Firms To Watch: Banking and finance

Altra Legal is best known for its advice to Finlatina de Finanzas and its fiduciary, Fiduciaria de Finlatina de Finanzas, and it has made a recent move into the burgeoning fintech market in Paraguay.

Banking and finance in Paraguay

Ferrere

Regular advisors on Paraguay’s headline banking and finance matters, Ferrere is renowned for advising multilateral organisations, its work in 2021 including support to IDB Invest and FMO on multimillion-dollar loans. International banks are also on the firm’s client list, appreciative of the coordinated advice it can offer across the region thanks to its presence in Uruguay and Bolivia. Carlos Codas, who honed his expertise in banking regulation in-house at the Central Bank of Paraguay, heads the practice and has grown it exponentially since joining in 2016. Verónica Franco is a key contact on the transactional side, Néstor Loizaga has experience acting for foreign banks and multilateral organisations, and Carlos Vasconsellos‘ practice has an emphasis on international corporate finance, with a special focus on advising financial institutions in corporate and structured finance transactions. The practice has notable strength in depth at the senior associate level too; Claudia Arietti and Pamela Lezcano are standout names.

Practice head(s):

Carlos Codas

Testimonials

‘Professionalism and full availability. They meet on time.’

‘Warm and direct attention.’

‘The Ferrere team stands out for the speed with which they understand the client’s needs and present solutions framed within the applicable regulations.’

‘Pamela Lezcano stands out for her comprehensive understanding of the regulatory framework of the local Capital Markets, her attention to the details of each operation, and her approach to minimising friction with regulatory entities, in such a way as to achieve effective results, having as a priority the optimisation of client time.’

Key clients

Cargill

Puente Administradora de Fondos de Inversión

Consorcio del Sur

IDB Invest

IDB

FMO

Agence Française de Développement (Proparco)

CAF (Andean Development Corporation)

Itaú

Avalon Administradora de Fondos Patrimoniales de Inversión

Banco Santander Uruguay

Netel

Prexcard

Financiera Ueno

Solar Ahorro y Finanzas Saeca

Regional Administradora de Fondos Patrimoniales de Inversión

Work highlights

  • Advised Hidrovias on an offering and tender offer under Rule 144A and Regulation S.
  • Acted for Financiera Ueno in obtaining a license from the Central Bank of Paraguay to operate as a local bank.
  • Advising IDB Invest on a new bond issuance.

Estudio Jurídico Gross Brown

Estudio Jurídico Gross Brown remains a domestic powerhouse for the full range of banking and finance matters, acting for a host of international and domestic banks, and other financial institutions with a notable presence in Paraguay. As it grows more sophisticated, the domestic market has seen an increase in focus from the team; in a recent highlight, practice co-head Sigfrido Gross Brown led advice to Banco Itaú Paraguay as arranger and lender in the $130m financing of the Avenida Costanera Sur Project. His fellow practice head Jorge Rafael Gross Brown is a go-to contact for many of the firm’s banking clients and is a senior statesman in the market. The firm also has a wealth of talent at the non-partner level: senior associate Pablo Debuchy‘s active practice sees him providing regular advice to banks and international financial institutions; and associates Tamara Arietti, Kamila Gimenez and Camila Basili are becoming increasingly experienced across the gamut of matters.

Practice head(s):

Jorge Rafael Gross Brown; Sigfrido Gross Brown

Testimonials

‘It is the first time that we work with an office in Paraguay and we get a pleasant impression. The treatment was very efficient, clear, cordial and proactive.’

‘Always available, fast, proactive (without the need to do much follow-up) and clear in their explanations.’

‘It is a highly complementary team, with which the team as a whole has extensive and complete knowledge of the entire financial ecosystem. The team is permanently updated, has domain in the areas of its expertise and transmits a lot of security.’

‘Willingness to address relevant issues, knowledge of the rules and institutional culture and high efficiency in its procedures.’

‘The Gross Brown team has vast experience in everything related to syndicate structuring, bond issues, mergers and acquisitions, and in most cases they have had phenomenal success in all the deals they have participated in. I could say today that it is the law firm best prepared to carry out sophisticated deals in which our country is having a much greater participation.’

‘Beyond the level of preparation presented by the members of the Gross Brown Law Firm team, which is undoubtedly the best that exists in Paraguay, given the diversity of knowledge they have, not only regarding the laws of national jurisdiction, but also internationally, I can also mention with emphasis the degree of interest and commitment with which they accompany a certain deal from its initial stages, as well as the proactivity that they present by suggesting points that in some other way improve the structuring. Among the leaders I can mention are Sigfrido Gross Brown, Pablo Debuchy and Tamara Arietti.’

Key clients

Sudameris Bank

Paraguayan Bank Association

Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency

Citibank

Commerzbank

US DFC

Citigroup Global Markets

Itaú BBA

Santander

BofA Securities

Banco Itaú Paraguay

Goldman Sachs

BTG Pactual

IDB

IDB Invest

TMF Paraguay

Citibank Sucursal Paraguay

Bank of America Merrill Lynch

IDB and Banco GNB Paraguay En Proceso De Fusión

BNP Paribas

Goldman Sachs International

Morgan Stanley

Nomura International

GNB Fusión

Work highlights

  • Advising Goldman Sachs as arranger and potential financing party for Paracel in a $2bn project finance for the construction and operation of a greenfield pulp mill.
  • Acted for Banco Itaú Paraguay as arranger and lender in the $130m financing of the Avenida Costanera Sur Project for the construction of the southern coastal avenue of the city of Asunción.
  • Advising BofA Securities as lead arranger and bookrunner in the $300m 7.700% Senior Secured Notes due 2028 issued by Frigorifico Concepcion under Reg. S/Rule 144A.

Vouga Abogados

The ‘very professional and robust‘ banking and finance practice at Vouga Abogados has a reputation for advising on innovative matters in the market, including first-of-their-kind multilateral loans, project financing and security structuring. It has a strong standing in capital markets transactions, and a recent highlight on the project financing side saw it support eucalyptus pulp producer Paracel on a project. Financial transaction expert Carlos Vouga co-leads the practice with Cynthia Fatecha, a specialist in trusts, securities, capital markets regulations and mutual funds. Senior figure Rodolfo Vouga is a valuable point of reference for the practice, and Rodolfo Guillermo Vouga has established himself as a lead lawyer across a range of banking and finance matters. Senior associate Georg Birbaumer is praised for his ‘extensive knowledge‘ and stands out in cross-border financing and capital markets work.

Practice head(s):

Cynthia Fatecha; Carlos Vouga

Testimonials

‘Estudio Vouga is one of the law firms with the widest and most varied knowledge within the banking and financial practice in Paraguay. As far as investment funds are concerned, they are the ones with the greatest knowledge. The level of their lawyers is high.’

‘When they are consulted on a topic or their assistance is requested, the response is quick and covers not only what was consulted but also additional details.’

‘Vouga Abogados stands out for always going the extra mile. They are accessible, proactive, pragmatic and fast. What stands out the most is their speed, availability and pragmatism.’

‘Most of the time I have worked with Carlos Vouga and Georg Birbaumer. They both make an excellent team and it doesn’t feel bad when one of them is out of the office. Carlos is very accessible and pragmatic!’

‘The Vouga Abogados team is excellent, the lawyers have a lot of experience, technical knowledge, response time, disposition, attention to detail. Their work is impeccable, the partners and associates show mastery of the issues, and their advice, documents and formalities are always of high quality. They have professionals in all the areas that we have required.’

‘The service of Vouga’s partners and lawyers is definitely outstanding. The partners are always involved in the issues, in our case the partner Carlos Vouga always answers our requests promptly, and channels the services we require. Associate Georg Birbaumer always provides excellent treatment and responsiveness, he has extensive knowledge of the issues, the documents are of high quality. In general, the Vouga team is very professional and robust. We feel very well represented and supported in our affairs in Paraguay. I recommend the firm and its attorneys without hesitation.’

‘It is a team with knowledge of local and international regulations in the context of financing operations and above all with a practical approach to problem solving.’

‘Track record, management with internal/external clients, they are willing to go the extra mile.’

Key clients

Banco De Desarrollo De America Latina CAF

TMF Group

Bolsa De Valores Y Productos De Asunción (Asunción Stock Exchange)

World Trade Center Paraguay

Multibank

Tape Pora

Banco Aliado

Itau BBA

Banco Familiar

Clariden Leu Bank

DEG – Deutsche Investitions Und Entwicklungsgesellschaft

BID – Bid Invest

Banco Itau Paraguay

LAAD – Latin American Agribusiness Development Corporation

John Deere Financial Chile

Incofin Investment Management

Rural Impulse Fund

Towerbank International

Copetrol

Durli Leathers

Visión Banco

Santander Investment Securities

JP Morgan Securities

Paracel

BKM | Berkemeyer

BKM | Berkemeyer has developed a strong offering in banking and finance and is particularly well regarded for its ‘innovative and efficient ideas for the structuring of projects‘. Its advice to Rutas del Este (as contractor) and Sacyr Concesiones and Ocho (as sponsors) for the $220m financing for the PY 02 road project has become increasingly complex as financing options have become more sophisticated in Paraguay in recent years. Three practitioners oversee the department: Hugo Berkemeyer is the firm’s leader and provides advice to a host of prestigious banks and financial institutions; Manuel Arias, promoted to the partnership in May 2022, is an expert in corporate finance and works closely with fellow practice head Martin Carlevaro, who is one of Paraguay’s foremost figures in project financing. He is supported on PPP and infrastructure financing by senior associate Milena Sljivich, while associate Adriana Ocampos assists in matters with public law or contentious elements.

Practice head(s):

Hugo Berkemeyer; Manuel Arias; Martín Carlevaro

Testimonials

‘The banking and financial law department has extensive experience in structuring the financing of investment projects, providing innovative and efficient ideas for the structuring of projects, mainly for the infrastructure area. They are one of the few law firms in Paraguay with experience in project finance.’

‘Martín Carlevaro stands out from the team of lawyers due to his international experience in structuring infrastructure projects and project finance.’

Key clients

ECB Groups’ BSBIOS

Banco Continental

Banco Itaú Paraguay

BBVA Paraguay

FCE Bank

ING Capital

Mastercard

Consorcio Corredor Vial Bioceanico

Rutas del Este

Prosegur Paraguay

Xcoop

Wilmington Trust

Puente Casa de Bolsa

Gletir Casa de Bolsa

Cadiem Casa de Bolsa

Investor Casa de Bolsa

Firstlink Network

Work highlights

  • Assisting ECB Groups BSBIOS with The Omega Green Project, which aims to build the first advanced biofuel plant in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Acting for Rutas del Este as PPP contractor, and Sacyr Concesiones and Ocho as sponsors for the $220m financing for tranches 1.1, 1.2, 6 and 7 of the PY 02 road project.
  • Advising hospital complex Centro Médico Jerovia, in association with Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, in its financing negotiations with IDB Invest.

Moreno Ruffinelli & Asociados

Moreno Ruffinelli & Asociados is one of the go-to firms for local banks in Paraguay; Sudameris, Bancop and Agencia Financiera de Desarrollo (AFD) are among the key clients that have forged strong relationships with the firm’s banking and finance department. Seasoned veteran José Moreno Ruffinelli has played a key role in the historical development of Paraguay’s local banking law and remains a lead contact for AFD and Bancop. He leads the practice, while Roberto Moreno also has a wealth of experience in transactional matters. Maria Esmeralda Moreno is an expert in loan contracts with international credit institutions, and experienced counsel Mercedes Gimenez is a valued advisor to Sudameris and Bancop.

Practice head(s):

José Moreno Ruffinelli

Key clients

Agencia Financiera de Desarrollo (AFD)

Bancop

Sudameris Bank

OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID)

Solventa Calificadora de Riesgos

International Finance Corporation

Gical Almacenes Generales de Depósito

Banco Regional

Work highlights

  • Advised Sudameris Bank on a $93.7m credit agreement with a lenders party and Citibank (facility agent).
  • Acted for Programa Nacional de Becas en el Exterior Carlos Antonio López (Becal) as a consultant to create the Fund of Warranties to support loans to finance graduate studies in Paraguay.
  • Advised Bancop on a sale of bonds to Belgian Investment for Developing Countries (BIO).

Olmedo Abogados

Senior partner Gustavo Olmedo has played a key role in Paraguay’s domestic banking arena since the 1990s and helped develop a reliable practice at Olmedo Abogados, which is now counsel of choice for several banks, as well as a host of companies in the finance sector. The department handles a broad range of work, from trust funds, securities and loan agreements to debt restructuring and project finance. Leading the team alongside Olmedo is Graciela Royg, a vastly experienced partner in transactional finance matters, and Ana Peña, whose recent highlights have included trust agreements and capital markets deals. Enrique Zacarías is a senior expert in the team and focuses on day-to-day advice for key banking and finance clients. The practice also draws on the expertise of several of the firm’s multidisciplinary practitioners to provide advice across a broad range of fields.

Practice head(s):

Gustavo Olmedo; Ana Peña; Graciela Royg

Key clients

Banco Regional

AV

Banco Continental

Finexpar Financiera

Banco Latinoamericano de Comercio Exterior (Bladex)

Work highlights

  • Advising Banco Regional as borrower on the financing documents for a $30m term loan agreement with the OPEC Fund for International Development.
  • Advising real estate developer AV on the financing of Edificio Mio, and in the new financing structure of its building developments in Asunción.
  • Advising Banco Continental as trustee on an administration and guarantee trust agreement between trustor Consorcio del Sur and the Atlas, Familiar, Itau, Regional and Sudameris banks.

Palacios, Prono & Talavera

Palacios, Prono & Talavera‘s banking and finance practice is best known as a leader in agribusiness financing, where it routinely acts for a number of leading companies. It is also well versed in assisting local banks, as well as players in Paraguay’s oil and gas and cement production industries. Raúl Prono co-leads the team from the Ciudad del Este office, and fellow practice head Carlos Palacios is based in Asunción. Banking and finance expert Leticia Prono is another key figure, and Juan Pablo Palacios is noted for his niche maritime law knowledge.

Colab

In November 2021, Jorge Ignacio Gross Brown and his team of senior associates Mauricio Salgueiro, Paola Sapienza and Juan Pablo Zaputovich left Estudio Jurídico Gross Brown to start a new firm, Colab. The new venture seeks to draw on the experience its practitioners have from the well-established domestic firm, while taking a modern approach. In banking and finance, the group are praised as an ‘extraordinary team of lawyers‘, and its early standout work has included a mix of financing matters for IDB and IDB Invest.

Practice head(s):

Jorge Ignacio Gross Brown

Testimonials

‘Colab has an extraordinary team of lawyers, not only because of their knowledge of banking and financial law, both nationally and internationally, but also because of the quality of their lawyers and the personal and specialised treatment they maintain with the client.’

‘Its best qualities are expertise in the field, management of international deals and personalised client service. Mauricio Salgueiro and Paola Sapienza stand out for their legal skills and handling of cross-border situations.’

Key clients

IDB Invest

Rabobank

Atria Logística

Canadian Chartered Bank

Cash Online

Coda Payments

Quanto

Finnovation

Work highlights

  • Advised IDB and IDB Invest on the refinancing of Paraguay’s sole existing PPP project for the construction, refurbishing, management and operation of its principal toll road.
  • Advised Canadian Chartered Bank on the offering of products and financial advice to clients located in Paraguay through the private placement regime.
  • Advising IDB Invest, as lender, in a three-year revolving unsecured credit facility to Automaq for the acquisition of agricultural and construction machinery.

Fiorio, Cardozo & Alvarado, Attorneys at Law

The domestic banking market is the focus for the banking, finance and capital markets department at Fiorio, Cardozo & Alvarado, Attorneys at Law, which has acted for domestic banks Banco Regional and Banco Familiar for over 20 years. Juan Bautista Fiorio and Marcelo Alvarado are the practice heads, and José María Cardozo and Jorge Angulo are other key contacts.

Mersán Abogados

Highly specialised in capital markets, Mersán Abogados has 80 years of experience in the market; the firm has a traditional transactional focus but has recently handled day-to-day advice and registrations before the National Securities Commission for brokerage houses. Joint practice heads Pablo Cheng Lu and Tomás Mersan Riera are the partner contacts to note; associate Romina Cardozo León supports across all work.

Practice head(s):

Pablo Cheng Lu; Tomás Mersan Riera

Key clients

Banco Itaú Paraguay

Citibank

Banco do Brasil

Bolsa de Valores y Productos de Asunción

Corporación Interamericana de Inversiones

San Francisco (Puerto de Caacupemí)

Itaú BB Brasil

United Nations (ONU)

Sudameris Bank

Sudameris Leasing

NB Casa de Bolsa

Verbank Casa de Bolsa

Itaú Asset Management Administradora de Fondos Patrimoniales de Inversión (IAMAFPISA)

Work highlights

  • Assisted brokerage house NB Casa de Bolsa with the process of its registration before the National Securities Commission and the Bolsa de Valores y Productos de Asunción.
  • Advising Verbank Casa de Bolsa on stock market regulations.
  • Advised IAMAFPISA on the registration before the National Securities Commission of the controlling companies of Grupo Itaú in Paraguay.

Parquet & Asociados

Highlighted by clients for its ‘expertise in matters related to finance and government management‘, the banking and capital markets team at Parquet & Asociados is a port of call for state-owned banks and the Ministry of Finance, and has particular strength in capital markets. The department has continued to provide regular advice to the Ministry of Finance on sovereign bond issuances, with practice head Javier Parquet the go-to figure in this area. Associate Daniel Artaza is noted by clients for his support across various matters, and fellow associate Lucas Corrales is also rapidly gaining experience in this field.

Practice head(s):

Javier Parquet Villagra

Testimonials

‘Parquet & Asoc, has an excellent staff of trained lawyers, the coordination with the team was always the most optimal, the team is aware of the processes and steps when accompanying the government in operations that require legal advice. The team is trained and has expertise in matters related to finance and government management knowledge that many law firms do not have.’

‘Experience in managing government finances. Knowledge of processes and operations, we don’t need to clarify or explain processes from scratch, because they are very familiar with operations. Responsibility, commitment and organisation.’

‘Javier Parquet is always our main focus, and in second place to support the processes is Daniel Artaza. There is a lot of proactivity on the part of the team and constant follow-up, as well as the availability of the staff to answer queries and/or support in the proceedings and negotiations whatever the day or time that is needed.’

Key clients

Inter-American Development Bank (BID)

Agencia Financiera de Desarrollo – AFD

Ministry of Finance

Banco Nacional de Fomento (BNF)

Banco Central de Paraguay

Work highlights

  • Assisted the Ministry of Finance in sovereign bond issuances of $600m and $225.8m in January 2021, and of $500.6m in January 2022.
  • Acted for BNF in the subscription of the Miga Facility Agreement of $100m, in order to mitigate the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Advising the BID on drafting a document to enable the Ministry of Public Works and Communications (MOPC) to regulate the assignment of credits owned by suppliers of the MOPC to private companies.

Peroni Sosa Tellechea Burt & Narvaja

Peroni Sosa Tellechea Burt & Narvaja has longstanding experience in advising foreign financial institutions on the establishment of operations in Paraguay, and the firm also has a reputation for capital markets transactions. More recently, practice head Jose Luis Vega Meza has leveraged his insurance-sector expertise to advise clients on gaining authorisation to operate as reinsurers in Paraguay.

Practice head(s):

José Luis Vega Meza

Testimonials

‘The insurance and reinsurance team at Peroni Sosa Tellechea Burt & Narvaja is very agile and efficient. They do an exemplary follow-up of the issues we work on and are always available to answer our queries and those of the reinsurance clients with whom we work.’

‘José Luis Vega Meza has given us quick responses and solutions for the projects we have worked on together. His knowledge of the market has proven invaluable.’

‘The Peroni & Asociados work team is excellent, its professionals are always updated, training, introducing the use of cutting-edge technological tools, from the company’s legal area. We are satisfied with their services.’

‘I consider, as most outstanding, the profile of its professionals, both in the public and private spheres, they have ethical, aesthetic values, they are measured, they do not have political interference, this is appreciated as a plus.’

Key clients

Navios South American Logistics

Mapfre Paraguay Compañia de Seguros

Willis Towers Watson

Chubb

W.R. Berkley Europe

CCR Re

Deutsche Rückversicherung

Validus Reinsurance

Work highlights

  • Advised Vemarcorp on a loan agreement to invest in a steel mill in Villa Hayes granted by Sudameris Bank.
  • Advising the Barcelona Group on a $7m loan agreement with local banks for their investments in Hotel Palmaroga in Asunción.
  • Acting for reinsurance broker Willis Towers Watson in obtaining licenses required to operate in Paraguay.