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Latin Lawyer 250 2017

Mitrani Caballero Ojam & Ruiz Moreno

Argentina

International transactional clout

  • Established: 2007
  • Partners: 24
  • Total lawyers: 69

Mitrani Caballero Ojam & Ruiz Moreno stands out for its international profile, built on the notable volume of work it does for clients from abroad, mostly for Argentina’s largest steelmaker, Techint.

Mitrani Caballero’s core practice areas are corporate and M&A, banking and financing, and administrative law. The firm is committed to maintaining a broad focus and has considerable strength in labour, IP and tax, thus offering clients a comprehensive service offer. It affirmed its commitment to its non-transactional practices in 2016, with the promotion to partner of three lawyers across its labour, administrative and antitrust groups. The firm further diversified its service offering that year by opening standalone practices covering compliance and corporate crime, privacy and data protection, and family-run businesses and wealthy individuals.

Mitrani Caballero’s strong international focus has always served it well. When there is a shortfall of deals in Argentina, the firm can make up for it by doing work abroad, which distinguishes it from its competitors. Mitrani Caballero is determined to take advantage of Argentina’s return to becoming health. The firm contains several foreign lawyers – from Colombia, Australia and France – and has close relationships with embassies and chambers of commerce from which it can source work. Mitrani Caballero is counsel to the Italian embassy and consulate in Buenos Aires and in 2016 helped create the Argentine-Australian Chamber of Commerce, hosting its launch at the firm’s offices. The international approach is well-received by clients; one dairy industry client says they choose this firm above others because of its “precision, quality and transnational service.”

The firm is run by a five-partner management committee. Firm founder Cristian Mitrani is intent on strengthening the institution, taking steps to bring partners into the decision-making process. Responsibilities are shared among younger partners to increase their sense of empowerment.

Clients

Argentine-Italian conglomerate Techint is a major client, along with some of its subsidiaries, such as Tenaris. Other big names Mitrani Caballero considers among its core clientele include multinational consumer goods company Unilever; US sportswear manufacturer Nike, natural resources company Pattern Energy and energy corporation Chevron.

Practice Areas

Corporate and M&A

Key partners: Cristian Mitrani, who previously worked in-house at Argentine steelmaker Techint, is very popular with clients and wins praise for his solution-driven approach and deep understanding of corporate affairs. A US lawyer calls him one of the best business lawyers in Argentina. “Fast-thinking” partner Diego Parise is recommended in LACCA Approved, in-house counsel research conducted by Latin Lawyer’s sister association, the Latin American Corporate Counsel Association; a Mexican lawyer who has collaborated with Parise calls him one of the best M&A and financial lawyers he has ever worked with.

Analysis: Mitrani Caballero’s corporate and M&A department has a decidedly international outlook. The group’s lawyers have benefited hugely from experience built advising the country’s multinational steelmaker Techint, which has given the team valuable opportunity to work on complex transactions in a multitude of jurisdictions over the years. The firm has represented Techint in many cross-border deals, including acquisition and joint venture agreements. Besides Techint, the firm has worked with clients from the pharmaceuticals and gambling sectors. While the group is proficient advising on complex, multi-jurisdictional transactions, it does work domestically and has experience handling corporate reorganisations. Mitrani Caballero considers this group one of its core areas and is committed to keeping it at the top of its game, making several new partners in recent years.

Most recent deals

Banking & finance

Key partners: Harvard-educated Diego Parise, who is recommended in LACCA Approved. Parise spent six years at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP and continues to be the New York firm’s go-to man in Argentina.

Analysis: The group advises long-standing firm-wide client Techint on financing work overseas. It has done loan refinancing work in the mining sector. It also advises on regulatory work connected to the financial sector and helps banks with day-to-day corporate work. To strengthen its service offering, Mitrani Caballero hired two senior associates in 2016.

Labour

Key partners: Julio Caballero is a leading name. With a wealth of experience in labour law, he is held in high regard in the Argentine legal market and is recommended in LACCA Approved. Six other partners contribute here, among them Lorenzo Gnecco, who is also recommended in LACCA Approved, and Jorge Pico.

Analysis: This is a core practice for the firm that gives support on transactions and attracts its own business. A number of high-profile clients turn to the firm exclusively for labour advice. Proof of the excellent service to be found here lies in client testimony. One client happy with the work done by this department draws attention to its lawyers’ deep knowledge of labour law and the speed at which they get things done. The group has a great amount of experience in labour disputes, either involving disgruntled employees or union negotiations. In regards to the latter, one client praises this team for its ability to negotiate effectively opposite some of the strongest unions in Argentina. Work done recently in this area has included devising a sprawling collective bargaining agreement for an industry association – the smooth working of which is crucial for the business of the sector. The department often works with clients from the steel sector, and firm-wide client Techint and its subsidiaries rely on this team. The group also devises redundancy packages, downsizing operations and helps clients implement flexible working conditions. Mitrani Caballero has evidenced its commitment to maintaining its leading labour department: in 2016 it made two new partners here.

Work highlights: The Argentine metalworkers association hired Mitrani Caballero for collective bargaining negotiations with a union for metalworkers and technicians; the resulting agreement is applicable to 300,000 employees and 70,000 companies.

Intellectual property

Key partners: Juan Carlos Ojam leads a widely respected IP practice; he is recommended in LACCA Approved and known as an expert in his field.

Analysis: This is a sizeable team for a medium-sized firm, which benefits from the seniority brought by four partners. The group is mainly engaged defending clients in trademark and domain name litigation, helping companies keep ownership of their IP rights. This involves challenging trademark registrations as well as defending clients from suits filed by other parties. The level of expertise and commitment found here prompted one client to label the team “experts in their field and wonderful to work with.” Argentine agribusiness Aceitera General Deheza is a client here.

Work highlights: Mitrani Caballero helped tea brewer Teavana reach a settlement agreement with alfajores maker Havanna, after Havanna opposed Teavana’s trademark application. The settlement led the biscuit maker to drop all its claims against Teavana and applies worldwide.

Administrative law

Key partners: Horacio Ruiz Moreno leads, while Rafael González Arzac is recommended in LACCA Approved. Another partner, Néstor Buján, brings experience from a lengthy career in the courts.

Analysis: Mitrani has made its intention to expand its administrative capabilities clear, evidenced by the promotion of two lawyers in this department to partner in early 2016. The practice can call on six partners in total.

Work highlights: An interesting case that has recently kept the firm busy has been its representation of the Republic of Ecuador, which successfully sought the return some 500 archaeological items taken by Argentina. Other work has seen the group provide regulatory assistance to a Brazilian bidder for a public infrastructure contract.

Tax

Key partners: Corina Laudato

Analysis: The tax team has worked on company reorganisations, transfer pricing matters, asset swap deals and supports the M&A department. It works with multinational clients looking to employ tax efficient strategies involving Argentine jurisdiction.

White collar crime and compliance

Key partners: Cristian Mitrani

Analysis: The department dispenses advice on corporate investigations, compliance work and regulatory work, and is well-equipped to counsel clients on cases involving insider trading, trade secret theft, kickbacks and money laundering.

Arbitration

Key partners: Cristian Mitrani

Analysis: International investors in Latin America know to turn to Mitrani for help when faced with nationalisation. One of the firm’s long-term clients, Techint, is a source of work for the arbitration department; a long-running case involving the company’s activities in Venezuela is one of several that have given the group valuable experience in international arbitration. The practice also lends its hand to commercial arbitration, advising companies looking to resolve breaches of contract.

Work highlights: The firm advises Techint’s Luxembourg-based subsidiary Tenaris and its Portuguese subsidiary, Talta, in their ICSID claim against Venezuela over the government’s nationalisation of several Tenaris subsidiaries based there. It has also represented a company in its UNCITRAL claim against Bolivia over the nationalisation of shares in four electricity teams. 


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