Ferrere

Latin Lawyer 2015, Paraguay

Ambitious firm with growing profile

Established: 2003 Partners: 4 Total lawyers: 23

Ferrere has grand designs for its Paraguay office. The firm’s headcount has grown every year since establishing itself in the jurisdiction just over a decade ago, and has its sights set on becoming one of the country’s largest law firms in line with Paraguay’s rapid economic expansion.

Uruguay’s largest firm opened up in Paraguay just over a decade ago and more recently opened an office in Bolivia as part of a strategy to break into the region’s smaller economies. Ferrere has recently been persuading talented nationals to return home from careers in US firms, reporting success in both countries, and has a policy to have at least one US-trained partner per office in order to differentiate it from local competition; the Paraguay office has three. The firm has also introduced a financial aid programme – long in place in the Uruguayan branch – for young lawyers interested in pursuing LLMs abroad.

The office’s well-regarded leader, Néstor Loizaga, has done much to build the profile of both the Paraguayan and the Bolivian operations, but is now dedicating all of his attention to the Asunción office in light of its recent growth spurt. Staffed entirely by local lawyers, Ferrere has a strong corporate culture and stands out in Asunción by not originating from a family structure and having a relatively young partnership for Paraguay. The firm has sound knowledge of the Paraguayan marketplace while benefiting from the resources and expertise of one of Uruguay’s market leaders when new legal challenges arise. The firm has prospered from work sourced from companies already used to Ferrere’s well-regarded service in Uruguay, and from the firm being a regular feature on development bank loans. One important energy client says they chose Ferrere when entering Paraguay after using the Uruguayan firm and praises the Asunción lawyers’ professionalism and commitment.

PEOPLE & PRACTICES

Firm leader Néstor Loizaga has made great strides to build the firm into what it is today, having joined after working as an adviser to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. His strength lies in corporate and M&A work and a busy 2014 saw him advise a number of international clients across a range of sectors. Among them were US fertiliser company Mosaic, which he helped to acquire Archer Daniels Midland’s Brazilian and Paraguayan fertiliser businesses; Norwegian materials company Elkem Foundry Invest, which he helped in a joint venture with two Argentine investors to construct a ferrosilicon plant in Paraguay; Transatlantic Reinsurance Company (TransRe), which turned to him to acquire a 45 per cent stake in Paraguayan reinsurer El Sol; and US publisher Penguin Random House, which he helped to buy the trade book business of Spanish and Portuguese language publisher Santillana. He is praised by one client for being ‘quick in understanding our intentions and very comprehensive on the aspects of our business’, and comes recommended in LACCA Approved, in-house counsel research conducted by Latin Lawyer’s sister association, the Latin American Corporate Counsel Association. The firm regularly counsels the Inter-American Development Bank on loan agreements. Loizaga wins praise from clients, with one general counsel describing him as ‘competent, clear, thoughtful, with a good understanding of the underlying business transaction’.

Guillermo Jover will strengthen the firm’s banking and corporate practice after joining from White & Case LLP, where he advised such clients as Scotiabank and the International Finance Corporation, while partner Carlos Vasconsellos is also key, having built up useful experience working in US firm Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP. One client thinks Ferrere’s lawyers have ‘stepped up their game’ since Vasconsellos arrived on the scene in 2012, thanks to his excellent service, expertise in his field and good follow-up of transactions. The office’s M&A work generates positive feedback: ‘The due diligence process was impeccable,’ says one regular client, ‘as well as their assistance in negotiating the terms of the share purchase agreement.’ Vasconsellos and Loizaga are renowned as a formidable negotiating team, advising clients such as US private equity fund JH Partners. Agribusiness has become a key growth area, led by Federico Silva, who has built up the firm’s environmental work as key clients such as Cargill seek to expand in the country. As well as taking on board corporate and financial work, Loizaga plays a hand in Ferrere’s other practice areas, such as administrative law, where he has assisted LDH Energy in two international bids launched by state-owned oil company Petropar, and labour, where he regularly advised Petrobras in connection with union matters in Paraguay. Loizaga also assists Valentín Sánchez with insurance and reinsurance matters, while working alongside Vasconsellos in maritime and trade law. Other lawyers to garner praise include Anibal Pangrazio for his work in tax, and Marysol Estigarribia, who became the first female partner in Paraguay when she was promoted at the beginning of 2014. Both Pangrazio and Estigarribia come recommended in LACCA Approved. Estigarribia counsels a number of multinational corporations with operations in Paraguay on labour law matters; a practice area described by one local fruit producer as ‘very professional’.

CLIENTS

The majority of Ferrere’s work in Paraguay comes from international clients, drawn to the firm thanks to its reputation in Uruguay. ‘Ferrere is an exemplary law firm, with highly professional and trained staff who have not only guided us admirably with all requirements, legal and otherwise, but also shown great capacity in assisting us in avoiding potential problems common when investing in another country,’ says one multilateral client. Another describes Ferrere as ‘outstanding within the region’, praising the firm’s deep knowledge of banking and finance, reliability and its hands-on partners. One industrial client that has turned to the firm to expand in Latin America lauds Ferrere for being ‘knowledgeable, helpful and responsive’, adding that on a personal level ‘everyone at the firm has been pleasant and easy to work with’. The firm regularly advises Petrobras, its oldest client in Paraguay, and has advised Vale on labour matters and regional restructuring. Credit Suisse, Oikocredit, the International Finance Corporation, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Andean Development Corporation have also sought counsel from the firm.

OFFICES

Ferrere also has five offices in Uruguay and two in Bolivia.

PRO BONO

Ferrere (Paraguay) is recognised by Latin Lawyer as a Leading Light for its pro bono work. Carlos Vasconsellos is currently spearheading an initiative to institutionalise the practice of pro bono across Ferrere’s three offices, which will see the introduction of a code of conduct and set monthly hours for associates to ensure a regular stream of projects.

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© 2017, Ferrere Attorneys