2008, Latin Lawyer

Now considerably larger than its nearest rival in Uruguay (even without taking into account lawyers based in other countries), Ferrere Abogados is a dynamic and aggressive market leader, seen time and again on the country´s keynote deals. Both in terms of size and reputation it competes with firms from much larger jurisdictions – and indeed among its ground-breaking strategies is a dedication to both local and international expansion, a rarity within Latin America as a whole.

Daniel Ferrere is an innovative and energetic leader, very much at the helm of his law firm, and is also a well-regarded dealmarker and ambassador for the firm internationally. He has put together a team of highly-educated and respected professionals – Andrés Cerisola and Sandra González are two of the top corporate names, and like Ferrere himself were educated at Harvard. Also prominent are Alberto Varela for tax, Diego Rodríguez for corporate and trade, and Martín Cerruti for internet and e-commerce.

The firm has a good mix of local and domestic clients, in energy, telecoms, banking, forestry, real estate and technology, among others. Client response is very positive – “they give me the sense of being in good hands”, says one, while a key European banking client with long experience throughout the region sees the firm´s lawyers as “very good analysts, very precise (mostly uncommon in Latin America), extremely knowledgeable and [with] admirable strategic skills. On top of that I have the impression that they are very well connected in Uruguay and of absolute integrity”. Recently active clients include Petrobras, the Buenos Aires Hotel Corporation, EF Asset Management and wool-producers cooperative Central Lanera Uruguaya.

Ferrere`s ambitious commitment to international expansion was confirmed again in 2007, as the firm opened a representative office in Sao Paulo to add to its full offices in nearby Paraguay and in faraway Bolivia (where Ferrere indeed has two offices, in La Paz and Santa Cruz).The firm also developed its strategy of offering a local service to Uruguayan clients by opening a fourth office in the country, in Tacuarembó, for the firm`s forestry clients; an office in the Montevideo Free Zone and another in the city of Colonia, on the coast opposite Buenos Aires, and the base in the capital complete the portfolio.

At the very end of the year, labor lawyer Verónica Raffo was promoted to the partnership.

Ferrere had a busy year for deals, notably landing a role on one of the region`s deals of the year, they advised Santander and the other lenders of a bridge loan to the new franchisees of McDonald`s restaurants, Argentine consortium Arcos Dorados.

Another financing deal involved advising Crédit Suisse when it structured and financed a forestry M&A – Argentine forestry group Tapebicuá bought Uruguayan paper company Fanapel. In the forestry sector again, two companies terminating a joint venture – Weyerhaeuser Company and Global Forest Partners – both turned to Ferrere in doing so.

The firm again advised on both sides of a deal for the USD 183 million sell-off of the country´s flagship airline Pluna; Daniel Ferrere worked for the government structuring the bid, and Diego Rodríguez and others the winning bidder, Leadgate Investment, a group of Uruguayan, US and German investors.

Public links also proved useful on two further deals – the Ministry of Agriculture called on the firm when securitizing its milk sales income for the second time, this time placing bonds worth USD 43 million on the market in August; they were over-subscribed almost three times. A month later, Uruguay´s Ministry of Housing, Land Use Management and the Environment retained the firm when setting up a mortgage insurance scheme to open up its housing market.

Diego Rodríguez cropped up again leading the team working on a landmark securitization; Uruguayan port developer Cerro Free Port turned to the firm when it became the first company in Uruguay to securitize credits gained from damages paid by the government, issuing USD 22,5 million in bonds backed by damages awarded to it in arbitration.

Other M&A work involved representing the seller of meatpacking plant, US company Global Protein Group, who transferred ownership to Brazil´s Marfrig, and Chevron Oil when selling all of its petrol stations in Uruguay to local fuel distribution company DUCSA.

Alberto Varela's tax practice meanwhile won a landmark case for Uruguay´s leading supermarket chain Tienda Inglesa when it was accused of tax fraud; the decision was the first time a court has not sided with the tax authority since it received a makeover in 2005.

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