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A high-income economy, Chile is widely considered South America’s most politically stable country as well as being the wealthiest country in South America by GDP per capita; and according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Chile’s economy will grow 2.9 percent in 2018 and 2019, as copper prices bounce back and investment steadily recovers.

In March 2018, victory for the centre-right Chile Vamos coalition saw Sebastián Piñera take office for a second term, his first running from 2010-2014. The new government is looking to double economic growth, with plans to reduce corporate taxation, reform the country’s labour laws and establish an agency to reduce the bureaucracy faced by investors all high on its list of priorities, as is achieving the reactivation of a number of high-value mining projects that have been suspended as a result of labour law disputes and alleged environmental damage.

In the absence of significant domestic equity-side activity in Chile, debt capital-markets’ work has been particularly active, recently, including several registered bond issuances. Other areas keeping the country’s lawyers busy included the new merger-control regime, which came into force in June 2017; this introduced a new mandatory pre-merger notification system for concentrations above given thresholds (as established by Chile’s national economic prosecutor’s office, the Fiscalía Nacional Económica (FNE). Consequently, the FNE now determines whether such operations are capable of substantially reducing competition in the market; numerous firms have also been assisting clients with the design and implementation of competition compliance programmes to detect and prevent breaches of competition law.

Other significant recent legislation includes the collective bargaining law that came into force in 2017, which expanded the scope of collective bargaining and strengthened the role of unions; key points include employers not being able to replace employees that are involved in strikes, while unions will provide emergency teams to perform companies’ minimum services.

The legal market experienced a considerable number of developments. Significant law firm mergers included BAZ|DLA Piper merging with NLD Abogados to become DLA Piper BAZ|NLD; the new entity, which comprises over 60 lawyers, includes former NLD founding partners, Paulo Larrain, Diego Noguera and José Pablo Dulanto. In another major move, Arturo Yrarrázaval, Francisco Ruiz-Tagle, Fernando Salas and Anibal Vial, formerly of Yrarrázaval, Ruiz-Tagle, Goldenberg, Lagos & Silva, formed Yrarrázaval, Ruiz-Tagle, Ovalle, Salas & Vial, which focuses exclusively on litigation, arbitration and antitrust matters.

Other notable movement in the market included Jorge Lembeye, formerly of Bofill, Mir & Álvarez Jana, leaving to found Lembeye & Cía; CMS Carey & Allende’s former dispute resolution group head Jorge Vial exiting to establish Vial Larraín Abogados; and Ríos Tagle Alessandri & Romero’s former name partner Enrique Benítez Urrutia joining Larraín Rencoret Urzúa; in August 2018 the latter subsequently announced its merger with Dentons, which is expected to launch by the end of the year.

Elsewhere, Ugarte & Abogados’ (now known as Ugarte & Asociados.) former name partner Felipe Leiva left for López Escobar Del Río; Julio Lavín Valdés, previously at Jara Del Favero Abogados, left to found Lavín Abogados & Consultores; and CP Abogados was co-founded in 2018 by labour law specialists Alfonso Canales and Sebastián Parga, formerly of Uribe, Hubner & Canales (now known as Uribe, Hubner & Cia.).

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