The core strengths of Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría in Peru lie in projects and infrastructure, M&A, banking and finance, labour and tax.
PPU the result of a tie-up between Peruvian firms Ferrero Abogados (renowned for mining, tax and banking) and Delmar Ugarte (well known for its project finance department); two top-class Chilean and Colombian firms; and Spain’s Uría Menéndez, which owns 30% of the initiative. The venture is extremely ambitious and is a top performer in each of its three jurisdictions. The firm has maintained a strong transactional presence following the merger and has demonstrated its ability to work alongside the firm’s other offices in cross-border transactions. Meanwhile, with Peru’s new merger control regime in place, which is similar to those of Chile and Colombia, the Lima office will build up a team in this field and will rely on support and training from the other offices to do so – another sign of how PPU benefits from its regional presence.
Strategically, key backer Uría Menéndez considers Latin America to be absolutely key for continued growth. However, this does not mean PPU’s ambitions are insular or end with Spanish-speaking Latin America. The Lima office has established both Asian and Brazilian desks to develop clients’ territory-focused business plans and win new mandates. It has also taken a global approach to talent promotion and retention, having a lawyer exchange programme between its Peruvian, Chilean and Colombian offices. It offers six-month secondments in either of the other offices and a unique chance for lawyers to develop important connections. This is not only attractive to young talent but also furthers PPU’s efforts at becoming a truly regional firm.
The firm’s focus on retaining younger, more diverse talent goes beyond its international outlook. It has an implemented mentorship programme for female lawyers and a solid commitment to flexitime, supporting female lawyers, as well as men, who are at the stage of creating families and preparing for a life as parents. Providing flexibility for staff is important for the firm’s leadership and in that sense, it is rethinking its office space. Remote working has proved successful during the pandemic and the tendency is to make the move towards a more flexible scheme permanent in Peru.
Other efforts to create a sustainable future for the firm include the creation of clearly defined institutional career paths and training, both of which were lacking at PPU’s predecessor firms in Peru. Lawyers can expect a more transparent process for reaching the partnership too. Among other things, this involves a 12-year training programme that includes courses on aspects of the law, as well as on economics and soft skills such as leadership and client management. Once lawyers reach the top rank, they can expect a lock-step compensation structure that is firm-wide.
While the firm promoted two lawyers in early 2020, it does not rely on organic growth alone: PPU is not afraid to make high-level lateral hires. Following several recruitments in 2018, the firm made a bold move the following year by bringing global labour firm Littler’s entire team into PPU.
In 2020, it was confirmed that the firm remains outside of an investigation – it never figured in it either – of alleged bribes paid by Odebrecht to Peruvian officials. PPU has collaborated with the investigation since its start a few years ago. While the firm is not involved, a few of its former partners are for having given second expert opinions while being at PPU’s predecessor firms. In response, the firm has taken resolute actions. It hired an external company to do an internal investigation and analyse what improvements can be made, which resulted in the hire of an internal compliance officer and the implementation of rigorous policies. A few partners left the firm following the probe.
PPU is in a good position to recover well thanks to its solid structure, compliance determination, institutionalisation and high-performing lawyers. The firm’s future is probably more dependent on other things, such as how quickly and how well it integrates its offices. To do so, the firm put a new management system in place in 2021, which replaced the one implemented when the firms merged half a decade ago.
Two Peruvian partners, Rafael Boisset and Walker Villanueva sit on Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría’s regional management board, which also includes two partners each from Chile, Colombia and Spain. Colombia’s Martín Acero is the firm’s new regional managing partner, while Rafael Boisset is the local managing partner in Peru. Boisset replaced Guillermo Ferrero in that position at the start of 2021.
The firm’s objective is to continue streamlining operations between its teams in Latin America and Madrid. Some practices like arbitration, corporate and IP are at an advanced stage. Others, especially areas where cross-border operations are less common, still need more help. Technology and market intelligence are shared across borders. So is risk. PPU offices pool their resources and profits, so if a team in one jurisdiction is experiencing a downturn, others can pick up the slack.
While one long-term objective may be to completely merge with Uría, PPU is not wedded to this goal for now. The leadership is content to pursue regional integration first, comfortable in the knowledge that a consolidated offering in Latin America makes a merger with Uría more likely to succeed. Also, its commitment to the Pacific Alliance countries still calls for a presence in Mexico, something that was not far from happening in 2020. However, it remains a wait and see.
PPU’s Peru office is popular among Latin America’s largest companies. According to a study, ‘Who Represents Latin America's Biggest Companies’, published by the Latin American Corporate Counsel Association, which is affiliated to Latin Lawyer, PPU advises 15 of the 100 largest companies in Latin America. This makes it the second most popular firm in Peru among the region’s corporate elite.
Miner BHP and power transmission company Colbún have been core clients for several years, while private equity fund Brookfield Asset Management and telecoms company Telefónica also have been clients in the past.
The Peruvian office is in Lima. Outside Peru, Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría has offices in Bogotá and the port city of Barranquilla on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, while its Chilean presence is in Santiago. Uría Menéndez has useful offices in Brazil, Europe and China.
Alliances and networks
Uría Menéndez still maintains its best friends network with firms elsewhere in Latin America. Through that relationship, PPU is also linked to Galicia Abogados in Mexico and Marval, O’Farrell & Mairal in Argentina.