A&O Turin chief in unique semi-solo arrangement
The Italian market has a new law firm. Allen & Overy’s (A&O) respected Turin head Carlo Pavesio has left the magic circle firm to set up his own Turin-based corporate finance and compliance boutique.

The new firm, called Pavesio & Associati, is the result of a unique arrangement with A&O, which has seen the magic circle firm hand over its entire local 15-lawyer team, as well as the Turin office itself. Under the arrangement Pavesio will also continue to be invited to A&O partnership meetings and will have access to all of the firm’s global offices and resources. The unusual agreement is the result is a formal alliance with A&O, although Pavesio remains financially independent. Pavesio is understandably happy with the outcome, stating: “It’s quite an extraordinary move for both sides. The decision has been taken so as to allow the Turin office greater flexibility.”

Meanwhile, A&O seems to have found an arrangement that works for everyone. Keeping in touch with Pavesio means it loses little in terms of client relationships, while Pavesio benefits from having a ready-made international network.

Although A&O’s Turin office was never able to achieve its aim of shaking Italian independent Grande Stevens’ hold on Fiat, Pavesio advises an impressive roster of clients, including financial institutions such as Finmeccanica, Sanpaolo IMI and Toro Assicurazioni.

Pavesio & Associati’s first move has been to hire rated ex-A&O banking partner Andrea Cristaudi from Simmons & Simmons. Cristaudi began his career in A&O’s Turin office and was mentored by none other than Pavesio. He made partner at the Milan office and then left for Simmons in June last year.

Expect to see a few more A&O alumni pitch up in Turin. Pavesio says the phone has been ringing off the hook since he went public with his move.

Linklaters tight-lipped on Italian rebuild plans
Since the firm’s split with leading Italian firm Gianni Origoni Grippo & Partners in 2003, Linklaters’ presence in Italy has been slight compared with its magic circle rivals’.

This is set to change as Linklaters prepares to implement growth plans for its Italian practice. But the firm is keeping tight-lipped on what these plans involve. Milan partner Sarosh Mewawalla said: “We’re in the process of looking into plans in Italy and hope to make an announcement in the next few months.”

Linklaters has only two partners on the ground in Italy and speculation has been rife over the firm’s next move on the peninsula. A rumour gathering pace in the market is that Linklaters is looking to join up with rated private equity specialists Negri-Clementi Toffoletto Montironi & Soci (NCTM).

A tie-up with Italian independent firm Giliberti Pappalettera Triscornia e Associati was also believed to be on the cards at one stage.

Linklaters has refused to comment on whether a merger or partner hires are on the cards, but it is a long time coming, whatever it is.

CSFB Italian legal head quits for bank GC position
Big law firms are not the only ones to see changes at the top. The banks are in on it too.

Last December Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB) head of Italian legal affairs Raffaele Rizzi quit to join Tuscany-based Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, Italy’s third-largest bank, as general counsel.

Rizzi, who has been at CSFB for seven years, starts his new role this month. He succeeds Pasqualino Pauleso, who is retiring as general counsel.

Rizzi says: “It’s a great opportunity. Also it was time to move because I’d always intended to return to Italy at this stage of my life.”

Banca Monte will benefit from Rizzi’s organisational skills. Top of his list is a restructure of the legal department, which employs around 150 lawyers based all over the peninsula. “My first job will be to bring the legal team together; at the moment they’re all over the place,” he says.

McDermott to grow Rome base
McDermott Will & Emery has been keeping a low profile in Italy since the unwinding of its merger with Carnelutti Studio Legale at the end of 2005. But 2007 looks set to be a year of growth for the US-based firm.

Last month McDermott launched its Italian tax practice after scooping a three-partner tax team from Trivoli & Associati. The move boosted the firm’s local partner count from four to seven. Managing partner Massimo Trentino is now on the hunt for more practice areas to bolt on to the firm. “One of the most important things we’re looking for is IP,” says Trentino. “We need a partner to coordinate with other offices in the US and Europe.”

Trentino is also targeting the launch of a general commercial litigation practice in near future. And a return to Milan is likely once all the practice areas are in place.

He says: “We’ll keep the trend of growth by including other departments. When the opportunity arises we’ll look seriously at Milan.”

Bonelli looks to London
While UK firms look to bolster their Italian presences, Slaughter and May’s Italian best friend Bonelli Erede Pappalardo is preparing to grow its office in London. The firm will become flatmates with German best friend Hengeler Mueller when the two firms move into joint premises at 30 Cannon Street at the end of January.

Both firms are to expand to have capital markets, banking and corporate capabilities. As such Bonelli will send a corporate partner to London for the first time.

Bonelli’s London office has so far focused exclusively on finance. It has made a profit of €3m (£1.55m) so far this financial calendar year, already beating last year’s €2.7m (£1.4m) figure.

Head of Bonelli’s London office Riccardo Sallustio says: “There’s a lot of synergy between the Germans and Italians, especially in finance. You could say this is a commitment to London and a commitment to the best friends network.”

Bonelli and Hengeler will share the reception, five conference rooms and the office break-out room. Spanish best friend firm Uría Menéndez was also involved in early discussions to join in the move, but last year opted to renew its existing lease at 100 Canon Street.

Slaughters commercial real estate partner David Beales advised both Bonelli and Hengeler on the lease agreement.