Italian firm applies for ABS licence for UK arm

ITALY’S Pirola Pennuto Zei & Associati is set to become one of the first non-UK law firms to convert to an alternative business structure (ABS).

Pirola – the former Italy referral firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers – has applied for an ABS licence to allow accountants and lawyers in its London partnership to share revenues and profits, according to Accountancy Age sister publication Legal Week.

Pirola’s ABS move is thought to be the only application from a non-UK-headquartered firm to date.

The firm expects to have its licence by autumn of this year, at which point it will start to build the accountancy arm of its London office.

Pirola currently has five legal staff in its City arm, including two partners who are dual-qualified as lawyers and accountants. It plans to double this number by the end of 2013.

London partner Colin Jamieson said: “Italy has a very different set-up to the UK in terms of what the various professions do and don’t do. There is not the same separation in Italy between the legal and accounting professions.

“While we could provide a full range of business services in the UK, we would have to keep the financials separate. So we have decided to apply to become an ABS to allow us to ensure we can build a fully integrated office here providing a full range of multidisciplinary services.”

Pirola launched in the City last year and has an annual turnover of around €100m (£82m).

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