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Legal market overview
It is certainly clear that, while Brazil remains an attractive investment option at a global scale, it has lost a little of the allure acquired when the country was initially identified as one of the BRIC group of key emerging economies, and subsequently went on to be awarded the FIFA World Cup and the Summer Olympics. While the Brazilian economy continued to grow during 2012, its slowing from 2010’s heady 7.5% to less than half that last year did not promote a perception of economic well-being; the first quarter of 2013 saw continued poor performance with growth of just 0.6%, although annual forecasts project a better year than 2012.
The legal market has seen considerable movement, not only of individual lawyers, but also in terms of spin-offs and splits: two cases in point being the establishment of Stocche Forbes in September 2012, formed by two groups lawyers from leading players Souza, Cescon, Barrieu & Flesch Advogados and Machado, Meyer, Sendacz e Opice – Advogados; and the more recent division of Xavier Bragança Advogados in June 2013, giving rise to Xavier, Duque-Estrada, Emery, Denardi Advogados and Bragança Advogados, respectively. Since this latter division, Bragança Advogados has subsequently announced its merger into growing full service player Veirano Advogados.
Leading Brazilian firms, Barbosa, Müssnich & Aragão, Machado, Meyer, Sendacz e Opice – Advogados, Mattos Filho, Veiga Filho, Marrey Jr. e Quiroga Advogados, Pinheiro Neto Advogados, and Tozzini, Freire, Teixeira e Silva have largely maintained their top market positions, capturing a healthy proportion of transactional activity. 2012 did, however, see the termination of the twelve-year-old association between Lefosse Advogados and Linklaters as a result of the Brazilian Bar Association clamp down on international tie-ups. Campos Mello Advogados, Tauil & Chequer Advogados in association with Mayer Brown LLP and Trench, Rossi e Watanabe Advogados, associated with Baker & McKenzie all continue as practices associated with foreign firms.
With corporate activity subdued by comparison with previous years, the capital markets primarily saw debt-side activity. The competition sector did see significant developments, however, with the consolidation of all relevant regulatory powers in one administrative agency, CADE (Conselho Administrativo de Defesa Econômica) and introducing a new pre-merger notification system that brings Brazil further into line with international practice. The proposed new mining code has also received a cautiously positive reception, with lawyers regarding the balance between promoting investment, simplifying regulation and increased royalties as more or less in line with industry expectation.