Probably the most established corporate firm in Montevideo, with a faithful blue-chip clientele, a wealth of experience and excellent international connections, Guyer blends tradition and modernity – notably through substantial investment in leading-edge technology.
PEOPLE & PRACTICES
Nicolás Herrera is without doubt the most prominent partner at the firm, heading deal teams across practice areas and leading the relations with key clients; one banking client says, “he has a vast experience in banking and M&A, and is supported by an excellent group of partners and associates”. Nicolás Piaggio is another high-profile name, while our client research also highlighted Álvaro Tarabal for his commercial and dealmaking skills, corporate and tax lawyer Juan Manuel Albacete – “meets our needs with excellence” – labour and litigation lawyer Leonardo Slinger, and banking associate Isabel Lindner. In comparison to the other Uruguayan firms on this list, a notably high proportion of Guyer’s lawyers have worked or studied abroad, particularly at associate level.
Clients are loyal – Unilever, for example, has turned to the firm in Uruguay for the last 50 years, and country manager Luis María Rodríguez says “they have provided excellent practical and commercial advice… the best legal service we require. The team has demonstrated deep knowledge in these areas and go beyond the legal aspects, taking the time to understand our business.” A leading emerging markets investment manager says, “the firm provides an excellent client focused and professional level of service,” while one of the country’s biggest banking clients says “all of the attorneys we interact with have excellent knowledge of the law and execution capabilities – we consider them an honorary part of our internal legal team.”
The firm has grown at the associate level, while on the deal front Guyer has been involved in some of the country’s biggest M&As of the year. It advised Arcos Dorados, the new franchisees of McDonald’s restaurants in Latin America, Bank of America when it sold its assets in Uruguay to Banco Itaú, and Dutch bank ING when it bought Santander’s pensions businesses in Latin America. Swiss bank Banque Heritage also turned to the firm when it bought a majority stake in Uruguay’s Banco Surinvest, making it the only Uruguayan bank to have complete liquidity since the country’s financial crisis of 2002.
Guyer also advised on the country’s project finance deal of the year, representing the lenders, led by Calyon and Nordea Bank Finland, of a US$470 million loan to Botnia for its pulp mill project in Fray Bentos, Uruguay – the largest credit ever granted to a company operating in the country.
Brazilian meat group Marfrig proved a profitable client, retaining the firm when it bought a third meatpacking plant in Uruguay, the La Caballada plant, in April, and again when it added another worth US$230 million in November. Another Brazilian client, rice producer Camil Alimentos, also hired Guyer when buying one of Uruguay’s leading rice exporters.
On the capital markets side, the firm advised Puerta del Sur, the concessionaire of Montevideo’s international airport, when it made what counsel called the largest issuance of bonds in Uruguay, worth US$87 million, in April – the bonds sold out in three hours. Winterbotham Fiduciaria, a Uruguayan investment management company, also turned to the firm when it acted as trustee on a placement ‘certificates of participation’, backed by non-performing credits from Banco Santander, directly to private institutions. The deal was the first time a financial trust has made a private placement to financial institutions in Uruguay, and the first time a bank’s credits have been securitised. Last but not least, Citigroup retained the firm at the very end of the year when it managed a sovereign bond restructure worth US$240 million.