Philippi Prietocarrizosa & Uría, the product of Latin America’s first cross-border combination of major law firms, has established a presence in Peru through a merger with not one, but two firms: Ferrero Abogados and Delmar Ugarte Abogados.
Philippi, Prietocarrizosa, Ferrero DU & Uria, as the newly merged firm is now known, became operational on 1 January. The merger takes the total headcount at the Latin American firm to 319, of which 44 are partners. The combined Peruvian firms have 29 partners and a total headcount of 99, making it one of the larger in the market.
The firm’s presence in Lima adds to existing offices in the Colombian cities of Bogotá and Baranquilla, and Santiago in Chile.
PPU became Latin America’s first cross-border firm when Chile’s Philippi, Yrarrázaval, Pulido & Brunner and Colombian counterpart prietocarrizosa combined their operations with the support of Spain’s Uría Menéndez in 2013. They announced plans for further expansion at the time, and have now followed through after a year spent consolidating their Colombian and Chilean operations.
PPU co-chairs Juan Francisco Gutiérrez and Martín Acero say the move is a response to growing demand for cross-border legal services across the Pacific Alliance countries, made up of Chile, Colombia, Peru and Mexico.
Management at the Peruvian firms had similar reasons for merging. “We can now offer quality services in multiple countries,” notes Ferrero Abogados’ Guillermo Ferrero, while Manuel Ugarte of Delmar Ugarte says his firm’s lawyers will now be able to “participate in large international operations and share important experiences with lawyers from different countries”.
While Philippi and prietocarrizosa were part of Uría Menéndez’s Latin American best-friends network before their tie-up, Delmar Ugarte and Ferrero were not. The Peruvian member of the network was Payet, Rey, Cauvi, Pérez Abogados. Latin Lawyer does not yet know what will happen to that relationship.
Delmar Ugarte and Ferrero are both solid mid-sized players in the Peruvian market. Ferrero was established in 1937 and is particularly noted for its mining capabilities, on top of a strong transactional offer. Delmar Ugarte is considerably younger, having been founded in 2005, and stands out for its busy project finance and banking groups.
Philippi, Prietocarrizosa, Ferrero DU & Uria is breaking new ground in the region, not only with its cross-border combinations, but by entering a legal market by merging with two law firms simultaneously.
The firm has also identified Mexico as a likely target, given it is also part of the Pacific Alliance. There, Uría Menéndez has a best friend relationship with Galicia Abogados, one of the country’s top tier firms.
Uría Menéndez is not the only Spanish firm to show an interest in developing a network in the Pacific Alliance countries. Since 2012, Garrigues has pursued an aggressive expansion strategy in the region, opening offices through lateral hires and mergers in Mexico, Peru and Colombia. Garrigues intends to go further, with Argentina and Chile the next likely targets.
Meanwhile, the Pacific Alliance member firms of Garrigues’ former network, Affinitas, have also become further integrated, while the Argentine firm has left to focus on opportunities at home.
Latin Lawyer will cover this story in more depth over the coming days.