BBLP is rushing through its plans to complete a full merger of its continental European alliance this year in the face of aggressive expansion from rival firms.
The alliance, including Beiten Burkhardt Mittl & Wegener, Moquet Borde & Associes, Pavia e Ansaldo and Meyer Lustenberger & Partner, originally planned to consolidate the partnership in 2001.
Jack Schiffer, managing partner at Beiten Burkhardt, says: “In our original concept agreement we said that at the start of 2001 we would start looking at the proposals for integrating the firms which would be in place by then at the latest.
“But it is too late. We want to move the proposals and make the solutions by the end of the year. We believe that we need a stronger link with each other.”
He adds: “As you know the UK firms and the US firms have been coming quite aggressively into continental Europe.”
BBLP's intention to push plans forward coincide with the loss of two corporate finance partners from Pavia e Ansaldo, its Italian alliance partner, who have left to set up Ashurst Morris Crisp's new Milan office as revealed on The Lawyer's website (www.thelawyer.co.uk) on 11 April.
Daniele Raynaud and Riccardo Agostinelli have taken six associates to Ashursts, which opened its office on 10 April.
Raynaud says: “Probably the main reason [for my departure] was that I was not happy with BBLP. At the time [BBLP was formed] it was decided that it had a commitment to finding expansion with a UK and US firm.”
But he says there had been no signs of finding partners in those jurisdictions.
Schiffer says: “I do not think we can name a date but we have always said we want BBLP to compete in the UK and the US.”
Raynaud says that one of the attractions of joining Ashursts was its intention to merge with US firm Latham & Watkins.
He says: “When we heard about it we were very interested that it was in talks with the prospective firm.”
When it set up the Milan office, Ashursts broke off its three-year alliance with Italian firm Negri-Clementi Toffoletto & Montironi.