Ferrere

Latin Lawyer 2016 Ecuador

Bold entry from ambitious firm

Established: 2015 Partners: 4 Total lawyers: 40

Ferrere’s entry to Ecuador completes the expansion of Uruguay’s largest law firm across Latin America’s smaller economies. The firm arrived in Quito in June 2015, opening its doors with four partners and now as around 40 lawyers largely drawn from local firms.

Ferrere (Ecuador) is staffed with some well-known names who bring particular strength in arbitration ¬– thanks to lead partner Javier Robalino – energy and corporate and finance work. The operation was built on the same model as Ferrere’s other offices outside of Uruguay; by sourcing leading local talent and convincing lawyers who have spent time in prominent foreign firms to return home. The Quito office includes a partner who worked at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, for example. It also has the shared ambition of wanting to become the country’s largest firm. Already, lawyers have got off to a busy start in the energy sector and have received glowing praise, particularly from partners of international firms. The firm hopes to use Ferrere’s wider reach in areas such as project finance and arbitration and target complex practice areas, such as pharmaceutical law.

PEOPLE & PRACTICES

ARBITRATION

Prominent arbitrator Javier Robalino helms the office having left another firm in this chapter where he was name partner. He is best known for his success rate in major investment treaty arbitrations brought by oil companies against the Ecuadorean government after the country revised its hydrocarbons law. He has represented prominent names such as Burlington Resources and has been described by clients as very smart, well connected and sensitive to clients’ needs. The team overall is described by a prominent international firm as very professional and experienced in the energy sector.

ENERGY

The combination of Ecuador’s former hydrocarbons secretary Andrés Donoso and Javier Robalino, known for his experience in energy related disputes, has enabled Ferrere to hit the ground running in this area. The partner of one international firm with a strong energy practice says Ferrere has the strongest oil and gas practice in the country, describing Robalino as “very knowledgeable and well connected” and praising Donoso for his “deep understanding of the industry” and “ability to navigate the local regulatory environment”. Donoso was also chief negotiator for Ecuador on its oil and mining contracts and has held in-house positions at Petroamazonas and Dispetrol. In 2015, the pair helped Kamana Services, owned by oilfield services provider Schlumberger and Italian-Argentine hydrocarbons explorer Tecpetrol, amend a multimillion-dollar contract with state-owned energy company Petroamazonas to assure robust payment guarantees amid falling oil prices – after Robalino helped Schlumberger sign a memorandum of understanding with the Ecuadorean government to invest US$2.3 billion in an oilfield. He also assisted Orion Energy in obtaining operatorship rights of two oil blocks.

CORPORATE AND M&A

Corporate lawyer Paola Gachet builds on her experience as partner at her former firm and is well versed in complex negotiations with the government. She also contributes to the tax team. Andrés Donoso andJavier Robalino also lend their skills to this area. A leading international lawyer active in the region describes the latter as a “careful, thoughtful and mature lawyer with strong analytical skills and impeccable ethics”.

BANKING & FINANCE

Jesús Beltrán joined Ferrere from his role as general counsel for Latin America (excluding Brazil and Mexico) and the Caribbean at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch. There, he worked on sovereign bond offerings by Paraguay and Bolivia among other debt offerings and IPOs by the likes of Cemex, Arcos Dorados and Santander México. He was part of the team when BAML was financial advisor for the merger of CorpBanca with Itau’s operations. Although he grew up in Ecuador, Beltrán pursued a legal career in New York, and is now seeking his licence to practise in Ecuador. He is also a former associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP. Beltrán “has a nuanced understanding of local rules and regulations as well as years of experience as a New York practising attorney. It is a rare combination and makes him an asset to the firm,” says someone who has worked with him closely.

CLIENTS

Oilfield services provider Schlumberger and Orion Energy have kept the firm busy and multinationals are also using the team. The firm will also be a natural port of call for the large, international client base of Ferrere as a whole.

OFFICES

The Ecuador operation is the final leg of the ambitious and successful relaunch of Ferrere’s regionalisation programme under the leadership of Andrés Cerisola. The Ecuadorean operation adds to offices in Bolivia, Paraguay and its home jurisdiction of Uruguay. While the majority of the team is in Quito, there is also a small outpost in the port city of Manta.

PRO BONO

Ferrere is in the process of creating a pro bono foundation. Already lawyers have taken on pro bono cases – working with the Christian Mission Health Foundation as it tries to reopen a hospital and taking on an immigration and human rights case for a Cuban man looking to live in Ecuador legally, among others.

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© 2017, Ferrere Attorneys