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April 21, 2010 1:35 PM

Milbank Raids Shearman for São Paulo Outpost

Posted by Brian Baxter

Avenida_Paulista_Aérea

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy became the latest Am Law 100 firm to set up shop in Brazil, hoping to secure a foothold in the country's booming economy, according to an announcement by the firm late last night.

Bloomberg reports that the New York firm's new São Paulo office will be led by Andrew Jánszky, formerly the head of Shearman & Sterling's local operations. Milbank joins DLA Piper, which forged an alliance with a local firm in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro last month, and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, whose São Paulo office opened in December, as the newest U.S. entrants in the Brazilian market. (Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher opened in São Paulo last summer.)

Sibling publication The National Law Journal reported two years ago that Brazil's growing economy was proving irresistible to a handful of Am Law 100 firms, following a move by some Magic Circle firms into South America.

Shearman led the way by opening an office in São Paulo in 2004 headed by Jánszky, a native Brazilian who specializes in capital markets work, M&A, and private equity investments. Since then the firm has landed roles on some of the biggest deals in Brazil, such as advising Banco Itaú on its merger with Unibanco in 2008. (Click here to read a Q&A with Jánszky.)

Snatching Jánszky from Shearman is certainly a score for Milbank, which also added associate Tobias Stirnberg from its New York rival, according to Bloomberg. But Shearman, which claims to have an 80-year history in Brazil, says it's unfazed by the departures.

A Shearman spokesman told The Am Law Daily that New York-based Antonia Stolper, who has taken the lead on several high-profile deals in emerging markets, would take over the firm's 20-lawyer Latin American practice. Robert Ellison, who will now head Shearman's São Paulo office, told Bloomberg that the firm is "well positioned" to handle the defections, because Jánszky was slated to be transferred to the New York office in June. 

"This does not change the business plan," Ellison said. "We have a huge history in Brazil, which is not just one guy, it's a whole firm."

Shearman saw an 8.67 percent decrease in revenue last year, to $801 million, but profits per equity partner increased 4.2 percent, to almost $1.74 million. (Shearman's capital markets practice was particularly successful in 2009, handling three of the world's five largest IPOs, including advising Brazil's VisaNet on its $4.3 billion offering and the underwriters for Banco Santander Brazil on its $8 billion listing.)

Milbank also saw its revenues dip 3 percent last year, to $601.5 million. The firm's profits per equity partner rose 5 percent, to $2.23 million, as its partnership ranks shrank 3.5 percent, according to the latest Am Law 100 financial data. Milbank is also no stranger to banking on capital markets work in developing markets, as noted in this November 2005 feature story from The American Lawyer touching on the firm's work in China.

Milbank wasn't the only firm to branch out into an exotic location this week.

Crowell & Moring launched an affiliate office in Cairo and formed an alliance with another firm in Saudi Arabia, according to The NLJ, which reports the moves are part of Crowell's attempt to enhance services for its North American, European, and Latin American clients with businesses in those regions.

The firm linked up with Cairo's Hegazy & Associates--led by former Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer Islamic finance chair Walid Hegazy--and added capabilities in Riyadh and Jeddah through its alliance with Al Enizy & Associates.

Photo: São Paulo, Wikimedia Commons

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