2009, Latin Lawyer

Aggressive market leader with regional presence

Established: 1957

Total lawyers: 84 Partners: 13

Now comfortably Uruguay's largest law firm, FERRERE steers important transactions at home and is also notable for its multi-jurisdictional reach, having expanded into Latin America's smaller economies. Growth has been impressive of late, with the headcount in Uruguay growing by 20 over the past year.

Harvard-educated Daniel Ferrere is the firm's ideas man and a successful dealmaker at home and internationally. Runner-up as LATIN LAWYER'S Law Firm Leader of the Year for 2008, Ferrere puts a great deal of effort into generating growth opportunities for the firm and its lawyers. Prominent names include Diego Rodríguez for corporate and trade (who studied at Harvard too) Alberto Varela for tax, and Martín Cerruti for corporate and agribusiness. Andrés Cerisola is a recognised name in arbitration and litigation, described by a German client as one of the most competent lawyers in all of Latin America: "He is an extremely skilful, a serious worker and a true gentleman, who in finding solutions for your : problem will always also take strategic and political issues into account."

The same client believes the "very gifted" Sandra González has what it takes to follow in Cerisola´s footsteps. Both Cerisola and Gonzalez are also Harvard educated. In line with Uruguayan firms' multidisciplinary tendencies FERRERE has an accounting arm, CPA Ferrere.

The firm's client list is impressively varied, both geographically and in terms of sectors - notably banking, pharmaceutical and retail. Feedback suggests a high level of client satisfaction. "They give the sense of being in good hands", says one. A major European banking client describes the firm´s lawyers as "very good analysts, very precise, extremely knowledgeable and [with] admirable strategic skills. On top of that I have the impression that they are very well connected in Uruguay and have absolute integrity." While actively competing for major transactional work in Uruguay, Ferrere continues to provide corporate and M&A services for local and international companies without high profiles to maintain growth in a country where high-end deals are limited.

Ferrere employs some 30 lawyers outside Uruguay and there are plans a foot for that number to increase, the idea being that die firm acts as a one- stop shop across South America's smaller jurisdictions. The firm´s recent expansion strategy culminated with the opening of an office in Ecuador in 2008. Ferrere now has seven offices in total, including three at home, in Montevideo, Colonia and Tacuarembó, one in Paraguay's capital, Asunción, and two in Bolivia's major cities, La Paz and Santa Cruz. It also has a representative office in Sao Paulo.

Lawyers average 32 hours a year, in part providing services to a foundation working for a drug-free Uruguay and to the Montevideo Philharmonic Orchestra. The firm also provides free legal counselling through the office of the Archbishop of Montevideo.

Right at the end of 2007, Verónica Raffo, head of labour, and Magali Paats, who manages Ferrere's international outposts, were named partners. In June, Gonzalo Secco was promoted in the corporate department. The firm has also created an executive committee, composed of Daniel Ferrere, Alberto Varela, Agustín Mayer, Julio Iribarne and Magali Paats, which concentrates on management functions and trains young partners on the management of the firm.

At home the firm worked on a number of high-profile transactions in 2008. It was hired by the Uruguayan government to advise on its new insurance system for mortgage loans. Alejandro Hernández Maestroni worked on Uruguay's largest ever bank financing, advising the consortium headed by Spanish banking group BBVA when it agreed to loan more than US$1.9 billion to Spanish pulp and paper company Ence. The firm also continued to assist the group of banks that refinanced the US$350 million bridge loan that Arcos Dorados used to secure its franchise of the McDonald's Corporation's Latin American restaurants. It also assisted German and Dutch development financing banks on the Uruguayan legal aspects of a loan to Argentine pulp and paper producer, Celulosa Argentina. Diego Rodríguez advised all parties on the financing package for government highway and sewage works in the Uruguayan department of Canelones.

On the M&A front, Agustín Mayer advised Siemens Health Care Diagnostics, the worlds largest clinical diagnostics company, in its acquisition of DPC Medlab de Uruguay. Most recently, the firm advised one of Uruguay's leading construction companies, SACEEM, when Brazilian private equity fund Advisors Investment bought a stake in it.

In dispute matters, Andrés Cerisola successfully advised Credit Suisse, Dresdner Bank and JPMorgan Chase in ICC arbitration and a civil action against Uruguay stemming from the collapse of Banco Commercial.

In Paraguay, the firm has advised the Inter- American Investment Corporation (IIC) and Dutch microfinancer Oikocredit on lending to a number of local companies.

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