‘Chile continues to be a country with great business potential’

Bnamericas Published: Tuesday, September 13, 2022
‘Chile continues to be a country with great business potential’

Global law firm Clyde & Co has established a permanent presence in Chile for the first time, as part of a strategy to drive growth in Latin America.

The office in capital Santiago was founded after the partners of local player Grasty Quintana Majlis and project and construction lawyers Juan Pablo Halpern and Arturo Pino merged under a combined entity known as Clyde & Co Chile. 

London-headquartered Clyde & Co had initially formed an association with Grasty Quintana Majlis in January 2020, giving it a representation in Chile.  

To discuss Clyde & Co Chile’s general outlook for the local market, the firm’s project unit and where it sees growth coming from, BNamericas conducted an email interview with company partners Franco Acchiardo and Halpern (pictured, left-right).

The Chilean office – which serves as a regional hub – has 11 local partners and a team of 40 lawyers with expertise in corporate and transactional law, litigation, tax, labor and projects and construction.

Present in Latin America for more than 25 years, Clyde & Co now has offices in the region in Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela and Santiago.

BNamericas: Chile is experiencing a period of uncertainty and economic slowdown. There are people who are going to ask what you think about the country and the opportunities that Clyde & Co sees here.

Acchiardo & Halpern: Uncertainty and economic slowdown are two factors that everyone is dealing with today. Chile is a globally connected country and is no stranger to these challenges. However, due to its past and recent history, this is a country that guarantees stability and order. For an international law firm like Clyde & Co these are essential elements when opening a new office. Chile continues to be a country with great business potential linked to its natural resources, particularly in mining and non-conventional renewable energies.

BNamericas: Juan Pablo works in the area of project development. Does Juan Pablo have a particular focus, for example, on infrastructure or energy projects? And what kind of services and advice is offered?

Acchiardo & Halpern: Unlike other law firms, the team led by partner Juan Pablo Halpern focuses on the development and execution of projects in the mining, energy and infrastructure sectors.

This team knows and understands the construction industry well: the issues, processes, concepts, language, nuances, as well as the challenges faced by contractors and owners. The experience of our project team provides our clients with a unique perspective, as we guide and support them during all stages of their project development, from pre-planning and structuring the best contracting model – for example, [design-build] DB, [engineering, procurement, construction] EPC, [engineering, procurement, construction management] EPCM or [build, operate, transfer] BOT – to the bidding, negotiation and execution of the project, including the resolution of claims and disputes during its execution and after its completion.

Today it’s common practice for project managers to work hand in hand with expert consultants, to complement their skills and experience, and ultimately obtain the best possible result. Our participation in the planning and structuring of the project allows our clients to avoid conflicts and lawsuits during its execution. In the event that the conflict is unavoidable, our advice during the execution allows them to speed up the claims process, optimizing their chances of success.

In addition, our relationship with trade associations and industry leaders gives us the opportunity to contribute substantially to the ongoing evolution of issues that affect not only the industry in general, but also the clients we represent. When new regulations are in the formative stage, our lawyers are often involved in the discussion process.

BNamericas: In addition to project development, Clyde & Co Chile has experts in various other areas. In which areas is demand strongest? And do you foresee any change in this regard?

Acchiardo & Halpern: In the short term, in addition to the projects area, without a doubt, our tax area, led by our partner Mónica Justiniano, will continue to see an increase in demand, stemming from the tax reform bill recently presented by the government of Gabriel Boric for debate in congress. Although we were already experiencing an increase in inquiries from clients and new clients, as the bill progresses and as we get closer to the final text, it is likely that we will go from a consultation stage to implementation. 

Additionally, we see that the area of labor legislation – with initiatives such as the bill that reduces the working week to 40 hours – will continue to see strong demand. This area has grown in clients in the past year as human resources departments of our clients have seen the need to have the constant support of our team of specialists led by Christian Alvarado. Keeping up to date on new laws and regulations has become essential to mitigate the risks that come with an ever-changing system of rules.

BNamericas: Can you talk a bit about your strategy for Latin America for the next few years?

Acchiardo & Halpern: With the opening of Clyde & Co Chile, we see the possibility of having a hub to serve our clients that have businesses in the region. The ties of the partners of Grasty and Halpern Pino with the rest of Latin America are evident; they have been built during years of intense professional practice. That experience will be essential for us to grow in the region. 

Colombia is a country that we view with great interest, as Clyde & Co actively works with clients there. Logically, there are other nearby markets that we will also carefully analyze from our new base in Chile.

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