Clifford Chance LLP is in the global elite with a highly rated service offer across the board, which has afforded it a leading position among international firms in Latin America.
In the region, the firm’s project finance offering is indisputably top-tier. Thanks to well-formed teams in New York and Washington, DC, it is at the forefront of innovative infrastructure financing across Latin America and has a large market share of renewables projects. Clifford Chance is similarly strong in other banking and finance work and has a busy capital markets team. Meanwhile, the Magic Circle firm’s global experience and manpower makes it well positioned for doing cross-border mega-deals and partners from around the world are often found working on transactions in the region. Recently, the firm has invested in its arbitration offering, hiring two partners with experience in Latin America.
Anthony Oldfield and Jonathan Zonis co-chair the large group, which has recognised names in the region stationed in New York, DC, São Paulo, Madrid and London who work together well. The firm has a comparatively large team in Brazil led by Oldfield, which is one of the oldest foreign law consultancies in the country. The team has built very strong relationships with local corporates and is seen most often in M&A and capital markets work, but has adapted well to market conditions. Beyond Brazil, the firm has good regional coverage with an especially strong presence in Mexico and Peru.
The firm was an early opener in São Paulo and the base is a central part of the practice. New York houses the rest of the practice’s finance and corporate capacity, while the projects and disputes teams sit in DC. Clifford Chance also pulls in resources from London, Madrid Paris and elsewhere.
The Brazilian practice has loyal clients, both in the corporate world – such as LATAM and Eletrobras – and in the banking community, where it regularly does work for Bradesco, BTG Pactual, Citi, BMG and Banco do Brasil, as well as being a regular fixture on the banks’ list of underwriters’ counsel. On the lenders’ side, prominent clients include Banco Santander and Goldman Sachs. On the projects side the firm has excellent links with the multilaterals and development banks (not least the IADB, the IFC and the US Export-Import bank). Firm client AEI is useful for this practice too. Big multinationals like Shell also keep the firm busy in the region.
Project finance & infrastructure
Key partners: In DC, Fabricio Longhin focuses 100 per cent on Latin America and has a highly regarded profile, with other partners in the group contributing the majority of their time to work in the region. They include global projects co-heads Christopher McIsaac and co-head David Evans, Catherine McCarthy and Lori Ann Bean. Gianluca Bacchiocchi in New York and associate Jeffrey Susskind in São Paulo have introduced valuable project bonds know-how. Chris Willott is tasked with building projects work in São Paulo, while José Guardo is busy in Madrid, particularly for renewables, and in London, James Pay’s focus on power, natural resources and infrastructure means he can be found on Latin American deals.
Analysis: Clifford Chance is in the elite for project finance in the region, a position the firm has fortified by building a very good New York component to complement its substantial DC presence. The combination has enabled the firm to offer a more multi-dimensional service, combining capital markets with traditional bank lending to provide advice on the innovative, hybrid financing structures being used today. There are strong relationships with investment banks alongside more long-standing representation of ECAs and multilateral lenders, as well as sponsors.
The team has been very busy on Colombia’s 4G highway projects, where Longhin has been structuring dual currency loans on behalf of multilateral and commercial lenders and Bacchiocchi has worked with Goldman Sachs on a string of deals, some with a project bond component. Lawyers are also working on deals elsewhere in the region, including Central America, Panama, Brazil, Uruguay and Peru. The firm anticipates projects in Argentina, having helped to draft the country’s renewables power purchase agreement structure.
Most recent deals
Key partners: In New York, Jonathan Zonis, is prominent; he is raising his profile in Argentina, while the firm’s regular client Banco do Brasil often calls upon him and he advised the underwriters in Ecuador’s sovereign bond offering. Alex Camacho is active across the region and is often seen in Mexico. Practice co-head Anthony Oldfield has a solid book of capital markets work within a broad practice, while the second of three partners in São Paulo, Anand Saha, also focuses on capital markets work.
Analysis: This is a core area for Clifford Chance, and when the market conditions are right it wins important mandates. It is particularly experienced in Brazil and can expect to benefit from the predicted uptick in work there. In 2016, the promoted two capital markets associates to counsel in its São Paulo office. Lawyers are visible in Peru, particularly on project bond deals, an experience the firm has put to good use in Colombia. Elsewhere the team is active in Argentina, Panama and Mexico, particularly for FIBRA work. It advises the lenders in Ecuador’s sovereign bond offerings.
Banking & finance
Key partners: Alex Camacho has a noted region-wide banking and finance practice out of New York, while Jay Gavigan’s respected practice is known for its geographical breadth. Chris Willott leads on projects and banking work in São Paulo. Evan Cohen is also visible here, while Madrid-based Epifanio Pérez appears on deals.
Analysis: This is a strong suit for Clifford Chance, which has plenty of experience on cross-border syndicated loans, most recently acting for Peruvian drinks maker Aje in a financing spanning 13 Latin American jurisdictions. Citigroup keeps the firm busy, recently in Guatemala and Peru. The team regularly features on complex deals in Brazil, where the team has seen more liability management-type transactions.
Most recent deals
Corporate and M&A
Key partners: Anthony Oldfield in São Paulo has a high-profile M&A practice and works on deals across the region. In London, David Pudge provides an English law component. Lawyers across the firm’s various offices often appear on multi-jurisdictional deals with Latin American legs.
Analysis: Clifford Chance’s global might makes it perfectly suited for multi-jurisdictional transactions. Lawyers from its offices around the world regularly find themselves on mega-deals with significant Latin American components. Most recently, that has included the Coca-Cola Company and its largest bottler Coca-Cola Femsa’s purchase of Unilever’s soy-based beverage business. Work has kept up in Brazil. Oldfield was hired by Kellogg to buy a Brazilian biscuit maker and the firm also acted for financially distressed Magnasita, which was bought by an Austrian company. Both deals typify the M&A market in the country, as foreign companies are drawn to financially attractive assets. A London team helped Shell revise its US$12 billion joint-venture with Brazilian biofuel group Cosan. The team has also been active in Peru and Uruguay in the renewables space.
Restructuring & insolvency
Analysis: Clifford Chance’s Latin American group is no stranger to restructuring work. Lawyers have worked on high profile restructurings in Mexico and Brazil.
Most recent deals
Key partners: Ignacio Suarez Anzorena, an Argentine with a very strong reputation in the investor-state arbitration world, and Janet Whittaker, a former legal counsel at ICSID. Both are in DC.
Analysis: Clifford Chance has been building this area recently, making two lateral hires in as many years.