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Ecuador’s already troubled economy –ongoing low oil prices have meant near-zero growth and falling investment– suffered a severe blow in mid-April when the region’s severest earthquake in decades struck near Muisne in the country’s northwest. With a strength of 7.8, a death toll of 600 and almost 17 000 wounded, the impact on the economy will be huge. Left-leaning president Rafael Correa estimated the damage at $3bn and – although in all probability, he will not be in office long enough to see the reconstruction efforts through – announced a raft of measures for the rebuilding of homes, roads and bridges. The Andean nation is looking to finance the mammoth project with a $600m credit from multilateral lenders, even though before the quake it had vowed to stay away from debt due to particularly high yields on Ecuador’s bonds.

Despite low oil prices, hydrocarbons continue to be busy sector, steadily attracting foreign lenders. In what constituted the largest deal in Ecuadorian history, as well as an impressive highlight for an office that only opened in 2015, Ferrere Ecuador (which, incidentally, suffered the loss of its Manta office premises during the earthquake), assisted Schlumberger subsidiary Shaya del Ecuador with the establishment of an approximately $5bn integrated service-provision contract with state-owned oil company Petroamazonas.

Leading firms with a broad service offering include the country’s full-service powerhouse Pérez Bustamante & Ponce, along with Bustamante & Bustamante, Fabara & Compañía, Corral Rosales Carmigniani Pérez, Coronel & Pérez and Romero Arteta Ponce; all of which continue to fortify and develop their offerings; while the arrival of Ferrere, as noted above, has had a strong market impact, particularly in the energy and corporate sectors. Paz Horowitz Abogados is gradually rebuilding in the wake of staff losses to the newcomer but should certainly not be overlooked; while new entrants include Gonzalez Peñaherrera & Asociados which has a strong offering, most particularly in the energy and corporate sectors. The country’s legal market also counts on the presence of significant boutiques in the traditional sectors of intellectual property (Bermeo & Bermeo Law Firm, CorralRosales and Romero Corral Abogados); labour (Jaramillo Dávila Abogados and tax (TLA Tax & Legal Advisors). Other firms ranked for the first time include: ML Abogados, Meythaler & Zambrano Abogados, Romero Corral Abogados and Puente & Asociados.

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