Allen & Overy (A&O) has hired Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s Italian finance head, Stefano Sennhauser, as the U.K. giant looks to rebuild its local practice.

Sennhauser has been a partner at Freshfields since 2000 and has led its finance practice in Italy since 2004. He focuses on real estate finance, securitization and restructuring, as well as leveraged finance. He will work in A&O’s Milan arm.Sennhauser has acted on some of Freshfields’ top deals in the country, including advising Goldman Sachs Capital Partners on its �1.3 billion ($1.6 billion; �864 million) purchase of the Italian energy and telecom cables and systems business of Pirelli in 2005.The hire comes as A&O moves to regain the initiative in the competitive Italian legal market after facing a number of senior departures, with the firm this summer transferring London finance partner Paul Flanagan to Milan.Recent A&O departures include Milan banking partners Davide Mencacci and Giancarlo Castorino, who joined Linklaters and Italian practice Marena Bonvicini & Ludergnani respectively.The magic circle firm also parted company with its Turin branch in October last year, with respected corporate specialist Carlo Pavesio — A&O’s only partner in Turin — setting up a stand-alone practice under the banner Pavesio & Associati.One rival Italian finance partner commented: “A&O has always had a great finance platform, so that may well be the main motivation behind the move.” He added: “Sennhauser is a decent lawyer and will add a lot to the A&O practice, but they have a long way to go before they can be considered as anywhere near market leaders. But it is a good start.”A&O global head of banking Mike Duncan said: “Italy continues to be a key market for us and we are incredibly pleased to see its continued expansion.”The Italian move comes against a backdrop of renewed foreign investment for A&O with the London giant this year launching new offices in coveted markets such as Duesseldorf and Abu Dhabi. The firm also this year secured a formal alliance with Saudi practice Abdulaziz AlGasim Law Firm.