Banking and finance in Argentina
For many, Bruchou, Fernández Madero & Lombardi houses the ‘stand-out banking practice in Argentina’, with its ‘great tradition in the area’, ‘peerless bench strength’ and ‘international-standard lawyers’ all finding favour with clients. The group, which acts for a broad base of banks, multilateral organisations, private equity funds and corporate borrowers, excels across the full gamut of finance matters, with deep expertise in syndicated loans, debt capital markets, structured finance and project finance. Among the names to note, department head Hugo Bruzone is widely lauded as ‘the go-to banking specialist in Argentina’. Bruzone teamed up with ‘very impressive’ up-and-coming partner José María Bazán to advise the joint bookrunners (Citigroup Global Markets, Deutsche Bank Securities and HSBC Securities USA) on the Republic of Argentina’s $9bn bond offering. In another example of its status as ‘the best capital markets firm in the country’, Alejandro Perelsztein acted for the initial purchasers and the local placement agents on the Province of Buenos Aires’ $1.5bn bond issuance. On the acquisition finance front, Matías López Figueroa (‘a very talented younger partner’) acted for the joint lead arrangers and bookrunners on a secured financing to YPF Energía Eléctrica. In a significant project financing, Analía Battaglia advised the lenders on a $108m loan to Petroquímica Comodoro Rivadavia to fund the Bicentenario wind farm in Santa Cruz. The group also includes high-profile firm founder Enrique Bruchou, managing partner Carlos Lombardi and ‘very knowledgeable’ associate Andrés Chester.
Full-service powerhouse Marval O’Farrell Mairal is highly regarded for its ‘top-quality lawyers’, ‘extensive resources’ and ‘strong experience in the banking area’. The team handles an array of lending, corporate finance and regulatory matters, for an impressive roster of local and multinational banks, including Banco Galicia, Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs - it also acts for major corporate borrowers. Key figures include structured finance expert Roberto Silva Jr, who led on some of the firm’s highlight capital markets deals over the past year, such as advising the joint bookrunners on the local aspects of Corporación América Airports’ $485m IPO on the NYSE. In another headline deal, corporate finance partner Juan Diehl Moreno acted for the lenders (Citibank, HSBC, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, JP Morgan and Santander) on a $500m syndicated loan to Telecom Argentina. On the banking M&A side, Silva Jr acted alongside Pablo Artagaveytia to advise Banco do Brasil on increasing its stake in Argentine bank Banco Patagonia, through a $202m share acquisition. The group also benefits from the senior expertise of firm chairman Santiago Carregal, department coordinator Gabriel Matarasso and experienced regulatory specialist Cecilia Mairal. Among the up-and-coming names, associate Francisco Abeal is recommended.
The ‘very dedicated and professional team’ at Beccar Varela impresses sources with its ‘strong lawyers’ and ‘deep awareness of operational and regulatory issues’. The group, which acts for both lenders and corporate borrowers, has experience across a broad range of banking issues, including public and private financings, debt capital markets and regulatory matters. Department head Roberto Fortunati is an ‘outstanding professional’ and advised China Development Bank on a facility agreement with the Republic of Argentina to invest in its railways. Javier Magnasco, who heads the capital markets practice, had an extremely active year, which included advising the lenders on a $15m syndicated loan to Buenos Aires Arena to finance the construction of a new stadium. Other key names include corporate finance partners Roberto Crouzel, María Shakespear and Maximiliano D’Auro, who are highlighted together for their ‘very client-oriented approach’, and department co-lead Pablo Torretta. Daniel Levi was promoted to partner in 2019.
‘Practical and solution-oriented’, Bomchil’s banking practice is ‘composed of excellent lawyers who live up to the high expectations placed upon them’. The broad group, which is valued for its ‘vast knowledge in a wide variety of fields’, also sets itself apart through its good balance between transactional and regulatory matters. Néstor Belgrano heads the department and recently paired up with María Victoria Funes to advise PSA Finance Argentina Compañía Financiera on its recent AR$500m notes issuance. Up-and-coming partner Fermín Caride is noted both for his ‘expert knowledge on financial and corporate issues’ and for his ‘unmatched negotiation skills’. Caride advised Compañía General de Combustibles on its $100m non-recourse, secured notes offering, which was notably the first non-recourse debt issued in the Argentine capital markets. The firm also routinely acts for alternative lenders, particularly hedge funds and private equity funds, including Gramercy Funds Management LLC. Other key contacts include Tomás Araya, who ‘always goes the extra mile for clients’, and Patricio Martin.
Mitrani Caballero & Ruiz Moreno Abogados’ ‘effective and business-oriented’ group scores highly for its ‘deep knowledge of the financial markets’. In particular, lawyers are praised for their ‘excellent negotiation skills’ and ‘strong combination of legal and commercial acumen’. The team, which specialises in advising corporate borrowers and issuers on syndicated lending, securities and project finance transactions, also enjoys a prominent reputation for cross-border deals. Sector specialist Diego Parise heads the department and acted as international counsel to Ternium Mexico on its $1bn syndicated term loan facility. Among its highlights for lenders, Julio Martinez acted as local counsel to the Export-Import Bank of China on a $331.5m financing agreement with the Republic of Argentina to finance the construction of photovoltaic solar plants. The team has also recently undertaken work for Aluar Aluminio Argentino, Raízen Combustíveis and Shandong Gold Mining (Hong Kong). Counsel Natalia Rauchberger is also recommended.
Pérez Alati, Grondona, Benites & Arntsen
Pérez Alati, Grondona, Benites & Arntsen strikes the right note with its ‘extensive legal knowledge’ combined with ‘practical deal-making experience’, which together ‘ensure effective advice on transactional matters’ — across a broad spread of traditional lending, project finance, capital markets and structured finance. Particular praise is reserved for high-profile group head Diego Serrano Redonnet, who is held up as a ‘truly standout practitioner, whose extensive experience translates into sophisticated advice’. Among Redonnet’s highlights, he advised Banco Santander Río on three notes issuances totalling $653m. On the lender side, Alan Arntsen advised Export-Import Bank of China on amending a credit loan agreement. Mariano Grondona is another key name in a group that also counts BBVA Francés, Genneia and Morgan Stanley among its key clients.
Salaverri, Burgio & Wetzler Malbran
‘Genuine finance specialist’ Salaverri, Burgio & Wetzler Malbran is praised for its ‘deep expertise in corporate finance and capital markets’, with its lawyers lauded by some as ‘true experts in this space’. Routinely engaged by local and multinational lenders, and some of the country’s most active corporate issuers, the group shines in syndicated loans, project finance and leveraged buyout transactions. The group is led jointly by Roberto Lizondo, who ‘knows the banking market inside out’, and Diego Salaverri, who ‘provides reliably stellar service’; together, they acted as local counsel to Transportadora de Gas del Sur on its $500m notes offering. Among its bank-side highlights, Lizondo advised the lenders (including Banco Hipotecario as administrative agent and BACS Banco de Crédito y Securitización as arranger) on a $40m project finance loan granted to three subsidiaries of 360 Energy. Other names to note include founding partner Germán Wetzler Malbrán, up-and-coming specialist Tomás Arnaude and Elena Sozzani.
The ‘extremely strong’ group at Tavarone, Rovelli, Salim & Miani is commended for its ‘deep experience on sophisticated corporate finance deals’. The firm handles a diverse mix of lender and borrower-side work, with debt capital markets standing out as a notable sweet spot. Among its recent matters, key contact Marcelo Tavarone advised Banco de la Provincia de Buenos Aires on its $290m notes issuance. In another headline debt deal, Federico Salim advised MSU Energy on the local aspects of its $600m notes offering. Julieta De Ruggiero is also a senior name and paired up with Tavarone to advise a group of lenders on the local aspects of a $395m loan to Albanesi Energía and its subsidiary, Generación Centro. In 2018, the firm significantly bolstered its corporate finance capability with the hires of transactional specialist Julián Razumny, who was previously in-house at Celulosa Argentina, and compliance expert Eugenia Pracchia, who joined from the Central Bank of Argentina.
The ‘top-notch’ team at Allende & Brea secures sterling praise for its ‘clear understanding of the intricacies of cross-border lending’, as well as its ‘strong ability to manage complex regulatory issues’. Sources especially commend the department’s ‘energetic and prepared senior partners’, which includes ‘true problem-solver’ and practice co-head Carlos Melham. Melham continues to spearhead the firm’s growing profile in fintech matters and recently acted alongside the administrative law department to advise Google Payments on the legal framework applicable to cross-border payments. Jorge Mayora co-leads the department and advised the Bank of Nova Scotia on a $100m credit facility to ENAP Sipetrol.
Baker McKenzie leverages its formidable global network to shine in advising on the Argentine aspects of major cross-border transactions. The group’s broad client base includes commercial lenders, development banks and private equity funds — it also regularly acts for corporate borrowers. Gabriel Gomez Giglio chairs the Latin America finance practice and recently teamed up with Francisco Fernández Rostello and Mercedes Masjuan to advise private equity giant Advent International on the acquisition of 51% of the shares in Prisma Medios de Pago, the leading payment and credit card processor in Argentina. Other representative clients include Goldman Sachs, Global Blue and Trident Southern Explorations de Argentina.
Best known for its robust regulatory practice, Bulló Abogados is also a popular choice for syndicated loans, debt restructurings and recapitalisation deals. HSBC is a trophy client and the firm advises the multinational financial institution on a range of local regulatory and transactional matters. Among its recent highlights, department co-head Gustavo Torassa advised HSBC on the restructuring of Ribera Desarrollos’ $300m debt. Esteban Gramblicka co-leads the team and advised HSBC on a poultry producer’s $100m debt restructuring. Other representative clients include Banco Itaú Argentina and Banco Sáenz.
In 2018, DLA Piper Argentina entered the market through a co-operation agreement with legacy local firm Cabanellas Etchebarne Kelly. Among its recent highlights, the firm advised Agua y Saneamientos Argentinos on a $500m notes offering. The group also acted as local counsel to the Province of Buenos Aires on its AR$30bn global notes issuance, which consisted of an offering to the public in Argentina and a Rule 144A/Regulation S offering outside of Argentina. Managing partner Marcelo Etchebarne is recommended and brings to bear an impressive record in cross-border debt capital markets deals and restructurings. The practice was recently boosted by the arrival of corporate finance partner Nicolas Teijeiro, who was formerly a senior associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton.
Errecondo, González & Funes
‘Effective boutique’ Errecondo, González & Funes enjoys a strong profile in the market and is held up by clients as ‘very respected for finance, particularly capital markets’. The firm enjoys close links with local and multinational lenders and recently advised a slew of major banks on debt capital markets matters. Most notably, the ‘very efficient and proactive’ Facundo Goslino advised Banco Macro, BACS Banco de Crédito y Securitización, Balanz Capital Valores, Banco Itaú Argentina, Banco Santander Río, Macro Securities and Banco Hipotecario on Genneia’s $51.5m notes offering. Among the firm's highlights for corporate borrowers, Baruki González advised Telecom Argentina on a $450m loan from the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The group also includes ‘market leader’ Javier Errecondo.
The practice at Martínez de Hoz & Rueda handles an array of corporate finance, acquisition finance and trade finance matters, with sources particularly lauding its ‘first-rate project finance expertise’. Senior lawyers are noted for their ‘deep industry experience’, with group co-head José Martínez de Hoz (n) highlighted as ‘very strong and capable’; he acted alongside the energy department to advise JinkoSolar, as sponsor, and its SPV, as borrower, on a $105m project financing for the construction, operation and maintenance of two solar power plants. On the lender side, department co-lead Martín Lepiane paired up with project finance specialist Jimena Vega Olmos to advise the lenders on the local aspects of a €319m facility to the Republic of Argentina to finance the purchase of four offshore patrol vessels.
Nicholson y Cano Abogados’ diverse finance offering encompasses traditional lending, capital markets and structured finance transactions, and it is routinely engaged by local and international lenders, issuers and borrowers. Over the past year, the group has been particularly active on behalf of multilateral development banks, such as Mariano Fabrizio advising the IFC on a $25m credit line to Paraguay’s Agrotec. Fabrizio also advised the Inter-American Investment Corporation on a seven-year revolving credit facility of up to $15m to Banco CMF, which will be used to grant loans to small and medium-sized companies in Argentina. Sector specialist Carlos Marcelo Villegas is also a key contact.
Estudio O'Farrell is particularly prominent in energy-related capital markets transactions, due to its strong relationship with trophy client YPF. Among its recent matters for the Argentine energy giant, it advised on the proposed cash tender offer for YPF’s outstanding 8.875% notes due 2018 — together, department co-heads Uriel O’Farrell and Sebastián Luegmayer led that work. The same team also advised John Deere Credit Compañía Financiera on its sixth and seventh issuance of notes, worth a combined $40m, under its MTN programme. Other representative clients include the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, Morgan Stanley and BBVA Francés.
Severgnini, Robiola, Grinberg & Tombeur
Severgnini, Robiola, Grinberg & Tombeur houses a compact but robust banking and finance practice, which packs a punch in regulatory and complex transactional matters. On the banking M&A front, the firm advised the selling shareholders on the $202.3m sale of an addition 21.42% stake in Banco Patagonia to Banco do Brasil. The firm also has strong expertise in debt restructuring and structured finance. Matias Grinberg and Francisco Lagger are the names to note.
‘Among the best in the capital markets area’, Tanoira Cassagne Abogados also excels in project finance, mutual funds and regulatory issues. The ‘fully committed and dedicated group’ finds favour for its ‘strong business as well as legal knowledge’, with highly rated practice head Alexia Rosenthal singled out as a ‘well-prepared professional, who understands commercial urgencies’. Highlights included advising Genergiabio Corrientes on a $43m project finance loan to support the construction of a biomass plant. On the capital markets side, the firm acted as deal counsel on a $130m debt offering by Argentinian automobile retailer Dietrich. Banking and capital markets lawyer Jaime Uranga was recently made up to partner.
Structured finance is a strong suit at Zang, Bergel & Viñes Abogados and satisfied clients affirm that ‘it punches above its weight in capital markets’. The ‘very solid and impressive’ group is led by ‘extremely savvy’ firm managing partner Carolina Zang, who maintains a broad corporate finance practice. The firm has advised a raft of corporate issuers on debt offerings over the past year, including advising Cresud on a $73m issuance as part of its global note programme, and advising BACS Banco de Crédito y Securitización on a significant notes issuance under its global note programme. Impressive associate Francisco Bereciartúa is also recommended.
A popular referral choice, over the past year Alfaro-Abogados has partnered with a series of major global law firms to advise on cross-border mandates; its New York office and dedicated China desk further support its international work. The group is best known for its specialist expertise in trade finance, commodities-related matters, aircraft finance and regulatory issues. Carlos Alfaro’s group counts IIG Trade Finance, Banco Macro and Banco Patagonia among its clients.
At Cerolini & Ferrari Abogados, debt capital markets work remains a mainstay of the practice. Highlights included group head Agustín Cerolini acting as deal counsel on Credishopp’s AR$342m debt offering. The firm also advised several car dealerships on debt offerings over the past year, including Fortecar, Automotores Pampeanos and Granville.