White & Case has maintained an active presence in Latin America for decades, and its steadfast commitment to the region, as well as the number and range of transactions it has advised on, have earned it the region-wide award for Infrastructure Law Firm of the Year.
The firm was involved in some of the most noteworthy deals that closed in the region over the awards period, including a number of award-winning transactions. These included the financing of acquisition of WOM by Phoenix Tower International in Chile (Infrastructure Financing of the Year: Southern Cone), the acquisition of an electric bus fleet by Colombia’s Transmilenio (Social Infrastructure Financing of the Year), the refinancing of the Via 40 toll road, also in Colombia (Infrastructure Financing of the Year in Andes and Road Financing of the Year), and the financing of Line 6 of the São Paulo Metro (Infrastrucutre Financing of the Year: Brazil).
“We have had the support of the firm to invest in expertise that has allowed us to remain present in pretty much every active country in Latin America over the last 20 years,” says Carlos Viana, Miami-based partner at White & Case. “We have developed country-specific expertise in the smaller markets, which has really helped us diversify and support our clients through all the different political cycles.”
With offices in several Latin American capitals, White & Case has been able to provide support for clients on all sides of infrastructure deals, he says.
“We have a very good mix of sponsors and financial institutions as clients,” he says. “We also have a really good mix of strategic sponsors and infrastructure and energy funds.”
Its breadth of presence helps White & Case maintain a comprehensive view of the market, and Viana is optimistic about the medium-term outlook for infrastructure investment in the region. He sees things looking up for Chile and Brazil, markets where the firm historically has had a strong presence.
Viana notes that Peru is also coming back as a destination for infrastructure investment, while investors are turning more sanguine on Mexico – another strong market for White & Case – in part thanks to nearshoring which is shifting global supply chains into the country. The firm has also strengthened its presence in Colombia.
Infrastructure investment, in Viana’s view, will to a large extent be a function of developments in the global economy, which are already driving business in the region.
“Global mega-trends like the energy transition have driven the infrastructure market, and Latin America is not an exception,” he says. “We are seeing a good number of greenfield projects of late. In 2021 and 2022, it was mostly about M&As and infrastructure funds refinancing assets. But in the second half of 2022 and the first half of 2023 we have seen an increase in the volume of greenfield projects across the region.”
Another trend that Viana has noticed is for local institutional investor adopt more flexible investment strategies in a bid to diversify risk in their portfolios – a necessary strategy especially in times of heightened political uncertainty, as has been the case in several Latin American countries in recent years.
“Some clients who are major family offices in their countries are taking regional or cross-regional approaches to their investments,” he says.
All the more reason, then, for them to engage legal counsel with both breadth and depth to their expertise in the region.