Chile lawyers/project advisers talk opportunities, investor appetite
Chilean boutique law firm NDI Abogados goes beyond providing just legal advice. The company also assists in the sphere of project planning and development. To find out more and discuss investment opportunities and investor appetite, BNamericas conducted an email interview with NDI partners Cristián Casanova (left) and Pedro Felipe Iñiguez.
BNamericas: NDI Abogados offers various related services, not just legal. Could you explain more about your strategy or approach?
Casanova and Iñiguez: NDI’s core business is the provision of legal and regulatory services and advice. Given our combined experience as in-house lawyers in different industries, our clients have asked us to provide advice that goes a little further, such as strategic support for managers in real estate development or intermediation businesses to link different interests, or definitely as strategic advice, which goes beyond the merely legal to resolve contingencies.
This has allowed us to develop broader and deeper relationships than the traditional ones between client-lawyer, providing a business vision derived from our own experience as part of management teams in which we have participated.
BNamericas: Could you give us an example within the area of infrastructure or energy where you have been able to leverage these capabilities?
Casanova and Iñiguez: On a regular basis, clients have approached us asking for advice in finding strategic partners. For these purposes, we have detected that there is a prior need to structure the project, prioritize the activities that must be developed, and understand the drivers of the industry and the most relevant collaborators, in order to agree on the best way to work with them.
In a particular case, for the purposes of developing a mixed project that combines real estate, logistics, services and tourism businesses, we have been required to provide permanent advice for the development of the relevant milestones that allow the master plan to be established, implemented and financed, so that a business idea becomes a reality. This is a concrete example in which, based on a specific legal advice requirement, we have transitioned towards comprehensive advice for the management of a long-term project, contributing our knowledge and experience in the regulatory, financing and tax fields, which involves different office lawyers.
BNamericas: In which industries is there more movement today, that is, which areas are generating opportunities for you?
Casanova and Iñiguez: Our focus is on different industries, ranging from natural resources, financial services, insurance and real estate to telecommunications and infrastructure in general. We believe that, due to a matter of technological convergence, the energy and telecommunications industries have great potential for development.
In the same way, the rental industry (logistics, multifamily or others) will resume its momentum given the potential benefits for investors, so we believe that this year, 2023, will also offer many opportunities. On the other hand, the development of businesses associated with technology, such as logistics, fintech and open banking will have a lot of room for development.
BNamericas: Regarding the financing of projects, what general trends are you observing today in Chile, for example, in terms of demand and supply?
Casanova and Iñiguez: We see investors much more cautious, both at the institutional level, as well as family offices and productive industries. For example, in projects whose structural driver would be regulatory and environmental authorizations, the existence of a series of situations that reduced the spaces for legal certainty, plus macroeconomic conditions, made investors narrow the filters when approving an investment.
We also see that, despite the economic crisis, assets have generally not fallen in value, generating less demand for more transactional activities.
BNamericas: The Chilean economy and economic prospects have been impacted in recent years by the social unrest, the change in command, the pandemic, the constitutional reform and, now, double-digit inflation. Nonetheless, the country, compared to several of its regional peers, remains on its feet. What is your outlook for Chile?
Casanova and Iñiguez: We have a positive vision of the country. Indeed, a series of events were building a perfect storm that has weakened the confidence that must exist to be willing to develop any economic activity. However, the electoral results, the existing institutional framework and the depth of the capital market constitute a combination of factors that suggest that, after the crisis, a series of opportunities will present themselves in the country, allowing us to return to the levels of development which we've gotten used to in the past. Obviously it will be a slow process. First, the foundations of sustainable development must be established to reinvest in the country, which will take at least all of 2023.
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