Latin Lawyer 250 2017

Guyer & Regules

Uruguay

Elite dealmaker at top of its game

  • Established: 1911
  • Partners: 16
  • Total lawyers: 98

Guyer & Regules has long sat comfortably at the top of the Uruguayan legal market: the breadth and high quality of its service offering, its extensive and loyal client base, and its tremendous transactional clout mean that this prestigious firm is always in high demand.

Some of Uruguay’s most eminent lawyers are partners at Guyer & Regules. Their experience, which often draws on decades’ worth of legal practice, forms the backbone of the firm’s excellent reputation at home and abroad.

The firm’s name is synonymous with high-end deal making and its reputation goes hand in hand with a client list that reads like a who’s who of the corporate world. Feedback from prominent multinationals, some of which have been using the firm for decades, underlines the impeccable service on offer.

Transactional departments at Guyer & Regules are exceptionally strong, with the corporate and M&A, banking, capital markets and project finance teams each boasting impressive deal flow year on year. Guyer & Regules also has a deep bench in other areas, such as tax, litigation and energy.

The firm’s remarkably broad service offering – and high quality advice across the board – enables it to effectively serve evolving client needs. While the firm reports handling the same volume of work in 2016 as in previous years, the type of work is changing: there is an increase in demand for labour litigation services, for example.

Like the firm, many of its clients are at the top of their fields and therefore have not been as affected by Uruguay’s economic slowdown as much as smaller players; this has helped keep Guyer & Regules one of the busiest firms in the country. Another factor working in this firm’s favour is the in-house counsel role it plays for regular clients. This day-to-day counsel builds loyalty and is the firm’s bread and butter.

At more than a century old, Guyer & Regules continues to invest in its future and the firm remodelled and updated its offices substantially in 2016. The firm is also committed to investing in its people; the younger generation receives intense training and feedback from a cross-section of partners, ensuring the firm’s high standards are met and assured for years to come. Evidencing the firm’s growth, Guyer & Regules made one new partner in 2016.

That Guyer & Regules is a market leader is evidenced in its membership of some of the world’s most prestigious legal alliances. This is a core component of the firm’s international strategy, rather than opening offices abroad. Instead, Guyer & Regules invests in its reputation, ensuring it is the first port of call for international clients and law firms alike through its excellent service offer.

Alliances & networks

Guyer & Regules is a member of Lex Mundi, World Services Group, Multilaw, World Law Group, Club de Abogados and Interlex.

Offices

As well as its office in Montevideo, Guyer & Regules has a branch in the city’s free trade zone, which offers offshore services to international clients, as well as a base in the exclusive tourist spot of Punta del Este.

Clients

Global banking names Citibank and Banco Itaú are two of the firm’s core clients. Other regulars include airport concessionaire Puerta del Sur, which is a member of Grupo Eurnekian. Uruguayan forestry company Montes del Plata and global consumer goods company Unilever are also major clients.

Practice Areas

Corporate and M&A

Key partners: Nicolás Herrera, Nicolás Piaggio and Álvaro Tarabal, all of whom are recommended in LACCA Approved. This is a very talented trio of partners. Experts in their fields, they are some of Uruguay’s most prolific dealmakers and come in for a great amount of praise from their clients; one describes Tarabal as extremely competent, knowledgeable and well connected.

Analysis: Guyer & Regules is undoubtedly at the forefront of the corporate and M&A market in Uruguay, pulling in an impressive tally of deals year on year that make it the firm to beat. This creative department is one of the largest in this chapter that has the manpower and skills to maintain a busy deal flow. The group has a solid international reputation that means it is often hired as counsel to European investors entering Uruguay, a role it has played in the agribusiness sector, among others. High-value, complex mergers and acquisitions are this group’s forte and the firm is often hired as local counsel for multi-jurisdictional deals. Guyer & Regules’ client base encompasses a broad spectrum of sectors. The department is proficient in the energy sector, where it works with several of the oil exploration companies doing business in Uruguay and has extensive experience working in the renewables sector. Other industries where Guyer & Regules has a good name are pharmaceuticals, retail and finance. The department’s partners win glowing praise for their contemporaries, with one international co-counsel saying: “Guyer has a team of lawyers who, in addition to their legal advice, understand the business of its clients and effectively interacts with its management. Their main strength lies in their commitment to the project and the high quality of their work.” Meanwhile, a local forestry client describes the service on offer here as “top legal expertise strategically oriented by a very sharp understanding of business requirements.”

Top deals

Most recent deals

Banking & finance

Key partners: Nicolás Herrera, Nicolás Piaggio and Álvaro Tarabal.

Analysis: This is another area in which the firm’s expertise is undisputed, as positive comments from many, many clients confirm. On account of its flexibility, understanding of business aspects, and impeccable track record, one client describes Guyer & Regules as the leading firm for banking and finance work in Uruguay. Another praises the group’s significant experience and access to regulators, lawmakers, major business players and the judicial system. The team is viewed as experienced, committed and professional by the market. One of the largest banking teams in Uruguay, the group has a broad remit, advising on conventional loan agreements, as well as trust structuring and mergers and acquisitions within the financial sector. The firm has an outstanding collection of financial sector clients, including a large number of local private banks that lawyers assist with day-to-day matters. Two of Uruguay’s three private pension funds are customers. It is known for its expertise and ability to handle complicated, innovative legal structures. Lawyers also know their way around more specialised parts of the banking industry, such as online payment platforms. The firm also has experience devising sophisticated loan structures – such as those backed by derivative transactions.

Top deals

Most recent deals

Capital markets

Key partners: Nicolás Piaggio, Florencia Castagnola and Juan Manuel Mercant.

Analysis: Guyer & Regules has a long-standing tradition of advising the banks on sovereign debt deals, including debt exchanges and conversions, by the Republic of Uruguay. Lawyers are also frequently called on by issuers looking to raise finance and can be credited with creating trailblazing structures that the rest of the market watches closely. The firm has done pioneering work concerning pension fund investment in shares, mortgage-backed securities and infrastructure project bonds. Clients are quick to praise the high standard of service available here, with Gonzalo Colucci, regional alternative product manager at Latin American asset manager Compass Group, saying he chooses this firm for its “professionalism, timely delivery and commitment”. Another financial services client works with this team because of “the quality of their work, [which has been] consistently at a very high standard over the years”.

Top deals

Most recent deals

Project finance & infrastructure

Key partners: Juan Manuel Mercant, Federico Susena and Diego Baldomir.

Analysis: Uruguay’s booming renewables sector has created a great amount of opportunity for Guyer & Regules, which has successfully leveraged its excellent reputation in finance circles to regularly counsel some of the lenders backing solar and wind farm projects. The department works on cross-border financing agreements, advising multinational banks, as well as borrowers. One infrastructure client describes the experience working with this firm positively: “[They gave] very accurate assessments and a broad scope of advice. [They were] always available and had a very good relationship with authorities and counterparts.”

Top deals

Tax

Key partners: Juan Manuel Albacete

Analysis: Guyer & Regules devotes considerable resources to its superb tax department, which is one of the best in the country. It has put its top-notch tax planning expertise to good use in recent years, advising major international players involved in Uruguay’s offshore oil and gas market. Similarly, its tax litigation offering is among the best on the market, having guided numerous clients to victory in hard-fought cases. A large in-house economic and financial consultancy supports lawyers’ work.

Work highlights: Energy companies Total and Tullow Oil turned to the firm for tax structuring matters related to acquisition of an oil block off the coast of Uruguay. It is also advising the companies in discussions with the government focusing on oil and gas-friendly tax reform.

Litigation

Key partners: Carlos Brandes comes recommended in LACCA Approved. His litigation counsel is every bit as good as his arbitration advice, earning praise from clients and colleagues alike.

Analysis: Guyer & Regules has an excellent litigation practice with a very strong track-record in civil litigation. The practice has grown in tandem with the country’s energy sector, which underlines its market flexibility and well-deserved reputation. It is also a safe pair of hands for antitrust disputes and is working hard to strengthening its IP litigation offering.

Work highlights: Guyer & Regules is currently advising LNG terminal builder GNLS in a breach of contract dispute with the Uruguayan government. This follows the ex-Mujica administration’s move to scrap a billion-dollar contract with consortium over the construction of an offshore regasification terminal. The firm is also advising the local subsidiary of US tobacco company Philip Morris in judicial proceedings filed by a Uruguayan competitor over alleged anticompetitive practices in a case that may test new areas of antitrust law.

Arbitration

Key partners: Renowned arbitrator Carlos Brandes is a strong draw, arbitrating hard-fought cases with vigour and diligence.

Analysis: Guyer & Regules is one of the most prominent Uruguayan firms for international arbitration. The department does not shy away from taking on difficult cases. Its role in several ongoing ICSID and ICC proceedings highlights its standing in the market and the readiness with which clients turn to this highly capable firm. Energy companies, pulp mill operators and tobacco clients are among the firm’s recent clients.

Work highlights: The firm is helping US tobacco producer Philip Morris file a rectification request after an ICSID tribunal unanimously rejected its challenge to a Uruguayan law requiring prominent health warnings on tobacco packaging.

Labour

Key partner: Leonardo Slinger, who is recognised in LACCA Approved, and Eduardo Ameglio.

Analysis: Guyer & Regules’ labour team is distinguished by its sheer depth of experience, with its most senior lawyers counting over 25 years’ experience. The team is well known for its litigation and collective bargaining counsel, working on cases involving hundreds of workers and achieving good results. Managing mass lay-offs is another area of expertise, while lawyers are just at ease with defending clients in unfair dismissal cases. Accurate and timely responses underline its excellent offering.

Work highlights: US dairy producer Schreiber Foods hired the firm for help laying off over 170 employees. Guyer & Regules’ labour team also advises the Uruguayan Association of Banks in ongoing negotiations with the government over employment benefits.

Antitrust & competition

Key partners: Juan Manuel Mercant

Analysis: This is one of the larger antitrust teams in Uruguay. It represents clients caught up in price fixing and collusion cases and has experience advising on antitrust claims related to public bids.

Work highlights: The group simultaneously defended two appliance retailers in a claim filed by an e-commerce company alleging a string of companies conspired to exclude it from the TV market.

Energy

Key partners: Federico Susena and Juan Manuel Mercant.

Analysis: Guyer & Regules is one of the top energy firms in the country and it shows. Its excellent team has advised clients spanning the entire industry, from the developers behind Uruguay’s first solar project to the major oil and gas companies involved in the country’s nascent offshore sector. The pioneering role it plays means clients regularly demand its counsel for power purchase agreements, project financing and engineering procurement and construction agreements. Its compact, top-notch team is a solid pick for even the most complex of deals.

Work highlights: French oil and gas company Total has repeatedly turned to the firm to sell assets off the Uruguayan coast, underlining the firm’s presence in the offshore market. Guyer & Regules is also well known for conducting pioneering work in Uruguay’s underdeveloped solar sector.

Environment

Key partner: Anabela Aldaz, a senior associate.

Analysis: Guyer & Regules’ environment team offers due diligence advice and comprehensive regulatory assistance. Clients can count on a range of experience, especially in the energy sector where the firm has an established and talented team.

Administrative law

Key partners: Carlos Brandes

Analysis: Guyer & Regules’ deep bench continues into its administrative offering, and the team has experience on complex, often high-profile matters across a range of industries, from genetic profiling to important energy projects.

Work highlights: The firm helped GNLS, owned by GDF Suez and Marubeni, extract itself from a US$1.2 billion agreement to construct an LNG plant with state-owned Gas Sayago, avoiding a breach of contract claim and allowing Gas Sayago to find new bidders. Brandes is also helping Novozymes Bioag show that the genetic profile of one of its products complies with the Agriculture Ministry’s recommended strain, in a defining case in Uruguay. Brandes is participating in Uruguay’s first and only antitrust case concerning predatory pricing. He is currently acting for Abal Hermanas before the administrative court, where the Philip Morris licensee is seeking an annulment after being handed down a fine by the country’s antitrust commission.

Insurance & reinsurance

Key partners: Leonardo Slinger

Analysis: Guyer & Regules has the biggest headcount of any insurance and reinsurance team in this chapter. Its wide bench reflects the number of clients that rely on it. These include international and local players, the majority of which turn to the firm for day-to-day advice and regulatory compliance matters. However, Guyer’s experience in the insurance and reinsurance sector also extends to M&A, where it is guiding major cross-border work.

White collar crime and compliance

Key partners: Raúl Cervini (of counsel).

Analysis: Guyer & Regules is one of the few firms in Uruguay with a white-collar crime and compliance practice. It wins clients from public and private sector clients, which turn to the firm for advice on fraud, money laundering, tax evasion and corruption.

Aviation

Key partners: Federico Susena

Analysis: Guyer & Regules is one of the only firms in Uruguay to have a specialised aviation law practice. The firm helps major international airlines with the legal aspects of chartering flights to the country and route permitting. It provides assistance on all regulatory matters. Day-to-day corporate affairs also keep the department occupied. The group boasts numerous big airline names on its books.

Work highlights: The firm recently helped LATAM agree joint ventures with American Airlines and Iberia, advising its client on a range of regulatory and administrative matters involving flights between South America and Europe. Budget Brazilian airline Gol and Dubai carrier Emirates rely on the firm for day-to-day advice.

Corporate governance

Key partners: Florencia Castagnola

Analysis: Guyer & Regules’ corporate governance practice is accustomed to a heavy workload. The team has experience advising clients on restructuring their corporate governance structures after audits by regulators. It is just as familiar steering internal audits, ensuring company procedures and related documentation are efficient and legally compliant. The firm can also bring its tax acumen to bear, updating companies’ corporate governance rules to ensure they meet the OECD’s latest common reporting standards and information exchange recommendations.

Work highlights: The firm recently helped one of the first brokerages to be audited by the Central Bank restructure its corporate governance practices. A major US bank turned to Guyer & Regules to complete an internal review of its private banking operations in the country, which resulted in the overhaul of its governance procedures.

Telecoms & media

Key partner: Diego Baldomir

Analysis: Few firms can match Guyer & Regules’ experience in the telecoms sector. The firm has guided everything from the acquisition of satellite landing rights to the rental of intercontinental fibre optic cables. It also has a raft of major international clients that rely on the firm to help them comply with licensing requirements and for day-to-day support.

Work highlights: Brazilian satellite company Embratel has sought the firm’s counsel to get landing rights for two satellites. Other companies in the telecoms sector, including Convergia, Netsuite, Emergia and Telefónica, are among the firm’s regular clients.

Intellectual property

Key partners: Javier Berdaguer

Analysis: The firm has an up and coming IP practice that has big-name clients on its books. Work is orientated in favour of trademark registration and counsel, rather than litigation. The team is more than capable of taking on tough mandates and coordinates multi-jurisdictional matters.

Work highlights: The firm recently helped the Uruguayan subsidiaries of several major Brazilian companies register their IP portfolios in China. This involved the analysis of competing trademarks, the potential for litigation as well as close coordination with Chinese lawyers to ensure future compliance.

Sport & entertainment

Key partners: Javier Berdaguer

Analysis: Guyer & Regules has started to make inroads into the practice sports and entertainment law in recent years. It has now a very respectable portfolio of clients and can boast robust experience. Broadcasting company acquisitions, football-related deals and disputes are all familiar work for this department.

Pro bono

Analysis: Guyer & Regules is recognised as a Leading Light for its commitment to pro bono. It supports Fundación Impulso, which runs the first free, secular and privately managed high-school for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Nicolás Herrera is president of the foundation, which aims to give its students a first-class education up to the fourth grade.


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