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Editorial

Venezuela is facing economic collapse and a humanitarian crisis; it has been experiencing hyperinflation since the end of 2016 and is suffering a severe food and medicine shortage. President Nicolás Maduro’s administration remains deeply unpopular and the recent decision to bar opposition leader Henrique Capriles from holding office for the next 15 years, coupled with various other acts of political repression, has sparked a series of protests in the country.

In this highly volatile environment, it is unsurprising that M&A deals are few and far between, with local M&A transactions virtually non-existent, global transactions with a Venezuelan element infrequent, and law firms primarily serving their clients on administrative, regulatory and contentious matters. This demand, driven by an ever-changing regulatory landscape (for example, in relation to foreign exchange controls) and apparently arbitrary audit processes, also reaches into employment law work – particularly in terms of the bar against dismissals.

Law firms have struggled with the “brain drain” affecting the country; many talented associates have left Venezuela to pursue further study and employment opportunities abroad, creating a scarcity of mid-level lawyers in the country. Notable among personnel moves within the market was Gustavo Reyna’s move to Araquereyna from D’Empaire Reyna Abogados, where he had been a founding partner. Major international law firms present in Venezuela include Baker McKenzie SC, Norton Rose Fulbright and Despacho de Abogados Miembro de Hogan Lovells; other key local players with a broad service offering include Hoet Pelaez Castillo & Duque, Mendoza Palacios Acedo Borjas Páez Pumar & Cía, Tinoco, Travieso, Planchart & Núñez and Travieso Evans Arria Rengel & Paz. The market also includes a significant number of players with strength in particular sectors such as

Grau García Hernández & Mónaco in the competition space; WDA legal, S.C. in disputes work (particularly arbitration); InterJuris Abogados and

Benson, Pérez Matos, Antakly & Watts in energy (finance) and environmental matters, respectively; Estudio Antequera Parilli & Rodríguez leads the pack in the competitive IP sector; Labor – Gestión de Gente in employment; Ayala, Dillon, Fernández, Linares Consultores Jurídicos is a key player in public law; the above mentoned Araquereyna in real estate, and Torres, Plaz & Araujo, Palacios, Torres, Crespo & Korody and Rodríguez & Mendoza, which are all notable for tax matters.

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