Guyer & Regules
Elite dealmaker at the top of its game
Guyer & Regules’ name is synonymous with prestige and high-end dealmaking, and so it sits very comfortably at the top ofUruguay’s legal market, in which it has been practising for over a century. Today it offers a blend of tradition and enterprise that is appreciated by its long-standing, high-profile clients.
Guyer & Regules is particularly notable for its transactional work, pulling in an enviable proportion of Uruguayan deals year on year. The firm can count on a steady stream of work thanks to its excellent reputation at home and internationally, something the firm has leveraged off to deepen its already impressive full-service offer (which is reflected in its expanding headcount). A great number ofMontevideo’s most eminent lawyers belong to this dynamic firm’s partnership, and they work tirelessly to ensure the firm leads the way in many of the areas of law in which it practises. This has seen the firm investing in its energy offer asUruguayworks towards greater energy independence. Next to its prominent M&A, banking and finance, tax and litigation teams, tourism, agribusiness and real estate are other major sources of work.
PEOPLE & PRACTICES
CORPORATE AND M&A
As befits a transactional heavyweight, M&A is a strong suit under Nicolás Herrera, Nicolás Piaggio and Álvaro Tarabal. The corporate group is praised for being “a team that executes its role with accuracy and gives creative solutions when needed”. Herrera and Piaggio are successful promoters of the firm’s name overseas and command particular respect in the marketplace, with one financial client likening their technical skills to those of top lawyers in New York and London (Piaggio is ex-Linklaters) and rightly noting their preference for deals which are innovative and multi-jurisdictional in nature. Piaggio is a particularly prolific transactional lawyer, while a client says Herrera is one of the most experienced lawyers and smartest dealmakers to come out of Uruguay in the last two decades. Another client describes Tarabal as “extremely competent, knowledgeable and well connected.” The M&A team is known to be one of the busiest (if not the busiest) in Montevideo, with its stellar reputation ensuring the firm is present on many high-profile deals. Piaggio had a typically industrious 2012. He helped Denmark’s Saxo Bank enter Uruguay with the purchase of local securities broker NVN Securities, and worked with Alejandro Miller to advise Chilean casino operator Enjoy when it acquired a stake in its Punta del Este Baluma resort, owned by US rival Caesars Entertainment. He also helped UK insurer Old Mutual buy a stake in Uruguayan financial services group Aiva Business Platform, and, together with newly appointed partner Corina Bove, represented Uruguayan supermarket chain Multiahorro – a client he has previously assisted in antitrust matters with Juan Manuel Mercant – when it was acquired by rival Ta-Ta. Piaggio was also visible advising the Uruguayan arm of Brazilian state-owned oil company Petrobras in an airport fuelling service joint venture with its Uruguayan counterpart, ANCAP, and the concessionaire of Montevideo’s international airport, Puerta del Sur. These are far from the only headline transactions the firm has worked on. Tarabal and Mercant were called upon by HSBC for the sale of its operations in Uruguay, while Tarabal helped Uruguay’s main industrial chemicals exporter, American Chemical ICSA, when it was sold to a Brazilian competitor.
BANKING & FINANCE
The skills of Nicolás Piaggio and Álvaro Tarabal are as visible in banking and finance as they are in M&A, through the large number of financial institutions the firm represents. Diego Baldomir, Juan Manuel Mercant and Gerardo Porteiro are other key names here, often seen advising prominent banks, such as HSBC, on their activities in the country. The firms banking lawyers are lauded for giving “solid and expert advice” even in the most complex matters.
Nicolás Piaggio’s practice extends to capital markets work. He is regularly called upon by the banks for the country’s sovereign debt issuances and helped in its US$2 billion placement at the start of 2012. He went on to work with Corina Bove on behalf of arrangers BancoItaú and Gap Consultores in a US$12 million bond placement by Maroñas horse racing track concessionaire HípicaRioplatense.
Juan Manuel Albacete is a leading name in this field, and said to “meet our needs with excellence”. The team has gained experience in developing the necessary tax structure for clients seeking to bid for Uruguay’s offshore blocks. It is also backed up by a sizeable CPA practice.
Carlos Brandes is renowned as having “vast experience in civil litigation and particularly in international commercial arbitration”. He leads the practice with Leonardo Slinger, who combines litigation with his expertise in labour matters. Recent key work has seen the team win a victory for Telefónica against a fishing company over damage caused to its submarine communications cable network, as well as settle a contract litigation case on behalf of Uruguayan distributor Trialand and obtain the dismissal of an unconstitutionality action brought against Phillip Morris by the Uruguayan State Attorney.
Guyer & Regules counts two senior statesmen in the field of labour law in its partnership; Leonardo Slinger and Eduardo Ameglio. Slinger has been practising for some 25 years, and is mostly known for his work in litigation and collective matters, such as strikes and occupations and union issues. Ameglio has been active for 32 years, and is recognised as a great lawyer with innovative solutions in labour conflicts – exemplified in this year’s victory for financial institution Ocwen over a claim filed by its employees alleging that their wages had dropped as a result of changes in the US dollar exchange rate. The firm also performs labour due diligence, and advises on the termination of labour relationships.
Antitrust is a developing area of law in Uruguay and one Guyer & Regules is keen to excel in. Juan Manuel Mercant is leading the way, leveraging off his transactional experience and making his name in milestone cases.
Anabela Aldaz is a noted consultant in this field, having focused on environmental law since 2000. In 2013 she provided advice on the Montes del Plata pulp mill project and helped with GDF Suez’s winning bid for the construction of a LNG regasification terminal – set to become the first in Uruguay, as well as advising on two wind farm projects.
Uruguayan law firms with energy capabilities are in demand as renewable energy projects begin to take off in the country and companies come in search of oil. Guyer & Regules has positioned itself to take advantage of both these developments. Juan Manuel Mercant assisted the sponsors in a landmark project financing deal backing a wind farm project, while Federico Susena, one of the partners in charge of energy matters, worked with Nicolás Piaggio and Diego Baldomir to assist BG Group, Tullow and Total in winning bids for a number of Uruguay’s offshore oil exploration blocks.
Mariana Santo and Carlos Brandes are the main lawyers dealing with administrative matters. 2013 saw the team assist casino games manufacturer Ainsworth with a public bid to provide slot machines and roulettes for the local gaming authority, as well as contributing to a deal which saw GDF Suez win a government contract to construct Uruguay’s first LNG regasification terminal.
Raúl Cervini has acted as a consultant in white-collar crime cases concerning fraud, money laundering, tax evasion and corruption.
Guyer & Regules comes recommended by an elite list of clients and peers, who reaffirm its leading reputation. One banking client that has worked with the firm for many years says the lawyers are “highly experienced and knowledgeable”, adding: “The level of service has been excellent: timely and precise answers, flexibility to adapt to changing requirements, and a reasonable understanding or the business aspects of each request. They are clearly the leading firm in this industry with a vast and impeccable track record, always very updated on new regulations and a real help when dealing with authorities.”
The banking sector is well represented on the firm’s books: Danish bank Saxo took to the firm this year, while other recent clients included Citibank, ING, BBVA and HSBC. Such prominent financial names turn to this firm because they “always find strong teams that deliver under pressure”, in the words of one, “valuing its experience, and the access to official channels that the firm’s experience and tradition have successfully developed”. One of Uruguay’s biggest banking clients says: “It has significant experience and access to regulators, lawmakers, major business players and the judicial system, which works to the advantage of its customers. Given its legal experience and networking capabilities, we confidently recommend the firm to our customers.” The Inter-American Investment Corporation and Dutch and German development banks use the firm as do Zurich Financial Services and UK private equity fund Ashmore. One finance client sees the firm as an extension of their office, with shared values on transparency and regulatory compliance. A leading emerging markets investment manager says, “The firm provides an excellent, client-focused and professional level of service.”
Prominent global clients in the corporate sphere include Petrobras’ Uruguayan arm, Chilean casino operator Enjoy, American Chemical, UK insurer Old Mutual, next to other big names such as Spanish telecoms company Telefónica, cement maker Loma Negra, oil field operation and maintenance company AESA, mining group Rio Tinto, McDonald’s Latin American franchiser, Arcos Dorados, and Unilever, whose country manager Luis Maria Rodriguez says of the firm, “They have provided excellent practical and commercial advice… the best legal service we require. The team has demonstrated deep knowledge in these areas and goes beyond the legal aspects, taking the time to understand our business.”
The firm attracts companies from Latin America’s newer trading partners, including China’s Geely International, and advises Latin American companies expanding outside their countries; such as Colombian supermarket chain Éxito and Brazilian beef company Minerva. Local names like Mega Pharma also use the firm. Finnish forestry company Stora Enso is a key client. The firm also represents a number of banks involved in pulp mill financings. Guyer & Regules fosters deep and lasting relationships with its clients which allow it to become closely associated with their business in all its aspects. One client explains, “The firm provides comprehensive coverage of all areas of investment banking and corporate finance as well as tax advice.”
One Latin American lawyer says “Guyer is definitely the firm that I first think of when dealing with Uruguay. Certainly they have the quality and service-oriented approach that I look to when searching for a firm. Besides, they cover the whole commercial fields and enable us to consolidate the whole exercise in one firm.”
An impressive seven partners appear in LACCA Approved, in-house counsel research conducted by Latin Lawyer’s sister association, the Latin American Corporate Counsel Association.
Guyer & Regules is committed to pro bono, and has made the practice a part of its lawyers’ professional development. The firm’s lawyers each providing a respectable 12 to 15 hours of free legal services a year, and recipients include the Jubilar high school, a private school whose goal is to provide education to the most disadvantaged sectors of the population, and DESEM, the local arm of Junior Achievement Worldwide, which seeks to develop entrepreneurial skills at early ages, among a number of other organisations. Guyer & Regules also successfully negotiated with Uruguay’s Ministry of Economy and parliament to introduce to the national budget tax deductions on donations to school and high-school education in low-income neighbourhoods.
As well as its office in Montevideo Guyer & Regules has a branch in the city’s free trade zone which offers offshore services to international clients and is one of a growing group of Uruguayan firms to have a base in the exclusive tourist spot of Punta del Este.
ALLIANCES & NETWORKS
This firm is a strong believer in international law firm networks, and has been careful to pick what it considers to be the best. These are the Club de Abogados, the Lex Mundi network, Multilaw and the World Services Group.