there to do deals.”
Karter said he was still in the process of discussing the implications of the move with his clients.
“There are some who want to be reassured that I won't be dropping them entirely and some who I've introduced to successor partners in London,” he said.
Karter expects to be based in Italy for at least two years.