Ferrere

2012, Legal 500 Latin America

LEGAL MARKET OVERVIEW

Ferrere … distinguishes itself with its ‘US-style structure'. Traditionally at its strongest in corporate matters, it also continues to gain clients, mandates and market position in the banking and finance sector year-on -year. In addition, it has developed a unique regional footprint with offices in Paraguay and Bolivia. …. It offers clients a 'fantastic degree of professionalism' rarely available in jurisdictions of this size.


BANKING & FINANCE

Ferrere handles matters across the industry spectrum including structured and securities market financing, M&A transactions between financial entities, and regulatory and compliance advice. It receives praise for its ‘skill and speed' as well as for having ‘very professional and efficient partners whose knowledge allows excellent advice'. It also has a project finance practice group, which is led by the highly recommended María Laura Ramón. The team ‘shows a deep understanding of the issues and the peculiarities of the industry and country, and has a strong interaction with the regulatory bodies'. The group acted as local counsel to the lenders (the IDB, Finnvera, Fortis Bank, DNB NOR Bank, Nordea Bank Finland and Banco Santander) alongside US counsel Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP, in relation to the $1.3bn credit facility obtained by Chilean/Finnish joint venture Montes del Plata. It also represented Scotiabank on its acquisition of Nuevo Banco Comercial (NBC) and also of consumer finance company Pronto!. On the domestic front, practice head Diego Rodríguez assisted the Central Bank of Uruguay (which acts as the industry regulator) with a ten month project to restructure its regulations. Andrés Cerisola is recommended for his ‘strategic vision' and practice head Diego Rodríguez for his ‘great strength in specific analysis of the financial industry'. Royal Bank of Canada, Lloyds TSB, Credit Suisse, UBS, JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank are all on the firm's impressive client roster.

Leading lawyer: Diego Rodríguez


CORPORATE AND M&A

Ferrere receives high praise as a ‘premier league firm', one that ‘operates as US firms do, with the same level of efficiency, responsiveness and professionalism'. The team has ‘depth, which always accelerates response times and service quality', and adds ‘value which is priceless'. With a very strong client base in the energy sector, it recently acted for Abener Energía (part of the Abengoa Group) on a $120m contract to build a new bio ethanol processing plant in Uruguay. It also recently advised on a number of multimillion-dollar takeover transactions in the sector. Other energy clients include Exxon, while the firm's varied portfolio also includes strength in the technology and media industries, where it advises IBM, Microsoft, and Telefónica. Across the retail sector, its clients include Estée Lauder, Nike, Red Bull and Nestlé. ‘An outstanding lawyer', managing partner Andrés Cerisola is recommended for his ‘great knowledge of Uruguayan laws and the US legal system which allows him to provide US clients with a superb service'. Practice head and ‘excellent professional' Martín Cerruti, and the ‘principled' Gonzalo Secco, who ‘is a deal-closer', are also recommended. Senior associates Santiago Fontana and Geraldine Ifrán are noted.

Leading lawyers: Gonzalo Secco and Martín Cerruti


DISPUTE RESOLUTION

Dream law firm' Ferrerereally is outstanding'. It ‘impresses for its client service' and gives advice that is ‘timely, superb in quality, and even includes ‘tactical' and political recommendations'. The practice handles a variety of contentious work including both domestic and international litigation and commercial arbitration, and clients say that the team's ‘international exposure' allows it to ‘work on arbitration matters more effectively'. Clients also emphasize the success rate of the department. It recently won the reversal (in a civil court of appeals) of a first instance decision against Uruguayan slaughterhouse Frigorífico Carrasco that required its directors to pay $64m to a minority shareholder for an alleged violation of pre-emptive rights. It is also currently representing JPMorgan Chase, Credit Suisse, Commerzbank and Dresdner Lateinamerika (and others) in multiple litigation cases with the Uruguayan government arising out of the bankruptcy of two financial institutions during the (local) banking crisis of 2002. A recent series of victories has seen the successful reversal of a number of first instance decisions; victory in a second case brought by plaintiffs who held Eurobonds issued by one of the bankrupt entities; and the successful lifting of a $180m arbitral award attachment owed by the Republic of Uruguay to the bank clients. Litigator Andrés Cerisola is ‘not only an excellent lawyer, but also a very prudent advisor'. Clients note that practice head Sandra González has ‘benefited tremendously' from working closely with Cerisola and now ‘stands on her own and delivers excellent work', able to ‘manage complicated issues'. Julio Iribarne also receives high praise along with senior associate Alejandro Pintos.

Leading lawyers: Andrés Cerisola and Sandra González


LABOUR & EMPLOYMENT

Working very closely with the corporate and banking departments, Ferrere offers an ‘integrated' service on labour and employment law matters, including social security. Industry knowledge and legal analysis of a case (‘taking into consideration every possible factor that could influence the outcome') are held to be among the strengths of the team. It also ‘understands the client's needs' and ‘demonstrates adaptability to different business situations'. Work handled on the non-contentious side includes general advisory, collective bargaining and negotiations with unions and government bodies. It acted for the Uruguayan Plastics Industry Association (AUIP) in negotiations with the metallurgical union UNTMRA, one of the strongest in the country. The team also handles work on the litigious side of the practice and is presently defending a financial institution in a multimillion-dollar labour lawsuit. Verónica Raffo and of counsel Nelson Larrañaga co-head the department. Raffo is considered an ‘expert on labour law matters and is very successful in handling complex issues'. Larrañaga is highly praised for his ‘application of the laws and regulations to the case in point'. Senior associates Lourdes Denis and Martín Fridman are also recommended.

Leading lawyers: Verónica Raffo and Nelson Larrañaga


REAL ESTATE

Always one step ahead', Ferrere fields an accomplished real estate practice that handles matters including land acquisition for developers, investors or businesses and the structuring of real estate investment trusts (REITs) for development projects. Working across the hotel and tourism, commercial property and residential property sectors, it ‘provides ingenious solutions to problems that may arise and always has an alternative, almost always achieving the desired objective'. The ‘very integrated' team is comprised not only of lawyers but also public notaries, economists and technicians. In addition to the firm's Montevideo office, the real estate practice also operates from an office in Punta del Este, led by senior associate Carlos Falco. The team recently assisted on the $62m Diamantis Plaza Lofts & Towers residential development (comprising three towers and a total of 410 apartments). It also advised forestry enterprise Agroempresa Forestal on the creation of a timberland fund for the development of a forestry project, and acted for Chilean private fund manager Independencia on the creation of a REIT in Uruguay. Practice head Julio Iribarne receives resounding praise. Diego Rodríguez is also recommended and focuses his practice on the structuring of real estate funds and trusts.

Leading lawyers: Julio Iribarne


TAX

Ferrere offers its tax clients ‘clear responses that demonstrate wide knowledge and experience'. The ‘service is very good' and the team ‘combines legal and tax accounting skills that ensure the answer provided is accurate and covers a wide range of issues at the same time'. The group handles the tax due diligence matters derived from the transactional activity of the corporate department, and also advises on tax structures and also tax litigation. In addition, it works closely with the firm's consultancy services arm CPA Ferrere, comprised of accountants, consultants, economists and analysts. The group recently advised GolTV on a tax efficient structure for the movement of the broadcasting company's operations from Miami (USA) to Uruguay. It also successfully defended JPMorgan Chase, Dresdner Lateinamerika and Credit Suisse in a tax claim brought by the Tax Administration (DGI). Practice head Alberto Varela and senior associate Gianni Gutiérrez are singled out and praised for their ‘demonstration of deep knowledge of the matters handled'. Varela has a particular focus on corporate taxation and litigation.

Leading lawyer: Alberto Varela


INTELECTUAL PROPERTY

Ferrere is considered by many to be ‘the leader in the field' when it comes to IP matters, offering clients ‘service levels of the highest quality' and ‘dedicated lawyers who are specialists in their respective areas'. The group was bolstered in early 2011 by the arrival of five lawyers (through the incorporation of IP boutique Mónica Bacot & Asociados) including María Cea and Stella Weng. The consolidated practice has ‘experience that speaks for itself', and handles matters ranging from trade mark registration and patent protection, to trade mark and copyright litigation. It has developed sector-specific expertise, particularly in entertainment, pharmaceuticals and the life sciences, and also focuses on a developing area relating to the convergence of IP rights and antitrust and competition law. A recent highlight saw the firm acting for pharmaceutical technology company Nanokem (which uses IP-protected synthesis processes) in obtaining an operating license from the Uruguayan Health Ministry. It also advised health care giant Abbott Laboratories on its legal strategy for patent enforcement subsequent to securing the registration of a patent for an anti-retroviral drug. Practice head Agustín Mayer is ‘an opinion leader on these issues' who ‘engenders trust between parties' and is respected for his ‘aptitude, knowledge and experience'. Also recommended are senior associates Alejandro Alterwain, Martín Pesce and Leticia Aguiar.

Leading lawyer: Agustín Mayer


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