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Debevoise & Plimpton LLP

New York

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP - New York
  • 919 Third Avenue
  • New York
  • New York
  • USA
  • NY 10022
  • Managing Partner: Michael W Blair
  • Number of partners: 135
  • Number of other lawyers: 497
  • Offices  
  • USA New York, Washington
  • INTERNATIONAL OFFICES Hong Kong, Shanghai, London, Paris, Frankfurt, Moscow
  • Website: www.debevoise.com

THE FIRM: Debevoise has been active in Latin America for more than 50 years, and over the past decade has worked on hundreds of completed transactions and international disputes including some of the largest and most challenging matters across the region. Debevoise’s Latin American practice is based in New York and draws support from the firm’s European and Asian offices. The firm is a recognised leader among international law firms active in Latin America and has a large number of lawyers who spend a significant amount of time on Latin American matters and most of them speak Spanish and/or Portuguese. The firm invests heavily in its international intern program, employing some of the best-performing lawyers in the region. In 2013, Debevoise’s work in Latin America led it to win two first prizes in The American Lawyer’s Global Legal Awards program. The firm won for Global M&A Deal of the Year, Chile, for its representation of Mitsui & Co. Ltd. in its joint venture with Corporación Nacional del Cobre de Chile (Codelco), and for Global Dispute of the Year, Investment Arbitration, for its work in Occidental Petroleum v. Ecuador.


Corporate M&A:
Recent representation highlights include:
•Assurant in its investment in Iké Asistencia, a services assistance business with operations in Mexico and other countries in Latin America
•AXA in its acquisition of 51% of Mercantil Colpatria’s insurance operations in Colombia for COP 672 billion
•Capital Group in its $200 million minority investment in Tanner Servicios Financieros, a Chile-based financial services company
•PVDC, a subsidiary of Barrick and Goldcorp, in connection with a renegotiation of the terms of the Pueblo Viejo Special Lease Agreement with an estimated NPV of $1.5 billion
•Mitsui in its acquisition of a 20% interest in VLI, a Brazilian integrated general cargo logistics company wholly-owned by Vale, for R$1.5 billion
•Capital International and Acon Investments in their acquisition of Vetra Energia, S.L., an oil and gas exploration and development company operating primarily in Colombia
•Eutelsat Communications in its $1.14 billion acquisition of Satélites Mexicanos, S.A. de C.V.

Private Equity/Fund Formation:
•The firm’s private equity funds practice is one of the largest in the world and the firm has consolidated its role as the go-to-counsel to work on the highestprofile, and largest, funds raised in Brazil, and the rest of Latin America, in the recent past
•Clients include both large global firms, such as Carlyle, which recently raised Carlyle South America Buyout Fund, a $1 billion fund, and Carlyle Peru Fund, a $308 million fund, extending the South America investment presence Carlyle established five years ago, and leading asset managers based in Latin America, such as Gávea Investimentos and Vinci Partners
•Other notable clients active in the region include Brookfield Asset Management, Capital International, Gramercy, Och-Ziff Capital and Tishman Speyer

Capital Markets:
•The Latin America capital markets practice continues to expand its presence in the region while fostering relationships with existing clients; the firm currently represents Itaú Unibanco in its international financing programs, including takedowns under its MTN program and its SEC reporting and US securities law compliance matters

Project Finance:
•Debevoise’s infrastructure and project finance group has extensive experience in the infrastructure sector in Latin America, including transactions taking the form of public-private partnerships (“P3s” or “PPPs”); sectors in which the firm has acted include transportation, energy, mining and natural resources, power generation and communication
•Award winning non-P3 projects on which the firm acted include the Refinaria Henrique Lage (REVAP) project in Brazil which was awarded the “Latin American Deal of the Year” by Project Finance International
•The firm has also played a leading role in the development of privatisation and P3 structures in Latin America, having been involved in most of the P3 projects in Chile and many others in Mexico and elsewhere in the region; examples include the Ruta de la Araucania and Autopista del Maipo toll roads in Chile, each of which was awarded the “Transportation Deal of the Year, Latin America” by Project Finance Magazine, and Autopista de Nuevo Leon in Mexico which was awarded the “Infrastructure Deal of the Year in the Americas” by Project Finance International

International Arbitration:
•Representation of Abilio Diniz, the Brazilian billionaire who founded and is a shareholder of Grupo Diniz, owner of one of the largest food retail businesses in Brazil, in three ICC arbitrations in São Paulo and litigations in both Paris and Brazil
•Occidental Petroleum Company and Occidental Exploration and Production Company (“Occidental”) in an ICSID arbitration, winning what is believed to be the largest ever BIT award, US $1.8 billion (US $2.3 billion including interest). Global Arbitration Review (GAR) named the Occidental award “The Most Important Published Decision of 2012”
•Perenco Ecuador Limited in its BIT and contract claims against the Republic of Ecuador

CLIENTS The firm’s client base includes many of the most prominent companies and families in Latin America as well as multinational corporations and private equity funds investing in the region. Its clients roster in the region include: Ambev S.A., Antofagasta, Barrick Gold, BM&FBOVESPA, Brookfield, The Capital Group, The Carlyle Group, Companhia Brasileira de Metalurgia e Mineração (CBMM), Inter-American Development Bank, International Finance Corporation, Itaú Unibanco, Mitsui, Occidental Exploration and Petroleum Company, Organizações Globo, Phelps Dodge, Prudential Financial and Vinci Partners.


Capital Markets - Brazil

Basic facts about the department
 - 2 partners
 - 4 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Experienced team based in the New York office advising prominent clients on matters such as securities offerings. Particular experience working with financial institutions.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)

"The firm works very hard to protect clients from liability in securities transactions. In this regard, one of the firm's strengths is to discuss all matters and disclosure statements very carefully and thoughtfully." 

Work highlights Advising long-standing client Itaú Unibanco Holding in connection with the establishment of a global medium-term note programme worth USD10 billion.

Notable practitioners  

Paul Rodel is the key client contact.

Significant clients Globopar, Itaú Unibanco Holding, The Capital Group.

Corporate/M&A - Latin America-wide

What the team is known for Highly capable global team made up of practitioners across the firm's US, European and Asian offices. The client base includes several of Latin America's leading companies, families and private equity investors.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)

"These lawyers are excellent - they bring a balance of legal expertise and a sound, common-sense approach to resolving matters. They are quick and have deep knowledge of Latin America as well as of our company, which saves a lot of time."

"They can put a team together that is completely global." 

Work highlights Acted for satellite operator Eutelsat Communications on its USD1.142 billion acquisition of Satélites Mexicanos. 

Notable practitioners

Michael Gillespie maintains a strong profile for his M&A work in Brazil. He has particular expertise in advising clients in the media and communications sector.

Sources say Gregory Gooding is "pragmatic, with his eye on the ball in terms of getting the deal done." He advised Capital Group on its USD200 million investment in Tanner Servicios Financieros, and on its USD450 million acquisition of Vetra Energia in conjunction with Acon Investments.

Significant clients Mitsui, Acon Investments, New York Life Insurance Company.

Fraud - Latin America-wide

Basic facts about the department
- 47 partners
- 190 other qualified lawyers

What the team is known for Widely considered as a point of reference in the field due to its many years of experience, large group of capable lawyers and strong working relationship with government institutions. Advises regional and multinational clients from a diverse range of industries in many issues within the sphere, with particular focus on anti-corruption and anti-bribery proceedings. A number of the firm's key practitioners are also regularly involved with sector-related academic conferences and publications.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)

"The firm is top-notch, fantastic. The team always provides excellent assistance and is very well-prepared."

Work highlights Acted as counsel to Siemens in a global investigation into possible corrupt payments to government officials, which included significant operations in Latin America. 

Notable practitioners

Paul Berger is highly regarded for his deep knowledge of matters within the anti-corruption sphere and is described by sources as "a very strong player in this space." He was formerly associate director for the US Securities and Exchange Commission's enforcement and investigations division.

Clients say of Andrew Levine: "I very much enjoy working with Andrew – he has great knowledge and we have established a great relationship." He is especially well-known for his white-collar and investigations expertise.

Significant clients Ferrostaal, Siemens.

International Arbitration - Latin America-wide

What the team is known for Takes a lead in some of the most high-profile and complex arbitrations in both the BIT and commercial spheres. Deep bench with expertise in public international law and complementary experience in litigation, enforcement and relief.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)

"These are brilliant lawyers - extraordinarily articulate, with the rare ability to illuminate the most complicated issues and arguments. It's very easy to work with them and you can be confident that they will do the best thing for the client."

"They displayed a mastery of the technical aspects and had the ability to understand those complexities, make them simple and understandable."

Work highlights Represented Perenco Ecuador in a multibillion-dollar ICSID arbitration against the Republic of Ecuador in respect of the 2006 amendment to the Hydrocarbons Law and the state's participation in crude oil revenues.

Acted for Occidental on its USD2.3 billion BIT arbitration concerning the Republic of Ecuador's termination of Occidental’s exploration and production rights and the seizure of assets.

Notable practitioners  

Donald Francis Donovan is praised by sources as being "brilliantly practical." They add: "He has thoroughly mastered this subject to a point that few could compare." He represented GLG Partners in a BRL145 million ICC arbitration concerning an investment in a restructured Brazilian consumer products business.

Sources view David Rivkin as "one of the leaders in the international arbitration movement," and peers add that "he is a phenomenal global arbitration lawyer with very good Latin American experience." He acted for CIMC Raffles on obtaining an USD85 million arbitration award against the Schahin Group.

Clients credit Dietmar Prager with "flawless execution and vast linguistic ability." He represented Holcim in its ICSID arbitration and USD650 million settlement with the Republic of Venezuela arising from the alleged expropriation of its subsidiary, Holcim Venezuela.

In August 2014, Catherine Amirfar left the firm to accept a role advising the U.S. State Department.

Significant clients Tethyan Copper Company, ExxonMobil, GE, GlaxoSmithKline.