Ferrere

Latin Lawyer 2016, Paraguay

Ambitious firm with growing profile

Established: 2003 Partners: 4 Total lawyers: 25

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 its leaders have set their sights on becoming one of the country’s largest law firms in line with Paraguay’s rapid economic expansion. Staffed entirely by local lawyers and headed by the well-regarded Néstor Loizaga, Ferrere has a strong corporate culture and stands out in Asunción for not having roots as a family firm and for having a relatively young partnership. The firm has sound knowledge of the Paraguayan marketplace, but also benefits from the resources and expertise of one of Uruguay’s market leaders when new legal challenges arise, as well as regional reach thanks to offices in Bolivia and Ecuador that are similarly ambitious. In Paraguay, Ferrere’s busiest areas are its corporate and banking practices, the latter of which can frequently be found working on a steady stream of development bank financings. Much of the corporate practice’s time is spent counselling new investors keen to tap into Paraguay’s optimistic economic growth prospects, allowing the firm to maintain a high-value, high-profile deal flow. A newer area of focus is public infrastructure, which Paraguay’s government is keen to funnel investment into using an ambitious PPP programme. Management-wise, Ferrere is committed to running a US-style, institutionalised firm and has staffed its Asunción office with a number of talented nationals who formerly had successful careers in US firms. The firm takes pride in the international experience its lawyers boast and has made efforts to continue the trend among younger generations of lawyers; as such, a financial aid programme exists for young lawyers interested in pursuing LLMs abroad.

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 he has a number of international clients across a range of sectors. He has been visible in a number of deals taking place in Paraguay’s large agriculture industry, but has also done deals in the insurance and publishing sectors. In 2015, Loizaga, along with Guillermo Jover, a US-qualified former White & Case LLP lawyer, guided Miami-based realtor Fortune International on its acquisition of a plot of land in northern Asunción, where it plans to build a luxury residential project. Loizaga is praised by one client for his quick understanding and comprehensive approach to business, and is recommended in LACCA Approved, in-house counsel research conducted by Latin Lawyer’s sister association, the Latin American Corporate Counsel Association. Carlos Vasconsellos, who used to work at US firm Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP, leads the firm’s banking and finance practice and comes recommended in LACCA Approved. Marysol Estigarribia heads up telecoms work for Ferrere, as well as providing labour counsel, an area in which she wins praise from clients. Estigarribia also comes LACCA Approved. As Paraguay’s economy looks set to grow at one of fastest rates in Latin America, the firm has reported an increase in foreign companies setting up shop in the country, bringing with them an uptick in the work available for corporate lawyers. In 2015, Loizaga, Vasconsellos and Estigarribia were engaged by a number of foreign investors establishing bases in the country; they helped German wiring company Leoni to buy an industrial plant to start its operations there. The trio were also enlisted by Salvadorean retail group Unicomer when it bought a local chain of electronic retail stores. Vasconsellos has a profitable partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank that pulls in plenty of work for the firm. In 2015, he helped the bank lend to Paraguay’s Banco Regional, Banco Continental and Sudameris Bank. Vasconsellos also advised the development bank when it acted as guarantor to loans supplied to local banks by Paraguay’s social security institution, IPS. His remit also extends to capital markets work – he recently represented Dutch development bank FMO when it bought subordinated bonds from Sudameris Bank. In the words of one client, Vasconsellos is credited with prompting the office to ‘step up its game’, thanks to his excellent service, expertise in his field and good follow-up of transactions. This is an office whose M&A capabilities make it popular with clients, with one declaring that the due diligence process handled by the firm is ‘impeccable’. Vasconsellos and Loizaga are renowned as a formidable negotiating team, and both have experience working with private equity clients. In addition to his corporate practice, Loizaga plays a hand in Ferrere’s other practice areas, such as administrative law, where he has worked on international bids launched by state-owned oil company Petropar, and labour, where he regularly advises Petrobras in connection with union matters in Paraguay. Loizaga also heads the firm’s maritime and insurance areas.

CLIENTS

The majority of Ferrere’s work in Paraguay comes from international clients, drawn to the firm thanks to its reputation in Uruguay. Recent international companies to use the firm include Miami-based realtor Fortune International, Salvadorean retail group Unicomer and German wiring company Leoni. One multilateral client recommends Ferrere’s highly professional and trained staff, who helped it avoid problems common when investing in new countries. Another says Ferrere’s knowledge of banking and finance, reliability and its hands-on partners make it ‘outstanding within the region’. One industrial client that has turned to the firm to expand in Latin America credits everyone at Ferrere for being 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, Dutch development bank FMO, 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, two in Bolivia and one in Ecuador.

PRO BONO

Ferrere (Paraguay) is recognised by Latin Lawyer as a Leading Light for its pro bono work. Carlos Vasconsellos spearheads an initiative to institutionalise the practice of pro bono across the four jurisdictions where Ferrere has offices.

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© 2017, Ferrere Attorneys