Legal 500
2013

Banking & Finance

Guyer & Regules‘ ‘greatest advantage is its industry knowledge‘, which ‘is based on years of being the leader in the banking and finance sector‘. Moreover, it offers clients ‘timely and practical advice‘ coupled with ‘exceptional service‘ and is recommended ‘unhesitatingly‘. In a matter led by Nicolás Piaggio, it recently acted as counsel (alongside US-based Shearman & Sterling LLP) to Citigroup and HSBC Securities (as underwriters and deal managers) on the Uruguayan government’s $2bn global bonds issuance. It also represented Itaú Bank and GAP Consultores, as structuring agents, in gaming and entertainment company Hípica Rioplatense’s $30m bond issuance in the local market. A further highlight saw the group acting for longstanding pulp company client Montes del Plata on securing a $1.3bn credit facility from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and Finnvera (the Finnish government’s export credit agency). This is the country’s largest foreign direct investment project to date. Piaggio heads the corporate and banking group alongside the ‘highly esteemedNicolás Herrera and Alvaro Tarabal. Also recommended are Juan Manuel Albacete, who offers an ‘excellent balance between regulatory compliance and business focused solutions‘; Diego Baldomir, who has a ‘great attitude and knowledge‘; Juan Manuel Mercant; and senior associate Florencia Castagnola, who ‘has a talent for providing legal feedback‘ that is suited to the client.

Corporate and M&A

Guyer & Regules is ‘always one of the first recommendations‘ for corporate matters offering service of ‘the highest level possible no matter the size of the project‘, ‘partners who give personal attention‘ and ‘a work product of the highest quality‘. A busy year for the group saw it advising Eurnekian Group in a $1bn sale of duty free shops in a number of airports in different countries including Uruguay’s Punta del Este airport. It also assisted Colombian retailer Éxito on its regional expansion with the headline $746m acquisition of the Disco and Devoto supermarket chains in Uruguay. The team also undertook a number of major finance sector M&A’s including representing ING Group on the Uruguayan leg of its $3.8bn regional asset sale to Colombia’s Grupo Sura, and acting for BBVA on its $100m acquisition of Crédit Agricole subsidiary, Crédit Uruguay Banco. Clients value Juan Manuel Mercant and joint practice head Alvaro Tarabal for ‘coupling business acumen with strong legal knowledge in order to give accurate and punctual advice‘. Senior partner Nicolás Herrera and departmental co-head Nicolás Piaggio are ‘invaluable‘. Recently appointed partner Corina Bove impresses clients with her ‘responsiveness and outstanding ability to provide advice in a customer-focused way‘. Minerva, Geely International and Louis Dreyfus Energy are among new clients that have recently been added to an already enviable client roster including Unilever, Petrobras, Philip Morris and Stora Enso. Senior associate Valentina Larrobla recently left the firm.

Dispute resolution

Simply stated, Guyer & Regulesdelivers top-drawer service and achieves remarkable results‘. The firm has an undeniable strength in litigation and arbitration matters and receives resounding praise as a ‘very strong team: dynamic, very agile and with quick response times‘. The team is also ‘very knowledgeable about the Uruguayan courts, and sensitive to the needs of US clients‘ with ‘a strong commercial awareness‘. It recently successfully defended rating agency Moody’s in a series of lawsuits brought by investors in Banco Montevideo (rated by Moody’s), seeking multimillion-dollar damages. The first instance judge rejected the actions brought. Another highlight saw the group successfully representing the Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC) in a fraud action brought by two bondholders who claimed that they were misled into investing in (bankrupt) poultry processing company Granja Moro. The court of first instance dismissed the action against the IIC on all its terms. Other key clients of the group include Citibank, Telefónica, BBVA, Petrobas, Unilever and Philip Morris. Practice head Carlos Brandes is ‘an outstanding litigator. He is composed in front of the courts and knows how to handle foreign clients.Alvaro Tarabal also receives praise as ‘a very good advisor, always trying to find ways to resolve the issue through negotiation and not wait for the final decision of the judges‘. Associates María Eloísa Cerdeña, Ana Paula González and Federico Florin are also recommended.

Labour and employment

Guyer & Regules is respected by clients for its long tradition of top-flight service and its ‘contributions to innovation in the sector‘ are also noted. Praised as ‘excellent‘, the ‘robust team‘ is made up of ‘specialists with great industry knowledge, response times, and balance between price and quality‘. The department handles labour and social security advisory work and litigious matters. Recent highlights for the group include assisting Philip Morris International in connection with the labour issues arising from industrial closures. It also advised CitiGroup on the transfer of employees from the bank to its recently established non-banking company, and all related labour matters. The Uruguayan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCSU) recently engaged the firm to prepare a report in relation to the application of the new collective agreements regulation. Practice heads Eduardo Ameglio and Leonardo Slinger receive strong recommendations for their experience, knowledge and ‘clear vision as to legal advice‘. The involvement of associates María José Poey, Juan Orticochea and Santiago Madalena in labour trials is also valued by clients.

Real Estate

The largest department of its kind in the country, Guyer & Regules‘ real estate practice advises local, regional and international clients on all real estate matters and works across sectors including agriculture and forestry, industry and commercial properties, residential projects, tourism and infrastructure. It was also one of the first firm’s to open a real-estate specific office in the popular resort of Punta del Este. The team offers ‘excellent service‘ and is ‘quick to answer, efficient and reasonably priced‘. A highlight saw it acting for Montes del Plata in connection with land acquisition and leases for forestry exploitation and wood supply to the pulp mill it currently has under construction. It also represented clients (including Ingleby Group and Union Agriculture Group), on farm land acquisition and the execution of related agreements (such as leases and cattle grazing agreements). The team is led by two partners: Federico Susena, who has a focus on the real estate issues associated with infrastructure and energy projects; and the ‘extraordinaryJohn Leaman, who is ‘a great facilitator‘ and has ‘amazing culture and knowledge‘. Both are regarded as experts in the field and are highly recommended. Other key clients for the practice include TGLT Real Estate, Vik Retreats, Hancock Natural Resource Group and Rougaignon Family Group.

Tax

Guyer & Regules fields a team of almost 40 professionals (including accountants), in the tax sector and impresses clients with great ‘timing, knowledge and strength in depth‘. It undertakes the full range of tax services including advice and planning, advice on treaties and double taxation, audits, and representation in contentious issues at all instances, as well as undertaking all the tax work associated with the firm’s activity in the banking and corporate sectors. The tax team also works closely with the firm’s corporations and accounting services, and offshore teams to design tax planning structures and address issues such as tax minimisation, free trade zones and the efficiency of legal vehicles. The department’s practice head Juan Manuel Albacete is one of three partners in the team. Advising across the breadth of the sector, he is regarded as a genuine ‘expert in taxes‘. A recent highlight saw the practice advise BBVA on all the tax implications of its $100m merger with Crédit Agricole. It also advised CitiGroup on a tax analysis of the establishment of a new non-banking company at the Uruguayan Free Trade Zone. The quality of service is reflected in a client roster that includes Citibank, Techint-Tenaris, Philip Morris, Unilever, Montes del Plata (Arauco-Stora Enso) and Petrobras. Senior associate Florencia Castagnola is also highly recommended.