Private Equity Funds and Institutional Investors in M&A

This is an Insight article, written by a selected partner as part of Latin Lawyer's co-published content. Read more on Insight

The pace of private equity activity in Latin America appears to have stalled in the first half of 2023, buffeted by geopolitical concerns, spiking inflation and high interest rates.[2] Nevertheless, the long-term trend towards greater penetration of the regional M&A markets by private equity strategies remains clear.[3] Private equity funds and institutional investors play an increasingly prominent role in Latin American M&A activity, and trends such as ‘nearshoring’ may increase further the region’s attractiveness for investors.[4] This shift also reflects the increasing acceptance in Latin America that private equity can accelerate the growth of businesses with expansion potential and, in the case of technology and infrastructure, provide essential long-term capital. More broadly, private equity funds and institutional investors offer:

  • much-needed capital to finance promising enterprises;
  • business practices and models that enable local companies to leverage strategies already road tested in other markets; and
  • advanced corporate governance practices that strengthen the transparency and durability of local enterprises.

The impressive market penetration that private equity funds and institutional investors have achieved in the region is even more remarkable considering the many economic and legal obstacles they face in Latin America. Because of these obstacles, private equity funds and institutional investors have had to tailor to Latin America their traditional approach of looking for undervalued businesses that can deliver steady cash flows, if not spectacular growth. These local circumstances, which are discussed next, continue to shape an approach to private equity dealmaking that focuses on identifying targets with significant growth potential and then negotiating contractual terms calibrated to provide some protection against the many unexpected developments that seem to occur frequently. As explored in the balance of the chapter, this approach is reflected in:

  • the sectors that private equity funds and institutional investors target;
  • the emphasis on flexible contractual protections that allow private equity and institutional investors to ‘roll with the punches’; and
  • the valuation and exit approaches used by private equity and institutional investors in Latin America.

For instance, during 2022, M&A activity in Brazil experienced a slight slowdown amid global economic uncertainties, but deals in the energy, natural resources, manufacturing and services sectors rebounded strongly, accounting for 66 per cent of deal value in that year.[5] Two examples of strategic deals that underscored this theme were ArcelorMittal’s acquisition of Companhia Siderúrgica do Pecém for approximately US$2.2 billion[6] and the sale of Enel Brasil SA’s entire stake in Brazilian power distribution company CELG Distribuição to Equatorial for approximately US$1.6 billion.[7]

Additionally, Brazil’s largest hospital network Rede D’or’s acquisition of SulAmerica for approximately US$2.6 billion and BTG Pactual’s US$2.4 billion investment to acquire a controlling stake in V.Tal exemplify investors’ opportunistic approaches in the current environment. While the region still seems to be dominated by strategic players, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and Alberta Investment Management Corporation’s acquisition, through its controlled subsidiary Grupo Saesa, of a 99.09 per cent interest in Enel Transmisión Chile for US$1.5 billion highlights the growing footprint of institutional investors in the region.[8]

Another notable development is the increase in M&A activity in Mexico.[9] In the covid-19 pandemic’s aftermath, global manufacturers are considering relocating their supply chains to take advantage of nearshoring, and Mexico appears to have emerged as their destination of choice. As a result, Mexico is experiencing an export boom, with record foreign investment activity.[10] Other sectors, such as fintech, have also made inroads into Mexico, with Warren Buffett-backed Brazilian unicorn Nubank investing US$1.3 billion in its operations in Mexico.[11] The repositioning of global supply chains towards Mexico and, more generally, Latin America is expected to draw more M&A to the region.

Overcoming intrinsic challenges

The most noteworthy economic challenge that foreign private equity and institutional investors confront in Latin America is the dramatic volatility of many local currencies. For example, over the past two decades, since the adoption of the floating exchange rate regime, the currencies of the two most important economies in the region (Brazil and Mexico) have fluctuated in a manner that has impacted the investment process in various ways.[12] Exchange rate volatility makes valuations at entry more difficult given uncertainties in valuing future cash flows. It also creates the need to allocate exchange rate volatility risk between signing and closing, which could take up to several months depending on the closing clearances or corporate reorganisations required. Exchange rate volatility also can hinder an exit where a seller needs to monetise an investment during a period of local currency devaluation. Since hedging extremely volatile currencies is not economically viable, investments in Latin America by foreign private equity funds and institutional investors must be made in spite of foreign exchange risks. However, this risk is not necessarily a concern for domestic private equity funds and institutional investors funded primarily in local currencies and that likewise report their results in local currencies. As domestic private equity funds and institutional investors grow, we would expect that they will be able to leverage their ‘currency advantage’ in auctions.

The second most significant economic obstacle to private equity investments in Latin America – which domestic players share with their foreign counterparts – is the limited availability and cost of leverage as a key private equity strategy. Historically, limited availability of credit to finance buyouts and minority investments, as well as competition from cheaper financing sources, including from state-owned developing banks, discouraged private equity investors in Latin America from using leverage as a key strategy to boost returns. Although legal reforms to build a robust leveraged buyout market are yet to be introduced in the region, there is increasing evidence that investment backed by private credit in Latin America is on the rise; furthermore, the recent higher interest rates have encouraged institutional investors to enter the private credit markets with credit funds.[13]

In addition to foreign exchange risk and limitations to the availability of leverage, private equity funds and institutional investors in Latin America must also contend with:

  • compliance concerns that have appeared to be endemic in some geographies and industries;
  • the political volatility of most countries in the region, demonstrated by the following examples:
    • the new constitutional process in Chile, which is expected to conclude by the end of 2023;
    • the 6 January 2023 storming of the Brazilian Supreme Court and other government buildings; and
    • the ambitious left-wing goals of the Colombian government;
  • the vulnerability of commodity-driven economies to cyclical external shocks coming from China, the United States or Europe;
  • in certain jurisdictions, concerns about ‘piercing the corporate veil’ and directors’ exposure to personal liability;
  • transparency issues in the due diligence process, including those related to the target’s financial statements;[14]
  • markets in which there are few (if any) generally accepted and publicly available contractual terms for M&A deals due to the confidentiality of arbitration awards, resulting in lengthier negotiations and requiring more commitment in terms of the investment team’s time; and
  • tax complexities, burdensome labour practices and delayed exits due to currency, economic or political factors.

Notwithstanding these challenges, private equity funds and institutional investors have achieved significant successes in Latin America.[15] They have done so by deploying mitigating strategies aimed at: (1) concentrating on robust and resilient sectors of the economy expected to grow over time, such as infrastructure,[16] technology, consumer products and life sciences; (2) proactively addressing difficulties through pricing and contractual terms; and (3) leveraging their operating expertise to improve both the bottom line and overall performance of the companies in which they invest. These strategic imperatives have been key factors in shaping private equity investments in the region. The many past successes of private equity investments in Latin America demonstrate that savvy and astute dealmakers are aware of these risks and have developed sophisticated strategies to mitigate them.

While the pandemic’s impact on the region’s economies posed additional novel challenges, its aftermath has brought political risk to the forefront in many countries in the region, including Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru.[17] Private equity funds and institutional investors are increasingly focused on the potential impact of the political context on their investment strategies. In this regard, grappling with difficult scenarios has been and probably will continue to be the ordinary course for private equity funds and institutional investors active in Latin America. As discussed below, the business and legal approaches that private equity and institutional investors have developed for the region are designed expressly to navigate through radically uncertain scenarios that are hard to quantify and, therefore, price.[18]

Mitigating risks through contractual rights

A critical element of this mitigation strategy involves negotiating contractual rights that support the sponsors’ investment thesis and address the idiosyncratic challenges faced in Latin America. In our experience, particularly in the case of minority-stake acquisitions, the most significant contractual protection relates to the target’s business plan and deviations from the plan. Given that management of unexpected developments is a principal concern of private equity and institutional investors in Latin America, it is safe to assume that any plan beats no plan[19] when carrying out a successful acquisition.

Developing with the controlling shareholder a shared business strategy is often the first order of business in protecting the investment thesis. Typically, private equity and institutional investors begin developing an economic narrative for their proposed investment during their due diligence exercise. In this phase of trying to understand ‘what is going on here’, investors often come up with approaches to encourage and upgrade winning strategies while trying to discourage and control business approaches perceived as counterproductive.

Many businesses in Latin America, particularly family-run businesses, are still accustomed to operating in fairly unstructured and informal manners.[20] For this reason, the introduction of formal planning and, even more importantly, the acceptance by the target’s management of processes and procedures calibrated to ensure adhesion to a business plan can sometimes be challenging. In particular, they may require behavioural changes that the controlling shareholder and management resist. This is one of the principal reasons why many of the international private equity and institutional investors that have been most successful in the region have a local team capable of bridging the gap between business cultures. A local team can be critical inasmuch as ‘boots on the ground’ help overcome deviations from the plan and the nearly inevitable mid-course adjustments.

To protect a proposed investment’s economic rationale, other significant factors include:

  • ensuring that the investor gains a seat on the target’s board and sometimes a senior position (or more than one) on the executive team;
  • obtaining a sensible package of veto rights over the most material decisions of the target, such as fundamental changes in the scope of its business or business plan, new acquisitions, large capital investments, changes in dividend policy and material borrowings; and
  • negotiating a fulsome set of information rights that will enable the investor to adequately and timely monitor the performance of the target and fulfil its reporting obligations in compliance with fund documents and regulatory requirements.

Although the inclusion of these contractual provisions is critically important, building a close relationship with the controlling shareholder and the target’s management is perhaps even more important, as that is the principal path to ensure that an investor can effectively influence the implementation of the agreed business plan and manage unexpected developments.

Compliance considerations also feature prominently in formulating appropriate minority protection rights. We live in an era of aggressive anti-corruption enforcement, including in Latin America, notwithstanding the fact that economic challenges, political transitions and the pandemic’s lingering effects have undercut related efforts. Compliance violations can materially impact the ultimate valuation of an investment and ultimately limit exit opportunities. It is therefore imperative that the package of covenants protecting the economic deal of the investor includes the commitment by the target and controlling shareholder to comply with relevant laws and to implement or otherwise maintain a risk-based compliance programme and adequate system of internal controls. Perhaps most importantly, a minority investor must ensure that appropriate steps are taken to remediate any wrongdoing or deficiencies uncovered during due diligence or otherwise identified during the course of the investment. This may include a specific covenant by the target and controlling shareholder, appropriate ongoing monitoring by the investor and sometimes review by external advisers.

Private equity and institutional investors in Latin America are also increasingly focused on broader environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations in negotiating minority protection rights, at least partly under the influence of their limited partners and intensifying public opinion.[21] Investors are more regularly seeking to ensure that investments are environmentally sustainable and have a positive social impact, and that portfolio companies adopt more advanced corporate governance practices. Similar to anti-corruption compliance, regional investors’ heightened attention to ESG matters reflects the need to comply with a growing web of related legal and regulatory obligations and also is consistent with the idea that invested companies may benefit from experiences and know-how developed in other markets.

Mitigating strategies through transfer restrictions

Private equity funds and institutional investors typically seek to negotiate transfer restrictions that may include:

  • a lock-up for some limited period following the investment;
  • rights of first offer or rights of first refusal, depending on the investment and the controlling shareholder’s profile;
  • covenants not to transfer shares to sanctioned persons or competitors; and
  • tag-along rights that may result in having to accept being subject to drag-along rights.

Investors in Latin America seek these restrictions for the usual reasons that motivate investors in other markets, principally ensuring that new shareholders are reputable and preferably not competitors. But certain reasons are specific to circumstances in Latin America. As discussed above, the timing of an exit is often complicated by currency volatility and the long stretches of recessions experienced by these markets. For this reason, private equity investors often are extremely leery of having additional investment partners, particularly local investors with different priorities and investment horizons. Finally, private equity investors use transfer restrictions as a mechanism to screen out potential partners that could be tainted by corruption or other compliance misdeeds.

Valuation challenges and competition with strategic players

For various reasons, valuing a target in Latin America is often significantly more challenging than valuing a similar business in a developed market. To begin, public data on comparable companies is typically unavailable owing to the shallowness of the local capital markets. As a result, private equity players at times resort to using developed-market multiples for companies in the same industries and then, somewhat arbitrarily, adjusting these multiples for ‘local risk’.

Valuing Latin American targets by modelling discounted cash flows is just as fraught with difficulties. The robustness and reliability of the financial information available on targets remains less than perfect as many family-controlled companies operate in an informal manner. Developing projections based on weak historical information is a bit of an exercise in educated guesswork. The cycles of booms and busts that have characterised the macroeconomic picture of Latin American countries further complicates this analysis, including determination of an appropriate discount rate. To address these issues, some private equity investors look to invest in infrastructure targets that may offer the stability and certainty of contracted revenues or companies in the technology sector that are asset-light and tend to generate higher growth rates.

It is not unusual for private equity funds and institutional investors in Latin America to find themselves in heated competitive auctions that involve local and international strategic players. As private equity funds and institutional investors are focused on returning capital in the mid-term, strategic players may ascribe higher intrinsic value to assets in light of their longer-term strategic value.[22] This can turn out to be challenging for private equity funds and institutional investors because strategic players may be prepared to pay generously for assets that offer them unique synergies or allow them to defend market positions.

Talent challenges in buyouts

Private equity funds and institutional investors focusing on buyouts rather than partial acquisitions previously have faced talent challenges. While private equity funds in more developed markets have recruited managerial talent kept on standby and poised to be deployed in portfolio companies, this practice has not yet taken hold in Latin America.

As a result, for a private equity fund to launch a buyout with a view to improving a target’s business performance, the fund must engage in the ad hoc recruitment of superior new management. Although this has been difficult in the past, the breadth and strength of the new business class in Latin America could bring about a change. Domestic private equity funds and institutional investors and their foreign counterparts with local offices may be best positioned to tap into the local talent pool and engage in a larger number of buyouts in the future.

Pooling with other investors

To date in Latin America, there have been few instances in which private equity funds have combined with strategic investors to pursue acquisitions together.[23] It has happened where the strategic investor brought special industry expertise relevant to the proposed transaction. These transactions are, however, becoming more common and seem likely to continue to grow in the future.

‘Club deals’, involving multiple private equity investors, are also relatively rare in Latin America, except for very large privatisations of infrastructure assets.[24] When these transactions involve investors based in and outside the region, participants need to find a consortium equilibrium that reconciles financial objectives and contractual priorities, which often are not perfectly aligned. Since large infrastructure projects are likely to figure prominently in future M&A activity in Latin America, a growing number of club deals will likely occur, including participants that over time will develop a shared approach to these transactions.

On the other hand, co-investments between foreign private equity funds and sovereign wealth funds have been pursued with increased frequency and with some success in recent years.[25] Interestingly, the region is also seeing sovereign wealth funds partnering with domestic private equity funds in acquisitions.[26] Typically, one of the thorniest issues posed by these combinations between private equity and sovereign wealth funds flows from differences in investment horizons and, consequently, misaligned preferences regarding liquidity and exit arrangements. The market has developed some creative solutions to address this misalignment involving separate windows for exit. The important takeaway is that sovereign wealth funds have greater flexibility in investing in Latin America because the limited windows for exit available in these markets typically matter less to these investors.

Tax considerations

Although a detailed discussion of the complex tax issues that private equity and institutional investors confront in Latin America is beyond the scope of this chapter, it is nevertheless worth reviewing some of the key considerations.

Tax first arises during the due diligence process, as an investor assesses the target’s historical tax compliance and material exposures. In many countries in Latin America, of which Brazil is perhaps the most notable example, ongoing tax disputes between companies and revenue authorities are extremely common. An investor ‘learning the ropes’ in the region may be surprised, or dismayed, at the extent of a potential target’s tax disputes, as compared to other regions. In purchases from creditworthy strategic sellers, historical exposures often can be addressed through a pre-closing tax indemnity. However, many deals involve purchases from a founding family group, or from a financially distressed seller, where obtaining an indemnity can be more challenging and potentially have more limited value.[27] In these cases, it is important to look beyond the nominal exposures to understand context. To what extent do the exposures indicate fundamental compliance issues or unduly aggressive tax planning? Or are they common audit disputes that similarly situated companies are likely to face? Private equity and institutional investors need high-quality advisers who cannot just identify and quantify exposures but can assess commercially whether the risks are reasonable or justify greater contractual or other protections.

The second key area involving tax is investment structuring. As most private equity and institutional players in the region are investing cross-border, their objectives often include reducing the local taxes payable on dividends and exit gains, as local taxes reduce returns and are unlikely to be of use as a credit to the majority of fund investors that are not taxpayers. Across the region, different structures have been used that vary from country to country.

Of particular note, Brazil has a private equity tax regime (the participation fund (FIP) regime) that enables offshore investors to avoid tax on exit gains so long as certain requirements are met. In recent years, the Brazilian tax authorities have challenged the eligibility of non-resident investors to the FIP exemption, including by arguing that the jurisdiction of the beneficial owners of these investors (and not just that of the investing vehicles themselves) should be considered in assessing whether the domicile requirement is met. In December 2019, the Brazilian tax authorities issued an acknowledgement that the investing vehicles’ jurisdiction is the one that should matter, except for a sham or fraudulent circumstances.[28] Although this has been viewed as a positive development, it appears that tax authorities (as well as the local FIP administrators responsible for ensuring payment of withholding taxes by FIPs) have continued to scrutinise indirect beneficial ownership. As a result, many private equity sponsors investing in Brazil have scrambled to restructure offshore fund structures from the Cayman Islands or other blacklisted jurisdictions. These restructurings raise significant legal, tax, administrative and potentially investor relations issues that require meaningful time and attention, and they should be addressed well ahead of portfolio company exits. Although the approval by Brazil’s Lower Chamber of a long-awaited tax reform in 2023 sent positive signals to the market, the simplification of the tax regime in that jurisdiction will take years to be implemented.

In most other countries, investors may utilise a holding company organised in a country that has a tax treaty with the local country (Spain, the Netherlands and Luxembourg are among the most common) to reduce or eliminate exit taxes. Some countries do not have a treaty network; in these cases, the future tax liability must be factored into the returns for purposes of the investment thesis. Here again, quality advice is essential, as the tax laws (and the enforcement posture) of Latin American countries frequently change, and structures that worked for previous investments may no longer work in the future.

Exits

The challenges discussed thus far are serious but can pale in comparison with the issues that private equity funds and institutional investors face when it comes to finding a path to monetise and exit their original investment.

Private equity investors in developed markets typically exit their investments in one of five ways (or, more rarely, a combination of these approaches):

  • perhaps most commonly, a public offer of the portfolio company shares in which the investor sells its shares immediately or over time;
  • next most popular, a trade sale or an acquisition by a suitable strategic company interested in acquiring a complementary business;
  • a secondary sale to another private equity investor (which may become appealing if the original investor needs to monetise the investment while the business continues to require funding);
  • a repurchase of the private equity stake by the original shareholders or management; or
  • the least successful approach, a liquidation that happens if the investment fails.[29]

In Latin America, each of these successful exit paths presents some ‘bumps in the road’. Public offerings of shares in Latin American companies are challenging because local capital markets are not deep and the window for launching initial public offerings (IPOs) opens only infrequently and often closes fast. When the markets finally open (as, for example, they did in Brazil during 2021), there is a mad scramble to list and a strong sense that it is crucial not to miss this unique opportunity. Of course, the problem is that the ‘feast or famine’ character of local markets makes it difficult to predict up front, at the time of investment, whether an exit through an IPO is a likely option. The feasibility of a public offering of the shares of a Latin American company in New York or in another international market also is uncertain due to the volatility of the currencies involved. Private equity investors need to consider whether there will be appetite for this additional risk and how this risk will affect the exit price.

Additionally, the role of special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) in Latin America has been constrained significantly by local legal limitations. However, some regional private equity firms and institutional investors have launched US-listed SPACs with mandates to invest in Latin America and then have rushed to close deals.[30] This development suggests that regional private equity firms and institutional investors are finding ways to bypass Latin American regulators to bring SPACs to the local markets.

Trade sales are a great option for private equity in Latin America if a strategic buyer with deep pockets can be identified.[31] A recent report from the Global Private Capital Association shows that sales to strategic buyers have steadily grown in Latin America and, in 2023, far outnumbered exits through public offerings and sales to financial buyers.[32] Similarly, the market for secondary sales of portfolio companies to other private equity investors appears to be growing in Latin America. The most likely buyers of these private equity stakes, at least in the infrastructure sector, seem to be sovereign wealth funds.[33] Finally, we have not observed many instances of a successful exit was achieved through a repurchase of the portfolio company stake by the original shareholder.

On balance, private equity players in Latin America have reasons to hope that the future of exits may be characterised by increased liquidity as the local capital markets develop and deepen to match the size and strength of the continent’s economies.

Conclusion

The current challenging economic and political global context has temporarily slowed the progress of private equity and institutional investors in the region. However, many observers continue to be cautiously optimistic on the outlook for private equity investments in Latin America because the region continues to offer growth opportunities in multiple sectors.

Despite not possessing a crystal ball, we remain convinced that the long-term future of private equity and institutional investing in Latin America is bright for five main reasons:

  • first, as the local economies mature, the size of the deals has grown and the capital required from private equity and institutional investors in Latin America has increased;
  • second, nearshoring with the resulting general increase in M&A activity in Mexico and the positive legal reforms in Brazil and Chile are likely to continue to encourage deal activity;
  • third, in time, the local capital markets in Latin America should grow and mature to provide a better path to exit private equity investments;
  • fourth, private equity funds worldwide and in the region have plenty of dry powder ready to deploy[34] and will be looking for opportunities to do so, including in Latin America; and
  • fifth, we believe that private equity funds and institutional investors in Latin America have developed the tools and skills necessary to operate in a highly uncertain environment, as discussed above.

There inevitably may be some issues with many investment targets in Latin America, but there are also terrific growth opportunities.


Footnotes

[1] Maurizio Levi-Minzi, Peter A Furci and Andrew M Levine are partners, and Sergio Torres is a counsel, at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP.

[2] According to Preqin Pro, the reported aggregate deal value of private equity activity in Latin America in Q3 2023 was approximately US$300 million, compared with US$2.1 billion in Q3 2022.

[3] According to Preqin Pro, the reported aggregate deal value of private equity activity in Latin America increased from US$9 billion in 2021 to US$16.6 billion in 2022.

[4] ‘In An uncertain world, Latam M&A is on the rise’, KPMG, https://kpmg.com/xx/en/home/insights/2023/06/kpmg-2023-m-and-a-in-latam-survey.html.

[5] In 2022, energy and natural resources, and manufacturing and services accounted for 66 per cent of the value of Brazil’s dealmaking; see Luis Frota, Felipe Cammarata and Leonel Lima, ‘M&A in Brazil: A Nation Prepares for Changes’, Bain & Company (31 January 2023), www.bain.com/insights/brazil-m-and-a-report-2023.

[6] ‘ArcelorMittal completes acquisition of CSP in Brazil’, Bloomberg, 9 March 2023, www.bloomberg.com/press-releases/2023-03-09/arcelormittal-completes-acquisition-of-csp-in-brazil.

[7] ‘Enel group finalized sale of Brazilian electricity distributor in Goiás’, Enel, 29 December 2022, https://corporate.enel.it/en/media/press/d/2022/12/enel-group-finalized-sale-of-brazilian-electricity-distributor-in-gois-.

[8] ‘Enel Chile Completes the Sale of its Electricity Transmission Business’, Enel, 9 December 2022, www.enel.cl/en/meet-enel/media/press-enel-chile/d202212-enel-chile-completes-the-sale-of-its-electricity-transmission-business.html.

[9] According to Refinitiv, the volume of announced M&A deals in Mexico surged 55 per cent in H1 2023.

[10] Leda Alvim and Maya Averbuch, ‘US Nearshoring Wave Grows as Mexico Exports Jump Close to Record’, Bloomberg, 28 June 2023, www.bloomberg.com/news/newsletters/2023-06-28/supply-chain-latest-us-nearshoring-proof-grows-as-mexico-exports-jump.

[11] Carolina Millan, ‘Buffett-Backed Nubank Bets on Mexico for “Pivotal” Growth’, Bloomberg, 4 August 2023, www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-08-04/buffet-backed-nubank-bets-big-on-mexico-for-pivotal-growth.

[12] Marcos Chamon et al., Foreign Exchange Intervention in Inflation Targeters in Latin America (International Monetary Fund, 2019), www.bookstore.imf.org/books/foreign-exchange-intervention-in-inflation-targeters-in-latin-america.

[14] See the ‘M&A Involving Family-Owned Targets in Latin America’ chapter in this guide.

[15] According to a KPMG report on M&A activity in Latin America, four out of five companies and investors rate their most recent large M&A deal in the region as a success on the whole, ‘In an uncertain world, Latam M&A is on the rise’ (see footnote 4).

[16] Infrastructure assets are a clear favourite for institutional investors in Latin America. In a recent example, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board acquired a 9.4 per cent stake in BTG Pactual-owned V.Tal, Brazil’s largest neutral fibre-to-the home network provider; see Lily Squires, ‘CPP Investments acquires stake in V.Tal from BTG Pactual’, Latin Lawyer, 14 December 2022, https://latinlawyer.com/article/cpp-investments-acquires-stake-in-vtal-btg-pactual.

[17] See Paola Lozano, et al., ‘Roundtable: The Impact of Political Instability and Social Unrest on Dealmaking in Latin America’, in Paola Lozano and Daniel Hernández (eds), The Guide to Mergers and Acquisitions (3rd edition, Latin Lawyer, 2022).

[18] Kay, John and King, Mervyn, Radical Uncertainty: Decision-Making Beyond the Numbers (W W Norton & Company, 2020).

[19] Geithner, Timothy F, Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises (Crown Publishing Group, 2015).

[20] See the ‘M&A Involving Family-Owned Targets in Latin America’ chapter in this guide.

[21] See ‘The Latin American M&A Market from an ESG Perspective’ chapter in this guide.

[22] See Gram Slattery and Marta Nogueira, ‘Brazil’s Vale dam disaster report highlights governance shortcomings’, Reuters, 21 February 2020, www.reuters.com/article/us-vale-disaster/brazils-vale-dam-disaster-report-highlights-governance-shortcomings-idUSKBN20F2Q6; see also Juliana Gomes Ramalho Monteiro et al., ‘Compliance as a Foundation for ESG Oversight’, in Andrew M Levine (ed), The Guide to Corporate Compliance (2nd edition, Latin Lawyer, 2021), https://latinlawyer.com/guide/the-guide-corporate-compliance/second-edition/article/16-compliance-foundation-esg-oversight.

[23] One recent successful case was EIG and Fluxys’ acquisition of an 80 per cent stake in GNL Quintero, the largest liquefied natural gas regasification terminal in Chile, from Enagas Chile SpA and affiliates of OMERS Infrastructure, ‘EIG and Fluxys to acquire 80% stake in Chile’s GNL Quintero’, Lavca, 28 March 2022, https://lavca.org/2022/03/28/eig-and-fluxys-to-acquire-80-stake-in-chiles-gnl-quintero%EF%BF%BC. Another example is the US$838 million investment in Newave Energia by Brazilian steel giant Gerdau, NW Capital and funds managed by XP Investimentos; see Davide Montagner, ‘Gerdau joins investors to acquire renewables group’, Latin Lawyer, 5 January 2023, https://latinlawyer.com/article/gerdau-joins-investors-acquire-renewables-group.

[24] One example is the acquisition of a 99.09 per cent interest in Enel Transmisión Chile for US$1.5 billion by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and Alberta Investment Management Corporation, through its controlled subsidiary Grupo Saesa (see footnote 8).

[25] By way of example, Brookfield Infrastructure acquired a controlling stake in Nova Transportadora do Sudeste SA in consortium with CIC Capital Corporation, ‘Brookfield Infrastructure Announces Closing of South American Natural Gas Transmission Utility Transaction’, https://bip.brookfield.com/press-releases/bip/brookfield-infrastructure-announces-closing-south-american-natural-gas.

[26] One recent example is Brazilian investment fund FIP Agroenergia taking control of ethanol producer Atvos and paving the way for Abu Dhabi investment fund Mubadala Capital to acquire a 31.5 per cent stake in the company; see Peter Frontini, ‘Brazil’s FIP Agroenergia takes control of ethanol producer Atvos’, www.nasdaq.com/articles/brazils-fip-agroenergia-takes-control-of-ethanol-producer-atvos.

[27] See the ‘Indemnity Escrows and Other Payment Guarantees’ chapter in this guide.

[29] Alternatively, a distressed M&A transaction may be attempted. See the ‘Distressed Mergers and Acquisitions: Lessons from the Venezuela Experience’ chapter in this guide.

[30] Isabela Fleischmann, ‘SPACs Rush Into Mergers With Brazilian Companies as Deadline for Listing Looms’, Bloomberg Línea, 27 March 2023, www.bloomberglinea.com/english/spacs-rush-into-mergers-with-brazilian-companies-as-deadline-for-listing-looms.

[31] Some recent examples include: (1) in May 2023, HIG Capital exited Brazilian chemicals maker Elekeiroz through sale to an industry leader in Brazil’s specialty chemicals sector, ‘H.I.G. Capital Announces the Sale of Elekeiroz to Oswaldo Cruz Química’, https://higcapital.com/news/h-i-g-capital-announces-the-sale-of-elekeiroz-to-oswaldo-cruz-quimica; (2) Aqua Capital agreed to sell 100 per cent of Brazilian foodtech Puravida to Nestlé, ‘Aqua Capital announces the full sale of Puravida to Nestlé Health Science’, https://aqua.capital/aqua-capital-announces-the-full-sale-of-puravida-to-nestle-health-science; and (3) Advent agreed to sell Mexican Grupo Somar to Grupo Procaps, an integrated Latin American health and pharmaceutical conglomerate, ‘Grupo Procaps to acquire Mexico’s Grupo Somar from Advent’, https://lavca.org/2022/05/17/grupo-procaps-to-acquire-mexicos-grupo-somar-from-advent.

[32] According to the Global Private Capital Association’s ‘2023 GPCA Industry Data and Analysis’, the deal value of reported exits to strategic buyers in Latin America in 2022 was US$10.293 billion, which is far higher than the US$2.257 billion from public offerings and US$3.077 billion from secondary sales to financial buyers; www.globalprivatecapital.org/research/2023-global-private-capital-industry-data/.

[33] Javier Capapé, ‘Sovereign Funds: Latin America’s Hidden Investment Potential’, World Crunch, 9 May 2019, https://worldcrunch.com/business-finance/sovereign-funds-latin-america39s-hidden-investment-potential.

[34] According to Preqin Pro, dry powder remained high in Brazil, and is one of the most important economies in the region, accounting for 23.5 per cent of total assets under management in Brazil at the start of 2022 and 22.9 per cent in mid-2022.

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