Clifford Chance is in the global elite, with a highly rated service offering across the board that has afforded it a leading position among international firms in Latin America. Of the few magic circle firms operating in the region, Clifford Chance is certainly one of the most visible and committed.
Innovative finance work has always been this firm’s bread and butter. Clifford Chance is at the forefront of highly structured, complex finance transactions, a level of sophistication that few firms can match. An indisputably top-tier project finance offering means the firm is regularly involved in some of the most innovative infrastructure financing deals across Latin America, with a large market share of renewables projects.
Meanwhile, the capital markets and M&A practices are equally noteworthy. When it comes to disputes, Clifford Chance is becoming a force to be reckoned with. After some headcount changes in recent years, the firm has worked hard to develop its offering in this area and has almost tripled the team size over the past four years, picking up significant mandates across almost every jurisdiction in the region. Lawyers have also been increasingly busy with restructuring and ESG-focused deals over the past year.
Its long history of working on market-leading deals means it tends to be the port of call for first-of-their-kind transactions. This trait lends the firm well to explore and take advantage of opportunities in smaller markets, a strategy that has led lawyers to pick up the lion’s share of innovative lawyering in those places; for example, it is shaping project finance deals in places such as Uruguay and Paraguay, working on high-value, unique projects in both countries. This considered and adaptable approach enables Clifford Chance to continue to build upon its Latin American practice by finding new markets and new ways to present its services.
Clifford Chance has good relationships with several sovereigns and some of the region’s biggest corporate players and government entities. Having been one of the first firms to open an office in Brazil, it boasts long-standing connections with some of the country’s largest corporations including LATAM Airlines, Raizen, Braskem and Eletrobras. The latter has been a client for over 20 years and regularly seeks counsel from the outfit. In one notable transaction, it turned to Clifford Chance for its US$6.9 billion equity offering – the second-largest equity deal in recent times, and one of the largest in the western hemisphere to date.
The firm’s global experience and workforce make it well positioned to do cross-border mega-deals and partners from around the world are often found working on transactions in the region. Indeed, collaboration is at the core of Clifford Chance’s culture, with a heavy focus on cross-practice cooperation to offer innovative solutions that are not tied to a particular office, practice area or attorney. It also means that when catastrophic events occur, partners can quickly mobilise a global team to work with regulators in the relevant authorities and help with the incident response. It also means the firm is admirably adapted to moving with the times and the region’s ever-changing economic and regulatory landscape, underpinning its continued success over the years.
Capital markets partner Jonathan Zonis and project finance specialist Fabricio Longhin co-chair the large group, which has recognised names in the region stationed in New York, DC, São Paulo, Madrid and London. The firm has a large and well-established team in Brazil led by Anthony Oldfield, who works alongside two other partners within one of the oldest foreign law consultancies in the country.
In recent times, the regional practice group has experienced some departures, but there remains a strong cohort of highly capable and established figures whose talent can be drawn on for Latin American mandates. Clifford Chance has also made some notable additions to the partnership over the past year, adding firepower to its regional arbitration, capital markets and project finance offerings and more growth is set to come.
Clifford Chance pays attention to future generations in a bid to protect its position and has made sure to include Latin American-born talent in its organic growth. This helps it penetrate markets across the region, as does the number of fluent Spanish and Portuguese speakers within the Latin American practice, which is close to 40.
Teams in the US and Brazil continue to work closely with Clifford Chance’s office in Madrid, where the firm has a leading position, to target Spanish companies looking for corporate and infrastructure opportunities in Latin America. It takes a similar position towards its base in China. It is increasingly common to see teams working on Latin American deals drawn from a range of locations.
The firm was an early opener in São Paulo and the base is a central part of the Latin American practice. New York houses the rest of the practice’s finance and corporate capacity, while the projects and disputes teams sit in DC. The firm also recently launched an office in Houston, its third in the US, as part of plans to expand its energy and infrastructure work in North America. Madrid and Beijing are playing an increasingly significant role, and Clifford Chance often pulls in resources from London, Paris and elsewhere on deals when relevant.