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Latin Lawyer 250 2017

Estudio Echecopar member firm of Baker McKenzie International

Peru

Top-tier corporate powerhouse

  • Established: 1950
  • Partners: 27
  • Total lawyers: 92

Estudio Echecopar has long been a member of the elite in Peru. Now part of Baker McKenzie, the firm can build on its stellar reputation at home with the backing of the kind of worldwide presence and resources that a firm like Baker McKenzie can offer. Furthermore, as Peru and the region increasingly become the focus of international firms’ growth strategies, Echecopar could find that its early adoption of such a model, and with such a longstanding name in the region, gives it the edge.

The firm is already benefitting from Baker McKenzie’s cutting-edge IT infrastructure, out of reach for many independent firms in the country due to its prohibitive cost. Lawyers claim the new systems make them more efficient and more able to offer innovative billing solutions to clients.

Furthermore, suggestions from competitors that aligning itself to one US firm could reduce referrals for transactional work appear to be unfounded: Estudio Echecopar has been able to maintain many of its relationships with international firms while at the same time benefitting from the increased exposure and profile that being part of Baker McKenzie entails.

Estudio Echecopar’s strength-in-breadth is valued by clients, with one saying the firm “has all the adequate resources to guarantee a full assessment in all areas”. Other reviews are equally glowing, with the quality of the firm’s service offering commended.

The reputed banking and finance, M&A, natural resources, disputes and IP teams are just a few examples of the services this long-established powerhouse offers. Add to the mix a strong sense of ethics and professionalism, and Estudio Echecopar is proving to be a very valuable addition to Baker McKenzie’s Latin American network.

Offices

Being part of Baker McKenzie gives Estudio Echecopar access to an extensive network of offices. Baker & McKenzie’s regional network is unrivalled, with offices in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela, as well as its Brazilian alliance firm Trench, Rossi e Watanabe Advogados. Several offices in the US and Europe are also integral to the Latin American practice.

Alliances & networks

The firm is a member of the Bomchil group, a regional network of law firms in Latin America. It is also a member of the Employment Law Alliance on International Law, and active in trade consultancy TLC Consulting with Chilean firm Prieto & Cía and consulting group Macroconsult.

Clients

Banking clients are the most common sight in Estudio Echecopar’s corridors, with the likes of Citibank, Scotiabank, Credicorp Capital, BTG Pactual Perú, The Bank of Nova Scotia, ING Capital and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce regularly working with lawyers. Mobile banking platform Pagos Digitales Peruanos is also a client, while construction concessionaires Investimentos e Participações em Infraestrutura and Inversiones San Borja, and energy companies, including Italian renewables company Tozzi Green, Colbún and Fenix Power Perú, are other regulars. The Peruvian government has also hired the firm.

Practice Areas

Banking & finance

Key partners: The department is packed with leading names. Pablo Berckholtz, who is recommended in LACCA Approved, in-house counsel research conducted by Latin Lawyer’s sister association, the Latin American Corporate Counsel Association, and Juan Carlos de los Heros are two such names. Rafael Berckholtz, Juan Carlos de los Heros, Alonso Miranda, Javier Tovar, Teresa Tovar and Marco Alarcón (LACCA Approved) are others.

Analysis: When it comes to banking and finance work, few rival the well-stocked ranks of talented and experienced partners at Echecopar. The firm covers anything to do with the sector, including acquisition finance, syndicated lending and refinancing procedures. The department also offers impeccable regulatory advice, and this year worked on the launch of an e-money platform aimed at facilitating phone banking in a country where many do not have access to banks.

Top deals

Most recent deals

Capital markets

Key names: Marco Alarcón’s talents in the area have earned him a recommendation in LACCA Approved. He is described as bright, friendly and client-oriented by those who have worked with him. Pablo Berckholtz, Rafael Berckholtz, Alonso Miranda and Javier Castro are also visible on capital markets work.

Analysis: The firm has worked with all manner of clients on their bonds and notes issuances, including development banks, conglomerates and miners. The firm also regularly works with local and international banks that are underwriting such offerings. Innovative work that includes corporate debt issuances, hybrid securities and derivatives are expertly dealt with by the firm.

Top deals

Most recent deals

Project finance & infrastructure

Key partners: Juan Carlos de los Heros, whose broad experience in complex transactions related to corporate financing and foreign investment wins him regular work, is one of the team’s key players. Marco Alarcón is also key to the practice.

Analysis: Given Estudio Echecopar’s stature in banking and finance, it should come as no surprise that its projects work is similarly acclaimed. The team is particularly experienced at structuring projects in the transport, mining and energy sectors. Much of the work is cutting edge. A standout deal from 2015, in which the firm helped broadcaster TV Azteca issue bonds to fund the construction of a nationwide fibre-optic network, is a case in point.

Top deals

Corporate and M&A

Key partners: Liliana Espinosa (recognised in LACCA Approved) and Jorge Ossio are the main names in the practice and a big part of its appeal. Espinosa is renowned for her determination, intelligence and hard work. Oscar Trelles is experienced at helping energy clients in M&A transactions and endorsed in LACCA Approved. José Ramírez-Gastón has an exceptional reputation in the market, while clients describe Javier Tovar (recognised in LACCA Approved) as outstanding.

Analysis: The corporate and M&A team is yet another asset for this firm and lands a significant portion of Peru’s transactions, in part because Estudio Echecopar’s strength-in-breadth comes in use when clients need multidisciplinary teams to get the deal done.

Top deals

Most recent deals

Arbitration

Key partners: Ana María Arrarte is a recognised name on the arbitration scene. Javier de Belaunde, Jorge Danós, Juan Carlos Moron and María Del Carmen Tovar are also well-regarded. Eduardo Ferrero, who made his name representing the Peruvian government in ICSID cases, now takes more of a backseat role but still comes LACCA Approved.

Analysis: This is an extremely accomplished and well-staffed team that deals with some of the biggest arbitration cases in Peru, including defending the Peruvian government before ICSID. Ministries and private sector companies also place their trust in the team. In 2016, the department won a five-year case involving two national governments and an international consortium. Since then, an oil company has hired the firm for a dispute with its water treatment contractor.

Work highlights: In the 1970s the Peruvian government agreed to do an infrastructure project with another government, employing a consortium to do the feasibility studies in 2010. However, whilst carrying out the feasibility studies, the consortium breached its obligations which led to an arbitration proceeding in which Echecopar was employed as counsel to the Peruvian government. An international arbitration panel ruled in favour of the firm’s client in late 2015 and dismissed the consortium’s appeal in January.

Litigation

Key partners: Ana Maria Arrarte (who is recommended in LACCA Approved), Yvo Cuba, well-regarded Javier de Belaunde and Samuel Abad, an expert in human rights and constitutional law.

Analysis: This is a large, highly-regarded litigation team with extensive experience in helping clients fight award annulments, launch amparo proceedings and settle other contentious matters. In a landmark case in 2015, the team argued that a disabled employee had been unfairly dismissed. It was the first time in Peruvian history that the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities had been applied.

Work highlights: After the Energy Ministry fined a mining company over 170 million soles (US$50 million), the firm launched amparo proceedings against the ministry, winning the initial case and defeating the subsequent appeal. The firm also helped sugar producer Agroindustrial Laredo settle a complex dispute over property rights with a rival, while former directors of a mining company have hired the team to see off damages claims filed by the company.

Administrative law

Key partners: Jorge Danós and Juan Carlos Morón, who has authored a well-received book on his area of practice and is recommended in LACCA Approved.

Analysis: A sizeable team that covers a range of matters, be it helping a petroleum company draft a legal defence for an oil spill or advising a port authority in preparing a bill of law to modify regulation zones that can be used for commercial activities. It is also experienced in helping consortiums bid for, and win, concessions. 

Work highlights: Advising the concessionaire behind the US$5.3 billion plan to build a second line for the Lima metro is the gift that keeps on giving for Echecopar. Currently, the firm advises the concessionaire on its dealings with the construction company, government agencies and the transport ministry. Oil company Petroperú has also hired the firm to overcome the legal hurdles associated with its public offering.

Mining & metals

Key partners: Valentin Paniagua, described by a client as one of the best in the field in Peru, leads the practice. Ina Maria Drago joined the partnership in 2016.

Analysis: Mining and metals is one of Estudio Echecopar’s leading departments. The firm is adept at helping companies in the sector conduct due diligence, obtain operation permits and navigate regulatory hurdles. The firm’s transactional departments will often turn to the team for M&A deals in the industry.

Work highlights: The firm helped Japan’s Kaizen Discovery up its stake in the Pinaya copper and gold project in south-eastern Peru and provides mining, environmental and regulatory advice to the company’s subsidiary regarding its exploration activities in the country.     

Environment

Key partners: Valentin Paniagua and Jorge Danós Ordóñez.

Analysis: This team’s work ties in with the natural resources practice. It is particularly experienced at preparing the legal defence for companies facing environmental sanctions. Licences and permits are also covered, and not just in the natural resources sector: agribusinesses and consultancies have also hired the firm for advice on environmental and regulatory matters.

Work highlights: The team is currently representing state-owned Petroperú in three sanction proceedings initiated by Peru’s environmental protection agency OEFA and the energy and mining regulator Osinergmin for two oil spills. Sustainable agribusiness Agro Vision is another client, hiring the department to obtain permits and licences related to its agricultural projects in the country. The department also assisted global international environmental consultant Amec Foster Wheeler with a project to assess the status of compliance with environmental regulations in Peru.

Energy

Key partners: María del Carmen Tovar and Valentín Paniagua cover power and oil and gas work.

Analysis: Echecopar stands out for its in-depth knowledge of energy legislation and concession regulation, particularly in the power sector. This is perhaps unsurprising given its assistance to government ministries on both subjects. The local subsidiary of a European energy company has taken advantage of these government links, hiring the firm for a 15-year investment contract with the energy ministry to install solar panels. Recently, the department helped the client obtain funding to install three panels. Lawyers also helped a client conduct due diligence on a power generation company it is considering buying.

Intellectual property

Key partners: Luis Alonso García, a former deputy minister of foreign trade and chair of the IP court at Indecopi, is a leading name in intellectual property circles and comes recommended in LACCA Approved. Alvaro Gutierrez became partner in 2016.

Analysis: In keeping with Echecopar’s excellent reputation across the board, the firm maintains a leading IP practice group. The department is experienced in defending clients’ patents and copyrights from infringement, with recent success stories for a pharmaceutical company, a broadcasting company and a dairy products manufacturer.

Trade

Key partners: This is a strong suit for Echecopar thanks to Luís Alonso García, a former vice minister of foreign trade.  

Analysis: The department is a core area for Echecopar, helping clients import products, representing companies in customs-related disputes and helping the government adhere to WTO guidelines. The firm’s reputation is such that clients from a wide range of sectors, including the construction and pharmaceutical industries, seek out counsel for specialist trade advice.

Work highlights: Echecopar attorneys represented the Peruvian Maritime Association before the Andean Community Tribunal regarding sanctions imposed on the association. Lawyers from the team showed that the government of Peru had breached the Customs Regimes Act. The firm is also analysing the legal design of governmental health warnings and whether it follows WTO guidelines.

Tax

Key partners: Rolando Ramírez-Gastón leads the department. Of counsel Alberto Araoz, former president of the Peruvian tax law institute and recommended in LACCA Approved, is also recognised.

Analysis: This is a well-regarded tax department that is particularly adept at providing transfer pricing advice. Clients from healthcare, retail, banking, agribusiness, and natural resources sectors seek out the department’s lawyers to help them complete transactions in the most tax-efficient way possible. The firm also provides representation in tax disputes.

Work highlights: The team recently determined the tax consequences of acquiring a loan portfolio for a bank. It also identified the most tax efficient way for a Peruvian company to transfer one of its business unit to a related party and filed an arbitration claim against Peru’s investment agency, Proinversión, regarding a miner’s tax contributions.

Labour

Key partners: Both Monica Pizarro and Pedro Morales, who is particularly notable for his collective bargaining work, are highly regarded by peers and come recommended in LACCA Approved. Now of counsel at the firm, Morales’ previous roles include advising the Ministry of Economy and Finance and Ministry of Labour, and a stint as deputy judge in Lima’s labour courts. For her part, Pizarro is singled out by one client for her accurate responses and availability.

Analysis: This is a respected department known for its astute handling of labour litigation. The department’s lawyers also provide support to the firm’s corporate lawyers in transactions.

Work highlights: The team worked on the personnel reorganisation resulting from a tie-up between two technology companies. A global cosmetics company hired lawyers to fight an appeal launched by an employee dismissed for sexual harassment, while a global technology client called on the firm to dismiss 13 employees involved in financial irregularities.

Real estate & tourism

Key partners: Eduardo Barboza and Jaime Miranda Gómez.

Analysis: The firm is experienced at helping clients form joint ventures to design, build and run hotels in the country. Due diligence, project planning and dispute resolution related to real estate are also covered by the team.

Most recent deals

Telecoms & media

Key partners: Javier Tovar and Teresa Tovar.

Analysis: The firm advises clients on concessions, data protection and security issues and provides representation in litigation procedures. The team also recently steered an e-money project.

Work highlights: The firm helped fintech company Pagos Digitales Peruanos develop an e-money project and acted for media conglomerate Azteca Comunicaciones in the bid process for the concession to implement and operate a fibre optic network.

Antitrust & competition

Key partners: Teresa Tovar

Analysis: The firm’s pulling power extends to its antitrust practice, which has large conglomerates and maritime companies on its books. Abuse of dominance and cartel investigations are just a flavour of the work the firm does. 

Work highlights: The firm analysed whether the application of advertising campaigns by a local company could result in a vertical restraint by the Peruvian antitrust legal framework. Grupo Gloria, a Peruvian conglomerate that operates across several markets, hired the firm to represent it against a claim for alleged abuse of dominance position, specifically, for modifying the status of a supplier in its distribution chain from dealer to wholesaler. The firm also advised a foreign maritime company in an Indecopi cartel investigation.      

Pro bono

Key partner: Javier de Belaunde

Analysis: Estudio Echecopar is recognised by Latin Lawyer as a Leading Light in pro bono work. Its recent work reforming different branches of the government with Asociación Civil Transparencia is notable. The work included reforming the judicial system, Congress and a law that regulates lobbying. Echecopar lawyers were responsible for drafting the legal arguments justifying such reforms. The firm is also known for its work assisting the likes of Sociedad Peruana de Síndrome de Down, which it helped propose legal changes to the Peruvian constitution to improve access to proper jobs for people with Down’s syndrome and defend their rights. Furthermore, the firm was one of several to help set up a national pro bono institution, the Alianza Pro Bono.


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