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Norton Rose Fulbright has opened an office in Rio de Janeiro led by Brazil veterans Andrew Haynes, a lateral partner hire, and partner Glenn Faass, who is currently head of the firm’s Bogota, Colombia office.

Haynes, who joined the firm on Feb. 3, said he is working in temporary space in Rio, and Faass will join him over the next couple weeks. Haynes said the office will move into permanent space by midyear.

The firm expects the office, its 55th worldwide, to grow to five lawyers by the end of the year. It will be the third in Latin America; the others are in Bogota and Caracas, Venezuela.

Brazil is an important economy, Faass said.

“We have very, very significant transactions we have happening every year in Brazil. Our firm feels we are in a better position, competitively, to compete for those transactions if we actually have significant capability in Brazil,” Faass said.

In addition to transactions, Haynes said other areas of practice for the firm in Brazil include “energy, infrastructure work, banking work, white-collar investigations, a whole range of activities going on in Brazil, [and] international arbitrations.”

The lawyers in Brazil will do international mergers-and-acquisition, joint venture, securities and project finance transactions; anti-bribery and corruption work and investigations; restructuring; international arbitration; and dispute resolution, according to the firm’s Feb. 19 press release announcing the new office.

Both Faass and Haynes have worked in Brazil before. Faass formerly led the Brazilian practice for Macleod Dixon, a Canadian firm that merged with Norton Rose in January 2012. The firm became Norton Rose Fulbright in June 2013 when Houston-based Fulbright & Jaworski combined with Norton Rose.

Prior to joining Norton Rose Fulbright, Haynes was assistant general counsel global corporate with BP in London, and in that role he oversaw all M&A work for BP globally, including in Latin America. But he formerly worked for BP in Brazil, and he said he started talking to Norton Rose Fulbright because he wanted to move back to Brazil for family reasons because his wife is Brazilian.

Faass and Haynes said there is much opportunity in Brazil for Norton Rose Fulbright. Faass said the Brazilian office will work closely with the firm’s Texas offices.

In a written statement, Linda Addison, managing partner of the firm’s U.S. practice, wrote that Brazil is a significant market for many of the firm’s energy, financial and health-care clients, and its lawyers have done work in Brazil, including international arbitration matters, M&A and project finance.

“We see tremendous opportunity in expanding our global platform to this emerging commercial center, where our lawyers have represented both US and international clients for many years,” wrote Addison, who is based in New York City and Houston.

While Haynes and Faass haven’t worked together before their new undertaking, they first met in 2007 and learned that they coincidentally both grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, and have many mutual friends because they both formerly practiced in Alberta.