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Davis Polk Plans Sao Paulo Office as Firms Flock to Brazil
The American Lawyer
The office, its 10th internationally, could open its doors as early as midyear, though the date is subject to approval by Brazilian authorities.
Roughly 20 firms have opened offices in Brazil in recent years, including seven of the eight largest firms of The Global 100. Unlike most of those office openings, Davis Polk corporate partner Manuel Garciadiaz says the firm is "not using the office to break into the market." Garciadiaz will be leading the eight-to-10-lawyer office along with partner Maurice Blanco.
"We're opening where we already have a strong practice," Garciadiaz says. "It's really a platform to continue to grow the practice."
As detailed in the October issue of The American Lawyer, Allen & Overy; Chadbourne & Parke; DLA Piper; Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher; Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy; Simpson Thacher & Bartlett; and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom have opened offices in Sao Paulo since 2008. Jones Day has since established a presence in the country also, as previously reported here.
Garciadiaz, 41, has been involved in some of the transformational deals in Brazil. In 2009, for example, he and fellow partner Nicholas Kronfeld helped Santander Brasil on its $7.6 billion SEC-registered IPO, the largest global IPO that year and the largest ever in Latin America. In 2008, Garciadiaz was named an American Lawyer Dealmaker of the Year for taking public Cosan S.A. Industria y Comercio. He's done more than 150 capital markets deals in Latin America for clients including Cosan, Credit Suisse, EBX, Gafisa, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Santander Brasil, and Telefonica.
Davis Polk's planned office also is intended to accommodate visiting partners who have sizable Brazil practices, including M&A partner John Amorosi, who is currently advising Cosan in a $12 billion joint venture with a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell, announced a year ago and previously reported here. Amorosi led the firm's work on the sale of Brazilian health insurer Grupo Qualicorp to Carlyle Group last July. Others with active Brazil practices, according to Garciadiaz, include corporate partner Nicholas Kronfeld, credit and project finance partner E. Waide Warner Jr., and M&A partners Diane Kerr, Michael Davis and Paul Kingsley.
The office will be a welcome change for Garciadiaz, who says he has been flying to Brazil nearly every week for the past five years, generally working on his laptop out of hotel rooms or the clients' offices."I'll be losing my concierge key status on American Airlines," he says, "but all they ever give me is more miles anyway, so it's not a sacrifice."
Blanco, 35, has also been banking the frequent flyer miles, handling at least a dozen IPOs in Brazil, including a 2007 IPO for the country's commodities futures exchange, BM&F. The firm announced that he has just been recognized by Latin Lawyer for helping restructure the debt of Independencia SA, a Brazilian meatpacker, which is currently in Brazilian bankruptcy proceedings.
This article first appeared on The Am Law Daily blog on AmericanLawyer.com.