Modernising full-service elite
Machado Meyer is without doubt in the elite of law firms in Brazil, with truly excellent practices in corporate and finance, but also across the board in non-transactional areas, such as tax, environment, antitrust and real estate. Having reached middle age by market standards, the firm initiated a comprehensive restructuring process in 2015 aimed at ensuring a smooth hand-over from the founding partners to the younger generation. Although it began the process relatively late compared to some its rivals, the firm has since begun putting in place the internal structures and more streamlined processes intended to ensure it will maintain its profile under new management and fend off competition from younger, fleet-footed outfits. Machado Meyer began by tackling the most difficult and potentially divisive issue first: partner compensation. After hiring a specialist, the firm swiftly implemented a modified lockstep model that freed the firm from a too-heavy dependence on client origination. Instead, it measures and rewards partners on a range of qualitative matters beyond pure performance, and as such should promote cross-selling within the firm, as well as reduce the risk of seeing another spin-off, of which there have been two across the firm’s long history. Of course, such a substantial overhaul was not welcomed by all within the firm. Since its implementation, the firm has seen several significant departures; not least high-profile M&A rainmaker Carlos Mello, who left to establish a boutique in 2016. Nevertheless, the firm insists the measures are necessary in boosting cohesion and collaboration in the long-run and is sticking doggedly to its programme. At the end of 2016, it completed one of its final stages; revealing a new, shorter name and launching a new logo and website. Internally, staff have also been trained to acclimatise them to the changes and align them with the firm’s new working style. Career progression processes have also been made less opaque and structures introduced to allow flexible working conditions for lawyers returning from maternity and paternity leave. With the infrastructure now in place, the real test will be to see if all this translates into a more efficient, modern service for clients. Although a far from certain proposition, Machado Meyer has plenty of cause for optimism. Its incredibly deep bench of talent at both senior and junior levels has created an impressive level of consistency across a wide range of practice areas, which has long proved to be a big attraction for some of Brazil’s highest profile companies. Indeed, those clients remain very happy with the service the firm is offering – across the spectrum, they fervently recommend the firm’s truly top-level technical standards combined with a business-focused service, a combination that remains rare in the Brazilian market. Such an exemplary level of service will only be further enhanced by the contingent of partners newly freed from the internal restructuring process and able devote undivided attention to their clients. Machado Meyer may have been later than some of its rivals in kicking off its restructuring process, but it has certainly made up for lost time since. If its bold vision for the future of the firm comes to fruition, few would bet against it comfortably occupying its position among Brazil’s law firm elite long into the future.
Key partners: Founding partners Antonio Meyer, whose reputation has helped build Machado Meyer’s prestigious position in the market; José Roberto Opice, who is known for his rainmaking skills (although he is retiring from the firm); and Moshe Sendacz, who is noted for telecoms, corporate and M&A experience, provide strategic oversight. Day-to-day matters are handled by tax lawyer Celso Costa, who has been managing partner since 2014. Besides Costa, the firm’s executive council comprises Sendacz, José Ribeiro do Prado Jr, Nei Schilling Zelmanovits and Marcelo Fortes.
Analysis: The three founding partners are still within the firm and loom large over the whole community. All three are so strong that, arguably, the next generation has struggled to come to the forefront, although for many years the triumvirate has not been involved with the administrative life of the firm. To fill in the gap, Machado Meyer created an executive council, the members of which are the heads of the largest practice areas and an elected managing partner. As well as finally untying the Gordian knot of partner compensation, Costa is overseeing significant investment in the firm’s training and internship programmes, as well as in its communications team.
The firm has one of the broader networks of offices among firms that compete actively for the high-end transactional work, with bases in Rio de Janeiro, Brasília, Belo Horizonte, and Porto Alegre, as well as New York. However, São Paulo remains the heart of the firm.
Regular clients include Telefónica, Odebrecht, Ford, Cemig and Petrobras. Befitting such a renowned finance practice, it is doubtful there is a large investment bank in the market with which the firm has not worked on a regular and long-term basis – including Caixa, Credit Suisse and Citibank, among others.
Banking & finance
Key partners: Founding partner Jose Roberto Opice, a revered senior statesman who is now transitioning out of the firm and into retirement, and Nei Schilling Zelmanovits, who is widely regarded as one of the country’s leading lawyers for financial work. Other key figures are Gabriela Falcão Vieira and José Ribeiro do Prado (who both come recommended in LACCA Approved), Guilherme Malouf and Eduardo Avila de Castro.
Analysis: Machado Meyer has been one of Brazil’s leading finance firms virtually since its foundation, and that reputation certainly continues today, with a cross-generational team of very prominent lawyers renowned for their ability to resolve complex financial issues. The firm’s prestige in the area is such that the team regularly features on the most complex or precedent-setting banking and finance transactions in the market. For example, two recent deals saw the department’s lawyers called upon to help Colombian state-owned utilities provider Empresas Públicas de Medellín become the first Colombian company to obtain export finance from Brazilian national development bank BNDES and help Luxembourg climate fund Althelia Ecosphere invest in a pilot scheme to increase cattle production and restore degraded ranch land in the Amazon. Other prominent clients include Brazil’s Fundo Garantidor de Crédito, a government body designed to ensure stability in the financial markets, Dutch bank ABN AMRO and UK foreign exchange company Travelex.
Most recent deals
Key partners: Practice head Eduardo Avila de Castro, who has a very busy practice that includes a strong suit advising banks; Eliana Chimenti, who comes recommended in LACCA Approved; Rio-based Gabriela Falcão Vieira, who is held in high regard by clients; Adriano Schnur, whoblends capital markets and projects expertise; and Renato Maggio, who has earned his stripes assisting on several high-profile and complex transactions.
Analysis: Machado Meyer is widely considered to be among the very elite for capital markets work. The team is one of the busiest and best in the country, and for good reason – it is renowned for its excellent advice and highly talented across the board. Consequently, the department is often the first port-of-call for particularly sophisticated complex issuances. For example, São Paulo’s metro operator hired the team to assist on the issuance of debentures subordinated to a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank, which included a novel put option mechanism to protect the loan in the event of default, and beleaguered Brazilian shipbuilder OSX drew on the firm to issue debentures as part of its court-ordered restructuring plan. However, such complex transactions have been relatively few and far between in recent years. During a very quiet period for capital markets work in Brazil, the team – like all their peers – had to focus on debt and other finance work to keep busy. Among the transactions handled on the issuer’s side were debt issuances for vehicle and equipment rental company Ouro Verde, international gaming operator Codere Group, BRF – Brasil Foods, drugs retailer Brasil Pharma, Curitiba-based Paraná Banco, Vale’s electricity subsidiary Aliança Geração and pharmacy chain BR Pharma were among those to hire the firm for debt offerings in 2016. On the opposite side of the table, the firm also assisted the underwriters on issuances by BM&F Bovespa, port operator TCP, private education company Estácio and engineering and construction conglomerate Odebrecht.
Most recent deals
Insurance & reinsurance
Key partners: Co-practice heads Eduardo Avila de Castro, who also leads the banking and finance practice, and Nei Zelmanovits.
Analysis: The firm’s insurance and reinsurance group sits within its broad, multidisciplinary banking and finance practice. The team advises insurers and corporate clients on insurance policy review and the regulation of claims, and helps in obtaining regulatory authorisation from Brazil’s insurance regulators. Among the highest-profile cases undertaken by the firm in recent years is its counsel to Samarco on insurance aspects related to the catastrophic dam burst that occurred at the miner’s facility at the end of 2015, which is likely to result in the biggest claim ever submitted in the local insurance market. A client thinks the firm provides great value, saying despite high fees, the department’s lawyers are excellent, fully dedicated and get great results. European insurance company XL Group is a client.
Work highlights: As well as currently advising Samarco as regards the above-mentioned dam collapse, which is requiring the group to work seamlessly with teams in the litigation, environmental, banking and labour practices, among others, the team also assisted Caixa Seguridade, a subsidiary of the state-owned bank Caixa Econômica Federal, in its (currently postponed) IPO, which included assisting on due diligence matters and the release of information to be included in the prospectus, and is giving counsel to a major European private healthcare group on its entry into the Brazilian market.
Corporate and M&A
Key partners: Practice head Adriana Pallis, who has a particular focus advising telecoms and media clients; founding partner Antonio Meyer, who is widely regarded as a leading dealmaker of his generation and a recipient of Latin Lawyer’s Lifetime Achievement Award; Nei Zelmanovits, an M&A star and reference within the market; Guilherme Malouf, who is a pivotal member of many deal teams; and Arthur Penteado, who often takes the lead working for public companies. Other key figures include Mauro Cesar Leschziner and from the projects side José Virgilio Lopes Enei, Paloma Lima and Mauro Penteado. Cristiane Romano and banking and capital markets lawyer Eduardo Castro come recommended in LACCA Approved. In 2016, the firm promoted Apoena Joels to partner, while corporate and energy partner Daniella Tavares left to join a rival and M&A star Carlos José Rolim de Mello left to set up his own boutique.
Analysis: Machado Meyer’s prestigious corporate and M&A department sits at the centre of the firm and the market more broadly. It is filled with excellent partners, who together oversee one of the busiest practices in the country; indeed, around half of the partnership have some involvement in the M&A practice, showing not only the breadth of talent but also how important the work is to the firm overall. Such is the quality of the department that Machado Meyer is regularly involved in the highest-profile transactions year after year. A long-standing client and major source of high profile work is Petrobras; the state-owned oil company hired the team to ink a US$2.2 billion strategic alliance with France’s Total to exploit Brazil’s pre-salt oil fields and to sell a minority stake in its ethanol venture Nova Fronteira Bioenergia to joint venture partner São Martinho in 2016. Other notable transactions that year saw the firm help US internet services company Equinix acquire 24 data centre sites from telecoms company Verizon in a multijurisdictional deal worth US$3.6 billion; give counsel to the Carlyle Group on the Brazilian leg of its US$3.2 billion acquisition of Total’s specialty chemicals unit; assist French automotive parts manufacturer Faurecia on the Brazilian leg of the US$751 million sale of its automotive exteriors business to Plastic Omnium; and advise Chinese investment fund Clai Fund on the acquisition of hydroelectric assets in Brazil from state power company China Three Gorges Corporation. These deals and many others that year helped the position the firm within the top five on Latin Lawyer's M&A league tables for both value and volume in 2016. The quality and sophistication of Machado Meyer’s corporate practice also meant it was well-placed to benefit from growing interest from foreign investors in snapping up Brazilian assets because of the lower value of the local currency and increase in quality assets put up for sale. US miner Compass Minerals, for example, drew on the team to take full ownership of Brazilian fertiliser maker Produquímica Indústria e Comércio 10 months after steering its initial minority stake acquisition in the company. Although the departure of M&A rainmaker Carlos Mello to set up his own boutique deprives the department of his substantial experience and exemplary reputation, the firm’s deep bench of talented practitioners ensures that the firm has the talent to plug the sizeable gap. Clients queue up to praise the quality and knowledge across the board and at all levels of the department. This satisfied patron praises the professionalism and preparedness embodied by the team, adding this helped ensure they felt “comfortable and safe with the job in their hands” through the time they worked together. Another client singles out the attentiveness of the team as a whole, saying they were always willing to provide any specialised information that their company needed.
Most recent deals
Key partners: Adriana Pallis, Eliana Chimenti and Gustavo Rugani are high-profile and busy figures in the area.
Analysis: Machado Meyer is among the elite for M&A and corporate work and the department’s excellent technical skills are also on display in its corporate governance practice. Power utility Eletrobras and telecoms companies Telefónica and Vivo are among the department’s high-profile clients.
Work highlights: Eletrobras hired the firm to execute measures agreed during its annual shareholders’ meeting, which included a request from minority shareholders for the adoption of cumulative voting for the election of board members; a complicated prospect for a mixed capital company controlled by the government. The team also assisted Telefónica on corporate governance matters related to the complex divestment of Vivendi in the company and assisted on the corporate reorganisation of Vivo following its acquisition of local counterpart GVT.
Key partners: Guilherme Malouf takes the lead on private equity work. Corporate and M&A lawyer Apoena Joels, who has experience advising private equity clients such as Carlyle, was promoted to partner in 2016. Prominent M&A and private equity partner Carlos Rolim de Mello left to launch his own firm the same year.
Analysis: Machado Meyer’s excellent private equity offering is integrated within its M&A practice, which keeps the team well stocked with private equity and corporate clients requiring assistance on the acquisition or sale of interests. High-profile transactions in 2016 saw the team help US investor Capital Group acquire a stake in Burger King’s master franchisee from Vinci Partners, assist US private equity fund Warburg Pincus in a multijurisdictional deal to acquire a minority stake in Brazilian food processing company Camil from Gávea and help a group of Brazilian and US private equity funds obtain an indirect majority stake in local supply chain services company AGV Logística. Investment group fund manager NEO, holding company Core, Carlyle Group, BTG Pactual and BR Investments are other clients of the department.
Most recent deals
Restructuring & insolvency
Key partners: Renato Maggio heads the practice and Renata Martins de Oliveira became partner in 2016.
Analysis: By bringing together its stellar renown in finance and corporate work, the firm is betting on a significant increase in distressed debt M&A and restructuring. In 2016, the firm’s involvement in a flurry of high-profile insolvency and restructuring cases, most often on the side of the creditors, proved its confidence was not misplaced. Among these was a landmark case that saw the firm play a pivotal role in the US$3.4 billion restructuring by Odebrecht’s sugar and alcohol division; one of the largest out-of-court restructurings ever to take place in Brazil. The team also advised the creditors in multibillion dollar debt restructurings by PDG Realty and steelmaker Usiminas, and the lower value (but no less critical to the company) debt restructuring by Brazilian tyre manufacturer Borrachas Vipal. MMX, the mining arm of troubled Brazilian conglomerate EBX, also hired the team for the sale of assets to Abu Dhabi investment vehicle Mubadala and commodity trader Trafigura as part of its own restructuring, with the purchase price used to pay off several of its creditors. One of the Machado Mayer’s highest-profile mandates in recent years was its role in OAS’ ground-breaking restructuring, which won the firm the Deal of the Year Award in that category in 2016.
Most recent deals
Project finance & infrastructure
Key partners: Co-practice heads José Virgilio Lopes Enei, who is at the top of his game and very highly regarded in the field, and José Ribeiro do Prado Júnior, who is also very prominent; younger partners Mauro Bardawil Penteado and Adriano Schnur, who are visible advising on toll road concessions; and antitrust partner Marcos Verissimo, who formerly worked at BNDES.
Analysis: Holding a firm line of excellence across all parts of the financial law spectrum, Machado Meyer also offers a truly top-notch project finance practice, easily in the elite in this market. The department’s large, multidisciplinary team assists an impressive number of blue-chip domestic and foreign companies from the structuring to completion stages of complex, big-ticket infrastructure projects. Two recent headline transactions saw the team assist state-owned financial institution Caixa Econômica Federal as one of the lenders in a 2.8 billion reais (US$847 million) project to build an 845-kilometre motorway project in the western state of Mato Grosso do Sul, and help the concessionaire of Tancredo Neves airport in Belo Horizonte obtain financing from Banco Bradesco BBI (another of the department’s clients) to help fund the airport’s expansion. US fund EIG is another client and hired the firm to obtain a syndicated credit facility to help finance the massive Açu port expansion project in Rio de Janeiro. A long-running engagement is assisting Odebrecht in its capacity as half of the consortium running Rio’s legendary Maracanã stadium. Ultimately, it is the class-beating quality of the department’s legal service that ensures clients return to the department time and again. This projects client hired the firm due owing its reputation for being the leading practice in Brazil for the work the required and commends the team’s strong dedication and knowledge in infrastructure work, and adeptness in leveraging the firm’s strengths in other leading practice areas when required.
Most recent deals
Key partners: José Ribeiro do Prado Junior and José Virgilio Lopes Enei jointly head the practice.
Analysis: Machado Meyer was one of the first major firms to have a standalone energy practice and it continues to lead from the front in the quality of its legal offering. It is also among the largest departments in the country, with nine partners and more than 50 associates dedicated to the area. Besides its large headcount, notable strength in this area also derives from the firm’s broader expertise in projects and oil and gas work, which the team leverages to powerful effect in the service of its clients. State-owned and private energy companies are regular customers and draw on the department’s lawyers for consulting, administrative and judicial assistance, as well as counsel on project financing in the electrical power generation sector. Renewable energy companies have been a fertile source of work in recent years, reflecting the heightened focus by the government on expanding the sector. The team has also been kept busy advising both buyers and sellers in energy-related M&A work, as several foreign companies took advantage of the favourable exchange rate to snap up cheap assets. Rio-based partner Daniella Tavares left the firm in 2016, to join a smaller counterpart in the city.
Work highlights: The team helped China’s State Power Investment Corporation acquire Australian renewable energy company Pacific Hydro from IFM Investors for US$2.2 billion, gave counsel to Queiroz Galvão Energia in the sale of a hydroelectric plant to Brazilian paper company Suzano Papel e Celulose and helped state-owned China Three Gorges purchase two hydroelectric dams and an energy trading company from Triunfo in a deal worth some 1.74 billion reais (US$530 million).
Mining & metals
Key partners: José Ribeiro do Prado Jr and José Virgilio Lopes Enei jointly head the practice.
Analysis: Machado Meyer’s large and well-regarded infrastructure and project finance team generates much of the firm’s mining work. Nine partners and more than 40 associates contribute to the mining practice; a useful resource on particularly complex or sensitive deals or cases. M&A and financing also provide a particularly rich source of deal flow; requiring the team to work closely with other transactional and non-transactional areas of the firm. Perhaps the highest-profile example of this in recent years saw specialists from the mining, environmental, crisis management and disputes areas of the firm, among others, team up to help regular client Samarco reach a settlement worth some US$1.8 billion with the Brazilian government following a deadly dam burst at the end of 2015; Brazil’s worst environmental catastrophe. Clients praise the quality and assertiveness displayed by junior and senior members of the team.
Work highlights: The team advised Companhia de Mineração Serra da Farofa and Mineradora Rio Bravo in a complex deal involving the sale of assets held by MMX, the mining arm of troubled Brazilian conglomerate EBX, to a joint venture co-owned by Abu Dhabi investment vehicle Mubadala and commodity trader Trafigura as part of EBX’s judicial recovery process. The firm also helped a consortium of East Asian steel companies to consolidate the mining and logistics assets related to the iron ore operations of Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional.
Key partners: Fabio Falkenburger heads the department, José Virgilio Lopes Enei assists on projects work, Eliane Cristina Carvalho on litigation matters and Paloma Valéria Martins Lima on airport project financing and infrastructure.
Analysis: Machado Meyer’s aviation department is among the elite in the country. Having grown organically out of the projects practice, the department can now claim to be truly stand-alone, commanding a large headcount with the depth of talent to staff multiple, complex aviation deals simultaneously. Nine partners and over 50 associates work in the area, advising clients on the full spectrum of aviation work, from litigation and regulatory to projects and corporate. Crucially, a growing workload has not come at the expense of quality. Clients line up to praise the competitive fees, unwavering focus on developing strong client relationships and professionalism offered by the department. A flurry of contracts awarded by the government to expand and modernise airports across the country has kept the team particularly busy in recent years.
Work highlights: The team is advising GECAS on multiple aircraft lease transactions with Gol subsidiary VRG Linhas, which include the purchase and leaseback of two aircraft, the lease extension of nine others and deregistration and sublease of two more. The firm is also assisting another client in the refinancing of eight spare engines and is giving counsel to the owner of a helicopter involved in an accident, which involves reviewing the insurance policies, negotiating with insurance companies, negotiating with the families of the victims and assisting in litigation proposed by third parties affected by the accident.
Key partners Co-heads José Virgílio Lopes Enei and José Ribeiro do Prado.
Analysis: Machado Meyer’s maritime practice is bolstered by the firm’s highly regarded infrastructure practice. Dutch maritime company Royal IHC, Brazilian offshore engineering company Brastec Technologies and waterway logistics company Hidrovias do Brasil are among those to rely on the firm for acquisitions and projects financing deals.
Key partners: José Virgílio Lopes Enei and José Ribeiro do Prado Jr jointly lead the department. Other partners include Lucas Sant’anna and Ana Karina Esteves de Souza; they come recommended in LACCA Approved, as does associate Kamille Silva Florido.
Analysis: Machado Meyer’s class-beating infrastructure practice underpins the firm’s administrative law offering. Nine partners derive from this elite area of the firm, among them the department’s co-heads. Contentious administrative matters are handled by a partner with dispute resolution experience. Clients attest to the quality of this combination, singling out the professionalism, business focus and talent of the department’s attorneys. Big-name clients from across the firm’s practice areas also rely on the firm for administrative matters, notably those relating to major urban transportation projects. Multinational and local financial institutions also call on the firm to help structure PPP projects.
Work highlights: Machado Meyer helped BNDES and the IFC structure a PPP transaction relating to the operation of a highway system in the state of Bahia. The team also helped logistics infrastructure company EcoRodovias win a bid to operate, maintain and partially expand the bridge connecting the cities of Rio de Janeiro and Niterói, and is currently assisting a mining company in various administrative matters arising from an environmental accident.
Key partners: Practice head Roberta Danelon Leonhardt, who wins praise from clients for her technical abilities and responsiveness.
Analysis: Machado Meyer’s robust environmental practice provides a critical supporting role for the firm’s corporate areas, such as project finance and corporate and M&A, and wins work in its own right. Indeed, the complexity and scale of cases handled by the firm testifies to the depth of talent within the department. The highest profile of these saw the team called upon to assist Samarco after a catastrophic dam breach at one of its mines led to Brazil worst ever environmental disaster at the end of 2015. Another notable mandate saw the firm provide environmental risk and compliance analysis in the huge joint venture between CSN and a group of Asian investors, which was essential to the deal’s successful conclusion.
Work highlights: The team helped Samarco reached a settlement with the Brazilian government worth US$1.8 billion after a deadly dam breach in 2015 last year led to Brazil worst ever environmental disaster. Machado Meyer is also advising a shipping company on two claims filed by a public prosecutor’s office, which the firm claims have the potential to set a new precedent on the environmental licensing in Brazil, and helped Luxembourg climate fund Althelia Ecosphere invest in a pilot scheme to increase cattle production and restore degraded ranch land in the Amazon.
Key partners: Gláucia Coelho (who comes recommended in LACCA Approved) and Eliane Carvalho co-head a solid litigation and arbitration team which forms a critical part of the firm's broader offer. Civil litigation and public law practitioner Lucas Sant’Anna was promoted to partner in 2016, as was another litigator Renata Martins de Oliveira, who also does restructuring work.
Analysis: Machado Meyer is without doubt among Brazil’s most elite firms, which carries through to its disputes practice. Like other key departments, the practice works seamlessly with the firm’s other areas and within multidisciplinary teams convened for clients on a case-by-case basis. For example, the firm’s highest profile, ongoing case is the aforementioned Samarco dam. In 2016, the team also won Latin Lawyer’s Deal of the Year Award for its work advising Nippon Steel Corporation in its dispute with the Ternium/Techint Group. Clients hire the litigation team because of its commitment and expertise, and the technical quality and good results provided by its lawyers.
Work highlights: Machado Meyer’s biggest ongoing case is the Samarco US$58 billion lawsuit resulting from the collapse of one its dams in the State of Minas Gerais in 2015. The team is also advising a major car company involved in several litigious cases on Brazil’s environmental, regulatory and consumer law related to their business and helping a Japanese conglomerate on in a lawsuit related to allegations of misconduct at a Brazilian mining company.
Key partners: Eliane Carvalho and Gláucia Coelho jointly lead the practice.
Analysis: Machado Meyer’s respected team of arbitrators assists its broad client base on all matters associated with the dispute resolution mechanism. Its practitioners draw on first-hand experience advising in ad hoc and institutional arbitrations in arbitration chambers including the ICC, International Court of Arbitration in London and American Arbitration Association, among others. A notable source of work is assisting construction clients on contractual claims relating to delays and cost overruns on large-scale infrastructure projects.
Work highlights: Machado Meyer is assisting a European company in a claim filed against its local subsidiary by an energy company seeking compensation for damage sustained to a power plant due to design, installation, and operational flaws. The team is also giving counsel in an indemnification arbitration filed by an airport service company for supposed breach of representations and warranties following a sale of airport quotas. Lawyers are defending a shareholder in a consortium tasked with upgrading an urban sewer system against a claim filed by its joint venture partners alleging misconduct by the company for refusing to render a guarantee in a finance agreement.
White collar crime and compliance
Key partners: Marcos Verissimo heads the practice following the departure of former compliance head Leonardo Machado in 2016.
Analysis: Brazilian firms have now woken up the opportunities in helping their clients in their compliance needs, and Machado Meyer is part of this trend. The department covers internal investigations relating to bid rigging, money laundering and fraud schemes, as well as working with them on preventative compliance programmes. A major recent mandate was advising Barclays in the high-profile investigation into collusion by five banks in the foreign exchange market.
Work highlights: Machado Meyer helped Barclays reach a settlement with Brazil’s competition watchdog related to its collusion with four other banks in the foreign exchange market and assisted Brazilian engineering company Contrucap in risk mapping the entire company and designing and implementing a compliance programme. The team was also engaged by a US electronic payments company to conduct an internal investigation in its Brazilian subsidiary over suspicions of serious labour violations, which required analysing over 14,000 emails and conducting interviews with staff.
Most recent deals
Antitrust & competition
Key partners: Practice head Tito Amaral de Andrade, a former chairman of the Brazilian Institute for Competition, Consumer Relations and International Trade Studies; Maria Eugenia Novis, a former CADE commissioner; and Marcos Verissimo, who has a particular focus on regulated markets, all come recommended in LACCA Approved.
Analysis: The department’s participation in some of Brazil’s highest profile antitrust cases and deep bench of experienced attorneys confirms its reputation as being among the crème de la crème in the country. A major selling point for clients is its close integration with other areas of the firm, particularly Machado Meyer’s top-rated M&A practice, which regularly sees lawyers from both areas coming together to advise on some of the country’s largest deals. Oilfield services company Baker Hughes, Korean electronics company Samsung, Luxembourg glass and metal packaging company Ardagh Group and Nokia are a snapshot of the blue-chip firms to hire the team for antitrust advice on multibillion dollar acquisitions in 2016. This competition client praises the firm’s “highly-competent lawyers”, saying the integrated manner the firm’s areas work together, creates a “very good service to their clients”. Besides contributing to multidisciplinary teams convened by the firm on a case-by-case basis, the team’s excellent track record on cartel cases has also helped cement its reputation with the market.
Work highlights: Samsung hired Machado Meyer for its US$8 billion takeover of US engineer Harman International Industries; the largest acquisition ever made by the Korean company. The team also represented Baker Hughes in its high-profile merger with Halliburton (although the pair called off the merger after opposition from US and European antitrust regulators), gave counsel to Luxembourg glass and metal packaging company Ardagh Group on its US$3.42 billion acquisition of assets from metal beverage can manufacturer Ball, and advised on the Brazilian leg of Nokia’s acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent.
Key partners: Marco Behrndt leads the practice. Raquel Novais and Marcelo Fortes come highly recommended. Current managing partner Celso Costa balances his managerial duties with an active tax practice. Five members of the team – Daniella Zagari, Fortes, Novais, Behrndt and Tiago Dockhorn – come recommended in LACCA Approved.
Analysis: Machado Meyer’s large tax team plays a fundamental role in the firm’s broader excellence, winning client plaudits year after year. Foreign companies feature prominently on the department’s client books. For this international client, it was Machado Mayer’s good reputation, technical knowhow and broad based of talented professionals that led the company to choose the firm as one of their main legal advisers, adding that these skills were an essential component of the company’s success in Brazil so far. Others cite the team’s outstanding technical capacity and excellent standard of client service as reasons for engaging the department.
Telecoms & media
Key partners: Moshe Sendacz, widely regarded as one of the leading telecoms lawyers in Brazil, and Adriana Pallis, head of the corporate and M&A practice, jointly lead the department.
Analysis: Machado Meyer’s multidisciplinary telecoms team is comprised of seven partners from the corporate and M&A practice and nine from the corporate finance area. Given its transactional underpinnings, a notable string to the department’s bow is advising telecoms companies on M&A and financing, with Telefónica being one major client to regularly rely on the team in both areas. The firm also provides tailored telecoms advice through their assistance to clients on public bids, service exploration and interactions with telecoms regulators. This telecoms company, which hired the firm for labour, tax and litigation advice, commends the willingness to listen, responsiveness and communication skills demonstrated by the department’s lawyers.
Work highlights: Machado Meyer assisted Vivo, Brazil’s largest telecoms company, on its corporate reorganisation following the acquisition of GVT last year, which required the telecoms department to coordinate closely with other teams in the corporate, tax, regulatory and financial areas of the firm. The firm is also advising Vivendi on its total divestment in Telefônica Brasil, which requires them to draft and negotiate all relevant agreements and secure regulatory approval from Brazil’s antitrust and telecoms authorities.
Key partners: Practice head Rodrigo Seizo Takano, who wins praise from clients for his expertise handling labour matters across multiple jurisdictions. Other key names include Caroline Marchi, who was made partner in 2016, Andrea Massei Rossi, who joined the firm in mid-2016 and comes recommended in LACCA Approved, and Evandro Kruel, who is based in Porto Alegre. Former practice co-head Sólon de Almeida Cunha joined a rival firm in 2016.
Analysis: Machado Meyer may have one of the largest and best-regarded labour department’s in the Brazil legal marketplace, but even this has failed to protect the firm from the fierce of competition for labour talent. The biggest blow came mid-way through the year with the departure of former co-practice head Cunha to join staunch rival Mattos Filho, Veiga Filho, Marrey Jr e Quiroga Advogados; coming shortly after another labour partner left to join Bichara Advogados. Coinciding with a firm-wide overhaul and refocusing in recent years, which has seen the labour practice shift its attention away from commoditised work and towards the more complex cases, such churn could easily have left the department rudderless and lacking in leadership. However, testament to the quality and depth of Machado Meyer’s labour practice, the firm could quickly restock the top tier of the practice; internally, with the vast experience of co-practice head Takano and promotion of a senior associate, and externally, through the addition of Rossi from Lobo & de Rizzo. Both moves have helped ensured one of the leading practices among full-service firms remains as well-stocked and devoutly client-focused as ever.
Sport & entertainment
Key partners: Ivandro Sanchez has a very strong practice combining sports law with project finance and infrastructure, while Elton Minasse has a busy practice helping foreign and domestic broadcasters.
Analysis: The firm is very experienced in all legal issues related to sports arenas, and is indeed key counsel to Abrarenas, an association of some of the biggest arenas constructed or reformed in Brazil, including the Maracanã. They help with the authorisations to sell alcoholic drinks in the arenas, for example. A football club that uses the firm regularly appreciates its experience and knowledge in sports law and its high profile.
Real estate & tourism
Key partners: Practice head Maria Flavia Seabra, who is the former legal manager of Brazilian homebuilder Gafisa.
Analysis: Machado Mayer has a busy real estate practice that provides valuable support to the firm’s other areas on transactions involving property. For example, the team worked alongside Machado Mayer’s M&A group assisting Queiroz Galvão Energia in the sale of real estate and a hydropower plant to paper and pulp company Suzano in 2016. Caixa’s real estate investment trust and Canada’s PSP Investments are two other examples of clients.
Key partners: The firm is an active and prominent supporter of pro bono work, with Antonio Meyer and Carlos José Santos da Silva in particular leading the charge within the OAB to modernise pro bono rules in Brazil. These days the firm's pro bono practice is led by Adriana Pallis, who has taken great strides to instil an institutionalised practice in the firm as a whole; Roberta Leonhardt and Eduardo Castro are the other members of the pro bono committee.
Analysis: The firm is one of Latin Lawyer’s Leading Lights for its commitment to and practice in pro bono. A noteworthy recent project was advising the NGO Techo with research on laws relating to the right to housing, forced evictions and squatters’ rights, in order to create a comprehensive guide on access to housing best practices and laws in Latin America.