Linklaters is relocating a banking and projects partner to Italy for the first time in anticipation of a major growth in business opportunities.

Sarosh Mewawalla will head the firm’s banking and projects team, based in Milan and Rome. He will operate from the offices of Linklaters‘ Italian ally Gianni Origoni Grippo & Partners. A US capital markets partner and a corporate partner are already based at the firm, while Gianni Origoni has one partner at Linklaters’ London HQ.

Mewawalla has already worked with Gianni Origoni on a number of deals, including the high-profile e10bn (£6.9bn) financing of the acquisition by a Benetton-controlled company of a majority stake in Autostrade earlier this year.

He commented: “The decision we’ve made is that now is the right time to be there on the ground. There are lots of reasons why from now onwards there’s going to be a significant increase in work.”

New corporate laws due in 2004 will remove some of the uncertainties that exist in Italian company law, while the Italian government is planning improvements to its national infrastructure, valued at e120bn (£82.7bn).