On the eve of its 100th birthday, Pinheiro Guimarães skilled legal team is prolific in its advice on one-of-a-kind, landmark and sophisticated finance transactions, which testifies to the quality of services on offer here. The firm excels in its M&A, capital markets and banking groups and clients from far and wide enlist the firm for its market-orientated understanding of complex matters. The group’s deft handling of high-powered banking and finance work attracts some of Brazil’s financial powerhouses to enlist the firm’s services. That includes major national investment bank XP, which comments that “Pinheiro Guimarães' team is business-savvy, very experienced and able to combine deep and extensive technical knowledge with impressive negotiation and drafting skills.” Another client signalled that the firm was one of the best corporate outfits in Brazil.
While 2020 may have been a year like no other, with notable market slowdown as the world drew to a halt amid the covid-19 pandemic, Pinheiro Guimarães was at the top of its game. The Brazilian firm landed a place on some of the most innovative financial, corporate and debt transactions in the past year. In its capital markets group alone, the firm reported working on over 30 deals in 2020. In a year marked by volatility and uncertainty, Pinheiro Guimarães’ active presence on the market is a stunning feat worth mentioning. The group was counsel to Rede D’Or São Luiz in its initial public offering, which was the third-largest in Brazilian history. The group was incredibly active in Brazil’s IPO sphere last year, which recorded one of the busiest years on record. Just some of the other related transactions it worked on include credit bureau Boa Vista’s million IPO as well as Petz’ offering which raised US$543 million. Meanwhile, in another novel transaction it helped Canadian mining group Aura Minerals make the first-ever IPO to include the simultaneous issuance of Brazilian depositary receipts (BDRs) – which are certificates representing the interest of foreign shareholders.
Over the past year or so, the group was also heavily involved in sustainability-linked bonds, a form of debt transaction that is increasingly popular as companies look to support environmental and social projects with their investments. In 2020, the group helped the underwriters in Suzano’s US$500 million re-opening of its sustainability-linked bonds. Earlier this year, the firm also steered the first sustainable bonds to be issued on Brazil’s B3 stock exchange with its work for Brazilian beauty products group Cálamo Distribuidora De Produtos De Beleza on a US$196 million notes issue.
The firm is known for its highly-respected corporate group, which got a place on a deluge of high-ticket deals last year, representing some important clients. Pinheiro Guimarães’ corporate group advised in the final closing of Petrobras’ divestment of pipeline company TAG.
Meanwhile, international lenders IFC, IDB Invest and Finnerva turned to the firm in a US$1 billion forestry tie-up between two Australian and Brazilian counterparts. The group also advised Credit Suisse as investors in US car manufacturer Ford’s sale of its flagship Brazilian manufacturing site. Just months later, the global automotive company announced that it was ceasing all production in Brazil.
Pinheiro Guimarães deserves a mention too for its activity in the infrastructure sector. Its in-depth knowledge of structuring finance and capital markets work has won it some important work related to project financing. Last year it helped Canadian investor Brookfield make its first-ever solar investment in Brazil.
While a team of just over 100 lawyers help steer landmark deals at Pinheiro Guimarães, practitioners in its non-transactional areas are hard at work too, with a high level of legal skill in its tax and litigation teams. Clients regularly applaud those key groups of the firm for a detailed understanding of administrative and judicial matters as well as a thorough understanding of each case it takes on.
When the pandemic struck last year and enforced working at home guidelines for swathes of the global population, Pinheiro Guimarães could fall back on its up-to-the-minute IT systems which were updated ahead of 2020. The firm stores its data on the cloud, allowing its lawyers to work from their home office with no trouble. That being said, the firm nurtures its culture of collaboration and encourages its lawyers to embrace the return to the physical office space once restrictions are lifted. The group has a dedicated tech committee to ensure that its lawyers are equipped with the latest legal software and resolve any queries.
Pinheiro Guimarães has a horizontal management structure that encourages all members of staff – from junior associates to senior partners – to collaborate in the running of the firm. The firm’s managing partner Plinio Pinheiro Guimarães has excellent people management ability and ensures the firm performs well by assigning partners to departments where they shine best. The firm has a compliance committee as well as a hiring committee, while several of its junior associates sit on its education committee, which is dedicated to providing training opportunities for its associates. This structure has helped facilitate a culture of employee engagement which has helped retain talent in recent years. Though, the firm lost a capital markets partner last year.
With the pandemic restrictions eliminating an office commute, Pinheiro Guimarães’ lawyers have found that clients are making the most of its practitioners’ heightened availability. The firm is agile in both making itself contactable to clients as well as managing its time selectively to work on the most significant transactions, which is evident from the towering amount of relevant deals on its plate in 2020.
Prominent financial clients such as Citibank, Itaú BBA, Grupo Globo, International Finance Corporation, and Brookfield reflect the firm’s standing for banking and finance law. In capital markets work, the firm counts hospital group Rede D’Or São Luiz and beauty company group Cálamo Distribuidora De Produtos De Beleza as recent clients in landmark deals. Canadian miner Aura Minerals and international development banks IFC, IDB Invest and Finnerva offer further prestige. Energy and industrial clients, such as Votorantim, hint at the firm’s strength beyond its core areas. 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, Pinheiro Guimarães represents nine of the 100 biggest companies in the region.
Pinheiro Guimarães keeps its finger on the pulse as far as the latest trends are concerned and in 2021 the firm expects to see a lot more work on the fintech, compliance and data protection side of things. Brazil’s fairly nascent data protection regulation (LGPD) is triggering a slew of compliance work as companies come to grip with the new guidelines. Meanwhile, a shift to a more digital format of payment systems is taking shape too along with new open banking legislation that allows banks and companies to share consumer information. Pinheiro Guimarães’ market-leading grasp of sophisticated financial work will allow it to approach any work arising from those changes with suave ability.
Founded in Rio, the firm also fields significant manpower from its São Paulo base ensuring a pure two-city operation – a rare find in Brazil.