Competition and antitrust in Argentina
Marval O’Farrell Mairal’s first-class team stands out for the ‘speed with which it provides answers’ and for its ability to provide ‘clear and concise advice on the possible risks’. On the merger-review side, the firm’s heavyweight corporate practice translates into a steady flow of cases — the firm notably secures the highest volume of merger reviews in the market — and few high-stakes mergers are cleared in Argentina without this team’s involvement. Its close links with major global law firms mark it as a particularly strong performer in cross-border matters, including recent work for household-name multinationals such as Disney, Warner Media and Pfizer. On the investigations front, the group is routinely involved in many of the most sensitive and complex cases conducted by the Antitrust Commission. The third pillar of the practice is compliance, where the team assists with in-house compliance audits and training programmes. High-profile expert Miguel del Pino heads the department and is widely recognised as a market leader. Santiago del Rio is an impressive up-and-coming competition specialist. The team also includes the experienced Gabriela Ariel Irizar and rising star Ignacio Mora — both are associates.
‘The team offers comprehensive advice and is always available to resolve problems and projects.’
‘It stands out for its availability and the speed with which it provide answers, and any other type of assistance, at a moment’s notice.’
‘The team offers clear and concise advice on the possible risks.’
‘The partners are directly involved in the case. It is a very good team of lawyers with knowledge in the subject.’
- Advised Disney on the Argentine antitrust aspects of its $52.4bn acquisition of 21st Century Fox.
- Acted for both parties on the Argentine merger review of ChemChina’s $43bn acquisition of Syngenta.
- Advised Warner Media on the local antitrust aspects of its $108bn acquisition by AT&T.
- Represented a major port operator in a complaint concerning alleged abuse of a dominant position
- Acted for seven defendants in an ex-officio investigation into alleged collusive conduct among construction companies bidding for public works contracts.
The comprehensive practice at Allende & Brea strikes a balance between merger reviews and investigations — it also advises on compliance and in-house training matters. On the transactional side, the firm had a strong recent showing in heavily regulated industries, which included advising multinationals in the pharmaceutical, technology and media sectors on merger reviews. Department head Julián Peña is much sought after for his deep expertise in all areas of competition law. Raised to the partnership in late November 2020, Federico Rossi, who has a focus on competition and trade matters.
21st Century Fox
- Advised GlaxoSmithKline on the local antitrust aspects of its £9.8bn acquisition of Pfizer’s consumer healthcare business.
- Acted for Newmont Mining on its $10bn acquisition of sole control over Goldcorp.
- Represented IBM on its $34.6bn acquisition of Red Hat.
- Advised supermarket Libertad in the sector inquiry carried out by the Antitrust Authority.
Beccar Varela’s team is noted for its ‘broad experience’ and ‘strong technical knowledge’. The firm handles the full spread of merger reviews and investigations, with a prominent reputation in the behavioural area — it notably advised key client Prisma Medios de Pago in rare competition-related litigation. Other sweet spots include cartel leniency filings and fintech matters. Department head Agustín Waisman demonstrates ‘great experience and technical knowledge’. Mercedes Pando and Camila Corvalán are talented senior associates.
‘The team has very strong technical knowledge, with broad experience in M&A filings, divestment processes and strategic advice.’
‘Agustín Waisman is the person to contact in any competition matter. He stands out not only for his great experience and technical knowledge, but also for his integrity when giving advice.’
‘Agustín Waisman is always available for his clients and delivers advice quickly and comprehensively. He has a large team, in which the standouts are Mercedes Pando and Tomás López Bisso.’
Prisma Medios de Pago
NBC / Comcast
- Represented Prisma Medios de Pago in competition-related litigation initiated by an association of petrol stations.
- Advised Aerolíneas Argentinas on competition and merger review matters related to its joint business agreement with Alitalia to offer flights jointly between Argentina and Europe.
- Acted for Amcor on the competition aspects of its merger with Bemis.
- Represented Visa Argentina (now Prisma Medios de Pago) in an investigation into alleged abuse of dominant position, following a complaint filed by FAENI (the Service Stations Association).
Bomchil’s group is split between merger control, investigations, and general advice and compliance — it also recently added unfair trade to its broad service offering. The firm’s prolific investigations practice recently advised on several high-profile cases, including the bid-rigging investigation connected to the ‘notebooks’ corruption scandal. On the merger front, the team is particularly active in the energy, chemicals and transport sectors. Department head Marcelo den Toom is a highly regarded specialist. Gabriela Castillo Areco is an active associate.
Massalin Particulares (Phillip Morris)
Cervecería y Maltería Quilmes (AB InBev)
Aeropuertos Argentina 2000
- Represented seven construction companies in the high-profile bid-rigging investigation connected to the ‘notebooks’ corruption scandal.
- Advised Carrefour in several cartel accusations and also in a market investigation into supermarket practices, which resulted in a series of recommendations being issued by the Antitrust Commission.
- Successfully represented Renault in an abuse of dominance claim brought by AFAC, the Argentine Auto Parts Association.
- Acted for both the acquirer and target in the merger review of Maersk’s acquisition of Hamburg Süd.
On the transactional side, Pérez Alati, Grondona, Benites & Arntsen is best known for acting for local and regional companies in the agribusiness and food industries on merger-clearance cases. The firm also houses a broad behavioural practice, which had a strong recent run in representing technology multinationals in market investigations. The group is led by Luis Barry, who is recommended for his ‘skills and flexibility’.
‘The firm has excellent technical skills and compares favourably to other firms in the market.’
‘We value their knowledge, availability and flexibility.’
‘Lawyers are able to interpret rules from a business perspective and translate issues into understandable language.’
‘The firm is clear about the regulations and administrative records of the cases, so that issues can be dealt with in advance.’
‘Luis Barry stands out for his skills and flexibility.’
Molinos Río de la Plata
LATAM Airlines Group
Louis Dreyfus Commodities
- Acted for Molinos Río de la Plata on the merger review aspects of its acquisition of La Salteña.
- Advised Molinos Agro on the merger notification of its acquisition of 32.6% of the shares of Patagonia Bio Energía Holdings and Patagonia Bio Energía Holdings.
- Acted for Ignacio Jorge Rosner and Santiago Enrique Dellatorre Balestra on the acquisition of Indalo Group’s companies.
- Represented Honda Motor de Argentina in a consumer complaint brought as a consequence of a fine imposed by the Antitrust Commission, which was recently reversed by the Supreme Court.
Baker McKenzie provides ‘excellent legal advice’ across the full spectrum of competition and antitrust matters but is mainly active in the merger clearance and compliance areas. The firm leans on its extensive global network to shine in cross-border cases and it routinely acts for a significant roster of multinational clients. Esteban Rópolo heads the group and advises on antitrust, foreign trade and general practice matters.
‘The firm provides excellent legal advice.’
‘The team is characterised by its professionalism, confidence and quick responses, especially Esteban Rópolo.’
Advent International Corporation
Grupo Ibérica de Congelados
- Represented Uruguay-based Mega Pharma on the competition aspects of its acquisition of Argentina-based laboratories, Raymos and Max Vision.
- Acted for Platinum Equity on its acquisition of fishing company, Grupo Ibérica Congelados.
- Advised Advent International on the antitrust aspects of its acquisition of Prisma Medios de Pago.
‘Very analytical and very qualified’, Bruchou, Fernández Madero & Lombardi impresses with its ‘highly qualified professionals’. The practice is mainly active in merger-review work, with strong recent experience in the agribusiness and natural resources areas. It also has a significant behavioural offering, where it is currently advising on bid-rigging and cartel investigations. Department head Gabriel Lozano focuses exclusively on competition and antitrust matters. Corporate partner Estanislao Olmos is also recommended.
‘The team is very analytical and very qualified.’
‘The team stands out for its knowledge of the industry, interpretation of the matter and analytical capability.’
‘The firm has good, highly qualified professionals; I consider it to be among the most important law firms in the country.’
‘The client service is excellent. The standout lawyers are Gabriel Lozano, David Kahansky and Dolores Cedrone.’
‘I want to highlight Gabriel Lozano. As well as being an excellent professional, he provides an excellent service.’
APCO Oil & Gas
Nexans Société Anonyme and Lixis Societé Par Actions Simplifieé
Maco Litoral /Maco Transportadora de Caudales
- Advised Cargill on the antitrust aspects of its acquisition from Ledesma of shares in Glucovil Argentina.
- Acted for APCO Oil & Gas on an asset swap transaction with O&G Developments.
- Represented Grisú, a student nightclub, in a cartel investigation.
Competition law is a core area at BRYA Abogados and the highly regarded boutique advises on the full range of merger reviews, market investigations and anti-competitive behaviour cases. The group also defends companies in class actions and other litigation stemming from allegations of anti-competitive behaviour. Founding partner Gabriel Bouzat is widely recognised as a leading competition specialist. Virginia del Águila, who focuses on competition and M&A, is also a key contact.
Mitrani Caballero & Ruiz Moreno Abogados’ ‘super-focused’ and ‘fully-committed’ team is distinguished by its cross-border practice and it is consistently involved in competition procedures involving the EU, the US and other Latin American countries. Best known for its merger-review offering, the group also advises on market investigations and cartel cases. Competition specialist Aixa Sureda co-heads the group alongside M&A and competition partner Cristian Mitrani. Senior associate Evangelina González Soldo also specialises in competition law.
‘The firm has a unique blend of corporate law professionals that know our business very well, and competition law/antitrust specialists that provide the required expertise and use local firms when required, given our M&A activity is global and our initiatives span all regions.’
‘They are fully committed, available 24/7, and take an active role in structuring solutions — not the passive “wait until the client asks” attitude I have seen in other legal firms.’
‘We are very satisfied with their expertise, knowledge of our business and commitment.’
‘The team is super-focused, their expertise shows and they go straight to the point, particularly Evangelina González Soldo and Aixa Sureda.’
Asterion Industrial Partners
A.P. Moller – Maersk
Nidera – Cofco
Yamaha Motor Argentina
DAK Américas Argentina
- Advised Mitsui & Co on the antitrust aspects of the acquisition by MIT Argentina Generation Holding of Total Eren’s 100% ownership interest in REN Argentina, which owns a 34% stake of the local target, Vientos Los Hercules.
- Acted as international and Argentine counsel to Raízen Combustiveis on the $950m acquisition of Shell’s downstream assets in Argentina.
- Advised Asterion Industrial Partners on its acquisition of data centres from Telefónica.
The ‘well-informed’ team at Estudio O'Farrell is praised for its ability to ‘adapt to the circumstances’. The team advises on a wide range of merger-control and behavioural matters, drawing upon the wider firm’s signature regulatory expertise to focus on advising clients in the energy, telecoms and public utility spheres. Public law and economic regulation specialist Agustín Siboldi heads the group, with support from administrative law partner María Agustina Fanelli Evans.
‘The team was well-informed, knowledgeable about the law and how it is applied, and was able to give us good advice on the subject in the context of our transaction.’
‘We value the firm’s knowledge and absolute dedication.’
‘The most important thing about this firm is that they really understand our objectives and how to reach them, and that they can adapt to the circumstances to give us the best support.’
‘The team is solid. They ensure the economist has all the facts straight and they work hard to meet the deadlines.’
‘Agustín Siboldi is the key person and clearly establishes the strategic objectives.’
YPF Energia Electrica
Latinoamericana de Energía
- Advised Ford Argentina on the antitrust aspects of the expansion of its global alliance with Volkswagen.
- Represented Claro Argentina before the administrative and judicial authorities in challenging the merger between the incumbent Telecom Argentina and the main independent cable and internet service provider, Cablevisión Fibertel.
- Acted for YPF on the acquisition of the La Plata Cogeneration power plant by YPF Energía Eléctrica from Central Puerto.
Salaverri, Burgio & Wetzler Malbran
The ‘business-oriented’ group at Salaverri, Burgio & Wetzler Malbran is lauded by sources for its ‘mastery of the law and regulations’. As a key player in the merger-review field, the team is regularly called upon to handle sizeable domestic and cross-border cases — often acting on the antitrust aspects of transactions where it did not handle the M&A advice. M&A specialist Tomás Arnaude heads the department.
‘The firm has always provided us with a service that is of the highest quality in every way.’
‘They are very understanding of our needs and challenges; they rapidly identify the legal implications of our transactions and operations — no matter how complex they are — and deal with matters quickly and effectively, and are always business-oriented.’
‘They are characterised by their rapid and profound understanding of complex subjects and by their mastery of the law and regulations.’
‘Their service is very valuable to us, especially when dealing with regulatory matters, such as economic competition, because we know that the firm will provide us with quick and effective solutions that will permit us to progress our operations, safe in the knowledge that we are complying with the applicable laws and regulations.’
‘I worked with Tomás Arnaude and he is characterised by his complete involvement in the subject, his ability to take a leading role when there are various parties involved and, above all, his ability to handle complex matters.’
Pampa Energía and its subsidiaries, including Edenor
Emes Energía Argentina
- Advised Emes Energía Argentina on the competition aspects of its acquisition of the shares of various companies in the ODS Group.
- Acted for Pampa Energía on the sale of its downstream business to Trafigura Argentina and Trafigura Ventures, including associated merger-clearance issues.
- Represented Natura Cosméticos on the antitrust aspects of its acquisition, by way of merger, of Avon Products.
Competition is a key pillar of Tanoira Cassagne Abogados’ practice offering and the firm handles a mix of compliance issues, merger reviews, investigations and competition litigation. The group also advises on domestic trade rules, including consumer defence and specific business sector regulations. Bernardo Cassagne is a highly regarded competition and economic regulation specialist. Francisco Rondoletti, whose practice spans antitrust, consumer protection and international trade, is also recommended.
Martínez de Hoz & Rueda’s practice continues to grow and the firm advises several major companies, particularly in the oil-and-gas sector, on merger review issues. The group also advises on day-to-day antitrust compliance matters. Public law specialist Juan Cruz Azzarri heads the department.
ExxonMobil Exploration Argentina
Schlumberger Production Management (SPM)
- Represented ExxonMobil Exploration Argentina on obtaining merger clearance for its acquisition of Pampa Energía’s 21% interest in Oleoductos del Valle.
- Acted for DeltaPatagonia on the merger review aspects of its acquisition from YPF of 124 fuel supply and service stations.
Nicholson y Cano Abogados has an increasingly prominent competition practice that is well versed in merger reviews, compliance issues and investigations. The firm’s impressive oil-and-gas offering translates into a string of merger review cases in the energy sphere, while the financial services and agribusiness sectors are also significant sources of work. Department co-head Marcela Anchava focuses on competition and M&A.
Acindar Industria Argentina de Aceros
International Airlines Group /Iberia /British Airways
- Represented Acindar Industria Argentina de Aceros in proceedings initiated by the antitrust authority for alleged abuse of a dominant position.
- Advised both seller and purchaser in the merger review aspects of Qatar Petroleum’s acquisition of a 30% stake in two ExxonMobil affiliates in Argentina, which hold interests in hydrocarbon licenses for seven blocks in Vaca Muerta.
Wiener Soto Caparrós
Wiener Soto Caparrós’ robust international-facing practice is mainly active in compliance issues and merger reviews, with strong representation in the food and beverage, agribusiness and retail sectors. The team also has experience in behavioural matters. Department head Mariela del Carmen Caparrós ‘provides outstanding service’, according to sources.
‘Mariela del Carmen Caparrós provides outstanding service, has great industry knowledge and thinks ahead. Great to work with.’
Coca-Cola Andina Argentina
McCain Foods Limited
- Advised Coca-Cola Andina Argentina on day-to-day antitrust issues, including marketing campaigns and cross discounts.
- Acted for UPL Corporation on the merger review aspects of its acquisition of the Argentine subsidiary of Arysta LifeScience from Platform Specialty Products Corporation