Winner: Latham & Watkings
Renewable energy, carbon credits, transportation, telecommunications. These are some the
sectors that have kept the infrastructure market vibrant in the Southern Cone over the past
year – and global law firm Latham & Watkins has been deeply involved in all of them.
The firm, our Infrastructure Law Firm of the Year – Southern Cone, advised Aeropuertos
Argentina 2000 in the issuance of two notes worth $126 million, helping the company, which
manages airports in Argentina and Uruguay among other places, to overcome the worst
impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Argentina has been a tough market for a long time, but one of its small neighbours has shown
more vitality in recent times, says Guido Liniado, a partner at Latham & Watkins.
“Paraguay is a small jurisdiction, but we have been working on pretty much all international
energy and infrastructure financing coming out of the country,” he says, referring in particular
to some significant transactions involving carbon credits.
But Chile is the market where infrastructure activity has been especially noteworthy in the
Tony Del Pino, the firm’s global Latin America practice chair, stresses that the country has been
at the forefront of the energy transition and provides plenty of opportunities for investors and
companies keen on being part of that process.
“Those are the kinds of transactions that we, as a firm, have been focussed on globally, and
some Latin American companies are leaders in this space,” Del Pino says. The firm advises
clients on projects in areas like green hydrogen and has worked in projects such as Chacao
Plus, and the acquisition of Chile Renewables by GIP.
Any transition creates challenges for companies and their advisors. Latham & Watkins is no
stranger to this dynamic in the energy sector. “We are dealing with innovative financing
solutions relating to energy transition, such as the case of an off-taker of a thermal power plant
that pays capacity payments under a PPA that the generator used to finance the construction of
the power plant,” Piniado says.
“But now the off-taker requires energy to be provided from renewable sources, and a whole
new financing is being created around the renegotiation of the PPA to basically securitize its
future capacity payments, which the generator could elect to use to finance the construction of
new renewable power plants.”
All that in a complex business environment that is making investors jittery with political
volatility, even in markets like Chile, on top of global financial uncertainty.
“In one on-going deal, one of the potential debt providers, which currently has little exposure
to Latin America, decided not to participate in the financing because of uncertainties
surrounding the constitutional reform in Chile,” Piniado says. “But other investors that know
the Chilean market well are still coming in. However, it remains to be seen whether the reform
process will have an impact on pricing.