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Latin America: International firms

Latin America: International firms > Corporate and M&A > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

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Improving macroeconomic conditions provided a platform for increased M&A activity in 2017. Investment in energy and resources was a key feature of the market as nations sought to improve reliable sources of power and open up to foreign investment; Mexico’s liberalised energy sector has experienced a flood of foreign investment, while Brazil’s healthier economy has led to growth in inbound and outbound investment. Moreover, higher commodity prices have seen a greater flow of deals in the mining and natural resources sectors. Financial services, including insurance, has also been an active segment for M&A activity.

Key moves in the legal market include Paul Hastings LLP’ expansion of its established Latin America practice with the 2017 hire of an eminent group of M&A specialists – comprising Robert Leung, Mike Huang and Stefan dePozsgay – from Boies Schiller Flexner LLP. Latham & Watkins LLP also hired a trio of senior figures with the early 2018 arrival of Madrid-based Latin America experts Juan Picón, Ignacio Gómez-Sancha and José Antonio Sánchez-Dafos from DLA Piper LLP (US). Finally, Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP was established as a result of merger of Hunton & Williams and Andrews Kurth Kenyon, also in 2018.

The benchmark international firm in Latin America, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP’s proactive Latin America M&A practice covers the entire region. It has a dynamic combination of inbound and outbound transactional work, with the firm’s unrivalled connections to Latin American corporates ensuring that it consistently operates at the forefront of M&A activity in the region. The firm has worked on a series of outbound transactions by Mexican and Brazilian clients in recent years and has also experienced considerable growth in transactions involving private equity houses, infrastructure funds and other investors, most notably in Argentina. Clients include Grupo Bimbo, Vale, Dow Chemical, Vitro, ENAP, Highstar, Ontex, Grupo Clarín and Automotores Gildemeister. In March 2018, it advised Suzano Papel e Celulose, one of the largest Brazilian pulp and paper companies, on its landmark $14.5bn merger with Fibria Celulose, another Brazilian pulp and paper giant. It also advised Mexico-based Grupo Bimbo on its $650m acquisition of East Balt Bakeries from One Equity Partners; the deal involving 21 bakeries in 11 countries across North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. In other headline activity the team continued to advise Vale, the Brazil-headquartered mining titan, on the $2.1bn sale of its fertilizer business to The Mosaic Company. In addition, it also advised The Dow Chemical Company on the $1.1bn sale of its corn seed business in Brazil to a Chinese fund owned by Chinese conglomerate CITIC. The team provides an ‘excellent performance in all areas of service and creativity’; moreover, being ‘proactive’, it ‘makes life easier for clients and does not choke clients and colleagues with indigestible paperwork’. Jeffrey Lewis is a recognised leader in Latin America M&A with an immense record in representing Latin America corporates such as Vale, which he advised on the sale of its fertilizer business to The Mosaic Company. Chantal Kordula continues to impress in cross-border M&A involving Mexican entities; as well as advising Grupo Bimbo on its acquisition of East Balt Bakeries, she also assisted Vitro with a number of outbound acquisitions. Kordula and São Paulo partner Juan Giráldez ‘combine the highest professional standards with being flexible and nice to work with’, according to one client. São Paulo’s Francisco Cestero is noted for M&A and large restructurings, while Francesca Odell has built a fine record in private equity and other fund investments in Brazil. Buenos Aires-based Andrés de la Cruz is a leading player in Argentina and Adam Brenneman has a ‘quick mind with excellent delivery and performance’. All partners are New York based unless stated otherwise.

Clifford Chance has extensive Latin America M&A experience and expertise in both its New York and São Paulo offices. Its significant São Paulo presence has enabled it gain considerable traction on inbound Brazil M&A as well as being at the forefront of a growing number of outbound investments. The firm has worked on a series of Brazilian investments and acquisitions by Chinese and Asian entities, advising CITIC Agri Fund Management, for example, on its $1.1bn acquisition of a portion of Dow AgroSciences’ corn seed business in Brazil. The firm is also increasingly active advising private equity and other funds on their investments in Latin America, and recently advised private equity giant KKR on its acquisition of a stake of up to 40% in telecoms infrastructure owner Telxius, that has extensive assets in Spain, Germany, Peru, Chile and Brazil. ‘A gold standard for responsiveness’, the practice group provides ‘a globalised service’ with ‘strategic vision in conducting negotiations’, ‘business-oriented advice and strong energy sector knowledge’. Moreover, the ‘lawyers have a lot of experience and add value in negotiations’ and give ‘personalised customer service’ and ‘quick answers’. Overall, the team is ‘totally service oriented giving the impression that the client’s business is truly appreciated’, ‘response times are always short’, ‘lawyers have knowledge of the sectors their clients operate in’, ‘partners are always actively involved in the deals from the beginning to the end’ and the firm has ‘a balanced use of experienced staff and more junior attorneys, which results in a fair cost for the client’. São Paulo managing partner Anthony Oldfield is ‘experienced in finding solutions and defending clients’ interests’. David Brinton shows ‘great leadership and charisma’, is ‘always on top of all aspects of all the deals his team is involved in’ and is ‘a commercial and business-oriented lawyer’; noted for energy sector transactions, he led the team that advised Actis on its acquisition of over 1,500MW of solar PV assets from SunEdison in Latin America and the associated establishment of Atlas Renewable Energy, a pan-Latin America renewable energy platform. Newly elected partner Thais Garcia is ‘very thorough, organized and diligent’ and is ‘a welcome addition to the partnership’; a native Brazilian who speaks fluent Spanish, her ‘multiple qualities facilitate the deal process’ noted one client. Madrid partner Javier Amantegui is also experienced in M&A and investments involving Latin American assets.

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP’s combination of top Latin America experts and leading cross-border M&A specialists in New York, ensures that it has a significant market share of big-ticket and transformational deals in the region. This includes inbound, outbound and intra-regional transactions for clients including Arancia, Arcos Dorados, Banco Santander and its Latin American subsidiaries, Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional (CSN), Cosan, Digicel Group, Gafisa, GP Investments, Millicom, Odebrecht, Petrobras and Telefónica. The firm has experienced an uptick in Brazilian deals where it recently advised Brazilian multinational cosmetics manufacturer Natura Cosméticos on its €1bn acquisition of British skin-care and cosmetics retailer The Body Shop – the largest Brazilian outbound deal since 2015. The team continued to advise Heineken (Bavaria) on its €664m acquisition of Brasil Kirin from Japanese beverage company Kirin Holdings; and in another headline deal, advised both Grupo Financiero Santander México and its principal subsidiary, Banco Santander (México), on their merger. Manuel Garciadiaz, who splits his time between São Paulo and New York, is a versatile and industrious lawyer who has built a wide range of corporate relationships in Latin America, especially in Brazil. Nicholas Kronfeld remains key to the firm’s relationship with Banco Santander and its Latin American subsidiaries, while New York M&A partners Oliver Smith, Daniel Brass, Louis Goldberg and John Amorosi also have plenty of Latin America experience.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP’s outstanding record in private equity extends to Latin America with many of its international global private equity clients now active in the region. While building on the firm’s illustrious private equity client base, the Latin America team has also built independent connections to bulge-bracket global private equity houses and to a range of Latin American funds. Clients include Abengoa, Actis Capital, Avianca, Blackstone, Carlyle Peru Fund, Colbun, Compañía de Petróleos de Chile COPEC, CorpBanca, Empresa Nacional de Telecomunicaciones, Gerdau, KKR, Linzor Capital Partners, Mercantil Colpatria, Minsur, Patria Investimentos and Riverwood Capital. Deals include advising Blackstone on its acquisition of the Windsor Atlantica Hotel on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro. New York partner Todd Crider, who is co-head of the Latin America practice and has made a particular impression in the private equity space, is ‘a very impressive, fully-fledged lawyer’ who ‘combines very strong interpersonal skills and legal knowledge’; ‘on top of it all, he is a very good person’. The Houston office is also increasingly active in energy-sector private equity transactions in Latin America, especially in Mexico. Corporate driven M&A is also a pivotal element of the practice and the team recently represented Trafigura Ventures and Trafigura Argentina on the stock and asset purchase agreement to acquire over 250 service stations, a refinery, a lubricants manufacturing facility and a fuel storage terminal in Argentina from Pampa Energia. It also advised Sura Asset Management in Peru and Colombia and Grupo Wiese in Peru on the $268m sale of Seguros Sura and Hipotecaria Sura to Intercorp Financial Services. The team is highlighted for its expertise in ‘very technical, sophisticated and high-end’ cross-border transactions and ‘works hard to understand clients’ needs and to protect clients’ interests’. In Brazil, the São Paulo office is ‘definitely first tier’, is ‘very available and responsive’ and ‘delivers high quality work’; ‘the level of service is excellent’. New York-based Latin America practice head David Williams is a seasoned and versatile lawyer, who has a high degree of focus on M&A, particularly in Argentina, Chile and Colombia. São Paolo’s Grenfel Calheiros is a key name for Brazil M&A, while Jaime Mercado and Juan Francisco Méndez are also key members of the team. ‘An excellent lawyer’, counsel Borja Marcos is ‘always accurate in his responses’ and has ‘deep knowledge of M&A contracts and laws’.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is widely regarded as a market leader in Latin America M&A. Co-heads of the Latin America practice Paul Schnell and Paola Lozano are consistently cited as top practitioners in this segment; the latter is also praised for her ‘knowledge of the market’ and ‘experience in the region’, particularly in Colombia, and the fact that she is ‘easy to work with’. The firm has an especially strong record in financial institutions transactions: in a string of recent headline deals, it advised Citigroup on the sale of its consumer banking business to Itaú Unibanco Holding; Citibank on the sale of its consumer and SME operations in Colombia to Scotiabank (and its Colombian subsidiary, Banco Colpatria Multibanca Colpatria); and advised Deutsche Bank on the sale of its Mexican banking and securities units to Investa Bank, and the sale of Deutsche Bank (Argentina) to Banco Comafi (Argentina). Head of the São Paulo office Mathias von Bernuth has extensive experience in Brazil transactions, as does fellow São Paulo partner Filipe Areno. All partners are New York-based unless stated otherwise.

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP’s record in big-ticket Latin America M&A is virtually unrivalled. Despite operating a relatively small Latin America team, it maintains a high market share of high-value and complex transactions. Team members operate more as generalists than many peers at other international law firms and are noted for their experience in handling political, cultural and regulatory considerations; it has gained a reputation for trans-continental deals including M&A involving Chinese acquirers. The team is ‘top of the market’, ‘the service is consistently extremely good’ and is backed up by ‘sharp legal skills’, ‘great business acumen’, ‘spectacular negotiation skills’ and partners who ‘ensure that deadlines and in-depth assessment of the transaction are observed’. Peers at leading Brazilian and Latin American firms indicate that the team’s ‘level of service and commitment’ is above the average of other ‘premium firms’ and that the practice is ‘one of the top choices for US law M&A transactions, especially for large tickets and blue-chip clients’. Major engagements include advising UnitedHealth Group on its wholly-owned subsidiary’s definitive purchase agreement with Empresas Banmédica and tender offer for all of Banmédica’s outstanding shares, which valued the company’s equity at some $2.8bn. The team also continued to advise China’s State Grid International Development on its $4.53bn acquisition of a 95% interest in Brazil’s largest privately-owned electric energy generation and distribution group, CPFL Energia; as well as representing a consortium led by China Three Gorges Corporation on its proposed $1.39bn acquisition of Empresa de Generación Huallaga from Odebrecht Energia del Perú and Odebrecht Energía. On the private equity side, the team advised PointState Capital on the acquisition of Sheraton Buenos Aires Hotel and Convention Center, the Park Tower Hotel and adjacent development property located in Buenos Aires by its wholly owned subsidiary Argentum Investments III. Head of the Latin America practice Sergio Galvis is ‘a hands-on senior strategist’ who ‘reviews drafts carefully’ and is ‘a beacon in the Latin America practice’. Werner Ahlers is a ‘brilliant right hand’ to Galvis and ‘an extremely capable negotiator’ in his own right who impresses with this ‘intelligence and knowledge of M&A contracts’; Ahlers is noted for his record in private equity transactions for clients such as PointState Capital and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB). Christopher Mann is another senior name with outstanding experience in Latin America M&A.

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP has made an impression in deals involving distressed assets and in transactions involving strong compliance concerns; the firm’s prominent white-collar crime practice has provided pivotal advice on a number of deals. The firm has also worked on a series of deals for Latin American family offices, notably a number of outbound acquisitions in the US and Europe. Financial services (including insurance), telecoms and media are key industry sectors for a Latin America practice that is increasingly active in representing private equity funds in regional transactions. Brazil is a major jurisdiction for the team, with Argentina and Colombia also featuring strongly. Clients include AIG, Ambev, Axa, Brookfield Asset Management, Companhia Brasileira de Metalurgia e Mineração, Gávea Investimentos, Organizações Globo, Prudential Financial and Vinci Partners. Recent matters include advising Ambev on its acquisition of a 30% interest in leading Caribbean brewer, Cervecería Nacional Dominicana, and the restructuring of its joint venture with E. León Jimenes. It also represented Brookfield Asset Management on its $768m acquisition (along with institutional partners) of a 70% controlling stake in the core water, wastewater and industrial water treatment business of Odebrecht Ambiental. The practice is commended for its expertise in ‘corporate insurance deals’, is ‘highly responsive’ and provides a ‘very high level of service’ as well as having ‘excellent industry knowledge and experience’. For at least one client, it is the ‘go-to firm for Latin America deals by a long mile’. Colombian born partner David Grosgoldhas a great depth and breadth of experience in corporate insurance matters in Latin America’, is ‘one of the few true corporate insurance experts in the field’ and ‘is always a pleasure to work with’. Head of the Latin America group Maurizio Levi-Minzi is another key M&A player who has significant experience in the region, as do Michael Gillespie and Gregory Gooding. Corporate insurance expert John Vasilyreally gets what is commercially important to his clients’; with deep experience in Latin America, he is ‘a very impressive lawyer at the top of his game’ and ‘is proactive in getting his team to deliver what is needed’.

Jones Day has committed significant resources to its Latin America practice with key team members spread across its Miami, New York, Mexico City, São Paulo, Houston and Madrid offices. The ‘outstanding’ firm provides ‘excellent service’, has ‘extensive experience in the field’ and an ‘excellent response capacity’ and is ‘always available to meet the client’s needs’. ‘Very hands on’ and ‘professional’, it is praised for its level of commitment, ‘pragmatism and extensive track record is crucial in getting deals done’. Energy, telecoms, financial services and infrastructure are amongst its primary sectors. The firm worked on some of the largest deals in Mexico and Brazil during 2017, including advising ENGIE on its proposed $8bn acquisition of Transportadora Associada de Gas (TAG) from Petrobras in Brazil (the firm has advised French multinational ENGIE on a series of transactions in Latin America as it seeks to expand its regional footprint); and the top-end Mexican tequila maker Patrón Spirits International on its sale to Barcardi. It also represented J&F Investimentos in the $4.7bn sale of its Brazilian subsidiary Eldorado Brasil Celulose to Netherlands-based Paper Excellence. São Paulo partner Marcello Hallake is recommended by clients and has led many of the firm’s headline deals in Brazil. Dividing his time between New York and São Paulo, Wade Angus is another prominent member of the practice, as are Miami partners Nicholas Rodriguez and Enrique Martin, and María Luisa Cánovas in New York. Luis Riesgo leads the Latin America practice from São Paulo and Washington DC. São Paulo-based of counsel Artur Badra is ‘a very well-rounded lawyer’, ‘extremely personable, responsive and undertakes significant work under pressure while maintaining constant good spirits’.

Latham & Watkins LLP reinforced its Latin America M&A credentials with the hire of Juan Picón, Ignacio Gómez-Sancha and José Antonio Sánchez-Dafos to its Madrid office from DLA Piper LLP (US). Picón, who was global co-chair at his former firm, and the other new partners, share a longstanding focus on Latin America, representing both Spanish clients with interests in the region as well as a number of multinational Latin American companies. More broadly, the firm is consistently active in Latin America M&A and private equity investments, most notably in the energy and infrastructure sectors. Mexico is its primary market, followed by other key jurisdictions such as Argentina, Chile and Colombia, and is client roster includes Andes Mining & Energy, Ashmore Management, Carlyle, Fermaca Global, Grupo Aval, Linzor Capital Partners, Oaktree Capital, Mexichem and Sempra Energy. The practice recently advised IFM Global Infrastructure Fund on the $935m tender offer by Magenta Infraestructura (its joint venture with OHL Concesiones), to acquire shares in Mexico-based transport-infrastructure operator OHL Mexico; and also assisted Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec with its acquisition of an 80% stake in Enel Green Power’s Mexico-based portfolio of wind and solar assets. Latin America-practice co-chair Antonio Del Pino is a top name in regional M&A, while Thomas Malone has longstanding experience in Mexico. Co-chair of the energy, oil and gas industry group Christopher Cross is also noted for Mexico energy transactions while Madrid-based Ignacio Pallarés is recommended for deals across the region. All partners are New York-based unless stated otherwise.

White & Case LLP’s global footprint, burgeoning M&A status in New York and Miami, and its substantial presence in Mexico City and São Paulo, are positioning it as a true leader in Latin America M&A. Recent mandates saw the practice act as international counsel to Mexico’s Grupo Bimbo on its $650m acquisition of East Balt I, involving the management of due diligence and regulatory review in 11 jurisdictions. Moreover, its outstanding record in project finance has enabled the firm to advise on a series of transactions involving the trading of energy and infrastructure assets: recent examples include assisting Total SunPower with the sale of its stake in Total SunPower El Pelicano to Phoenix Infrastructure Holdings; and advising Odebrecht on its $1.39bn sale of the 456MW Chaglla hydroelectric power plant in Peru to a consortium led by China Three Gorges Corp. The team is commended for its responsiveness, knowledge of local law and ‘pragmatic approach to solving issues’, with clients recognise the ability of its Mexico group to ‘draw on the resources of other offices’ as necessary. It ‘ranks above the top firms in M&A’, according to clients who also highlight the firm’s ‘excellent’ Mexico team, considered ‘the best’ by some. Miami partner Christian Hansen has extensive cross-border M&A experience (including multi-jurisdictional transactions such as the previously mentioned Grupo Bimbo deal) and is particularly noted for energy and aviation sector transactions. Oliver Brahmst is co-head of the global private equity practice, has a fine record in Brazil deals and was the lead partner on the China Three Gorges transaction. Head of the São Paulo office Donald Baker has virtually unrivalled corporate connections in Brazil, while Vincente Corta Fernández is a key figure in Mexico City. Highly regarded former Mexico City partner Iker Arriola moved to Mexican firm Creel, García-Cuéllar, Aiza y Enríquez, S.C..

Allen & Overy LLP’s substantial international platform and sizeable presence in São Paulo and New York, makes it a serious player in Latin America. Inbound investments by US, European and Asian clients are a key feature of the practice, along with a sizeable pipeline of outbound transactions by Latin American corporates, especially Brazilian companies. The practice has an especially strong record in energy, natural resources and infrastructure. It advised Kirin Holdings on its $707m disposal of subsidiary Brasil Kirinto Bavaria, the local Brazilian subsidiary of Heineken; and also represented Ternium on the Dutch law aspects of its $1.5bn acquisition of Thyssenkrupp Slab International and CSA Siderúrgica do Atlântico in Brazil from Thyssenkrupp. The team is praised for its focus on Brazil with São Paulo practitioner Bruno Soares classed as a ‘great lawyer and partner’; he is praised for his ‘strong and persuasive personality’ and ‘hands-on and accessible approach’, and clients regard him as ‘one of the best negotiators’ and as having ‘extensive experience and technical knowledge’. Energy and infrastructure specialist Kent Rowey is also active in the region and previously advised North Haven Infrastructure Partners on its winning bid for the $7bn Red Compartida telecommunications project in Mexico. Washington DC partner Sami Mir is noted for equity investments by multilateral agencies and development finance institutions. David Flechner moved to Shearman & Sterling LLP.

David Mercado’s relocation to Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP’s New York office from London will help further his already impressive Latin America practice. Working alongside colleagues in the firm’s top-tier New York M&A practice, he and the firm have achieved an impressive market share of cross-border deals involving Latin American entities. Over the years, Mexico and Brazil have been the firm’s primary markets, although it has also participated in considerable deal flow in Chile and Argentina. The firm also works with long-term client Banco Santander on a regular basis, with 2017 highlights including advice to Banco Santander Río on its acquisition of the onshore consumer credit card and consumer brokerage and retail banking businesses of Citigroup in Argentina. Moreover, it advised Florida East Coast Railways Holdings on its $2.1bn sale to GMéxico Transportes. Richard Hall and Keith Hallam are also regular advisers on deals involving Latin America.

Greenberg Traurig LLP has one of the largest teams of dedicated Latin America specialists of all the international law firms; it has Latin America facing teams in Mexico City, Miami, New York and a number of other US offices. Industry experience is one of its particular fortes with a number of the partners having significant in-house lawyer experience, some as deputy general counsels. Financial services and telecoms are two sectors where the firm has an especially strong record. Clients include Grupo Assa, The Related Group, Grupo Bio Pappel, Sobel Westex, Restaurant Brands International, Grupo Rotoplas and Organizacion Sanita. Showcasing its expertise in financial services, the practice continued to advise ASSA Compañía Tenedora and ASSA Compañía de Seguros on its acquisition of American International Group (AIG)’s operations in Central America, located in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama; as part of the deal AIG and ASSA will establish an on-going business partnership to pursue new opportunities in Central America. Additionally, the firm advised The Related Group on multiple joint ventures and acquisitions in Latin America, including the acquisition of a real estate project in Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires. Firm vice chair Patricia Menéndez-Cambó is a seasoned figure in Latin America transactions, in particular in the telecoms and other regulated sectors. Randy Bullard and Emilio Alvarez-Farré are also experienced Latin America hands, with extensive records in M&A. Yosbel Ibarra is co-chair of the firm’s Latin America and Iberian practice and has almost 20 years of experience in M&A and private equity transactions in the region. Enrique Conde, Antonio Peña and Mark Lopez are also recommended. All named individuals are primarily based in Miami.

Linklaters LLP’s Latin America M&A practice is primarily located in New York and São Paulo with key partner Alberto Luzárraga spending time in both offices. He and the core team have worked hard to leverage the firm’s contacts and resources from around the world and has showcased its cross-border expertise with a number of inbound deals from Asia and Europe. Inbound deals into Brazil continue to be a major feature of the practice, although it is also active in other key economies such as Argentina, Chile and Peru. The practice group has also worked on a series of inbound deals on behalf of Chinese clients, including China Southern Power Grid, which it advised on its $1.3bn acquisition of Brookfield Infrastructure’s stake in Chilean electricity transmission company Transelec, the client’s first acquisition in Latin America and its first completed acquisition outside of Asia. In another headline Asia to Latin America deal, it advised China Merchants Port Holdings on the acquisition of a 90% stake in TCP Participações, which manages a major Brazilian container terminal which is one of the largest in Latin America. With the recovery of the Brazilian economy, it is also increasingly active in outbound deals for Brazilian corporates, recently (April 2018) advising Brazil’s Marfrig Global Foods on its $969m acquisition of a 51% equity interest in National Beef Packing Company, the fourth-largest beef processor in the US. The ‘excellent’ team is ‘responsive’, ‘very professional’ and ‘always available’; moreover, it ‘provides quality work’ that ‘always adds value’ and ‘performance is beyond expectations’. Admitted in New York and Brazil, senior associate Gabriel Silva is ‘knowledgeable and supportive’ and ‘a good listener who pays attention to client needs and works diligently towards fulfilling them’ as well as providing ‘valuable advice during due diligence and negotiations’. One client praises him for his ‘tremendous contribution to the deal’; given his background, he is especially noted for Brazil transactions. Peter Cohen-Millstein is a Spanish speaker and has worked on a number of deals in Brazil and Argentina. Matthew Poulter is primarily a capital markets and finance lawyer but also has a number of key corporate relationships and was the lead partner on the Marfrig Global Foods transaction. All team members are New York located unless otherwise noted.

Paul Hastings LLP extended its impressive Latin America platform with the hire of a prominent senior M&A team from Boies Schiller Flexner LLP in 2017. Latin America M&A specialists Robert Leung, Mike Huang and Stefan dePozsgay have made an immediate impact at the firm, working on a string of headline deals, most notably in Peru, Colombia and Mexico, along with Central America and the Caribbean. The new team advised Quicorp, the parent company of major Peruvian private healthcare company Química Suiza, on its $583m acquisition by InRetail Perú; and also represented Argentine energy company YPF on the sale of a 25% stake in generating division YPF Energía Eléctrica to GE Energy Financial Services. The M&A team has excellent connections to big-ticket investment banks, which frequently recommend the firm to Latin American corporates, and also has an especially strong record on the sell-side of transactions, including hotly contested auction sales. The practice is currently experiencing growth in its cross-border transactional workload involving Asian investors.

Best known for middle market deals and transactions involving financial sponsors, Proskauer Rose LLPstand-out for its services and the different perspective each partner brings’. The firm has an established Latin America practice group, the core of which includes several natives of the region and a range of Spanish and Portuguese speakers. The team’s connections to Latin America have enabled it to develop an impressive list of local and regional clients. As an international law firm in São Paulo, it is somewhat unique in providing funds formation advice, enabling it also to access advisory roles with private equity houses and asset managers on transactions in Brazil, Colombia and Peru especially. ‘Very dynamic and accessible’, the team is ‘good value for money’, ‘responsive, and knowledgeable of the legal and market issues’; additionally, its ‘partners are hands-on’, provide ‘practical advice’ and ‘great service’ with ‘faster and more accurate responses’ than competitors, according to clients. Recent matters include advising Frontera Energy (formerly Pacific Exploration & Production), on its acquisition of the outstanding 36% ownership of Pacific Midstream from International Finance Corporation (IFC); and representing long-term global client AccorHotels on its $64m joint venture with Brazil Hospitality Group to manage a portfolio of 26 hotels in Brazil. In another middle market deal, it represented engineering and construction company Graña y Montero on its $85m sale of its stake in GMD to private equity firm Advent International. Highly focused on Latin America, Colombian-born Daniel Ganitsky is ‘an outstanding M&A lawyer’, while Latin America practice head Carlos Martinezexcels in M&A and capital markets’. Head of the São Paulo office Antonio Piccirillo is a ‘go-to lawyer’, who is admired for his ‘technical knowledge’, ‘broad experience with US and Brazilian legal issues, capacity to convey complex concepts in a simple way’ and ‘ability to establish a trusting relationship with clients’. Also ‘very experienced’, São Paulo-based Fábio Yamada is ‘a dynamic and hands-on partner’.

Shearman & Sterling LLP has demonstrated great determination to build out its M&A practice in Latin America. Having promoted São Paulo’s Jonathan Kellner, a fluent Spanish and Portuguese speaker who is a ‘star in his field’, to partner in 2016, it then promoted São Paulo-based Andrea Campos to counsel in 2017. This comes at a time when the firm is experiencing notable growth in Brazil inbound transactions along with deals in other key economies such as Argentina, Chile, Colombia and elsewhere. The core Latin America team has done well to target existing firm clients, including corporates and sovereign wealth funds. Kellner worked alongside New York partner Robert Freedman to advise GE Capital Global Holdings on its acquisition of a 25% stake in YPF Energía Eléctrica from Argentine oil-major, YPF. A New York team led by global M&A head (and global co-managing partner of the firm) George Casey, advised Liberty Global on its $9.3bn spin-off of Liberty Latin America. In another headline deal, it also advised Citigroup’s Mexican subsidiary Citibanamex on the sale of its asset management arm to global investment manager BlackRock. Other key partners include Latin America regional head Antonia Stolper, Manuel Orillac and Robert Ellison in São Paulo.

Winston & Strawn LLP established a strong Latin America M&A practice with the recruitment of an experienced team of Latin America specialists from Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP in 2017; the group was part of Chadbourne & Parke prior to its merger Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP earlier the same year. The new team has given the firm genuine credibility in both M&A and private equity and is praised for its ‘very high levels of service’, its ‘knowledgeable, responsive and loyal’ approach, and its ‘adeptness at working with private equity firms and their needs’. Moreover, its ‘vision for business’ and ‘broad, concrete and professional advice’, continue to impress clients who regard it, in particular, as ‘among the most prominent, well-known and involved firms with Colombian companies’. Recent work saw Latin America practice co-chair Allen Miller and fellow partner Sey-Hyo Lee continue to advise Enel Américas on its corporate reorganisation, involving $22bn of assets in Latin America. Private equity is another strength of the group, which advised Southern Cross Group on its $464m acquisition of gas station, fuel distribution and other related businesses in Chile from Petrobras. Miller’s fellow practice co-chair, Talbert Navia is ‘very experienced, knowledgeable and practical’ and is noted for his private equity experience. Morton Grosz and Kevin Smith are also experienced M&A and private equity specialists.

Baker McKenzie LLP’s seven offices in Latin America have helped it to gain a solid foothold in cross-border transactions where it is particularly active in the energy, mining, infrastructure, life sciences/healthcare and consumer goods sectors. Lima partner Liliana Espinosa heads the Latin America M&A and private equity practice, which includes 66 other partners across the region. Chicago partner David Malliband led the team that advised medical equipment manufacturer ICU Medical on its $900m acquisition of the Hospira Infusion Systems business from Pfizer in Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. The practice also advised GCP Applied Technologies on the $1.05bn sale of the Darex Packaging Technologies Business to Henkel in 19 jurisdictions, including Chile, Mexico and Brazil. ‘Always on top of things’, Santiago-based Jaime Munro is ‘a very creative lawyer’ who ‘gets very involved in the transaction’, has ‘a good knowledge of commercial matters’ and is ‘always looking for better alternatives to structure a transaction’.

Covington & Burling LLP’s established Latin America practice has an especially fine record in Mexico. The firm is well known for its expertise in regulated sectors, including financial services, life sciences and healthcare. Restructurings, compliance and anti-bribery are also key areas of expertise, as is private equity. Gabriel Mesa is ‘an excellent lawyer, very committed, with excellent knowledge of M&A law and also has excellent negotiation skills’. Mexican native Rubén Kraiem has a long track record in Latin America and co-chairs the firm’s clean energy and climate industry group.

Hogan Lovells US LLP has a somewhat unique platform with a core team of Latin America specialists based across its Mexico City, Monterrey, São Paulo, Miami, Houston, New York and Washington DC offices. Clients include Aeromexico, Banorte, EnerAB, Ford Motor Company, General Electric, Petroamazonas, Petrobras, Pemex and Sealed Air Corporation. The firm continues to advise Pemex on its joint venture agreement with Australian natural resources company BHP Billiton to develop the deep-water Trion Block in the Gulf of Mexico in what is Pemex’s first exploration and production farm-out project in association with a foreign company. In addition, it advised Ecuadorian state-owned company Petroamazonas in the restructuring of $1.5bn in payments owned to contractors. The Latin America team also advised infrastructure development provider, ISA, on its agreement to invest up to $80m in Andean Tower Partners Holdings (ATP), a private owner of wireless communication towers and equipment in Colombia and Peru, to fund the expansion of ATP’s telecoms network infrastructure in the two jurisdictions. Carlos Ramos Miranda, Juan Francisco Torres Landa and Federico De Noriega are key figures in Mexico City, while Miami’s José Valdivia is co-chair of the Latin America practice group and an experienced figure in Latin America M&A.

Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP, the result of a 2018 merger between Hunton & Williams and Andrews Kurth Kenyon, has a sizeable Latin America practice. The legacy Hunton & Williams team has the more illustrious record in Latin America M&A, including in financial services, energy and telecoms. Recent deals include advising Promerica Financial Corporation on its acquisition of Banco Citbank de Guatemala. The tight-knit Latin America team features chairman of the Latin American practice group Fernando Alonso, who is noted for financial services transactions, Atlanta M&A partner David Yates and Miami partner Fernando Margarit, who has specialist expertise in telecoms and submarine cable systems transactions. Miami’s Uriel Mendieta is another key team member.

Mayer Brown’s Houston team has developed an outstanding record in upstream oil and gas, power and renewables transactions. Much of its focus has centred on Mexico where it is at the forefront of the energy sector reform-related work, while Argentina constitutes a growth jurisdiction for the firm. The New York office and Brazilian alliance firm Tauil & Chequer Advogados in association with Mayer Brown are also key to the firm’s success in Latin America M&A. Financial services, agriculture, mining and infrastructure provide another solid pipeline of deals and the practice groups clients include Mitsui & Co, The Dow Chemical Company, CNOOC Petroleum Brasil, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Taco Bell Brasil, DaVita Brasil, Barzel Properties Gestora de Recursos, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Total. Recent work includes advising Colombian state-owned oil company, Ecopetrol, on its successful bids for production sharing contracts for exploration and extraction of hydrocarbons in two shallow water oil and gas blocks in Mexico. The team also represented Total on its acquisition of upstream, midstream and downstream oil and gas assets and thermos power plants from Petrobras in Brazil and other jurisdictions. Houston-based Pablo Ferrante and Jose Valera are noted for oil and gas experience in Latin America, while Kevin Sheridan is a key name in New York.

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP’s M&A team has built on the firm’s tremendous existing Latin America platform and has a burgeoning record in power, energy and infrastructure deals. Financial institution-derived work and insurance matters are also prevalent for the department, whose client base is in large part centred on private equity, hedge and infrastructure funds such as Macquarie Capital, Partners Group, Borealis Infrastructure and Actis. Other clients include Intercorp Financial Services, Corporate Travel Services and Itaúsa. The team advised Macquarie Capital on its acquisition and financing (alongside Techint Engineering and Construction), of the 907MW combined cycle Norte III power generation facility; and also represented Intercorp Financial Services on its proposed $268m acquisition of Seguros Sura and Hipotecaria Sura Empresa Administradora Hipotecaria in Peru. Head of the global corporate group John Franchini dedicates a high proportion of his time to Latin America and Dean Sattler is a recognised regional M&A expert. Global head of capital markets Marcelo Mottesi also leads many of the team’s key M&A deals.

Sidley Austin LLP has an extensive client base in Latin America thanks to its long-term commitment to the region. It is especially well known for financial services-sector M&As and has an impressive record in funds-related work, including funds formation and private equity transactions. The firm has built an impressive roster of Latin America-based clients, including family offices, which bring it a steady pipeline of largely middle market M&A transactions. In addition, its burgeoning Houston office has strong connections to the region, particularly in the oil and gas and renewable energy sectors. New York partner Alyssa Grikscheit is noted for funds work and investments by asset managers. Houston’s Sergio Pozzerle and Glenn Pinkerton have profile in the energy sector and have been joined by prominent oil and gas / LNG experts Brian Bradshaw and David Asmus from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP.

Brown Rudnick LLP has an impressive Latin America-focused senior echelon with Alejandro Fiuza and Adolfo Garcia having more than 27 and 40-years’ experience respectively. Fiuza is dual-qualified in the US and Argentina, having spent 13 years as a partner and co-chair of the private equity practice at leading Argentine firm Marval, O'Farrell & Mairal. Garcia leads Brown Rudnick LLP’s Cuban initiative. The Latin America team, which operates right across the region, handles a healthy mix of M&A, private equity investments and corporate restructuring engagements. Its clients include Endeavor Global, Staples, Tempur-Sealy, Seaboard Corporation, CBS Television, TripAdvisor, Oyster Technologies and Audax Management. Recent mandates include advising a US-based client on the corporate restructuring of – and a potential transaction involving – interests in a Latin American agribusiness company; and the team continues to advise Asociación Argentina de Capital Privado (ARCAP) following its launch in 2016, which followed 12 years of legal work, structuring and negotiations by Fiuza and the firm; ARCAP is expected to promote local and international private equity, venture capital and seed capital investment in Argentina by funds and companies.

Cuatrecasas has developed a significant footprint in Latin America with its own offices in Mexico and Brazil, and a strategic alliance with Posse Herrera Ruiz in Colombia. Beyond these jurisdictions, the firm has a regular pipeline of deal engagements related to key economies such as Argentina, Uruguay and Ecuador. It advised Arca Continental on the international reorganisation of the Arca Group, which involved the client increasing its stake in Arca Continental Argentina and Arca Ecuador to 100%; and also assisted Pernod Ricard with the sale of the Domecq wine and brandy business, through its Mexican and Spanish subsidiaries, to Bodegas Las Copas. Madrid-based M&A partner Javier Villasante has a long track record in Latin America transactions. Co-head of the Mexico City office Santiago Ferrer is another key team member along with Mariano Úcar, who divides his time between Mexico City and Madrid, and Maria da Paz Tierno Lopes who heads the São Paulo office.

DLA Piper LLP (US)’s Latin America practice is now led by Latin American natives in the US and representatives from its multiple offices in the region. Miami partner Francisco Cerezo is US head of the Latin America corporate practice and has been fundamental to the development of the firm’s regional footprint. With offices in the four countries of the Pacific Alliance and Puerto Rico, plus a cooperation agreement in Brazil, the practice has experienced considerable growth. It represents a number of global businesses alongside a significant number of Latin America family offices and their underlying portfolio companies. Clients include Telefonica, General Mills, CarVal Investors, the Government of Puerto Rico, Becton Dickinson, Graña y Montero, Putney Capital, Clarion Partners, Public Sector Pension Investment Board and Oaktree. Recent mandates include advising Putney Capital on its multi-jurisdictional acquisition of a 50% interest in Colombian steel mill Diaco from Gerdau, the Brazil-based steel manufacturer; and representing Graña y Montero on the sale of its 21% interest in Tecgas to Enagás. Eduardo Gallástegui, Jorge Benejam and Edgar Romo are also key partners in Mexico City, along with Jose Sosa and Nikos Buxeda in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Dechert LLP is noted for headline M&A and restructurings in Latin America. In 2017, it continued to advise GMéxico Transportes (GMXT) on its $2.1bn acquisition of Florida East Coast Railway Corp from Fortress Investment Corp, and in another outbound deal, also represented Cinemex Holdings USA on its acquisition of Cobb Theaters in the South East of the US; Cinemex is headquartered in Mexico City. New York partner Howard Kleinman has an outstanding record in Latin America M&A and is supported by Bernardo Piereck. Allan Brilliant is a leading figure in Latin America restructurings.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP launched a Houston office in 2017, providing it with additional connections to the Latin America region, especially in the energy (including oil and gas) sector. Led by new Houston partners Michael Darden and Justin Stolte, the firm recently advised a Mexican oil and gas company on its planned investments in several oil and gas blocks in Mexico. In another notable deal, the firm advised Sojitz Corporation of America on its acquisition of a 98MW solar project in Chile; the firm’s engagement also involves the construction and term financing of the project. New York partner Kevin Kelley co-chairs the Latin America practice alongside São Paulo’s Lisa Alfaro; both have a significant focus on Brazil. New York partner Jose Fernandez also has significant experience in Latin America M&A and private equity investments.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP frequently advises on corporate transactions in the energy, natural resources and infrastructure assets and projects sectors in Latin America. Recent mandates include advising Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (SQM) on its 50:50 joint venture agreement with Kidman Resources to develop and operate the Mt. Holland Lithium Project in Western Australia. The firm has a ‘great team’ that delivers ‘fast and clear answers’ and is praised for its knowledge of clients’ businesses; it also constitutes ‘outstanding’ value for money, according to clients. A leading figure in mining projects and transactions, New York partner and ‘insightful thinker’ Juan-José Zentner is commended for his ‘deep knowledge of corporate law and shareholder agreements’ and ‘deep understanding’ of his clients’ businesses and culture. Madrid partner Ignacio Paz advises a number of Spanish sponsors on buying and selling assets in Latin America.

Holland & Knight LLP has a solid Latin America platform with key teams in Mexico City, Bogota, Miami and New York. The firm is noted for its experience in the energy, natural resources, real estate and telecoms sectors. It recently advised global wireless communications infrastructure provider, American Tower Corporation, on its acquisition of a telecoms entity that owns a 4,000km fibre optic network in key metropolitan areas in Mexico. Luis Rubio Barnetche recently joined from Jones Day to lead the Mexico City office and brings significant additional telecoms sector expertise. Miami-based Roberto Pupo heads the Latin America corporate, M&A and securities practice group. Enrique Gómez-Pinzón is the Bogotá office executive partner and is an experienced figure in corporate and financing transactions. Former Mexico City partner Boris Otto has left the firm.

In keeping with the firm’s core speciality, King & Spalding LLP maintains a strong presence in midstream oil and gas transactions and liquefied natural gas (LNG) deals related to Latin America. The firm also continues to work on a variety of joint venture arrangements, M&A transactions and private equity investments, particularly in relation to oil and gas assets. Houston-based leader of the global transactions practice, Ken Culotta is a seasoned Latin America hand with particular experience in oil and gas and LNG – although his track record extends across multiple sectors. John Crespo and Mexico qualified Adrian Talamantes have joined Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP expanded its team with prominent Latin American corporate specialist John Crespo and Mexico qualified Adrian Talamantes from King & Spalding LLP; Crespo is active in corporate transactions across Latin America, predominantly related to energy matters, while Talamantes is especially focused on midstream and upstream transactions in Mexico. Their arrival has strengthened the team not only in upstream and midstream oil & gas and LNG but also across other key industries such as telecoms and financial services. Mexico continues to be a strong focus for the practice; and in Houston, Mexico-qualified Humberto Padilla Gonzalez is another key, corporate transactional practitioner. Beyond Mexico, the firm is active throughout Latin America, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Colombia. Clients range from multi-latinas to US-based clients, private equity investors and other multinationals. The team advised Sumitomo Corporation on its takeover of banana producer Fyffes, which has extensive operations in Central and South America; and also assisted General Cable Corporation with its two-step acquisition of Colombian manufacturer of cable and wire manufacturer Procables. Other key partners include Felipe Alice, who is recognised for Brazil energy deals; and Washington DC-based partner Ulises Pin who has extensive experience in telecoms transactions, particularly in Mexico.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP has built on the launch of its Houston office in 2016 with a growing market share in Mexico energy M&A and an additional pipeline of deals connected to Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Central America, Uruguay and more recently Argentina. Technology is another key industry for the firm in Latin America. While much of its energy M&A work has centred on inbound deals to Latin America, elsewhere it has experienced an uptick in outbound transactions into the US, especially from Mexico. Private equity investments into the real estate sector is another growth segment for the firm in the region. A team led by Houston-based George Humphrey advised Gas y Petroquímica de Occidente (Mexico) and G2X Energy on the development of a $1.3bn ammonia plant in Mexico, the engagement involving an arrangement with Mexico’s CFE for the purchase, sale and transportation of low-cost natural gas from the US to the plant in Mexico. On the technology side, it advised California-based app-developer, Nearsoft, on the $25m disposal of its US and Mexico-based business to a US private equity fund. The ‘top notch’ team is praised for its ‘skills and knowledge’, ‘full availability’ and ‘rapid responses’ with sources noting that it ‘looks to fulfil its client´s needs either through customary solutions or looking through innovative alternatives’. Co-head of the Latin America practice and Houston office leader Carlos Treistman has longstanding links to the region, including in the oil and gas, real estate and telecoms sectors. Fellow co-head of Latin America Rodrigo Dominguez is praised for his ‘readiness to run the extra mile to deliver results and exceed what is expected of him’. William Parish is another key member of the team.

Very efficient and effective’, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP remains actively focused on the region and has advised on numerous headline transactions. Clients –which include TAME Línea Aérea Ecuador, FoxBit Serviços Digitais, Grupo Televísa, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Azul Linha Aéreas Brasileiras and LATAM Airlines – report ‘high quality service’, ‘on-point advice’ and that the team’s ‘attorneys are always fast in answering requests’. Moreover, its ‘attention to detail’ and ‘tailor made services’ combine the high service levels of large firms with the ‘value for money’ of boutique firms, according to one client. The team continues to advise CCR Group (Brazil) in connection with airport privatisations in the US. New York-based Latin America practice leader Peter Baumgaertner ‘stands out for his in-depth knowledge, availability and excellent service’ and he ‘always delivers outstanding work’.

Ropes & Gray LLP is recommended by clients for funds, M&A and compliance work. The firm, which ‘is an icon in Brazil’ and ‘a gem’ according to one client, impresses with its ‘quality of work’ and the ‘depth and accurateness of its advice’: it’s ‘the best’, ‘extremely sophisticated’, ‘very business oriented’ and ‘really cost effective’. The firm’s record in Brazil has been especially impressive, notably as a result of its compliance and investigations work. A leading figure in this sub-sector, Nicholas Berg has a ‘thorough knowledge of the intricacies of anti-corruption and anti-money laundering with a clear orientation into mitigating risks and trying to help his clients do business in such risky region’. Additionally, Washington DC partner Alexandre Rene was appointed as independent corporate compliance monitor by Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer as part of its deferred prosecution agreement with the US Department of Justice (DOJ). The firm’s anti-corruption and compliance expertise is also frequently sought by corporate and financial investor clients in Latin America transactions. The firm’s growing focus on Latin America has also brought its globally renowned private equity and asset management skills into play, with the team recently advising American Industrial Partners on its $1.23bn acquisition of Moly-Cop Adesur (the Peru-based steel manufacturing division of Arrium). It also represented Equity International on the development of a joint venture between its Brazilian portfolio company GuardeAqui and Kipit Self Storage, another Brazilian self-storage operator. The ‘extraordinarily talented’ Matthew Posthuma is ‘an outstanding funds lawyer’, ‘knows the Brazil legal framework’ and is a ‘solid and highly trustable lawyer’; he ‘has a practical, business-savvy mindset which is perfectly balanced by a sharp understanding of the key legal issues underpinning any given transaction’. Boston-located James Dowden and Washington DC’s Colleen Conry are also both well regarded for their activity in the region. Partners are Chicago-based unless stated otherwise.

Uría Menéndez’s extensive Spanish client base is consistently active in Latin America, frequently acquiring and disposing of assets. Moreover, many of the transactions involving its core Spanish clients often involve Latin America interests and considerations. The firm has recently advised a series of funds – including private equity funds, opportunity funds and family offices – on the sale of Latin American assets. Working alongside its Latin American associate firm Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría, it is also increasingly active on behalf of Chinese investors looking to make investments in the region. In addition, the firm is a leader on foreign investments into Cuba. Recent headline mandates include advising Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) on the $2.2bn sale of its stake in BBVA Chile to Bank of Nova Scotia. The ‘excellent’ team is led by Madrid-based Latin America practice group-head Eduardo Rodríguez-Rovira. A high proportion of the firm’s M&A partners advise on deals involving Latin American assets and interests; of these, Juan Martín Perrotto is an especially prominent name, as is Tomás Acosta who is noted for his ‘solid knowledge’ and ‘professionalism’.

Vinson & Elkins LLP has an energy focused practice with a strong emphasis on Mexico and Brazil. It is especially highly regarded for midstream and upstream M&A and for private equity investments in the oil and gas and power sectors. Clients include Exxon Mobil, Statoil, Riverstone and Talos Energy. Recent mandates include advising Statoil on its $2.5bn acquisition of a 66% interest in, and operational rights to Brazil’s Carcara offshore field from Petrobras. Houston-based Boyd Carano is ‘a well-known name’ in Latin America where he is ‘very active’; Alex Msimang, in the firm’s London office, is also noted.

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