Interview with: Marcelo Etchebarne, Country Managing Partner; Project Group Co-Chair Corporate-Capital Markets, Latin America;

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DLA Piper Argentina

1) What do you see as the main points that differentiate DLA Argentina from your competitors?

DLA Piper is the most prominent global law firm today with over 90 offices in more than 45 countries. It has been ranked the number 1 global M&A firm for the 11th consecutive year according to Megamarkets and number 2 in the US. The firm has the muscle to invest in the best available technology. We developed our own artificial intelligence named CoCounsel. Our experts on AI can not only tell clients how to comply with new rules and regulations but also make sure they comply with them. All of that percolates into our team that is better suited to advise clients in a rapidly changing legal environment. Our lawyers participate in practice groups with lawyers from Canada to Chile on regular update calls and training programs. They interact with their peers in Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific. They are updated with the cutting-edge legal technology that the firm applies globally. We operate under the protocols and standards of a leading international firm. Put it simply, our Buenos Aires office has a mix of lawyers admitted in Argentina and in New York with a global exposure. The training and experience they receive is unmatched by any other local firm.


2) Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?

Mergers and acquisitions in the food, agribusiness, energy, and mining sectors will continue to grow. Argentina was once the barn of the world and still is one of the largest food producers; it has the second largest gas basin in the world, some of the largest mineral deposits (silver, potash, lithium, uranium, copper, gold), it is still one of the largest producers of food. With adequate regulation and some stability, it could easily double or triple it exports on those sectors.

We are ready to help global and local clients in those areas. We have been incredibly active in M&A over the last few years. In 2022, our Buenos Aires office consummated 20 aquisitions, 14 of which were publicly reported and 6 remained confidential. That is twice as many as the number reported by the second most active firm. We were also one of the busiest Argentine firms in finance and capital markets in 2022.


3) What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?

We have top notch practitioners in all the areas that we cover.  We have the ability to retain the best available talent and train them in a way that our peers cannot.  We also have a highly sophisticated group of New York Law practitioners (to my knowledge the only one based in Buenos Aires) that work as part of the teams in New York with Christopher Paci, our US Chair of Capital Markets, Margarita Oliva, our Latin America Regional Practice Group Leader (Finance) and myself. They have done several cross border corporate finance deals under New York Law in Mexico, Peru, Paraguay, Chile, Uruguay.


4) Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?

AI and quantum computers will rapidly transform the world. At DLA Piper we have developed CoCounsel. As said by Bennett Borden, our Chief Data Scientist of our Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics Practice, with CoCounsel, our attorneys will be able to enhance their services and create more agile and focused workflows by leveraging advanced purpose-built AI technologies.


5) Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?

DLA Piper Argentina has historically created novel legal solutions. In 2010 we proposed a reverse inquiry proposal from bondholders holding around USD12 billion of defaulted Argentine sovereign bonds. That idea was key to terminate the stalemate between the Republic and its investors. Our clients obtained the trade they thought was reasonable and the Republic saved US$36 billion, compared to the payments made under court settlements a few years ago. More recently, we advised on five deals of the year in Latin America, including YPF US$6.2 billion debt restructuring, the Province of Buenos Aires US$ 7 billion debt restructuring, LATAM Airlines US$1.3 billion debt restructuring, the Province of Buenos Aires peso-denominated notes offering of US$ 1.5 billion, and Stoneway Capital US$ 500 million offering of senior secured notes in connection with the construction of four combined cycle plants in Buenos Aires.

We are currently advising a large group of business leaders on a monetary reform program for Argentine that will be available for implementation for the next administration in 2024. We have a team of lawyers that have contributed over US$150,000 on pro bono legal advice from the U.S., Europe and Argentina, designing a highly complex legal structure to deal with the complexities that the Argentine Central Bank is currently facing. If implemented, this can be a game changer for companies, financial institutions and business leaders operating in Argentina, providing long term stability, growth, and low inflation.


6) Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?

We are a client oriented global law firm. Our clients are generally very sophisticated, demand attention and high-quality legal advice. Stability and strategic direction are key to them. Our Buenos Aires office was founded in 1998 and some of the founding partners are still around, such as Guillermo Cabanellas and me. Almost all of our partners were trained in-house. Over the past two and a half decades we have worked in some of the most challenging matters that took place in Argentina, from the largest transactions to the biggest arbitrations and complex cross border litigation engagements designing the strategic road map for our clients and taking them to the finish line. We believe that our team has the capabilities to continue leading the trend in the future.