Machado Meyer navigated 2015 with remarkable success. Despite the economic and political turmoil racking public and private institutions in Brazil, the firm remained a leading institution for capital markets deals, participating in some of the country’s most impressive transactions in the year ending in September 30, such as BRF’s liability management exercise and Telefônica Vivo’s acquisition of Global Village Telecom (GVT). 

“We thought 2015 wouldn’t be good, but it has proven to be the contrary for us, because it’s been a good year for mergers and acquisitions,” partner Adriana Pallis tells LatinFinance. “We also expect a good 2016.”

The acquisition of GVT by Telefônica was a landmark deal in Brazil, and Latin America. Pallis advised Telefônica in its negotiations with French seller Vivendi that led to the €7.45 billion ($8.2 billion) transaction. Once completed, Telefônica Brazil became the largest integrated telecommunication company in the country. This transaction is only the most recent collaboration between the firm and the telco: Machado Meyer assisted the corporation when it arrived in Brazil in 1998, purchasing telecom company CRT of Rio Grande do Sul. “We advise them on everyday activities and strategic movements alike,” Pallis says. 

The firm expects a larger flow of M&A transactions, amid Brazil’s political and economic uncertainty. With a steep devaluation of the real, and local companies in distress, the environment favors foreign investors looking to pick up cheap assets in Brazil. Those with previous knowledge of the country will have a particular advantage, Pallis says. “Those accustomed to our markets, politics, economics, already know that crises come and go.”

Machado Meyer also worked with BRF on important deals. The firm advised the meat producer on its €500 million ($558 million) liability management exercise in May and its sale of 11 dairy plants to France’s Lactalis for 2.16 billion reais ($697 million) in July 2015. 

The firm is also active in project financing, a sector that is garnering significant private sector attention, and garnered the Best Infrastructure Law Firm: Brazil accolade in LatinFinance’s 2015 Project and Infrastructure Finance Awards. 

“We put first the understanding of our clients’ needs, that’s why we have participated in these premium deals assisting companies of such magnitude. We have a good team, prepared for high-end transactions,” Pallis says. The firm employs 300 lawyers, in addition to 50 partners, in its offices in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasília, Porto Alegre and Belo Horizonte. Additionally, it keeps an office in New York to serve Brazilian clients with business in the US. 

Looking ahead, Machado Meyer will likely devote a large portion of its business to banking clients in negotiations related to judicial recovery, Pallis says. The firm tends to represent creditors in this area of practice, and has worked in cases involving civil construction companies in distress after the impact of the economic slowdown. Anti-trust and arbitration are areas where the firm expects to see considerable action, as big companies move toward expansion through M&A, Pallis notes, adding that compliance is another growing segment. LF

WINNER: Machado Meyer 

LatAm Staff: 300

LatAm Offices: São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasília, Porto Alegre, and Belo Horizonte

Remarkable Deals: BRF’s €500m green bond and Telefônica Vivo’s acquisition of GVT