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Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP

Raquel Bierzwinsky

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Latin America: International firms

Banking and finance

Within: Banking and finance

Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP established itself as a major player in Latin America banking and finance, thanks to its 2017 merger with Chadbourne & Parke. The firm now offers strong banking and finance teams in São Paulo, Mexico City, Bogota, New York and Washington DC. Moreover, thanks to the firm’s European lender client base, the core Latin America team is experiencing an uptick in engagements from Europe and is also seeing growth in cross-border financings from China and Japan. Sources note ‘a very good level of service’, ‘quick responses’, and ‘enlightening legal support and advice’. The firm is one of few to have a substantial banking and finance group in São Paulo that has a significant presence in both the local market and across Latin America. Notably, it is especially well positioned for growth in Argentina, including in relation to the country’s PPP programme, a segment in which the team has impressed the market in other jurisdictions such as Peru. Project finance accounts for a significant portion of the overall practice, followed by general banking, acquisition finance, structured trade and commodity finance, and asset finance. In São Paulo, Alison Baxter has joined from the Rio de Janeiro office to further enhance the large team’s asset finance capabilities. Considerable project finance growth is notable for a practice that, overall, is especially active in Colombia, Chile and Uruguay, and well poised for Argentina deals. Moreover, Brazil financings have remained a core part of the practice. In general banking, the São Paulo team led by Charles Johnson, advised Vale on its $2bn syndicated revolving credit facility (one of the largest cross-border syndicated loan facilities to a Brazilian company in 2017), and in another headline deal, advised 12 lenders on a $925m debt restructuring for Brazilian sugar and ethanol producer, Group Santa Terezinha. Other clients include ING Bank, Rabobank, Banco Itaú, Deutsche Bank, Vale, Enel Brasil and Credit Suisse. Key partners include the previously mentioned Charles Johnson, who ‘has a lot of experience in financial transactions and structured loans’; and fellow São Paulo partners Silvia Fazio, Michael McCourt and project finance leader, Daniel Spencer. Elsewhere, New York’s Todd Alexander, Mexico specialist Raquel Bierzwinsky, and Washington DC partners Kenneth Hansen and Peter Fitzgerald are also key Latin America-focused project-finance specialists.

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Projects and energy

Within: Projects and energy

A top firm for power and renewables in particular, Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP’s merger with Chadbourne & Parke has helped cement its relationships with a range of DFIs and ECAs. The integrated team now frequently advises the likes of Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), IFC and IDB. It also advises a range of commercial banks and sponsors and is ‘definitely in the mix’ for top engagements, according to one rival firm. Other clients include Macquarie, Enel Green Power, Credit Agricole, Mitsubishi and Engie. The Latin America team has an especially strong record in Mexico, where it is at the forefront of renewable energy projects and hydrocarbon sector auctions. Chile and Colombia are also notably active jurisdictions. A team led by New York and Mexico City partner Raquel Bierzwinsky advised Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC), IFC, The Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ, Banobras and Bancomext, as senior lenders, on the financings of the 150MW Solem I and 140MW Solem II photovoltaic projects in Aguascalientes, Mexico; these were the first two solar projects under Mexico’s long-term clean energy auctions to obtain project financing. In Chile, the firm has developed a significant market share of solar and wind projects. In Colombia, it is very active in power and oil and gas, while it has gained a foothold in Argentina with a series of infrastructure engagements, including a number that are part of the nation’s PPP programme. São Paulo partner Daniel Spencer is widely recognised for his work on the Lima Metro financings, renewable energy financings in Peru, infrastructure deals in Brazil and securitisations in the oil and gas sector. New York’s Todd Alexander has a sizeable profile in Latin America, including in major renewable energy projects in Mexico and Chile. In the Washington DC office, Peter Fitzgerald has impressed in a number of major Latin America projects, while the ‘very constructive’ Noam Ayali ‘fights his points but knows when to stop arguing’, ‘won’t delay the deal’ and is a ‘very good and capable lawyer’. Hernán González Estrada is the key name in Mexico City where the firm recently hired Jose Sifuentes from local firm Nader, Hayaux y Goebel, SC to bolster its reserve-based lending practice. Strong teams in Canada and London have also contributed to the firm’s success in Latin America’s mining sector. Former Washington DC partner Rohit Chaudhry, a ‘tremendous lawyer’, has joined Kirkland & Ellis LLP.

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