Year: 2021

Winner: Pinheiro Neto

Pinheiro Neto advised on some of the most remarkable transactions in Brazil last year, including several winning Deals of the Year.

Among other deals, the São Paulo- based practice – which wins the award for Law Firm of the Year Brazil – was involved in the acquisition of Biosev by Raízen (Domestic M&A Deal of the Year winner), the placement of Itaú Unibanco’s Tier 2 sustainable notes (FI Deal of the Year winner) and bond issuances by Petrobras as part of a debt repurchase program that earned it the award for Liability Management of the Year.

“We were able to participate in some of the main deals that happened in Brazil last year,” says managing partner Fernando Meira.

Some of the deals tested Pinheiro Neto’s ability to unknot difficult situations. For example, Raízen, an energy company co-owned by Shell and Cosan, decided to prepare its IPO deal at the same time it was purchasing Biosev, a financially embattled ethanol producer. Harmonizing both transactions, so that they were concluded successfully, demanded plenty of sweat from all those involved.

“We started working on the Raízen deal in January 2020 and it was priced in August 2021,” says partner Guilherme Sampaio Monteiro. “It required the reorganization of the shareholding structure, a restructuring of the joint ventures between the parties and other measures.”

Pinheiro Neto expects the Brazilian market to remain somewhat muted in 2022, as political uncertainty and inflation fears, coupled with rising US interest rates, are likely to heighten investor anxiety.

But that does not mean activity will cease, Monteiro says. “The number of IPOs this year seems to be much smaller, but we have been contacted by companies interested in doing it. And in new sectors too,” he says.

Monteiro adds that follow-on deals may also hit the market, as well as structured finance operations, stock repurchases and de-listings, as a consequence of a volatile economic environment. M&A deals may take place as investors scour the scene for distressed companies while companies in sectors including agribusiness are likely to turn to debt markets during the course of the year.

“We do not believe the market will be disastrous this year,” says Meira. “But we know it will not be as good as it was in 2021.” – LF