Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker has made a dramatic Italian launch, with the hires of the founder of Norton Rose‘s Italian operation Roberto Cornetta and Parmalat head of legal Bruno Cova.

As first reported in The Lawyer, the hires follow a protracted period of negotiation between the parties.

The pair was voted into the Paul Hastings equity last week, and join the firm as co-chairs of the new Milan office. There are no immediate plans for a Rome launch. Sources say the US firm aims to have at least 20 lawyers by the end of this year.

Cornetta, who founded Norton Rose’s Italian operation and was its managing partner until two months ago when he was replaced by partner Paolo Daviddi, is one of Italy’s foremost project finance specialists. He brings with him a small team of Norton Rose assistants.

Meanwhile, Cova – an expert in capital markets, restructuring and M&A and former general counsel at Fiat – finishes his work at Parmalat at the end of this month. His successor, who will steer the company through its August/September IPO, is Nicola Palmieri, the former general counsel of the defunct energy company Montevison, and general counsel at BASF in the US.