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GAR 100 - 10th Edition

L O Baptista Advogados

06 March 2017

Unravelled its tie-up with Rio firm Schmidt Valois because of conflicts of interest

Pending cases as counsel 35
Value of pending counsel work US$2 billion
Treaty cases 0
Current arbitrator appointments 53 (of which 18 are as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 6

*Figures pre-date separation from Schmidt Valois

Based in São Paulo, LO Baptista Advogados has long been highly regarded for its two core practice areas of arbitration, and corporate and M&A. The arbitration group acquired its name under the leadership of ex-partner Luiz Olavo Baptista, a former chairman of the World Trade Organization’s Appellate Body and one of Brazil’s most famous arbitrators. He left the firm in 2015 to concentrate full-time on arbitrator work.

In 2011, LO Baptista merged with Schmidt Valois Miranda Ferreira & Agel, a Rio de Janeiro firm best known for its work in energy, natural resources and infrastructure. The merger – an unheard-of proposition in Brazil at that time – was hailed as a success. But growing conflicts of interest between the merged firm’s energy and disputes practices led to the unravelling of the merger in December 2016.

Following that break-up, Maurício Almeida Prado and Adriana Braghetta continue to co-lead the arbitration team in São Paulo. Braghetta is well known internationally thanks to her role as vice president of the International Council for Commercial Arbitration. She’s also a former chair of the Brazilian Arbitration Committee (CBAr). Braghetta and Prado sit as arbitrators, as does partner Fernando Marcondes, who specialises in construction disputes.

Though the firm has lost its office in Rio following the split from Schmidt Valois, it retains its membership of ALFA International, a network of 145 law firms across the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia.

Who uses it?

The firm doesn’t like to name clients but they come from the construction, energy, telecoms, banking and mining sectors and include government entities. It’s acted for the government of Angola and its national diamond company, Endiama, in an investment dispute.

Brazilian retail company Via Varejo used the firm in a shareholder dispute between its parent group CBD – owner of the Pão de Açúcar supermarket chain – and Brazilian billionaire socialite Lily Safra.

Track record

The firm helped Brazil’s national development bank BNDES defeat a US$250 million claim brought by Ecuador’s state power utility Hidropastaza, which concerned a loan for a hydropower plant.

It also won a US$200 million ICC arbitration that pitched two Brazilian construction companies against a European energy company.

Recent events

The firm helped a client win US$80 million in a dispute over an electricity supply contract involving a party under judicial reorganisation. A final award was rendered in October 2015 granting the client most of its claims.

Another win came in an ICC case arising out of a turnkey contract for a hydroelectric power station concerning liability for US$18 million in taxes. The firm also helped a respondent client achieve success in a case over the allocation of liabilities resulting from a construction project. 

New instructions came in a US$260 million dispute between a Brazilian group and some major financial institutions over a share purchase agreement; a US$32 million ICC case relating to a thermoelectric power plant; and a US$45 million case concerning installation of a chemical recovery boiler for a paper plant.

In early 2016, Rafael Francisco Alves, Paulo Macedo Garcia Neto and Silvia Bueno de Miranda were promoted to the partnership.