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Italy’s top three firms last year retained their positions as the Continent’s most profitable of the 100 largest firms, with top partners at Bonelli Erede Papalardo earning a staggering £5m.

Italy’s top three firms last year retained their positions as the Continent’s most profitable of the 100 largest firms, with top partners at Bonelli Erede Papalardo earning a staggering £5m.

Despite a slow year and a scarcity of big-ticket M&A, Bonelli secured the top spot in the profit table, with average profit per equity partner (PEP) last year standing at £1.2m. Like many Italian firms, it operates an extremely wide equity spread, from around £350,000 to £5m, research for The Lawyer Euro 100 reveals. Franco Bonelli and Sergio Erede are well known as two of Italy’s highest-earning lawyers, but the firm’s junior partners, while very well paid, are remunerated nowhere near as well.

Bonelli’s work for longstanding client Enel on the €1.48bn (£1.02bn) Milan Stock Exchange IPO of Enel subsidiary Transmissione Elettricita Rete Nazionale was among the key deals to put a spark into what was otherwise a fairly barren year in the Italian corporate market. It also helped Bonelli notch up a decent 5.6 per cent increase in turnover to reach £61.4m.

Like its two major competitors, Chiomenti Studio Legale saw significant headcount growth during the last calendar year. Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom’s allied firm enjoyed a rapid expansion, with partner numbers rising from 25 to 31. Turnover rose to £50.2m, but it was still a tough year for the corporate-dominated practice, with PEP falling to £857,000.

Fifty-three partner Gianni Origoni Grippo & Partners, Italy’s largest firm, registered PEP of £892,900 on a £62m turnover. In comparison, the most profitable UK firm Slaughter and May had PEP of £819,000 last year.

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