PwC snaps up Italian firm and looks to merge German offices

By Richard Tyler. Pricewaterhouse Coopers has swallowed up the 20-lawyer Rome and Milan-based practice, Studio Legale Associato, formerly associated with Frere Cholmeley Bischoff.

The Big Five accountant will fold this firm, together with the four lawyers from Price Waterhouse's existing Italian practice, into Coopers & Lybrand's 36-lawyer firm, Pirola Pennuto Ze.

The merger will create a top 10 Italian firm by size which will also contain over 200 tax consultants (known as commercialisti in Italy).

Pirola Pennuto's senior partner, Fulvio Pastore Alinante, said: “The client is better served by a team of experts with skills – we have financial experts, tax experts, lawyers and others. We work within separate structures, but as an organised team.”

Meanwhile in Germany, Pricewaterhouse Coopers is attempting to merge the two firms formerly affiliated to Price Waterhouse – PW Veltins and Nehm & Co – with the two tied to Coopers – C&L Rechtsberatung and Achern-based insolvency firm Schultze & Braun.

PW hired Dr Michael Veltins in June from Wessing & Berenberg-Gossler, where he headed the Leipzig office. The new single firm, whose HQ will be in Frankfurt, will be called Pricewaterhouse Coopers Veltins from this Thursday.

However, not all Schultze partners may agree to join the merged entity. Paul Downing, head of corporate development and legal at PwC, acknowledged that there were difficulties but said he expected at least some of the partners to come across to PwC Veltins.

He said: “The expansion in Germany has been nothing short of meteoric. Our original planning called for 50 lawyers by the end of year one – we've already hit that target.”

In France, Pricewaterhouse Coopers recently recruited Glaxo Wellcome's French general counsel, Philippe Mellot, to head its pharmaceutical law practice and help streamline its internal organisation.

In the UK, PW's Arnheim & Co and Coopers' Tite & Lewis will merge this week to form Arnheim Tite & Lewis.