Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Simpson Thacher and Mayer Brown hot for Brazil

Karen Sloan
December 22, 2009

Brazil is a hot prospect for law firms. In the past week, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Mayer Brown have joined a growing list of firms expanding in the South American country in recent years.

More than a half dozen firms have opened offices in Brazil or aligned with local firms in the past five years. Sao Paulo is a particularly attractive location because it's an investment hub that has attracted international banks and foreign investors.

Simpson Thacher recently opened an office in Sao Paulo — its first Latin American location. The firm has been handling Latin American matters for nearly three decades, but having an office in the region will make it easier to serve those clients, said Executive Committee Chairman Pete Ruegger in written statement. The firm recently represented media conglomerate Vivendi in its takeover of Brazilian telecom company GVT, and represented UBS in the sale of its Brazilian platform, among other deals.

The new office is headed by corporate partners Todd Crider and Jaime Mercado. The five attorneys staffing the office transferred from Simpson Thacher's New York headquarters, and are being supported by attorneys based in the firm's New York and Palo Alto, Calif. locations.

Mayer Brown, which established a Sao Paulo office two years ago, has formed an alliance with Brazilian firm Tauil & Chequer, which has 60 attorneys in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. The Brazilian firm will now conduct business as Tauil & Chequer in association with Mayer Brown.

Mayer Brown's existing Sao Paulo office will continue to handle matters that fall under New York law, English law, and U.S. securities law. Tauil & Chequer will handle matters that fall under Brazilian law. The firm is known for its representation of energy and infrastructure companies.

Mayer Brown Chairman Bert Krueger noted that the firm has been serving Brazilian and Latin American clients for nearly two decades. The country's emergence as a "major player on the global economic stage" has prompted the firm's growing investment in the region, he said. Brazil also is a popular destination for major sporting events. Rio De Janeiro was awarded the 2016 Summer Olympics and Brazil will host the World Cup in 2014.

Other firms have taken a similar approach. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher opened a Sao Paulo office in June, and Shearman & Sterling; Proskauer Rose; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; Squire, Sanders & Dempsey; and Thompson & Knight are among the firms that have opened Brazilian offices in recent years.

Karen Sloan can be contacted at

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