Machado Meyer Advogados has strengthened its corporate, projects, labour and tax departments by promoting nine lawyers to partner in preparation for 2021.

The firm is announcing the promotions today. It now has 89 partners in total.

The corporate department gets three new partners: Alessandra de Souza Pinto, Camilo Torres Gerosa Gomes and Paulo Markossian Nunes, all of whom are based in São Paulo. Fernando Xavier and Maria Fernanda Soares join the partnership in the infrastructure projects practice and are based in Rio de Janeiro.

The firm's labour and tax groups see two new partners each. Labour practitioners Daniel Antonio Dias and Daniel Alves dos Santos are based in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro respectively, while Rodrigo César de Oliveira Marinho and Diogo Martins Teixeira now form part of the senior rank in the tax group. They work in the São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro offices respectively.

Machado Meyer's managing partner Tito Amaral de Andrade notes that four of the promotions are in the Rio de Janeiro office. "It is our intention to keep growing there, and this is a sign of that strategy," he says.

The firm, which is Latin Lawyer Elite, regularly bolsters its partnership with large promotions. In January this year, it made eight new partners across the Brasília, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo offices, as well as in the New York office.

The latest promotions come in four practice areas that have seen growth in the recent year and where the firm expects activity to continue. Despite the economic crisis associated with the ongoing pandemic and Brazil's GDP drop this year - close to 6% according to the IMF - Andrade is confident that 2021 will be a very active year. "We are optimistic, Brazil has a lot of potential and the economic rebound will lead to a lot of complex legal work," he adds.

In contrast to some transactional practices, where deals came to a complete halt in 2020 due to the pandemic, the labour practice remained busy throughout the year. Andrade says there has been a rise in collective lawsuits involving labour unions in both São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

As for tax, the Brazilian congress is currently debating a reform that aims to simplify the country's notoriously complex tax system. However, Andrade says the firm is not strengthening the practice purely because of the proposed updates. "Despite potential changes, Brazil's tax system is complex and requires legal advisors with deep knowledge to support clients, including in tax litigation," he says. "We don't think work will decrease, so we need an even stronger and more multidisciplinary team than we already have."

Looking towards the transactional practices, Andrade believes the government's ongoing privatisation programme will continue to bring in complex legal work relating to concessions and divestments of ports, airports, roads and energy assets. The Brazilian senate is currently debating a bill that will liberalise the natural gas market to increase competition and break state-owned Petrobras' monopoly. The lower house approved the bill in September.

In one of the privatisation programme's most recent deals, Machado Meyer helped Brazil's Neoenergia win a bid to buy the Federal District's main electricity distributor, CEB Distribuição, for US$492 million.

Petrobras, which is a regular client of the firm and an important source for work, is looking to sell off further assets. Andrade notes that the company still has large pipelines to be sold. The oil giant already divested pipeline company TAG for more than US$9 billion across two transactions, the majority in 2019 and the remainder earlier this year. Machado Meyer helped Petrobras on both of those. "There is a lot the government still intends to sell and there are a number of good assets that will attract both local and international investors," Andrade says.

He also sees important activity in Brazil's healthcare and education sectors. "People always rely on these industries, so they are very resilient by nature," says Andrade. Activity in these sectors is also boosted by the substantial number of local market players, as well as by the willingness of the industries' larger companies to expand outside of the main cities, adds Andrade.

Machado Meyer boasts a strong transactional division, with noted banking, project finance, capital markets and corporate groups. Several other practices also shine, like those dedicated to insurance, corporate governance and energy law.

Jornalista: KARLSSON, Fredrik

(Latin Lawyer - 16.12.2020)