Herbert Smith Freehills secures Simmons & Simmons team to launch Italy private equity and capital markets practice

Partner Augusto Santoro joins with four more lawyers in Milan to broaden HSF's corporate offering for Italian market

(l-r) Augusto Santoro, Guglielmo Ferrari, Cesare Saputo, Michela Merella and Bernadetta Troisi Image courtesy of Herbert Smith Freehills

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has secured a five-strong team from UK rival Simmons & Simmons to launch a private equity and capital markets offering in Milan.

The team represents the bulk of Simmons’s equity capital markets (ECM) lawyers in Milan and is led by partner Augusto Santoro, who specialises in M&A and corporate law as well as in private equity and ECM. It includes of counsel Bernadetta Troisi, senior associates Michela Merella and Guglielmo Ferrari and associate Cesare Saputo. 

HSF said the hire added depth to its broader corporate and M&A practice in Milan, which Santoro will lead, and marked a further step towards building a full-service corporate offering for the Italian market. 

The team’s arrival also represents a significant boost for the Milan office, HSF's sole location in Italy, in terms of lawyer headcount. The office currently houses 17 lawyers including four partners whose practices cover IP, corporate crime and investigations, competition, regulation and trade and M&A. 

Santoro is joining after 18 years at Simmons, where he made partner in 2016 and led the firm’s ECM team in Milan. 

His broad practice covers a range of corporate transactions from M&A deals and divestitures to corporate governance and public company representation, while his client base includes Italian and international companies from the pharma and healthcare, TMT, financial services and luxury sectors.

"Augusto is a well-known and highly respected M&A practitioner in the Italian market,” said HSF’s Milan managing partner, Laura Orlando. “With a solid track record and broad experience across M&A, private equity and ECM transactions in a variety of sectors, Augusto and team complement our existing corporate offering, and will work alongside our partner Francesca Morra who is a market leader in the energy and infra space."

Following the team’s departure Simmons will have around 55 lawyers in Milan according to its website, two of whom – partner Paola Leocani and associate Ida Montanaro – are members of the firm’s ECM team. 

The move also follows disputes partner Leonardo Giani leaving Simmons’ Milan office last month to launch an office in the city for UK insurance giant Clyde & Co. 

A Simmons spokesperson said: “We can confirm that Augusto Santoro has retired from the partnership. We thank him for his contribution to the firm and wish him well for the future.”

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