Competition and antitrust in Argentina
‘Clearly the best competition practice in the market’, Marval O’Farrell Mairal impresses with its ‘strong tradition in the area’ and ‘very deep experience’. The firm’s signature corporate practice translates into a steady stream of merger filings and it is also a top choice for complex antitrust investigations. Market heavyweight Miguel del Pino heads the department and is leading the team’s advice to both parties on the local aspects of ChemChina’s $43bn acquisition of Syngenta. He also continues to represent Time Warner on the Argentine merger control review arising from its $108bn acquisition by AT&T. Santiago del Rio is the other key contact and advised Zurich on the Argentine aspects of its $550m acquisition of QBE’s Latin American business. The team has also recently undertaken work for Arla Group, General Electric and Shell. Other names to note include Gabriela Ariel Irizar and the ‘extremely talented’ Ignacio Mora — both are associates.
‘A top firm with great service’, Allende & Brea’s ‘responsive and commercially savvy’ group is composed of ‘young and solid professionals’, which ensures that it ‘supports clients very efficiently’. The practice handles a comprehensive mix of competition and antitrust issues, with strong experience in both domestic and cross-border matters. Practice head Julián Peña — highlighted for his ‘problem-solving approach’ — recently advised 21st Century Fox on the local aspects of its headline acquisition by Disney. On the behavioural front, Peña represented Indura in an investigation concerning an alleged cartel in the medical oxygen market. Senior associate Federico Rossi is a ‘very good lawyer’.
Beccar Varela finds favour for its ‘strong business focus’, ‘quick response times’ and ‘creative ideas’. Led by ‘superstar specialist’ Agustín Waisman, the group shines across the full gamut of competition law matters, with an impressive track record in complex behavioural cases. In a recent example, the firm represented Prisma Medios de Pago (formerly Visa Argentina) in ongoing matters arising from the Visa card system investigation. Other highlights included advising Aerolíneas Argentinas, the dominant player in the airline market, on its landmark joint venture with Alitalia. The group’s senior associates also secure strong praise, with Camila Corvalán (‘provides incredible support’) and Mercedes Pando (‘very capable’) both recommended.
‘Professional, practical and shrewd’, Bomchil sets itself apart through its ability to ‘balance strategic thinking with a realistic approach’. The group, which counts numerous multinational corporations among its clients, handles a balanced mix of merger filings, cartel investigations, abuse of dominance cases and compliance issues. Practice head Marcelo den Toom is valued for his ‘excellent technical skills’ combined with a ‘wealth of experience in complex transactions and antitrust cases’; he is representing Maersk both in a merger filing relating to its acquisition of Hamburg Süd, and also in a complaint initiated by Terminales Río de la Plata concerning alleged exclusionary conduct.
According to clients, Pérez Alati, Grondona, Benites & Arntsen provides ‘clear, concise and accurate advice’, due to its lawyers’ ‘full understanding of clients’ business’. The practice, which handles antitrust filings, investigations, competition litigation and general compliance issues, also impresses with its ability to ‘prepare comprehensive and strong strategies’. Group head Luis Barry, whose ‘knowledge is key in navigating the complex competition landscape’, advised Trafigura in two filings with the Antitrust Commission relating to both its acquisition of Petrobras’ downstream business and also its sale of some of Petrobras’ downstream business to Pan American Energy.
Baker McKenzie’s practice advises on the full life cycle of competition law issues from compliance through to merger reviews and investigations. Group head Esteban Rópolo is ‘very capable’ and brings to bear a strong background in foreign trade and general practice matters alongside his antitrust expertise. Highlights included advising Mega Pharma Group on its acquisition of Raymos and Max Vision. Other representative clients include BASF, Bolsa de Comercio de Rosario and Seiko.
Bruchou, Fernández Madero & Lombardi is best known for its robust merger review practice but it also has experience in investigations and compliance matters. In 2018, the firm hired new group head Gabriel Lozano, following the departure of Aixa Sureda to Mitrani Caballero & Ruiz Moreno Abogados. Lozano, who is noted for his ‘holistic business, legal and practical knowledge’, was previously in-house at Syngenta. Corporate specialist Estanislao Olmos is also a key contact and advised Vista Oil & Gas on the acquisition of an oil operating platform controlled by Pampa Energía and Pluspetrol.
High-profile boutique BRYA Abogados has a strong reputation for regulatory and administrative law matters. Founding partner Gabriel Bouzat is widely regarded as a leading light in the competition law area and is highly regarded for his expertise in merger reviews, investigations and complex competition litigation, including class actions. Virginia del Águila is also a key contact.
In 2018, Mitrani Caballero & Ruiz Moreno Abogados boosted its competition group through the hire of new department co-lead and ‘top-tier lawyer’ Aixa Sureda, who joined from Bruchou, Fernández Madero & Lombardi. Siro Astolfi (‘deep legal and commercial knowledge’) and associate Evangelina González Soldo also arrived from the same firm. Merger review cases represent the bulk of instructions and the team has recently advised Agrosuper, Echo Energy and Raízen Combustiveis on clearance issues. Cristian Mitrani co-leads the practice.
The ‘timely and efficient’ team at Estudio O'Farrell leverages its record in regulatory law to specialise in antitrust issues concerning the energy, pharmaceutical, infrastructure and telecoms sectors, among other areas. Department head Agustin Siboldi, who provides ‘opinions clients can trust’, recently paired up with María Agustina Fanelli Evans to defend Farmacity against allegations of anti-competitive practices regarding medicine sales.
Salaverri, Burgio & Wetzler Malbran
‘Fast, effective and business-oriented’, Salaverri, Burgio & Wetzler Malbran is commended for its ‘quick identification of the legal implications of business transactions’. The corporate powerhouse’s strong M&A pipeline translates into a steady stream of merger review cases, such as its recent advice to Energía Argentina on its $27m acquisition of a 25% stake in Citelec — the ‘hands-on, focused and tireless’ Tomás Arnaude led that work.
At Tanoira Cassagne Abogados, key figure Bernardo Cassagne is held up as ‘one of the leading names in the market’. The compact firm is well versed in merger reviews, investigations and general compliance matters, with strong supplementary expertise in consumer defence and administrative law. Clients include domestic and multinational companies, particularly within the energy, pharmaceutical and telecoms sectors. Competition and trade specialist Francisco Rondoletti was recently promoted to partner.
At Martínez de Hoz & Rueda, department head Juan Cruz Azzarri has a solid record in advising electricity and oil and gas companies on antitrust matters. In a recent example, he advised ExxonMobil Exploration Argentina on the merger notification aspects of its acquisition of a 21% stake in Oldelval. Other representative clients include Delta Patagonia and Trafigura Group.
Wiener Soto Caparrós
Wiener Soto Caparrós impresses with its ‘strong understanding of the needs of multinational companies’ and ‘good relationships with regulators’. In particular, group head Mariela del Carmen Caparros is singled out as ‘a good operator’; she advised UPL Corporation on its acquisition of the Argentine subsidiary of Arysta LifeScience from Platform Specialty Products.