Studio Legale Tonucci is in advanced merger talks with Italy’s pre-eminent IP practice with a view to creating one of the country’s major independent firms.

The full-service firm is in the final stages of due diligence with Franzosi Dal Negro Pensato Setti. Led by iconic managing partner Mario Franzosi, 40-lawyer Franzosi has forged a reputation as one of Italy’s finest IP boutiques.

Tonucci managing partner Mario Tonucci told The Lawyer that the firms hope to arrive at a decision on the merger by July. If concluded, the tie-up would create a firm of almost 250 lawyers with offices in Rome, Milan, Padua, Prato, New York, Paris, Tirana and Burcharest.

The merger with Franzosi would accord Tonucci critical mass in Milan for the first time.

Mario Tonucci was a founding partner of Gianni Origoni Grippo & Partners before leaving the firm in 1993 to form his own practice. His firm is best known for its work in major Italian privatisations, having advised the Italian government in the privatisation of Telecom Italia. Major corporate clients include Enel and ENI.

Meanwhile, offices in Eastern Europe service Italian corporates and government bodies on EU-sponsored privatisations.

The merger discussions come as Tonucci fields queries from a raft of US firms looking to open in Italy. Morgan Lewis & Bockius is understood to have approached the firm with a potential merger in mind, although Mario Tonucci admitted that integrating an eight-office firm would prove challenging for most US suitors.