Corporate/M&A in Uruguay
‘Definitely a top-tier firm’, FERRERE is lauded by multinational clients as a ‘leader for M&A in South America’ due to its ‘client-focused and efficient service’. The group’s ‘great knowledge of the market’ is evidenced by its broad cross-sector corporate expertise, which encompasses pharmaceuticals, financial services, food, agribusiness and TMT — its ability to draw on supplementary capability in areas such as regulatory, privacy and environmental law is also a big plus. Department lead Martín Cerruti is widely regarded as a corporate powerhouse and recently advised Australia’s WiseTech Global on its $10m acquisition of Uruguay’s Softcargo. Gonzalo Secco is noted for his strong skill set in energy and infrastructure deals; he acted for Enel Green Power on the sale of Enel Green Power Uruguay to Atlantica Yield. In another headline transaction, Geraldine Ifrán assisted Cristalerías del Uruguay with the sale of Cristalpet to Mexico’s Envases Universales. The group also includes the ‘client-focused’ Santiago Fontana, newly promoted partner Sebastián Ramos and ‘highly knowledgeable and responsive’ senior associate Alejandra García. Abbott Laboratories, Lacoste and Starbucks are also representative clients.
Widely lauded as a ‘force in the market’, Guyer & Regules is highly sought after for its ‘deep bench’ and ‘extremely experienced partners’. The comprehensive practice, which excels across the full spread of M&A, IPOs, joint ventures and investment matters, counts many leading domestic and multinational companies among its clients, including Montes del Plata, Petrobras and Unilever. Among the names to note, senior partner Nicolás Herrera is held up as ‘the best-known corporate lawyer in Uruguay’ and brings to bear an enviable record in complex corporate finance matters. The team also includes ‘go-to corporate expert’ Nicolás Piaggio, who recently advised Coca-Cola FEMSA on its $250.7m takeover of Montevideo Refrescos — talented senior associate Guzmán Rodríguez provided support on that transaction. In another headline deal, Corina Bove advised Camoral on the sale of its 50% stake in Devanlay Ventures España to Lacoste Operations. Álvaro Tarabal, who co-leads the department alongside Herrera and Piaggio, and respected younger partner Javier Berdaguer are also recommended.
The ‘sophisticated and responsive’ group at Hughes & Hughes is held up by clients for its ‘strong ability to add value’. Practice head Haroldo Espalter is highly regarded for his ‘deep experience’ and, together with Mariana Estradé, he advised Finland’s UPM on its investment agreement with the Uruguayan government to build a major pulp mill and related infrastructure, including a port terminal. In another headline mandate, Espalter assisted Canada’s ATCO with its $340m acquisition of a 40% stake in Neltume Ports. Other senior names include Héctor Ferreira, who advised Rentech on the local aspects of the sale of both its 85.7% interest in Fulghum Fibres Chile and its 87% interest in Fulghum Fibres Uruguay. Up-and-coming associate Clara Villaamil, noted as ‘a great lawyer’, is also recommended.
Jiménez de Aréchaga, Viana + Brause
Jiménez de Aréchaga, Viana + Brause is a ‘solid firm with good experience’ and clients are quick to commend its ‘very strong corporate finance capability’, particularly in relation to infrastructure projects. In addition, the firm handles a significant volume of traditional M&A deals, asset disposals and joint ventures. Among its highlights, Fernando Jiménez de Aréchaga Jr advised longstanding client PGG Wrightson Seeds on its global sale to DLF Seeds. Héctor Viana, who co-leads the practice, had a busy year, which included advising Marfrig Global Group on its acquisition of Dicasold. Corporate specialist Nicolás Herrera Alonso and founding partner Virginia Brause also co-head an international-facing department that counts McDonald’s, Mondelez and PepsiCo among its clients. In a key September-2019 development, the firm announced its association with global player, Dentons.
‘Professional and solution-oriented’ Posadas, Posadas & Vecino demonstrates ‘a clear focus on the client’s needs’. In particular, clients list the team’s ‘quick response times’, ‘tailor-made advice’ and ‘ability to adapt to changing circumstances’ among its key attributes. In a major coup, Coca-Cola turned to the firm for advice on its $250m disposal of Montevideo Refrescos to Mexico’s Coca-Cola FEMSA - sector specialist Fernando de Posadas led that work. Elsewhere, Gerardo Caffera advised Uruguayan diary giant Conaprole on the sale of its distribution unit CE.ME to Transamerican Group. The practice also benefits from the senior experience of Tomás Guerrero and Tomas Gurméndez, who jointly head the department alongside de Posadas. Since publication, Lucía Carbajal has been elected to the partnership. In addition, the practice fields a talented second-line of associates, with Lucía Barrios and Andres Aznarez both impressing.
According to clients, OLIVERA Abogados has been ‘increasingly prominent in M&A matters’ over recent years. Firm founder Ricardo Olivera García co-heads the corporate group and recently advised health services company CASMU on the winding up of its subsidiary Cristalind, and on the transfer of Cristalind’s assets to CASMU. Andrés Hessdörfer, who was recently promoted to partner, advised Sportlink on corporate and tax matters connected to the organisation of the Formula E Grand Prix in Punta del Este. Juan Martín Olivera, who co-leads the department, is also recommended.
BERGSTEIN’s broad experience in corporate matters spans M&A, spin-off transactions, joint ventures, restructurings and general day-to-day issues. Jonas Bergstein and Guillermo Duarte jointly lead a team which counts Accenture, Visa International and WeWork as key clients. Highlights included advising a multinational company on the acquisition of a local distributor.
Bragard Abogados had a strong year, particularly on the technology side, with name-partner Jean Jacques Bragard 's work highlights including advising the sellers (including venture capital fund Tokai Ventures and private equity fund Incapital) on the sale of their majority stake in Uruguayan e-commerce platform WoOw to retail chain Ta-Ta. Corporate finance matters are also a notable sweet spot. Moreover, in a September-2019 development the firm raised Agustina Bomio to the partnership (now six-strong), as head of the international taxation practice.