GCR 100 - 17th Edition

Italy

10 January 2017

Italy

Despite a sluggish economy, Italy’s competition bar continues to work on a number of interesting behavioural matters and merger filings.

Elite

Mario Siragusa, Italy’s foremost competition lawyer, sets CLEARY GOTTLIEB STEEN & HAMILTON above its rivals. The doyen of the country’s competition bar since he returned from Brussels in 1998, Siragusa is one of the few practitioners in the country with a genuine reputation outside Italy – for instance, he pleaded before the UK Court of Appeal in the Akzo Nobel/Metlac case, which he then took to the UK’s Supreme Court in 2015.

Siragusa says the firm’s pre-eminence is partly the result of strategic thinking in the 1990s when it built its litigation capacity in anticipation of an increase in Italian court cases. Similarly, he encouraged the lawyers to develop industry-specific expertise; for example, partner Marco D’Ostuni specialises in telecoms, Pietro Merlino knows a lot about pharmaceuticals, and counsel Cesare Rizza is particularly strong in postal and rail matters. As a result, Cleary advises the former state incumbents in most key industries: Eni for gas, Telecom Italia on several confidential matters, rail company Ferrovia and Poste Italiane. Gianluca Faella was promoted to counsel in 2016.

One of Cleary’s greatest successes this year came in the Regional Administrative Court of Lazio, where, on behalf of UnipolSai, Siragusa successfully appealed against a €17 million fine imposed by the competition authority for the alleged bid-rigging of 58 tenders in the insurance sector. The court annulled the authority’s decision in its entirety. Elsewhere, Siragusa and D’Ostuni lead the team representing Sky Italia in its appeal against a fine imposed by the antitrust authority for alleged collusion in a tender for Serie A football broadcasting rights. Siragusa is also defending Exxon Italiana, the local subsidiary of the world’s largest publicly traded oil and gas company, in a follow-on claim arising out of the alleged jet fuel cartel. Together with counsel Pietro Merlino, Siragusa continues to lead the defence of pharmaceutical company F Hoffmann-La Roche as it fights a €90 million fine and potentially enormous follow-on claims for conspiring with Novartis to keep a cheaper eye drug off the market in order to promote a more expensive alternative. The case has been subject to considerable political and media interest and is now before the European Court of Justice, after Italy’s Council of State referred the matter for a preliminary ruling. The team is also representing Deloitte in a probe into alleged cartel behaviour in the market for support and technical assistance services for EU funded public tenders. In merger control, the team advised Italmobiliare on the €1.67 billion sale of its controlling stake in Italcementi to HeidelbergCement.

Tommaso Salonico, competition head at FRESHFIELDS BRUCKHAUS DERINGER in Italy and the firm’s managing partner in the country, is the best competition lawyer in Italy for energy. He works alongside partner Gian Luca Zampa in the Rome office where the team is based, although senior associate Ermelinda Spinelli works from Milan. Unsurprisingly, the firm has a more international focus than the Italian players.

In behavioural work, Freshfields has represented Allianz in an investigation by the Italian authority into alleged excessive pricing in insurance contracts, and Holcim Italia in a cartel investigation of concerted practices between four concrete producers that aimed to increase the price of cement. In merger control, the team advised Holcim Aggregati Calcestruzzi on its joint venture with ready-mix concrete producers Colabeton and Cava di Cusago. The firm also advised private equity group Cinven on its purchase of Ergo Italia, a deal that was cleared in February 2016.

Stefano Grassani, formerly the head of Pavia e Ansaldo’s competition practice, left the firm in winter 2015 to set up shop with GATTI PAVESI BIANCHI. He took the rest of Pavia’s competition lawyers with him, and tells GCR that he thinks the team has tremendous opportunities to grow a superb practice. Grassani had joined Pavia in 1990 and built the firm’s competition group, which is rounded out by partner Andrea Torazzi and two associates.

This year they notified Italy’s Antitrust Authority of a merger between Banco Popolare and Banca Popolare di Milano, which led to the creation of Italy’s third largest bank. The deal received unconditional clearance in July 2016. Before the Pavia team left for D’Urso, the firm took an appeal on behalf of GNV-Grandi Navi Veloci against the antitrust authority, following its sea transport fares decision. Grassani also advises GNV in class actions filed by a pair of consumer associations. Manetti & Roberts, a long-standing Pavia client, had Grassani chase another of the authority’s cartel decisions – this time in the cosmetics sector – through the courts.

GIANNI ORIGONI GRIPPO CAPPELLI & PARTNERS is the grandest of Italy’s three great patrician law firms – the others being Bonelli and Chiomenti – and it continues to have one of the country’s finest competition teams. The well-connected Alberto Pera has stepped down as practice head and is replaced by Piero Fattori; peers say he is technically accomplished and outstanding in the courtroom. Formerly director of the legal service at Italy’s Antitrust Authority, Fattori says one of the firm’s strengths is strong relations with the authority. While keeping as many high-end clients as possible, the competition team’s strategy is to follow the authority’s lead and work with more medium-sized, regional companies as well. This year the firm lost partner Mario Todino to Jones Day, but promoted two lawyers to counsel: Salvatore Spagnuolo and Matteo Padellaro.

Gianni is advising Eni in a follow-on damage claim filed by Alitalia, tied to Eni’s involvement in the Italian jet fuel cartel. Alongside that claim, the competition team provides advice on the negotiation of gas contracts, as well as a number of civil actions alleging anticompetitive behaviour. The team is assisting Novartis in an appeal against a decision by an Italian court upholding the authority’s fine against the pharmaceuticals company for blocking the spread of cheaper drugs in favour of a more expensive alternative. The competition group also represents Unicredit in a probe by the competition authority into an alleged violation of article 101, and Manutencoop Facility Management in its appeal before the administrative court against a bid-rigging infringement decision relating to tenders for cleaning services in educational institutions. EU-facing work includes advising Agility Logistics in proceedings at the European Court of Justice following a request for a preliminary ruling by DHL on various coexisting procedures with the European Competition Network.

LEGANCE continues to have a significant competition practice, now led by Vito Auricchio following Denis Fosselard’s move to Ashurst in January 2013. The firm originally broke away from Gianni Origoni, and Auricchio has been with Legance since its foundation in 2007, becoming partner in 2012. The practice benefits from a large corporate finance department and is particularly strong in civil litigation, Auricchio says.

In behavioural work, Auricchio represents Cementir Italia in the ongoing cement price-signalling probe; and advises Total SA in a €900 million follow-on claim initiated by Alitalia following an investigation by the authority into the jet fuel market. He also advised a company in the dairy sector market inquiry. On the merger side, Auricchio’s team advised Beauté Prestige International on an exclusive worldwide licensing deal with Dolce & Gabbana, which was notified to the European Commission and subsequently cleared unconditionally. The firm also advised utilities company Società Elettrica Altoatesina on its merger with rival Azienda Energetica in a deal that the Italian authority sent to Phase II, but subsequently cleared with commitments.

It’s been a tough year for ALLEN & OVERY in Italy, having lost former antitrust practice head Silvia D’Alberti – one of the country’s most accomplished competition lawyers – and senior associate Fabiana Campopiano to Gattai Minoli Agostinelli in February 2016. Counsel Emilio De Giorgi was hired from NCTM Studio Legale in July and tasked with rebuilding the practice. He is a well-regarded and likeable antitrust practitioner, with over 15 years of experience. Plans for expansion are afoot, but in the meantime De Giorgi is operating by himself, with assistance from A&O’s formidable wider network. Much of the firm’s work is confidential, but De Giorgi is advising Old Mutual Wealth Italy on its share sale to Cinven, a deal that required notifying to the European Commission. De Giorgi has significant experience in private litigation and he continues to work on big cases in this area.

ASHURST’s Italy office is now run by Denis Fosselard, who is primarily based in Brussels, where he has traditionally overseen EU cases. The team lost its former practice head, Domenico Gullo, to DLA Piper in the spring of 2016. Fosselard is assisted by a team of three associates, who have worked on a handful of significant matters, most of which are confidential. The firm is advising a car rental company in an investigation into an alleged cartel that involved more than 10 other companies; and a cement maker in the ongoing cement price signalling probe, which includes Italy’s major cement producers Buzzi Unicem, Holcim Italia, Cementi Giovanni Rossi and Cementir Italia. In another cartel investigation, the firm is advising Ferriera Valsabbia in the Antitrust Authority’s wire-rod and welding mesh investigation. Elsewhere it is representing Friulana Calcestruzzi in an appeal against a Regional Administrative Tribunal judgment confirming the fines in the concrete case; and Total Aviazione Italia in a follow-on claim filed by Alitalia against TAI.

After a turbulent few years, Rino Caiazzo seems settled as one of the three named partners at new, small commercial firm CAIAZZO DONNINI PAPPALARDO & ASSOCIATI. He joined the ill-fated Dewey & LeBoeuf as head of antitrust in Italy in 2010, only for the firm to collapse in 2012. After a stint at Grimaldi he set up his own firm, bringing with him four Dewey associates. He represents British Telecom Italy in challenging an Antitrust Authority fine, and Esperia in antitrust, energy regulatory and judicial proceedings alleging that Enel Distribuzione abusively terminated an electricity distribution agreement, which Esperia seeks to have the agreement reinstated.

As might be expected, CLIFFORD CHANCE has some high-profile – mainly confidential – international clients, but it also advises some leading Italian companies, including insurance business Generali and transport company Italsempione. Generali was investigated alongside Unipol for an alleged cartel in the insurance of local public transport, in a case that has now gone to the Supreme Administrative Court. The team is also representing PwC in a probe into alleged cartel behaviour in the market for support and technical assistance services for EU-funded public tenders. Meanwhile, Gruppo Lactalis turned to the Clifford Chance team as Italy’s Antitrust Authority launched a market study in the milk and cheese sectors. The team also advises Banca Popolare di Milano on its merger with Banco Popolare; and fashion group Fendi in a private claim before the Court of Bari.

Andrea De Matteis has carved out a smart niche in mobile and electronic payments for his DE MATTEIS LAW, formerly De Matteis Studio Legale, which he founded in 2011. MasterCard remains the firm’s largest client – accounting for 90% of its work – and the firm successfully overturned the prohibition decision and €2.7 million fine imposed by Italy’s Antitrust Authority in 2010 for allegedly colluding with other banks to raise interchange fees. The authority’s appeal to the Council of State was decided in February 2016 in favour of the credit card company. In the gambling sector, GTECH turned to De Matteis as it merged with the US-listed International Gaming Technology, which saw the boutique working alongside massive international law firms.

Veronica Pinotti, practice head at MCDERMOTT WILL & EMERY, says the firm’s competition practice feels steady and settled. Pinotti specialises in food and beverages, online marketplaces and health and medical equipment. Kedrion Biopharma is a key client; the firm has advised it on all antitrust compliance matters since 2009 and the Italian office continues to advise the company on a cartel investigation in the US. The Italian team previously advised BBC Worldwide in response to a DG Comp request for information as the EU authority probed the BSkyB acquisition of Sky’s German and Italian operations. Heineken, Danone and Warner Bros have turned to Pinotti and her team for compliance advice, with the latter also seeking assistance in merger control.

Firm

Head(s) of competition

Size

Who’s Who Legal nominees

Clients

Elite

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton

N/A

4 partners

2 counsel

5 senior attorneys

20 associates

Matteo Beretta

Marco D’Ostuni

Giulio Cesare Rizza

Mario Siragusa

Francesca Moretti

Eni, Telecom Italia, Sky Italia, Hoffmann-La Roche, Google, Petronas, Italmobiliare, UnipolSai, Snam, Enel

Highly recommended

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Tommaso Salonico

2 partners

9 associates

Tommaso Salonico

Gian Luca Zampa

ThyssenKrupp, JBS, Iren Group, A2A Group, Borsa Italiana, Allianz, Volkswagen Group, LafargeHolcim, London Stock Exchange Group, Emirates, Avio, Boehringer Ingelheim

Gatti Pavesi Bianchi

Stefano Grassani

2 partners

2 associates

Stefano Grassani

Banco Popolare, SEA, Cassa Depositi e Prestiti

Gianni Origoni Grippo Cappelli & Partners

Piero Fattori

2 partners

4 counsel

6 associates

Piero Fattori

Alberto Pera

Agility, A2A, Assicurazioni generali, Enel, Eni, Eurospin Italia, Fondo di Garanzia dei Depositi CC, HDI, Hitachi, Manutencoop, Novartis, Poste mobile, RCS, Safilo, Trenitalia, Unicredit

Legance

Vito Auricchio

1 partner

2 senior associates

2 associates

None

Bayer, Snam, Swisscom, Parmalat, Danone, Bosch-Siemens, BEL, SAB Miller-Peroni, Billa-Penny, Mondi Packaging, Uniqa

Recommended

Allen & Overy

Emilio De Giorgi

1 counsel

None

Old Mutual Wealth Italy

Ashurst

Denis Fosselard

1 partner

3 associates

None

Iccrea Banking Group, IGT, Total Marketing Service, W&P Cement, Total, Total Erg, Costa Crociere, Pirelli, ENI

Caiazzo Donnini Pappalardo & Associati

Rino Caiazzo

1 partner

4 associates

Rino Caiazzo

British Telecom Italy, Esperia, Colt Telecom, Axpo Italia, BristolMyers Squibb, Western Union, Groupama

Clifford Chance

Luciano Di Via

1 partner

1 counsel

4 associates

Luciano Di Via

Assicurazioni Generali, Gruppo Lactalis, Arvedi, Permira, Assolatte, Pfizer, BPM, PricewaterhouseCoopers, GE Capital, Sammontana

De Matteis Law

Andrea De Matteis

1 partner

2 associates

Andrea De Matteis

Pirelli, MasterCard, GTECH, Thomas Cook, Kellogg's, Christian Dior, American Airlines

Grimaldi Studio Legale

N/A

N/A

None

N/A

McDermott Will & Emery

Veronica Pinotti

1 partner

1 senior associate

1 associate

None

Heineken, Kedrion, Warner Bros, Danone Group, Mellin, Nutricia, Huawei, ENI, Fendi, AutoSock, Rhenus Logistics, Wonderbox <

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