GREEN GUIDE EMEA 2023: Italy
In Milan, Ashurst has a demonstrable strength in advising banks and corporate clients on financings for environmental protection and renewable energy projects.
Carloandrea Meacci advised the European Investment Bank on a €49m financing to support Iniziative Bresciane’s project to enhance and restore 13 weirs and install 12 hydroelectric plants on the Arno river. The client’s financing will help create 10 MW of renewable energy capacity, restore the river’s water management infrastructure, and reforest adjacent areas, reducing the environmental impact of existing construction while preserving local biodiversity.
The firm also advised developer Cero Generation on two corporate PPA project financings for the construction of a 118 MW agrivolatic solar PV portfolio, supporting the client’s development of innovative, land-use-efficient renewable energy projects. The long-term PPAs will finance the 70 MW Pontinia project and 48 MW Castrum project and ensure the electricity produced supports corporate clients in their decarbonisation strategies.
Another key client is renewable energy developer and operator Aer Soléir, who sought the firm’s advice on a co-development agreement with renewable energy developer NRG+; the alliance will allow Aer Soléir to realise a potential 500 MW solar project portfolio. Within the mandate, the firm also assisted the client with the acquisition of a 50 MW solar PV development project from Horizonfirm, which will be co-developed with NRG+.
Alongside its memberships in the Legal Sustainability Alliance and Net Zero Lawyers Alliance, the firm aids the green transition of the legal sector as a founding supporter of The Chancery Lane Project, assisting the initiative’s push to create legal contracts that enable solutions to climate change.
In 2022 the firm also submitted its Carbon Disclosure Project benchmark and created a global sustainability pledge, in which employees were asked to add their commitments to the firm’s decarbonisation target.
DLA Piper in Italy has an impressive range of clients in the renewable energy sector.
Head of the corporate group, Giulo Maroncelli, recently assisted Ortus Power Resources Italy with the terms and conditions associated with developing solar and wind projects. Senior independent counsel Francesco Novelli, who has over 40 years’ experience, especially in the project finance space, assisted Falck Renewables with its joint venture with BlueFloat Energy for the co-development of five offshore wind farms with an estimated capacity of more than 5GW. Together, Novelli and Maroncelli jointly acted for ERG Power Generation in the sale of Hydro S.r.l, owner of 527 MW of hydropower plants in operation the country.
A founding member of the Legal Sustainability Alliance, the firm has successfully integrated ESG into its operations. Across all its jurisdictions, lawyers collectively provide more than 230,000 hours of pro bono work annually with one specific focus on climate justice and conservation.
Latham & Watkins LLP
Within the firm’s multijurisdictional focus on providing holistic ESG expertise for commercial clients, Latham & Watkins LLP’s Milan office specialises in mandates concerning sustainability-linked transactions and finance.
A key client is JP Morgan Chase, which sought the firm’s advice as the initial purchasers on electricity producer and distributor Enel Finance International’s green senior unsecured notes offering. The $3.5bn offering supports the decarbonisation of the Italian electricity industry by featuring an interest-rate adjustment tied to Enel’s reduction of direct greenhouse gas emissions.
The team regularly advises clients transitioning to ecological practices within traditionally polluting industries, such as assisting Bain Capital with the €3bn sale of a stake in paper manufacturer Fedrigoni to investment firm BC Partners. The investment helps Fedrigoni, itself EcoVadis Platinum-certified and pursuing carbon neutrality through the Science Based Targets initiative, to improve its waste and water recovery, research increasingly sustainable materials, and support clients in their plastic-to-paper transition.
As a founding member of the pro bono initiative Lawyers for a Sustainable Economy, the firm offers free legal services to sustainability-focused start-ups and non-profits. Within this multijurisdictional initiative, the firm’s Milan office provided corporate governance and regulatory framework advice for Recup, a project that recovers surplus food from local markets and provides it to those in need, minimising food waste.
A member of the Law Firm Sustainability Network, the firm measured the environmental impact of its operations and has implemented footprint-reducing goals across energy efficiency and consumption, electronic waste, and sustainable procurement. Working to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, the firm has become carbon neutral for its scopes 1 and 2 emissions through purchasing and retiring carbon credits, and is working to further reduce its carbon footprint through participation in the Science Based Targets initiative.
At Linklaters LLP’s Milan office, key contact Tessa Lee, who set up the Italian ESG practice, recently advised the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development on one of the first project bond refinancings for a PV portfolio in Egypt which is certified under the Climate Bonds Standard. A recent highlight for the capital markets team was its advice to a group of banks, both the lead and deal managers, on two sustainability-linked notes, valued at a total of €1.5bn.
Internally, the firm created an ESG committee in Italy to integrate ESG aspects into its corporate strategy. Furthermore, its working group ‘SustainabItaly’ and its newsletter GEMS aim to raise awareness around climate change and sustainability issues among staff. Some team members have also participated in EticaNews Business Lab and an ESG Accelerator Course set up in collaboration with Oxford University, which covers both legal and business implications behind sustainability.
Globally, the firm has implemented an ISO14001:2015 certified global environment programme, and has ambitious carbon reduction targets grounded in climate science and approved by the Science Based Targets initiative. It now sources over 70% of all its electricity from certified renewables sources.
Norton Rose Fulbright
Norton Rose Fulbright’s Italian team stands out for its work assisting companies transition to more sustainable operations.
Under the leadership of Arturo Sferruzza, the team is advising Shell on its acquisition of 100% of SKI, a company active in the design and construction of photovoltaic plants; SKI has a pipeline of 25 projects under development in Italy, amounting to around 747 MW. Following the acquisition, Shell’s solar development pipeline in Italy will reach nearly 2 GW.
Globally, the firm actively contributes to thought leadership in the sustainability arena; its energy transition hub consists of various publications on climate change and the energy transition. It also offers an ESG Insights portal, an ESG and green finance webinar series, a road to COP27 portal, a bi-annual climate change litigation update, and a guide to creating carbon offset units on the voluntary market.
The firm not only demonstrated its long-standing engagement with sustainability by establishing a climate chance practice 20 years ago, but also by being one of the founding members of the Chancery Lane Project, a collaboration of legal professionals aiming to enable legal solutions to climate change.
Osborne Clarke LLP
Demonstrating its expertise in decarbonisation projects, ranging from renewable energy to e-mobility and carbon capture, Osborne Clarke LLP’s Italian team is currently acting as legal advisor for the implementation of Chorus Life Bergamo, an innovative, environmentally sustainable urban regeneration project consisting of a smart district in the city of Bergamo which will be fully powered by renewable energy sources.
In a matter led by Andrea Pinto, Giorgio Lezzi, and others, the team also assisted Bayerische Landesbank with a green loan facility which will be used to fund the purchase of a property recently redeveloped in digital and sustainable terms according to ESG criteria; it is one of the few buildings in Italy in line with Paris Agreement C02 emission targets. Another client was Principal Real Estate Europe regarding a financing transaction: a green term loan worth €25mi for the acquisition of a property located in Vignate, which is included in the ‘green building’ category and qualified as an ‘eligible green project’.
Firmwide initiatives include Osborne Clarke For Good, which aims to make the firm a more sustainable business by reducing its impact on the environment, among other measures. In Italy, the firm has obtained the ISO 14064-1 certification, which reports organisations’ greenhouse gas emissions and provides a concrete tool for planning a reduction strategy. Through its partnership with FUTURY, a platform that builds sustainable start-ups, the firm also holds workshops on legal topics specific to sustainability. Recently, it demonstrated its thought leadership with a report on decarbonising technologies for cities and a series of webinars on hydrogen markets and regulations.
Italy-based multi-service firm Chiomenti’s sustainability-related work includes advising financial institutions and corporations on SDG-linked bonds, green bonds, and ESG bonds. In the real estate sector, the firm helps clients pursue projects aimed at meeting their sustainable commitments and obtain green certifications such as BREEAM and LEED.
Recently, a team led by Benedetto La Russa advised Terna in one of the first hybrid green perpetual bonds issued in Italy, the proceeds of which will be used to finance the company’s eligible green projects, which are compliant with the Green Bond Principles 2021 published by the ICMA and the EU’s green taxonomy. Another highlight is the firm’s work with Logistics Capital Partners on the design and construction of a 163,000m2 building which was assessed in accordance with the RICS Whole Life Carbon Assessment for Built Environment (2017), a procedure involving the calculation of embedded carbon emissions over the building’s entire life cycle. The carbon emissions produced by the building’s materials and construction were established and offset.
Committed to sharing its knowledge, the firm created an ESG task force, headed by energy and infrastructure expert Carola Antonini, which produces newsletters, videos and other materials centering around ESG compliance for clients. The firm’s individuals also regularly speak at national and international conferences and other events. Notably, in April 2021, Marco Cerritelli was appointed a member of the Commission of Experts at the Ministry of Sustainable Infrastructure and Mobility, where he leads the Finance for Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructures group.
The firm also often engages in pro-bono work, advising organisations such as The Ocean Clean Up, a non-profit developing technology to rid oceans of plastic.