Electricity in Brazil
In a headline market move, early 2019 saw Siqueira Castro – Advogados absorb leading Sao Paulo-based energy specialists Advocacia Waltenberg. The former managing partner of the acquired boutique, David Waltenberg, now leads the combined energy practice group, which is spread between the national firm’s Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro offices. In addition to Waltenberg’s regulatory prowess, the wider firm also brings to bear significant expertise in administrative litigation, licensing, environmental issues and project development. Energy and environmental specialist Simone Paschoal Nogueira is also recommended.
TozziniFreire Advogados’ comprehensive practice covers the waterfront on energy-related matters, with its recent experience spanning corporate finance, M&A, project development and regulation. Among its highlights, Pedro Seraphim, who leads the group, continued to advise key client Norte Energia on the construction of the Belo Monte Hydroelectric Power Plant, which will be the third-largest hydroelectric project in the world when completed. Other representative clients include CEE Power, CPPIB and Renova Energia. Heloísa Scaramucci left to establish her own firm in mid-2018, before subsequently joining Perlman Vidigal Godoy Advogados.
Client consensus is that Ulhôa Canto, Rezende e Guerra Advogados ‘stands as a reference in the market for energy law’, with sources asserting ‘the industry knowledge and expertise of all lawyers is quite remarkable’. High-profile figure Isabel Lustosa, widely revered for her ‘broad knowledge of energy and regulation’, recently teamed up with the real estate group to advise Equatorial on its proposed acquisition of three of Eletrobras’ power distribution subsidiaries by means of public auctions held by BNDES. Alberto Büll da Silva, who made partner in 2018, is also highlighted as ‘an incredibly responsive and knowledgeable partner’.
The ‘knowledgeable and pro-business’ Machado Meyer Sendacz e Opice Advogados impresses with its transactional prowess in power matters - it also provides capable regulatory and judicial support. Among the names to note, infrastructure and energy specialist Ana Karina Esteves de Souza and project-finance expert José Ribeiro do Prado Júnior are highlighted together as ‘very responsive and commercial’; they paired up to advise Sterlite Power Grid Ventures on its successful participation in a transmission auction held by the Brazilian government, and in the subsequent implementation of six transmission lines granted to Sterlite, worth R$3.6bn.
‘Efficient, responsive and attentive’, Mattos Filho, Veiga Filho, Marrey Jr. e Quiroga Advogados’ is distinguished by its partners’ ‘total availability and dedication’. The practice is particularly weighted towards regulatory matters but its recent experience also spans project development, M&A and project finance. Among its highlights, key contact Fabiano Ricardo Luz de Brito represented eight distribution companies controlled by CPFL Energia in a judicial discussion concerning the settlement of energy development account credits with Eletrobras. Pablo Sorj is also recommended.
Regulatory powerhouse Mundie e Advogados packs a punch in complex consultancy, commercial and contentious matters. Department lead Rafael Fabbri D’Avila is a sought-after name in the market and recently represented Tropicália Transmissora (a company owned by private equity funds managed by BTG Pactual) in a dispute with ANEELrelated to the latter's 2017 transmission auction. The group also remains a top choice for major local and multinational clients such as Goldman Sachs, Ecom Energia and Máxima Energia.
The ‘client-oriented’ group at Veirano Advogados scores highly for its ‘deep experience in the sector’, which sources say ‘provides extra security on legal opinions’. The practice spans the full life-cycle of power work, demonstrates expertise in generation, transmission, distribution and commercialisation, and is routinely engaged by multinational names such as State Grid Corporation of China and Engie. Tiago Figueiró is noted for his ‘strong industry knowledge and problem-solving approach’; he acted alongside Ana Carolina Barretto to advise Shanghai Electric Group Company in, ultimately terminated, negotiations with Eletrosul Centrais Elétricas for the acquisition, financing, development and operation of a transmission line project.
The ‘reliable and business-focused’ group at Cescon, Barrieu, Flesch & Barreto Advogados provides an ‘outstanding service’ and -as one satisfied client notes- ‘it is especially creative on corporate issues’; the practice also handles project finance, project development and regulatory matters. Infrastructure specialists Maurício Teixeira dos Santos and Roberto Mario Amaral Lima Neto are the key contacts and together they assisted Enel Group with its R$7.1bn acquisition of power distributor Eletropaulo Metropolitana, which represented the first hostile takeover of a Brazilian electric utility company.
Demarest Advogados’ group ‘differentiates itself through its knowledge of electricity commercialisation rules and industry regulation’, according to clients. In addition to its regulatory strength, the ‘business-oriented, responsive and technical group’ also deals with project development and corporate finance matters. Power lead Rafael Gagliardi and newly promoted partner Raphael Gomes are both noted as ‘great leaders, who steer and engage their teams brilliantly’; together they represented Engie Brasil Energia in a lawsuit brought by Eletrobras concerning the devolution of UTE Alegrete, one of the biggest thermal power plants in Brazil.
Dias Carneiro Advogados continues to ramp up on the power side, notably adding Shanghai Electric Power Generation as a new client in 2018, among other high-profile names. Best known for its strength in commercial and regulatory matters, the group is also very active on the transactional front, particularly on the finance side. Project finance head Thiago Vallandro Flores recently advised Usina de Energia Eólica Vila Acre I on a R$105.4m loan facility from Banco do Nordeste do Brasil to finance the construction and development of a wind project. Ricardo Sanches, who leads the public law, regulatory and infrastructure groups, is also recommended.
‘Proactive, responsive and assertive’, Pinheiro Neto Advogados’ electricity practice stands out for its ‘strong expertise on regulatory matters’. Sources also applaud its ability to provide a ‘full-service solution, which seamlessly integrates and coordinates the work of other teams within the firm as required’. Department head José Roberto Oliva Júnior has ‘deep knowledge of the industry and its regulation’ and recently acted alongside the corporate group to advise Energisa on its acquisition of CERON - Centrais Elétricas de Rondônia through a privatisation process.
Rolim, Viotti & Leite Campos Advogados has a marked focus on regulatory work under the leadership of renowned energy specialist Maria João Rolim. Among its recent high-profile cases, the group represented CTEEP and ABRATE’s interests in a public hearing conducted by ANEEL concerning the methodology and procedures of the periodic tariff revision of electricity transmission services. It also advised EDP Espírito Santo on an administrative claim before ANEEL considering responsibility for the alleged inefficient use of the transmission system.
Schmidt, Valois, Miranda, Ferreira & Agel Advogados has broad energy expertise, which spans commercial contracts, infrastructure, M&A and energy regulation. The firm typically acts for an array of investors, operators, banks and consumers, including high-profile names such as Raízen, Shell and Vale. Among its highlights, Guilherme Schmidt advised LMP Energy Participações e Consultoria and Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Americas on the development of a major gas thermoelectric power plant. Celina Ozorio left the firm in 2018.
Souto Correa Cesa Lummertz & Amaral Advogados finds favour for its ‘hands-on lawyers’, ‘specialised knowledge’ and ‘unique capability to operate real interdisciplinary teams across projects’. The group, which is well weighted between regulatory and transactional work, has experience across the full gamut of power and biofuels-related matters, including litigation. Highlights included representing Raízen in its challenge to the new methodology for the calculation and certification of power firm capacity - newly promoted equity partner Livia Amorim led that work. Other names to note include Carlos Souto (‘an expert in energy regulation’) and Gustavo Kaercher Loureiro.
The ‘pro-business’ group at Tauil & Chequer Advogados in association with Mayer Brown stands out for its ‘deep knowledge of the law and industry’. A key player in power projects, the firm also shines in corporate and M&A, finance, regulatory and contentious matters. In a recent headline, the firm advised GE Energy Financial Services on a $120m credit facility for CELSEPAR as a complementary source of financing for the development of a gas-fired combined cycle thermal power plant. Atlas Renewable Energy, EDP – Energias do Brasil and Vinci Partners are also key clients. Eduardo Lima and ‘very strong’ recently made-up partner Débora Yanasse are the names to note.
Trench Rossi Watanabe strikes the right note with its ‘strong knowledge of the market’ and ‘practical experience on big energy projects’. Led by the ‘hands-on and knowledgeable’ José Roberto Martins, the team has robust expertise in all the key segments of the power sector, including thermal, hydro, solar and wind. Recent highlights included advising Canadian Solar on its successful participation in ANEEL’s 2018 auction, which saw the company awarded three utility-scale solar photovoltaic projects. Casa dos Ventos, Brookfield Renewable and Zhejiang Energy International are also on the department’s books.
BMA - Barbosa, Müssnich, Aragão leverages its market-leading corporate and M&A practice to excel in transactional matters, such as Paulo Cezar Aragão’s advice to State Grid Corporation of China on its public tender offer for CPFL Energias Renováveis. The firm also houses a robust regulatory offering and Eduardo Hayden Carvalhaes Neto represented Eletrobras in administrative proceedings brought by ANEEL. The group has also recently undertaken work for Abengoa and Eletropaulo.
‘Pragmatic, results-oriented and responsive’, Campos Mello Advogados sets itself apart through its ‘practical approach, which ensures valuable advice’. The firm acted on several major projects over the past year, including assisting Statkraft Energias Renováveis on its agreement with EDP Energias do Brasil for the acquisition of a cluster of eight operational hydropower plants. Fabiano Gallo is commended as a ‘highly technical, reliable and responsive lawyer’.
Gasparini, De Cresci e Nogueira de Lima Advogados’ prominent timberland and agribusiness practice translates into a steady stream of biomass-related matters. The group is particularly active on the regulatory side and is routinely engaged to advise on permits and licensing issues, as well as administrative proceedings. Aldo de Cresci Neto and Rafael Janiques are recommended.
‘Very commercial and pragmatic’, Julião Coelho Advocacia impresses with its ‘hands-on expertise’ and ability to ‘move easily between strategic issues and tactical guidance’. High-profile firm founder Julião Silveira Coelho, formerly a commissioner at ANEEL, is particularly highlighted for his ‘deep energy regulatory experience and perspective’; he represented ABRACE (the Brazilian Association of Large Power Consumers) in proceedings regarding the payment of compensation owed to public utility transmission providers by electrical power consumers in Brazil. Camila Alves e Fontes is ‘deeply involved and responsive’.
Leite, Tosto e Barros Advogados Associados
Noted for its ‘strong technical and theoretical knowledge in the power sector’, Leite, Tosto e Barros Advogados Associados is also held up for ‘precisely meeting the needs of clients’. The firm’s public law expertise translates into a steady stream of regulatory and infrastructure-related matters, such as its representation of Bioenergy Geradora de Energia in proceedings brought by ANEEL to revoke the client's concession for the Ventos do Norte project. Managing partner Eduardo Nobre and the ‘analytical and technical’ Tiago Lobão Cosenza are recommended.
Litigation specialists Sergio Bermudes Advogados fields a capable power practice, which specialises in regulatory issues and appeals. Administrative disputes are a key feature of the practice, in line with the wider firm’s strength in disputes work, but it also handles non-contentious matters, including project approvals. Key contacts include Elena Landau and Vítor Ferreira Alves de Brito.