The Legal 500


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Legal market overview

Politically, the country has endured a turbulent year: following Fernando Lugo’s controversial impeachment in June 2012, and the subsequent interim administration of Federico Franco; elections in April 2013 returned the Colorado party back to power and brought Horacio Cartes to the presidency. These events reverberated at a regional level with Paraguay’s (temporary) suspension from the Mercosur trading group, during which Venezuela was admitted to the bloc. The ensuing tensions remain to be resolved and in the interim, Paraguay has signalled its increasing interest in participating in the Alliance of the Pacific. A successful businessman Cartes has made pledges on both foreign and local investment and it is anticipated he will successfully bolster the country’s emerging economy. Legislation that was shelved with the constitutional impasse is also expected to move forward swiftly, not least a Private-Public Partnership law that would boost the financing of infrastructure. A final decision is also expected regarding the construction of an aluminium smelter by Rio Tinto, a project which stalled under Lugo, and which would constitute the largest investment in the country’s history.

Paraguay nevertheless remains a primarily agricultural economy, and as such continues to rely heavily on agro-exports as an economic driver; consequently the agribusiness sector remains a strong focus for many firms. The country is already the world’s fourth-largest soy exporter, and soybean-processing capacity continues to expand. The new ADM soy-crushing plant has been in operation since November 2012; the plant operated by Dreyfus-Bunge joint venture opened in April 2013; and Noble Group is planning on following suit. In addition, Monsanto is extending its operations in the country and considering the revival of commercial cotton production; and, after outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease in 2011 and 2012, prospects for cattle ranching and beef exports, mainly to Russia and Brazil, are improving. Firms are also finding themselves providing increased counsel on mining-related matters, with mineral resources in the country relatively untapped until recently. The expansion in land, air, and (given the country’s geographical location) particularly river transportation, is also a significant source of work, given that the vast majority of agro-exports travel along the Parana River; here Palacios, Prono y Talavera Abogados has considerable expertise and experience. Another rapidly expanding practice area is environment law: social and environmental responsibility now has a legislative basis and major companies – especially those with international exposure – are ever more conscious of environmental regulations and licencing requirements. The relatively new branch of criminal environmental law has further added to the growing volume of work. Specialisation in the sector is such that the country’s first boutique in the sector, PGK Ambiente y Empresa is thriving. In the IP sector, where Berkemeyer continues to enjoy a predominant position, the persistent problem of falsified goods, in conjunction with enforcement deficiencies, is resulting in an ever-stronger emphasis on anti-piracy and anti-counterfeiting work.

With a legal industry long dominated by firms with a family structure, 2012-2013 has seen the continuing movement of larger corporate firms (such as Vouga & Olmedo and Peroni Sosa Tellechea Burt & Narvaja) towards greater institutionalisation. Such restructuring is a response to various factors: internally, the retention and promotion of talent and also the need for organisational flexibility so as to deal with a rapidly diversifying workload; and externally, to confront greater competition (notably in the form of Uruguayan firm Ferrere’s local office), and meet both the expectation of foreign clients and the increasingly stringent regulatory requirements (be they international, such as FACPA or the UK Bribery Act; or domestic, for example environmental laws).

The fact that investors have seemed relatively unperturbed by the recent political occurrences was reflected in one of the most noteworthy financial transactions of 2012: Paraguay’s $500m inaugural international debt issuance, which proved the most successful first-time bond issue for a state with such a credit rating. Leading banking firm Estudio Juridico Gross Brown advised Citibank and Bank of America/Merril Lynch as underwriters on the deal. Probably the most prominent corporate transaction of the year was Millicom’s $150m acquisition of Cablevisión Paraguay; certainly the largest telecoms deal in Paraguayan history, Millicom was advised by corporate heavyweight Moreno Ruffinelli & Asociados. Best known for working with the state or its representative entities, Parquet & Asociados was counsel to Paraguay in both matters and it is just one of a number of specialist boutiques in the market, for example, Estudio Riera Abogados for litigation, and Irún & Villamayor Asesores Laborales de Empresas on labour matters. Mid-sized firms too, continue to play an important role, most notably the increasingly present Fiorio, Cardozo & Alvarado, Attorneys-at-Law, and Mersán Abogados.

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  • Exempted Limited Partnership Law, 2014

    The Exempted Limited Partnership Law, 2014 (the New ELP Law ) has replaced the Exempted Limited Partnership Law (2013 Revision) (the Previous Law ). The New Law includes significant changes to the Cayman Islands' statutory framework regulating exempted limited partnerships ( ELPs ) that will increase the attractiveness of ELPs and will be appreciated by managers, investors and creditors alike. Private equity sponsors in particular will notice substantial improvements that are indicative of Cayman's continuing commitment to balanced and commercially sensible legislation. Read more...
  • Restructuring and insolvency in Luxembourg (part 2)

  • Enhancements to the Companies (Jersey) Law 1991

    On 23 May 2014, the States of Jersey passed the Companies (Amendment No. 11) (Jersey) Law 201- (the Amendment Law ).  This will now be sent to the UK Privy Council for consideration, then laid before the States of Jersey for a final time before coming into force.  The latest information we have is that the Privy Council will be approving the law on 19 July 2014 and it may come into effect as soon as 4 August 2014.
  • Joost Fanoy appointed partner at BarentsKrans

    The Hague, 4 July 2014 - BarentsKrans has appointed Joost Fanoy as a partner in the Antitrust & Public Procurement department, effective as of July 1, 2014. Joost specializes in European law in general with a particular focus on European and Dutch competition, public procurement and state aid law and is the head of the Antitrust and Public Procurement Practice Group. Joost is also a member of the Cartel damages team of BarentsKrans.
  • PineBridge Acquires 50% Stake in Romatem

    PineBridge Investments Middle East, a global multi-asset class investment manager with regional headquarters in Bahrain, and nearly 60 years of experience in emerging and developed markets, has acquired a 50% equity stake in Romatem, the leading physical therapy and rehabilitation services chain in Turkey.
    - Paksoy
  • Isbank Issued USD 750 Million Notes

    Isbank issued 750 million USD notes under its GMTN programme established in 2013. The notes are listed on the Irish Stock Exchange and bear interest at the rate of 5 % with a maturity date 2021. Mr. Omer Collak (partner) and Mr. Baris Kencebay (head of tax practice) have acted for the joint lead managers Barclays, Citigroup, HSBC, National Bank of Abu Dhabi and The Royal Bank of Scotland.
    - Paksoy
  • Halkbank Issued USD 500 Million Notes

    Halkbank issued five-year term fixed interest rate US currency notes, with a total amount of USD 500 million  with an interest rate of 4.765 %  and an annual coupon rate of 4.750 %. The notes offered the lowest borrowing rate in the first five-month period of 2014, and total demand rose nearly nine-fold due to high investor interest. The note issuance drew great interest from international investors settled in the Middle East and Asia, as well as those investors based in the US and Europe. Mr Omer Collak (partner) and Mr Baris Kencebay (head of tax practice) have advised the joint lead managers.
    - Paksoy
  • Turkiye Finans to Issue Ringgit Sukuk to Raise Up to MYR 3 Billion In Malaysia

    Turkiye Finans issued the first ringgit sukuk originating from Turkey. The bank initially raised MYR 1 billion with a five-year commodity sukuk on June 30, with an annual return of 6 %. The sukuk under the programme will have tenure of one to 20 years. Funds raised will go towards general corporate purposes. The sukuk will be issued through TF Varlik Kiralama A.S., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Turkiye Finans. Malaysia's RAM Ratings has accorded the programme an indicative long-term rating of AA3. HSBC Amanah Malaysia and Standard Chartered Saadiq were the joint advisers. Mr Omer Collak (partner) and Mr Baris Kencebay (head of tax practice) have advised Turkiye Finans and the issuer TF Varlik Kiralama A.S.
    - Paksoy
  • Ziraat Bank Established GMTN Programme to Issue Bonds Worth USD 2 Billion

    Ziraat Bank, the largest state owned bank of Turkey, established GMTN programme on 21 May 2014, for the notes to be issued up to  USD 2 billion listed on Irish Stock Exchange. The notes are unconditional, unsubordinated and unsecured obligations, and rank  pari-passu with Ziraat Bank's other senior unsecured obligations.
    - Paksoy
  • Vakifbank Sells EUR 500 Million Notes Under USD 5 Billion GMTN Programme

    Vakifbank issued EUR 500 million 5-year unsecured and unsubordinated notes under the first GMTN programme of Turkey established in 2013. The notes are listed on Irish Stock Exchange and bear interest at the rate of 3.5 % p.a. with a maturity date 17 June 2019. This is the very first EUR denominated RegS offering of a Turkish entity.
    - Paksoy