In 2009, Brazil successfully bid to be the first South American country to host the summer Olympics. The world was optimistic about the emerging economy’s capacity to address the challenges of violent crime, urban pollution and lacklustre facilities. However, since coverage of the 2014 World Cup highlighted a faltering economy with crumbling infrastructure, there are doubts about the country’s ability to monopolise on the mega-event. The World Cup failed to deliver on the promise of increasing the nation’s visibility to investors and tourism; there is now little optimism that the 2016 Olympics in Rio will have a more profound effect.
The economy narrowly avoided contracting in 2014, with a sluggish 0.1 per cent growth. So far in 2015, the Brazilian real has lost 15 per cent of its value, which is likely to further fuel inflation. Many practitioners we spoke to were uncertain as to whether Brazil now represents a bargain investment opportunity or a dangerous place to do business. Credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s has, this summer, downgraded Brazil’s credit bond rating from “stable” to “negative”. For the moment, Brazil maintains an ‘investment-grade’ status overall but many practitioners we spoke to felt a further downgrade is probable over the next 12 to 18 months. This uncertainty is likely to impact gravely upon investor confidence and further reduce activity in the Brazilian market.
These challenges are compounded by escalating political controversy stemming from the Petrobras scandal. Following re-election last year, President Dilma Rousseff’s party has been rocked by allegations of corruption and bribe-taking in connection with the state-owned energy company. In the largest investigation in Brazilian history, federal police have exposed a multibillion-dollar cartel and money laundering scheme where contractors paid bribes to senior Petrobras executives and public officials in order to secure lucrative contracts. Early in 2015, civil unrest erupted onto streets across Brazil in a series of nationwide protests against the increasingly unpopular government. President Rousseff has attempted to tackle plummeting approval ratings by implementing tough anti-corruption legislation bringing the country in line with international measures. However, unlike international anti-corruption standards, the Brazilian Clean Companies Act 2014 operates a strict liability regime where companies are liable for the conduct of employees and third parties, even if they take all reasonable steps to prevent corruption. This is likely to dissuade foreign investors from action until the country has stabilised politically, economically and legislatively. M&A activity in South America’s largest economy has slumped to a two-year low across a range of sectors. Brazilian businesses and legal practitioners continue to face a difficult 2015, as reduced confidence and the economic downturn prevents buyers and sellers from finalising deals in the country.
Recent success in passing fiscal austerity legislation represents a significant victory for President Rousseff. The government appears on track with plans to cut spending on welfare benefits with new reductions to unemployment cover and widows’ pensions. Such measures are projected to save several billion dollars in efforts to avoid a credit rating downgrade. Finance minister Joaquim Levy has predicted that such legislative measures, coupled with deep cuts to government spending, will lead to increased investor confidence and economic growth later in the year. While this is optimistic, practitioners have noted that there may be considerable opportunities stemming from the acquisition of distressed assets in the energy and shipbuilding industries in the wake of the Petrobras scandal. There is also some indication that Petrobras contracts may be made available to international companies as rules requiring the company to engage with Brazilian contractors are relaxed. With 28 of Brazil’s largest engineering, procurement and construction contractors embroiled in the scandal, Petrobras may need to accept international tenders to meet production targets. This “opening up” of the construction and procurement markets is likely to result in more work for firms that specialise in these areas as foreign players enter the formerly closed fields.
Slumping commodity prices have helped stall Brazil’s growth in recent years. As the world’s leading producer of sugarcane, soybeans and coffee, the country was hit hard by significant price falls in these crops last year. There has also been a deterioration in terms of trade in mineral commodities, such as iron ore, as Brazil’s major trading partners China and Argentina experience a slackening in economic activity. In response, the Brazilian government has indicated that they intend to relax their stance on resource nationalism and allow foreign investment into the national agribusiness market. Changes in regulation relating to the ownership of agricultural land and forestry resources may herald increased foreign direct investment and more work for Brazilian business lawyers. If this trend of diminishing resource nationalism extends to the country’s oil-rich, pre-salt reserves a huge market could open up for foreign investors, bringing lucrative work for energy and projects practitioners. Though Brazil continues to struggle with rising inflation, increasing unemployment and low productivity, growth of foreign direct investment in a troubled economic climate will increase demand for expert and dedicated counsel; Brazil’s legal market may yet prove to be enduringly dynamic.
The government also plans to make up for years of under-investment by attracting private money to national infrastructure projects. From a practitioner perspective this may open up more project financing work within the planned construction of roads, railways, ports, sanitation and healthcare facilities, as well as the managing of bids and contracts. The persistent drought that Brazil has experienced over the past two years has uncovered distinct over-reliance on hydroelectric power and a need to diversify the energy sector. In 2015, there has been increased investment in both wind and solar power and two government auctions have been scheduled later this year for transmission tenders. There have been several large-scale energy deals this year as international energy giants like EDF and GDF Suez entered the Brazilian renewables market. These major investments suggest there are still growing opportunities for energy and projects practitioners especially those with an international client base.
In the following pages we feature the top firms and leading practitioners across the 36 practice areas that this edition covers. These chapters include three new expert sections; competition economists; corporate tax expert witnesses; and due diligence accountants. Who’s Who Legal has expanded this edition to recognise the performance of world-class practitioners in these specialist areas.
Administrative litigation in Brazil is an active and specialist line of practice. We identify five lawyers in this chapter who come highly recommended for their expertise and experience.
Agribusiness plays a vital role in Brazil’s economy with an income estimated at 1.209 trillion reais in 2015. However, as the general economy heads towards downturn, discussions are currently under way in Congress, which is considering easing the restrictions on the acquisition of land by foreigners in an attempt to boost investment in agriculture. With a number of rural groups against the notion, it remains to be seen whether these reforms will come to pass. In our first in-depth look at the agricultural business sector, we select six lawyers who are deemed experts in this important field.
Brazil has become a very active participant in both domestic and international arbitration, which has provided many opportunities for specialist lawyers in this field. There have recently been a number of important reforms relating to dispute resolution, including an amendment to the arbitration law to allow public entities to be party to arbitral proceedings and to expressly allow arbitration clauses in by-laws of companies. With the government attempting to promote arbitration as a key dispute resolution tool, practitioners can expect increasing amounts of activity in the next few years. We recommend 31 individuals for their skills in this area.
Fraud and asset recovery cases are rarely confined to just one jurisdiction, and the leading lawyers below are adept at working alongside international lawyers as part of a global recovery team. At present, work surrounding the Petrobras scandal and the recovery of sums amassed through bribery are high on the agenda for those active in the sector. We single out six individuals in this chapter.
With Brazil set to host the 2016 Olympics, following on from the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the facilitation of international flights continues to be central to the country’s economy. In addition air transport contributes $17 billion (2.3 per cent) of Brazil’s GDP, pays in the region of $1.76 billion in tax and maintains 837,000 jobs (directly and indirectly). However, critics point out that the government’s increasingly heavy-handed legal and regulatory approach coupled with weighty taxation is hampering the industry. Increasing airport privatisation is also being seen as a means to improve infrastructure, and recent innovative business models and consolidation that have brought capacity discipline, growth and sustainability to the industry. Against this backdrop we identify 24 outstanding leaders in the field.
In an effort to increase the flow of liquidity in Brazil’s stagnating economy, the central bank announced a series of measures last year, which allowed banks to make more loans and at a larger scale. This injected an estimated total of $20.2 billion into the economy. Overall, corporate lending has continued to rise and the financial sector remains robust for the time being, despite the country’s worsening economic condition. This year we rank 14 leading lawyers in this space.
In the wake of Brazil’s biggest ever corruption scandal, Petrobras, compliance is very much on the minds of stakeholders in Brazil as they attempt to improve investor confidence. Internal investigations and representation of key individuals and companies involved in the scandal are keeping many lawyers busy and the fallout could drag on for years. In this chapter we identify nine leading business crime defence experts.
The country’s capital markets are going through a challenging period. Amid economic and political uncertainty, Brazil has boosted interest rates in an effort to combat inflation. In this environment, companies are reluctant to take on debt for the purposes of investment. The waiting game is currently being employed and companies are still eager for a platform to go to market once the economy begins to settle. This year we have ranked 24 leading lawyers.
Brazil’s new Code of Civil Procedure will come into force in January 2016. Some of the changes provided for in the new code include provision for conciliation hearings to avoid cases being brought to trial, financial penalties for appealing decisions with the intent to delay a decision and measures to further encourage alternative dispute resolution, especially arbitration and mediation. We list 31 of the top litigators in this area.
Following amendments in 2012 to the law governing competition in Brazil, changes were introduced to the thresholds for mandatory submission of concentration acts resulting in a significant reduction in the number of cases involving minor competition concerns. As a result the Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE) has shifted a large part of its focus to investigations of anti-competitive conducts while merger control matters have become larger and more complex. In this chapter we single out 46 leading lawyers and 13 competition economists active in the sector.
In the run up to the 2016 Olympic Games, construction lawyers in Brazil have been kept busy as the country prepares to have the world’s eyes on it once more as it hosts this global event. This year we list six of Brazil’s leading construction practitioners.
In response to the corruption scandal surrounding oil producer Petrobras, the financial bourse BM&FBovespa presented a plan in April 2015 to strengthen governance rules for state-controlled companies. As a result, practitioners can expect this important area to increase in significance, as more sophisticated processes will be recommended to protect the rights of all involved. In this chapter we highlight 34 “impressive” lawyers.
Plans to reform Brazil’s immigration policies have been on the cards for a number of years, but headway was finally made in 2014 when Strategic Affairs Minister Marcelo Neri announced that important changes would be implemented over the next year. This includes reducing the bureaucracy and paperwork involved in the immigration process, and marks an attempt on the part of the government to further promote its image as being “immigration friendly”. In this chapter we feature five “top-notch” practitioners who are considered leaders in the market.
With three levels of tax authority, federal, state and municipal, and ample levels of bureaucracy, the Brazilian taxation system is often cited as a considerable hurdle to newcomers to the market. Overcoming corporate tax burdens requires careful and expert legal due diligence in order to benefit from acquisition targets in a troubled Brazilian market. We name 39 leading practitioners in corporate tax, and two corporate tax expert witnesses.
Igor Nascimento de Souza of Souza Schneider Pugliese e Sztokfisz Advogados provides readers with brief comments on tax planning in Brazil.
The main sources of energy in Brazil are oil, hydropower, mineral coal and biofuels, with oil responsible for 39.3 per cent of the country’s energy. Important discoveries of light oil in the “pre-salt layer” have significantly expanded the sector’s growth opportunities and this will remain a very active practice for its country’s lawyers for years to come. Twenty-seven individuals are recommended in the following pages.
There have been a number of issues in the environment field recently, including an explosion of deforestation and lack of financing for climate change matters. Activists have argued that the fine balance between environmental laws and infrastructure planning has been tipped too heavily in the latter’s favour over the past year, leading to acceleration in deforestation rates. At a United Nations meeting in June 2015, Brazil, China, India and South Africa criticised the failure of richer countries to make good on their promise to mobilise $100 billion a year by 2020 for climate finance. In this atmosphere of development and pressure, it is likely to be a busy and interesting year ahead. We have identified 16 “impressive” individuals who are picked out for their expertise and knowledge of this sector.
Over the past decade franchising in Brazil has grown significantly, around 10 per cent annually until its peak in 2012. Franchising is seen as an effective way around the extremely difficult and risky business frameworks within the country. The recent economic slump has stifled this boom, but franchising remains a favourable way of doing business in Brazil. This year we rank seven of the best lawyers in the country.
On 9 June 2015 the Brazilian federal government announced a new round of concessions focusing on roads, railways, ports and airports. All new projects will start no later than 2018 and are aimed at improving the country’s productivity which in turn it is hoped will help Brazil achieve sustainable growth. In this crucial sector, we single out 13 expert lawyers.
In the 10 years since Brazil’s Bankruptcy Law was replaced, the country has grown more in line with other developed nations. However, poor economic conditions in recent times have put pressure back on the court system and there are concerns that creditors are not receiving the necessary protection. We list 12 leading experts in this chapter.
The insurance market continues to register double digit revenue growth, in stark contrast to Brazil’s stagnating GDP growth figures. Respondents note that the key areas of health insurance, life insurance and non-life insurance are all buoyant. As this sector continues to develop, new regulations have been implemented on a regular basis. The market has also taken stock of a growing number of cases referred to the courts, as a more litigious culture begins to take hold. Indeed, the need for effective counsel has continued to rise; we have listed 19 such individuals.
Investigations is a relatively new practice in Brazil and tends to encompass both white-collar crime and competition aspects. Brazil has been home to a number of significant investigations over the past few years, including the high-profile Petrobras corruption scandal. With over 100 people charged in connection with the Petrobras scheme and more than 50 politicians under investigation, practitioners in this field are anticipating an active year ahead. Nine lawyers are selected for inclusion this year.
A bill is currently under discussion in Congress related to outsourcing, which would allow companies to outsource certain economic activities and which will require many companies to change their operational structure. Coupled with this, as Brazil heads towards economic crisis, experts predict an increasing number of strikes and employee dismissals ahead, thus leading to fraught collective bargaining negotiations and union intervention. Labour and employment lawyers will therefore be kept busy advising clients on how to develop their business to adapt to this potential new law and deal with union representatives. We single out 18 individuals who are highly rated for their counsel in this field.
This industry sector has one of the strongest growth rates in Brazil, with estimates placing it at around 6.4 per cent annually for the next few years. The country is currently the eighth-largest life sciences market in the world and it is being targeted by multinational innovators and generics alike. However, there are many significant challenges facing the market’s expansion, including; complex regulatory frameworks, restrictive pricing policies and a strong local generics industry. Expert guidance is a must and we have listed 11 leading practitioners this year.
Despite a faltering economy, practitioners are still reporting a steady stream of M&A deals in the market. It is hoped with the de-nationalising of resources in the country investment and more deals could be on the horizon. We feature 31 legal specialists and five due diligence accounting experts in this market.
Home to the world’s sixth largest mining industry, Brazil is a key producer and exporter of high-quality ores. Recent years have proved difficult for smaller players as the prices of iron ore have fallen but the larger players, including Rio Tinto, are pressing on with production despite seeing margins squeezed. This year we single out nine leading lawyers in the field.
The Brazilian patent market remains in wait for intellectual property reforms first announced in 2013. The legislative review of patent rights continues to be hotly debated by political actors and professionals. Numerous changes to the Brazilian patent regime are on the horizon including a pre-grant opposition system, a higher bar for the “innovative step” or “novelty” required and a reduction to the minimum patent term. Against this uncertain backdrop, we list the 20 leading practitioners in the Brazilian market.
Outbound activity among high-net-worth Brazilians is still keeping practitioners in the space busy, while tightening on international tax reporting laws has seen an increase in compliance work for tax focused lawyers. In this section we feature six of the country’s leading private client practitioners.
Despite a slowdown in the Brazilian economy, private equity fundraising has remained resilient and there is much activity surrounding funds for infrastructure and real estate. Fifteen lawyers are highly recommended in this chapter.
Practitioners have reported a busy year in product liability, with consumer protection remaining a key priority for the authorities. In the summer of 2014 the Superior Court of Justice published a decision recognising the environmental product liability of manufacturers of potentially polluting products for the first time, which could have wide-reaching economic consequences for manufacturers in Brazil. We identify nine leading individuals this year.
Project finance is a growing practice area in Brazil. Although the Brazilian Development Bank continues to dominate long-term financing, government infrastructure packages have recently been announced to foster private sector involvement in the design and build of roads, railways, ports and airports. In this chapter we highlight 19 leading practitioners in the field.
The Brazilian real estate market has continued to grow over the past 12 months with increased investment in infrastructure projects such as the construction of roads, ports and energy projects. Brazil is also experiencing a boom in hospitality projects due to the 2014 World Cup and the upcoming 2016 Olympic Games. In particular, Rio de Janeiro has experienced an increase in hospitality, commercial and residential development projects due, in part, to the Porto Maravilha revitalisation plan. In São Paulo, municipal planning legislation enacted in 2014 has provided a regulatory challenge to new developments and caused some delay to projects. In this active market we select seven top names for inclusion.
Brazil’s shipping industry is expecting to gain momentum in the coming years as the country’s iron ore exports to countries such as China grow. This will be good news for players in the market who have seen a slowdown in activity following the Petrobas scandal. Despite this, activity on the insurance side is strong as is compliance work. We single out 13 lawyers in this chapter with the requisite expertise and knowledge to mark them out as specialists in the sector.
With Brazil being set to host the Olympics in 2016, following on from the 2014 Fifa World Cup, sports and entertainment continues to be an increasingly burgeoning area of the country’s economy. The sports industry in Brazil is estimated at 67 billion reais and accounts for 1.6 per cent of national GDP. The sports industry participation in national GDP is expected to grow up to 22 per cent in the next three years. As a result, tourism and both direct and indirect infrastructure development is rising, stimulating different areas of the economy and increasing public and private investment. This also brings increasing opportunities for the entertainment sector, such as coverage and broadcasting of these events. Our research identifies 11 outstanding lawyers in this field.
The technologies sector is a rapidly developing market in Brazil. Traditionally restrictive laws on the importation of hardware, increasing the cost of computers, reduced the spread of IT. However, recent government initiatives are promoting growth in this area by offering significant tax reductions to tech companies undertaking R&D in the country. Centred on São Paulo there is now a burgeoning tech scene among the widening middle-class. Meanwhile, significant change is afoot in Brazil’s telecoms market, where the world’s largest telecoms groups have been fighting for dominance. In an effort to consolidate the oversaturated market, it is expected that Tim, Telecom Italia’s Brazilian subsidiary, will be broken up between the country’s other three major players. This year, we have singled out 32 leading experts.
It’s been a challenging year for Brazil’s trade and customs lawyers: in January 2015 Brazil registered its first annual trade deficit since 2000. In recent months lawyers reported a slowdown in the number of trade remedy investigations initiated by the government, but they are hopeful that activity will pick up soon. The 22 lawyers below are the leading individuals in the sector with experience in all areas of trade and customs work.
The Brazilian Patent and Trade Mark Office (INPI) has been active in tackling the myriad of counterfeit products sold in the country. A directory was set up to facilitate collaboration between public authorities and trademark owners. The INPI is also setting forth new guidelines on the examination of trademark applications and registrations as part of its modernisation process. Meanwhile, Brazil is officially acceding to the Madrid Protocol. In 2013, the Chamber of Foreign Trade of the Federal Government approved Brazil’s signature but it is still pending before Congress. For the moment at least, trademark registration can only be filed at the national level. We have selected 26 leaders in this increasingly important field of law.
Campos Mello Advogados is a full-service business law firm serving Brazilian and international companies with a clear focus: to partner with clients in facilitating business. With offices in Rio and São Paulo, the firm operates throughout Brazil with the support of a team experienced in several industry sectors. As a result, it has been able to develop and offer creative, innovative and sound legal solutions for each matter and client profile.
Dannemann Siemsen Advogados is a Brazilian firm specialising in intellectual property including patents, trademarks, copyright, unfair competition, franchising, software protection, technology transfer, anti-counterfeiting and anti-piracy. Clients are drawn to the firm’s “depth of expertise” and “first-rate client service”, and continually praise its lawyers. In this edition, the firm achieves 14 listings across four practice areas: patents, trademarks, franchise and life sciences.
Tracing its history back to 1948, Demarest Advogados is a well-established Brazilian law firm with a track record of providing high-quality, innovative legal advice to domestic and international clients. The firm has offices in São Paulo, Campinas, Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro, as well as New York, and received 14 recommendations across 10 practice areas.
Senior Statesmen (7): Altamiro Boscoli, Jouacyr Arion Consentino, Lauro Ayrosa, Naum Rotenberg, Oswaldo Moraes Filho, Oswaldo Sant´Anna, Roberto Portella.
Partners (52): Adriana Daiuto, Alessandra Pereira, André Alarcon, Antonio Carlos Frugis, Antonio Giglio Neto, António Aires, Any Peraça, Bruno Drago, Cássia Pizzotti, Catarina Rodrigues, Celso Xavier, Claudia Maluf, Cláudio Mattos, Douglas Mota, Edimara Wieczorek, Eduardo Kiss, Eloisa Curi, Fabio Braga, Fabyola En Rodrigues, Gabriel Kuznietz, João Luis Almeida, José Diaz, Kátia Zambrano, Leonel Affonso Jr, Lucas Tavares, Luciana Penteado, Luciana Tornovsky, Luiz Fernando Sant’Anna, Marcello Della Mônica, Marcello Pedroso, Marcelo Inglez de Souza, Marcelo Annunziata, Marcia Cicarelli, Márcio Martin, Marcos Schroeder, Maria Helena Bragaglia, Maria Lúcia de Almeida Prado e Silva, Mário Nogueira, Maurício Levy, Mauro Luz, Paola Pugliese, Paulo Rocha, Paulo Perry Filho, Rafael Gagliardi, Renato Canizares, Renato Buranello, Renato Poltronieri, Rodrigo Campos, Sílvio Venosa, Tatiana Campello, Thiago Sandim, Thiago Giantomassi.
Founded in 1972, Machado, Meyer, Sendacz e Opice Advogados is one of Brazil´s most renowned and respected law firms. With a global reach, clients are drawn from both Brazilian and international large corporations across a range of sectors, financial institutions and government bodies. With an impressive 29 listings across 14 different practice areas in this edition, the firm boasts some of the most technically able and talented lawyers in Brazil.
With 22 years in operation, Mattos Filho Veiga Filho Marrey Jr e Quiroga Advogados is one of the leading full-service firms in Brazil. The firm prides itself on its “excellence combined with a creative and innovative intelligence”, and its high standing in the Brazilian legal market is reflected by its 31 listings across 17 different practice areas in this edition. Clients include national and international companies, financial institutions, investors, multilateral agencies, pension funds, non-profit organisations and government entities.
Since its inception in 1942, Pinheiro Neto has been at the vanguard of legal and economic developments in Brazil. Pinheiro Neto maintains an excellent reputation across a wide range of practice areas as attested to by our research: the firm garners 60 listings across 25 areas of law.
Souza Cescon is one of Brazil’s leading law firms. The lawyers stand out for their strong commitment to the representation of our clients’ interests and for their work in highly sophisticated, ground-breaking matters. The firm’s goal is to be the clients’ law firm of choice for their most complex legal matters and most strategic transactions and disputes.
We offer high-level advice in all matters that we handle. We tend not to undertake routine matters so that our clients can benefit from full dedication of our highly experienced lawyers in all our engagements.
Established in 1976, TozziniFreire has since grown to be one of Brazil’s “most highly regarded” full-service law firms, boasting “market-leading” expertise across a wide range of business sectors, including both advisory and disputes-related work. The firm garners 29 recommendations across 19 practice areas.
Veirano Advogados was founded in 1972, and since then has grown to be one of the country’s leading providers of legal services. Boasting over 240 lawyers across four offices the firm is one of the largest in Brazil, offering clients “world class” full-service legal advice. Performing especially well in our research in the areas of natural resources, labour and corporate law, the firm has 34 listings across 18 practice areas.
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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.