Legal Business Blogs

International round-up: Europe focus for new offices and key hires while Clydes US deal hits buffers

In a busy week for international practices, DWF has made a breakthrough on the continent, opening its first Italy office in Milan with a 16-lawyer team including four partners. The latest launch for the ever-expanding firm comes just a few weeks after announcing a launch in Australia.

Three of the Milan partners, corporate finance specialist Michele Cicchetti, tax partner Tancredi Marino and M&A partner Luca Cuomo, will join DWF’s Milan office from local independent firm Pavia & Ansaldo with Cicchetti becoming managing partner of DWF Italy. The fourth partner, real estate specialist Daniele Zanni, arrives from fellow Italian independent LS Lexjus Sinacta. The remaining 12 lawyers are all being supplied by Pavia.

The office will officially launch tomorrow (1 November), and will supply corporate, finance, tax and litigation advice for clients in the insurance and real estate sectors. The Milan launch comes a week after Herbert Smith Freehills announced that it would be opening in the same city.

DWF chief executive and managing partner Andrew Leaitherland said: ‘We have seen really positive results from our German and French practices in a relatively short amount of time, and we’re confident that our new Milan office will strengthen our offering in continental Europe, particularly across the private equity, energy and financial services sectors, and allow us to continue the momentum we’ve built so far.’

DWF head of international, Stefan Paciorek, said of of the Milan opening:

‘The industrial and advanced manufacturing corporates in northern Italy remain strong in the global markets in which they operate. Milan remains a financial centre with an ever-improving real estate market. There has never been a better time to launch a legal business in Milan and we have done so with one of the best internationally-focused teams in the market.

‘Our launch team is bringing its own clients who complement our sector focus in real estate, energy and financial services as well as a private equity specialism. Their clients are active globally and as well as the UK, we have already seen client referrals into our offices in Germany and Australia.  We have seen increasing investor interest in Italy from our existing clients as economic conditions have improved.’

Elsewhere in Europe, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton has made a major hire in Germany, bringing in antitrust veteran Wolfgang Deselaers from Linklaters.

Deselaers, who will split his time between Cleary’s Cologne and Brussels offices, focuses on cartel litigation, EU and German merger control, joint ventures, monopolies and state aid. Deselaers had been a partner at the Magic Circle firm since 2001.

Cleary managing partner Michael Gerstenzang commented: ‘Cleary is counsel of choice to leading corporations around the world on complex antitrust matters, and Wolfgang will add to our already formidable depth and breadth in this important area.’

Staying in Europe, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has strengthened its Paris capabilities, hiring litigation and white collar partner Kami Haeri and a team of two counsel and two associates from French firm.

Haeri will chair both the commercial litigation and white collar practices of Quinn’s Paris office, bringing with him 20 years’ experience representing clients across a range of industries, including aeronautics and tobacco.

Managing partner John Quinn said: ‘In the regulatory and prosecution areas, the world is shrinking quickly, with multinational white-collar governmental enforcement and regulatory actions becoming increasingly common. Kami’s white-collar expertise in France and the EU will fit in well with our worldwide practice.’

Finally, plans for Global 100 insurance heavyweight Clyde & Co to merge with US-based Sedgwick have taken a hit, with talks between the two firms breaking down.  The US firm has seen some partner departures recently, most notably to Clydes insurance rival Kennedys in recent months. A Clydes spokesperson issued a cryptic statement, pointing out ‘we continuously study our markets for opportunities’ but ‘never comment on such discussions until it is appropriate to do so’.