Simmons reels as Dewey Ballantine pulls off shock raid in Italy

In an aggressive push, Dewey Ballantine has acquired six partners to launch an Italian practice, tailor-made by former Simmons & Simmons rainmaker Bruno Gattai.

Dewey’s Milan and Rome offices, which open on 1 October, will have the added fire of a London Italian desk, so that the practice mirrors the presence of Dewey’s target clients among the investment banks.

Gattai, a leading name in M&A, private equity and capital markets, has brought together an impressive team. It includes Gianni Origoni Grippo M&A specialist Stefano Speroni and finance partner Ugo Giordano, a former Clifford Chance and Chiomenti lawyer who joins from Merrill Lynch. In a further blow to Simmons, two more of its partners, Nicola Brunetti and Giovanbattista Santangelo, and senior associate Stefano Catenacci are also joining the team. Gattai, Speroni and Giordano, who will head Milan, Rome and the London desks respectively, have an array of clients, including ABN Amro, BNP, Credit Suisse First Boston, Enel, Finnmecanica Paribas and Permira.

Dewey’s London head James Simpson approached Gattai after he was asked to investigate the Italian market in early 2002. Gattai resigned from Simmons in August.

Gattai said: “The Anglo-Saxon firms had all kinds of success in Italy, but clients are becoming more careful. It’s not enough to be a partner in a big firm. Clients now want to be sure that the partners are really involved in the work.”