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Linklaters offers top-of-equity deal to recruit Cleary rainmaker Casati ahead of his 70th birthday

In one of the most significant senior moves in the Italian market in recent years, Linklaters has hired Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton veteran rainmaker Roberto Casati.

In a bid by the City giant to expand beyond its finance and capital markets focus in the country into mainstream corporate, Linklaters has drafted a waiver to its partnership terms to allow the 69-year-old to join the firm at the top of its equity ladder, a deal worth around £2m annually. Casati is expected to stay on for at least five years.

Casati, who quit Allen & Overy in 2004 for Cleary Gottlieb, is regarded as one of Italy’s leading corporate lawyers in a market still dominated by elder statesmen with decades-long connections with the country’s top companies. Casati’s recruitment was credited with driving much of the success of the US firm in Italy. Clients he has previously acted for include Petronas, ABN AMRO, Mediobanca, Qatar Holding, Inter Milan, Whirlpool Corporation, HanesBrands and Corrado Passera.

Yet Cleary Gottlieb would not allow for any exception to its rule of retirement at 70, meaning Casati saw joining Linklaters as an opportunity to continue.

The move is a surprise for Linklaters, a firm that has long had a reputation for managing out older partners in its City heartlands. The firm is nevertheless regarded as having achieved more momentum in its Continental European practice in recent years, with its Italian practice building a strong reputation for banking and securities work.

For more on the Italian legal market see our recent column, ‘Letter from Milan’ (£)