A&O reeling after Italian defections

Banking capability badly holed as troubled practice is hit by further key losses

Allen & Overy

‘s (A&O) Italian operation has been rocked by the loss of a prestige banking and finance team, leaving the magic circle firm with a skeleton banking capability in Italy.

Andrea Arosio, the firm’s star banking partner, has quit A&O’s equity for corporate boutique Pedersoli e Associati, taking with him senior associate Dario Longo and a crack team of up to seven other associates.

Arosio was the protégé of departed M&A rainmaker Roberto Casati and was regarded in the market as the firm’s finest banking talent in Italy. He was one of A&O’s highest Italian billers, counting Banca Intesa and UniCredit among his key clients.

Longo has rapidly made his name in Italian securitisations and was hotly tipped to join the partnership this year.

Both Arosio and Longo will join Pedersoli as equity partners.

The move leaves A&O’s Italian banking operation a mere shell of its former self. Banking head Giancarlo Castorino is left as the lone practioner in pure banking, leveraged finance and acquisition finance. Elsewhere in the finance team, associate Davide Mencacci covers property finance law, while partners Franco Vigliano and Catia Tomasetti are project finance specialists and are not regarded for their pure banking profile.

A&O’s Italian operation has been dogged by management difficulties and a raft of defections in recent years. Last October, the bulk of the Turin office – once the beating heart of the old Brosio Casati e Associati empire, which joined with A&O in 1998 – quit to launch boutique Bin Avvocati Associati, and in early 2004 Casati jumped ship for Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton.

The hires are a major boon for Pedersoli. The Milan boutique is regarded for its corporate practice. Pedersoli already handles corporate banking work, most notably for Banca Intesa, but has announced plans to develop its pure banking and structured finance capability. Pedersoli now has 10 partners.

A&O Italian managing partner Massimiliano Danusso said: “Losing valuable professionals is something we regret. But in terms of loss of business, it will not have a significant impact.”