Aggressive expansion from impressive regional player
Ferrere’s Bolivian operation has grown rapidly since the Uruguayan firm planted its flag in the market a little over a decade ago. The firm now has one of the largest headcounts and aims to be the biggest in the market by the end of 2017. If 2016 is any indication, it stands a very good chance of meeting its goal. In that year alone, the firm added a senior counsel from a regulatory boutique and a tax partner from Repsol’s Bolivia arm, and opened its third Bolivian office in Cochabamba months after moving to larger premises in La Paz. Such rapid growth is enabled by high and growing demand for the firm’s services. Ferrere’s banking practice and several transactional areas are considered to be among the very best in the market, which has positioned the firm to take advantage of a notable uptick in M&A work and investment in recent years. On the non-transactional side, the firm’s labour, tax, IP and regulatory departments have performed well – in the case of IP, revenues have doubled compared to 2015.
Internally, Ferrere has taken steps to improve its processes and boost coordination between its growing network of offices in Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Ecuador. Equity, which used to be held by partners in each jurisdiction, is now pooled and divided between the entire partnership. Meanwhile, changes have been made to the structure of the firm’s core practice areas to ensure a consistency of service and make it easier for lawyers in different countries to refer work. Such efforts by the firm to streamline its service offering have not been missed by its broad base of clients. María Daniela Alpire Jordán, who works in-house at travel and duty-free retailer Dufry Bolivia, goes on record to praise the firm’s “excellent service” and “committed team with extensive knowledge of current legislation and focus on results.”
Ferrere has three offices in Bolivia in La Paz, Santa Cruz and Cochabamba. Ferrere is a regional firm, and as well as its presence in Uruguay and Bolivia, it also has offices in Paraguay and Ecuador.
Ferrere’s client list reads like a “who’s who” of the biggest and best international companies with operations in Bolivia. A snapshot of its most recent clients includes Uber, Roche, BTG Pactual, Mead Johnson Nutrition, AstraZeneca and Swiss Re.
Corporate and M&A
Key partners: Carlos Pinto and Gerardo Villagómez jointly lead Ferrere’s highly regarded corporate and M&A practice.
Analysis: Ferrere has one of the best corporate practices among Bolivia’s leading firms with a thick client book of high-profile international companies. The reputation and abilities of its client-commended team of practitioners ensure the firm wins a lion’s share of the most complex or sophisticated work available. For example, the firm was recently hired by Argentine energy company Pampa Energía to assist on its sprawling, multi-jurisdictional acquisition of Petrobras Argentina; a deal that earned the firm a nomination for a Latin Lawyer Deal of the Year Award in 2017.
Most recent deals
Banking & finance
Key partners: Managing partner Carlos Pinto handles the banking and finance side of corporate work and also leads the way in corporate governance work.
Analysis: Ferrere’s busy banking and finance practice makes effective use of the firm’s network of offices to win work and new clients. Multilateral clients, such as regional development bank FONPLATA and the Inter-American Development Bank, feature prominently, as do international banks such as JP Morgan Chase. The team assists its banking and finance clients on matters ranging from the establishment of operations in the country and M&A deals, to structured and securities financing and project financing.
Key partners: Lindsay Sykes, whose joining from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP represented a coup for Ferrere, and Alejandro Pemintel, who is regularly seen representing major international corporations in disputes with public authorities, jointly lead the firm’s disputes practice.
Analysis: Ferrere’s disputes practice has established a reputation as a reliable partner on the full gamut of litigation and arbitration issues. The team assists a broad range of domestic and foreign clients on cross-border and local disputes and commercial and investment arbitrations in local, regional and international forums.
Key partners: Practice head Alejandro Pemintel, who is described by one mining client as “knowledgeable, competent, ethical, attentive and responsive”, and also oversees the disputes and energy areas.
Analysis: Ferrere’s labour team advises clients on all labour and employment-related issues, ranging from the design and implementation of hiring policies and assistance on corporate restructurings, to representing clients in conciliations and arbitrations with unions. On the latter, the department benefits from the valuable experience of its practice head who also co-leads the firm’s disputes department. Meanwhile, his extensive energy practice is reflected in the number of clients from the extractive sectors that hire the department. Companies in the telecoms and retail sectors are also well represented. The in-house counsel of a global food processing company simply says it was the “quality and trust” demonstrated by the team that encouraged her to engage it for several civil and labour actions.
Key partners: Practice head Pablo Ordoñez, who joined the firm from Spanish energy company Repsol, where he led its tax and litigation team in Bolivia.
Analysis: Ferrere’s tax team received a significant boost in 2016 with the addition of Pablo Ordoñez to lead the practice. The department is particularly accomplished in tax litigation, where it is regularly seen advising local and international clients in sector-specific matters.
Analysis: Ferrere is recognised as a Leading Light due to its lawyers’ commitment to pro bono work. The firm provides labour, real estate and corporate advice to Fundación Alalay, an organisation that rehabilitates street children in Bolivia, including recently defending the NGO in a work-related claim filed by two former employees demanding a significant sum of money related to unpaid social benefits. Previous beneficiaries of the firm’s pro bono work include environmental NGO the Blacksmith Institute and MADRE, an international women’s human rights organisation, which they assisted on the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersexed individuals in Bolivia. The firm also works with the New York-based Cyrus R Vance Center for International Justice on pro bono projects.