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Top-tier recommendations


  • Chile: Energy and natural resources > Mining


Within Banking and finance, Prieto y Cia is a third tier firm,

At Prieto y Cia, the ‘very professional and friendly team’ provides a ‘first-class service’ and is praised for the depth of its industry and legal knowledge. The firm has experience advising on loan agreements, project finance, debt recovery and finance restructuring and is a recognised leader in assisting issuers and major domestic investment banks with debt placements in Chile. Recent highlights for team co-head Juan Tagle included advising SMU on its US capital markets debut with a $300m note issuance under Rule 144A/Reg. S; and Corp Group Banking with its $500m bond placement in the US, again, under Rule 144A/Reg. S. Also singled out is team co-head Mario Gorziglia, who assisted Suez Energy Andino on the refinancing of a $113m and ¥21.2m loans granted by BNP Paribas. The team can call upon a strong bench of associates, and the ‘experienced, sensible and highly qualified’’ senior associate Patricio Prieto L is praised for his expertise in capital markets work. He often pairs up with associate Isabel Wolleter (a ‘bright problem solver and skilled coordinator’); during 2012 the duo advised a significant number of issuers (including Plaza, Santander GBM and IM Trust) on the structuring and placement of bonds in the local market. The ‘particularly diligent’ Gerardo Cruzat is also recommended.

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Within Competition and antitrust, Prieto y Cia is a third tier firm,

The ‘very solid’ competition and antitrust group at Prieto y Cia provides ‘excellent quality service, both in style and content’. Practice head Benjamín Grebe is ‘very knowledgeable’ and ‘stands out’ for the ‘constructive care he shows towards clients’ and the ‘outstanding quality of his advice’. Sources also highlight the ‘invaluable proactivity’ of the team, which ‘anticipates situations that could potentially have consequences on its clients’ businesses’. The group advises on a range of competition matters, from abuse of dominant position and collusion cases to competition investigations and voluntary consultations even ‘in matters where there is no precedent in the country’. It has recently been advising the state-owned Empresa Portuaria de Puerto Montt (EMPORMONTT), on its application to the TDLC concerning the conditions applicable to the process of granting a new terminal and port concession to a private entity. It also assisted retailer SMU with a pre-emptive assessment of its merger with SDS before the TDLC. Grebe is assisted by three capable associates, founding partner Claudio Undurraga and the head of the litigation department, ‘great litigator’ Fernando Samaniego.

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Within Corporate and M&A, Prieto y Cia is a second tier firm,

Juan Tagle’s ‘very solid team’ at Prieto y Cia provides ‘client-focused and eminently practical advice’ and is praised by clients for the depth of its local legal knowledge, which is ‘particularly valuable to multinational clients with interests in Chile’. Tagle, who is singled out for his ‘substantial experience in strategically and ingeniously handling any matter’, heads the established M&A practice, which is particularly renowned for its activity in the retail sector. He recently teamed up with Fernando Bravo (who is ‘very competent at corporate matters as well as due diligence and negotiation processes’), to advise personal care and cosmetic retailer Pre Unic on its $1bn merger with pharmaceutical chain Salcobrand. The group also has an excellent reputation in cross-border deals in the financial sector. Jaime Ríos and Leonidas Prieto recently represented shareholders of leading Chilean investment bank, IM Trust, on the sale of 60.6% of their shares to Banco de Crédito del Perú, establishing a new regional investment bank. Prieto is also assisting MetLife with the acquisition of BBVA’s 64.3 % stake in Provida, Chile’s largest private pension fund administrator. The firm’s strong energy practice ensures a steady flow of clients from that sector, and the ‘knowledgeable’ Mario Gorziglia (who ‘firmly defends his clients’ interests and creates a beneficial climate of trust in negotiations’), advised Repsol on the $540m sale of its subsidiary Repsol Butano Chile to a company managed by Larrain Vial. Partners at the firm are invariably praised as being ‘extraordinarily committed, more than at any other firm’; the team of associates is ‘quick, flexible and first-class’. Also recommended is Benjamín Grebe.

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Within Dispute resolution, Prieto y Cia is a third tier firm,

In 2012 Prieto y Cia welcomed ‘great litigator’ Alberto González to the partnership, bringing the total number of partners in the dispute resolution practice to three. The ‘skilful, agile and professional’ team is praised as being ‘deeply knowledgeable and capable of setting up a consistent and powerful lawsuit strategy’, and clients value its ability to ‘synchronise and work seamlessly as a group’, resulting in a ‘first-class service’ and ‘very quick responses’. The ‘tremendously knowledgeable’ Claudio Undurraga melds his reputed expertise in energy and natural resources with ‘a vast experience and intelligence at handling disputes’; and ‘knowledgeable, committed and highly reliable’ team head Fernando Samaniego is ‘able to provide easy answers to extremely complex problems’. Particularly active in the energy, construction and retail sectors, the team handles disputes before civil and arbitration courts as well as special tribunals. Samaniego and González recently represented leading food producer Watt’s against 24 claimants who sought compensation for alleged damages arising from the consumption of a nutritional supplement; Mall Plaza before the Supreme Court over the judicial auction of its shopping centre in the city of Calama; and Aguas Andinas in arbitration proceedings against Constructora OAS over the construction of a sewage treatment project. Associate Benjamín Morales is described as a ‘rising star with a superior understanding of complex issues’.

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Within Environment, Prieto y Cia is a third tier firm,

Prieto y Cia is a market-leading firm in energy matters and its new and compact environmental practice is progressing fast. ‘Experienced’ senior associate Alejandro Ruiz leads the team and is well regarded by clients, who single out the experience gained at both an environment consultancy firm and the country’s environmental agency as an ‘undeniable strength’. His 2012 caseload included advising Mall Plaza on an environmental strategy for the construction of a large shopping centre in Valparaíso, a city whose centre is a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site.

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Within Insurance, Prieto y Cia is a third tier firm,

One of the few full-service firms with a renowned insurance practice in Chile, Prieto y Cia’s team enjoys the benefits of a close connection with the firm’s strong corporate department. The team has continued to consolidate its presence in the sector under the leadership of the ‘strikingly creative and knowledgeable’ Jaime Ríos and assists clients with insurance-related M&A and general corporate work, insurance litigation, consumer protection legislation regarding the insurance business, and agreements for the distribution of insurance products. Ríos recently advised insurance and reinsurance brokers CGSC on its acquisition of the remaining interest in Cooper Gay Chile previously owned by local financial conglomerate Servicios Security.

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Within Labour and employment, Prieto y Cia is a third tier firm,

The esteemed Christian Von Bergen’s team at Prieto y Cia is particularly good at judicial litigation, with a reputation for representing employers in conflicts involving anti-union practices, work-related accidents, violation of fundamental rights and cases arising from high-level employee terminations. The group is also regularly involved with the corporate department’s due diligence processes and is strong on non-contentious consultancy issues, advising companies from a range of sectors including electricity, mining, port, retail, construction and tourism. Recent work included advising Siges Chile, Laboratorios Petrizzio and Sodexho Chile on collective bargaining processes; and successfully representing port operator Puerto Central in a $10m collective claim against employees. Sources describe Von Bergen as a ‘fount of knowledge in labour matters’.

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Within Projects and infrastructure, Prieto y Cia is a second tier firm,

Prieto y Cia fields a projects practice focused predominantly on energy matters, where the group is able to draw on the firm’s extensive experience in the sector. The team does, however, have expertise across a wider range of infrastructure, real estate and mining project developments, from financing through to construction and operational matters. Its enviable client list includes Aguas Andinas, GDF Suez, and SMU. Corporate and structuring specialist Juan Tagle heads the department, and partners Jaime Ríos and Fernando Bravo are also recommended.

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Within Real estate, Prieto y Cia is a third tier firm,

Prieto y Cia has broad expertise in real estate matters, from acquisition, development and construction activities through to tax planning, corporate, due diligence, land use and environmental matters. Team head Fernando Samaniego (a ‘practical and serene lawyer, but assertive when required’) is permanent counsel to Mall Plaza, which he recently assisted with its acquisition of a property of 80,000 square metres in Copiapó for the development of a shopping centre. Jaime Ríos regularly assists Cámara Chilena de la Construcción and stockbrokers IM Trust on day-to-day advice including real estate matters; and Juan Tagle advised CorpVida on its acquisition of 17 strip centres in the country from Inmobiliaria Avantuen, consolidating its position as a leading Chilean player in the retail sector.

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Within Tax, Prieto y Cia is a third tier firm,

When clients entrust a tax matter to Prieto y Cia, they are ‘sure to obtain an excellent, unbeatable service’ with ‘quick, pertinent and insightful responses’ on the back of the team’s ‘impeccable knowledge of the Chilean market and tax legislation’. Clients value the ‘notable presence of head partners’ Leonidas Prieto and Mario Gorziglia, whose ‘availability, knowledge of the subject matter and ability to foresee contingencies’ make them ‘fantastic interlocutors in negotiations and for the achievement of their clients’ goals’. The team is proficient at both contentious and advisory tax issues and the firm’s full-service offering attracts an impressive mix of domestic and international clients from a broad range of sectors including energy, oil and gas, insurance, education, banking and finance, public utilities, retail and real estate. A recent highlight included assisting Chilean investment bank IM Trust’s shareholders with the tax aspects of the sale of 60.6% of their shares to Banco de Crédito del Perú. Clients highlight the team’s ‘wonderful human touch’.

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Chile: Energy and natural resources

Within Electricity/oil and gas, Prieto y Cia is a first tier firm,

The ‘excellentPrieto y Cia has ‘decades of experience advising on electricity, oil and gas matters’ and stands out in the market as ‘one of the Chilean law firms with the broadest experience and deepest understanding of the subject’. The team’s key partners Fernando Bravo, Juan Tagle, Claudio Undurraga and Jaime Ríos ‘are all vastly experienced and extremely knowledgeable in the area’. Regulatory, corporate and project work are all spheres of solid expertise, and the firm is also well known for its capabilities in representing energy companies in court, a sector in which Undurraga particularly shines. E-CL is one of the team’s key clients and recently instructed the firm on the sale of all its regasified liquid gas surpluses to Endesa. It also entrusted its power purchase agreement (PPA) dispute with local generator Cavancha to talented arbitrator Undurraga. In gas work, team head Bravo and Ríos assisted IPR GDF Suez on a long-term agreement with major mining companies for their use of the Mejillones liquefied gas terminal. Other clients include Eólica Monte Redondo, Repsol, and water company Aguas Andinas.

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Within Mining, Prieto y Cia is a second tier firm,

Prieto y Cia’s three-partner team attracts praise for its ‘very good service-quality and response times’ as well as ‘pertinent advice’. The team provides a broad array of transactional, contentious and projects advice and acts for a predominantly international mining client base. The firm regularly advises on day-to-day environmental and mining issues, mining-related merger and acquisition transactions, acquisition and implementation of mining projects and their financing. A recent highlight was assisting major gold producer Goldcorp with the development of its $3.9bn El Morro mining project. In a significant move, former lead partner Diego Brieba left for an in-house position at Codelco. Juan Tagle is now the main contact.

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