As international firms increasingly tap Uruguay’s market potential, Hughes & Hughes’ experience of over 120 years providing stellar legal services remains unmatched. The firm, Uruguay’s oldest, has perfected a reliable formula that a loyal client base reveres for its high level of expertise and personal relationships.
A compact team of eight partners involve themselves deeply with the legal matters they take on, which is supported by a hard-working team of associates. This personalised approach has been an important draw for the firm, with clients often electing to enlist it over one of its rivals for that detailed attention alone. The structure also facilitates a fluid stream of communications between junior lawyers and those at a more senior level.
In March 2020, Uruguay not only entered into a new era of restrictions and economic slowdown under the covid-19 pandemic but also dove into a new age of politics following the election of President Luis Lacalle Pou. That combination brought with it added uncertainty, with several deals being put on hold. For Hughes & Hughes, however, it registered a stable intake of mandates. One example is its advice to Finnish forestry group UPM, which is building a pulp mill in Paso de Los Toros and a 273-kilometre railway line to transport goods. The deal has won much work for Hughes & Hughes throughout its ongoing lifecycle. The project often pulls together Uruguay’s most prestigious firms.
Hughes & Hughes boasts an unblemished track record of advising multinational companies on relevant transactions, which often involve more than one jurisdiction. Its project finance and energy lawyers are highly sought after for their in-depth knowledge of the market too. Earlier this year, the firm advised the Uruguayan subsidiary of Dutch infrastructure investor DIF in a refinancing deal for a local wind farm, after helping the same group in its acquisition of the farm in early 2020.
Aside from Uruguay’s popular renewables and forestry industries, Hughes & Hughes is also invested in emerging sectors on the market. The rise of the medical cannabis industry in Uruguay is certainly on the firm’s radar, while it is conscious of a growing appetite for the agribusiness sector too. As market recovery begins to pick up in 2021, the firm is likely to profit from the opportunities afforded by these break-out segments of the economy.
The firm’s client portfolio spreads far and wide, however, with international drinks group San Miguel, Dutch lender Rabobank, Spain’s BBVA, The Coca-Cola Company, McDonald’s and Dutch manufacturer AkzoNobel also appearing. The group is also active advising in the pharmaceutical industry, including the rising medical cannabis sector. It counts Canadian medical cannabis company Khiron Life Sciences as a more recent client, along with car wholesaler Automotores Gildemeister.
Firm leader Haroldo Espalter is a formidable figure in the local market and contributes a great deal of experience and knowledgeable expertise to the group. The firm has invested significantly in technology and innovative back-end office systems, ensuring that once office life resumes after the pandemic, its lawyers will have a head start to practise efficiently and successfully.
While it has its main base in Montevideo, Hughes & Hughes has a consulting arm established in the city’s free trade zone, Zonamerica, which provides offshore services to international clients.