White & Case Italy targets Morano for rebuilding plan

White & Case is attempting to reinvigorate its Italian operation by taking on the name partner of Milan independent Morano e Associati.

The US firm is in advanced talks with Alberto Morano, a private equity and acquisition finance specialist and managing partner of the Milan-based boutique.

While no deal has yet been finalised, it is expected that Morano, along with a team of lawyers, will join White & Case by the autumn.

Morano’s arrival will hopefully spell the end to a period of unrest at White & Case’s Italian office following the departure of executive partner Alessandro Varrenti, who quit the firm in June along with two local partners.

Varrenti led his five-partner firm Varrenti e Associati into a merger with White & Case three years ago.

On leaving White & Case, Varrenti is understood to have entered negotiations with a range of UK and US firms, but opted instead to set up on his own.

White & Case’s Italian interim executive partner John Riggs, who jetted into Rome last year to troubleshoot the Italian practice, is overseeing negotiations with Morano.

The firm is also in discussions with a range of other lawyers with a view to beefing up in Italy. Italian sources say that among them is the managing partner at Norton Rose’s Milan office Roberto Cornetta.

However, White & Case will be competing for Cornetta’s affections.
Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker is also wooing the corporate specialist with a view to opening its first Italian office.

White & Case’s management board, and subsequently the whole partnership, is expected to vote on Morano in the coming weeks.