Schmidt, Valois, Miranda, Ferreira, Agel has enjoyed renewed optimism as Brazil’s energy sector continues to rebound after years of historically low global oil prices, the ongoing Car Wash investigation and Brazil’s worst-ever recession. While these took a heavy toll on the engineering, construction and energy companies that form the backbone of the firm’s client base, work has picked up and Schmidt Valois has reinforced its oil and gas team and infrastructure practice accordingly in the last two years. Labour and data have also seen investment, with the hire of partners from competitors.
After splitting from L O Baptista in 2016, Schmidt Valois quickly proved it was ready for a new challenge. The firm’s reputation for providing some of the best oil and gas advice in the Brazilian market appears not only undiminished but strengthened today. The firm’s push to modernise included hiring a consultancy firm to help it review its partner compensation system and its internal management organisation. The firm will implement an adjusted lockstep compensation system in 2020, moving away from the traditional eat-what-you-kill model.
Schmidt Valois has a partnership with Portuguese firm MC&A, giving it access to MC&A’s network of associated firms in Portugal and West Africa. Since then, both firms have been targeting clients and law firms in the US and UK, and plan to further deepen their partnership in the coming years.
Schmidt Valois’ strong focus on natural resources and energy is reflected in its counsel list by a strong showing of companies from those sectors including Shell, Total, Petro Rio, Raízen, AES and Japanese oil company INPEX. Energy investor Azimuth and federal bank Caixa Econômica Federal are other clients.
Key partners: Practice head Guilherme Schmidt, Paulo Valois Pires, Rogério Miranda and Antônio Luís de Miranda Ferreira. Luis Fernando Pacheco brings energy nous alongside Sonia Agel, who adds experience from her role as GC for the oil and gas regulator agency ANP. Isabela Faria is also high-profile. Valois and Agel both come recommended in LACCA Approved, a survey of in-house counsel, published by the Latin American Corporate Counsel Association, which is affiliated to Latin Lawyer. Alexei Macorin Vivan, who has held several in-house positions at energy companies, also features.
Analysis: Schmidt Valois’ oil and gas practice group has been considered as one of the country’s best for some time. Local and international clients, including investors, operators and financial institutions look to the firm for the development of power generation, transmission, distribution and marketing projects. A niche within the department is advising clients in the renewable energy sector on the development and financing of green and brownfield projects. The team also assists clients on the analysis of regulatory and tax issues arising from these projects. Offshore oil explorer AziLat is a regular client, for which the team provides counsel on acquisitions and farm-in agreements, among other matters.
The firm helped Engie, as part of a consortium, acquire gas pipeline company TAG from Petrobras’ for US$8.6 billion, in what is thought to be the one of the largest ever privatisations in Brazil.
Project finance & infrastructure
Key partners: Rogério Miranda is a former Shell in-house counsel leads on infrastructure and projects work; former GC of Sete Brasil Isabela Faria, who is a big draw for clients and brings solid experience in project finance; and Paulo Valois, who also worked in-house at Shell.
Analysis: Schmidt Valois’ excellent reputation in energy provides a solid foundation for this project finance practice, which is very well regarded in the marketplace. The department focuses on the oil and gas sector, and the firm is well-positioned to benefit from these sectors’ recovering and driving up demand for infrastructure expertise in the coming years.
Mining & metals
Key partners: Rogério Miranda and Antonio Luís Ferreira take the lead here. Paulo Valois Pires, whose practice includes corporate, project finance, environmental and energy work, adds further depth.
Analysis: Schmidt Valois’ has considerable strength in mining, with three senior partners who enjoy a consistent track record in the area and attract high calibre clients. The firm offers clients assistance on structuring mining projects, environmental auditing, tax planning and the acquisition, assignment and transfer of mining rights. As well as these, licensing matters, joint-venture creation and the rehabilitation of mines are examples of work the firm has been hired for. Schmidt Valois’ client list is impressive; BHP, Anglo American and Vale are some that have hired the firm.
Key partners: Anna Paula Goés leads here, and brings over two decades of experience in the area. Paulo Valois and Rogério Miranda also feature, and offerknow-how from in-house roles at Shell.
Analysis: Schmidt Valois’ strong natural resources offering is supported by a solid environmental and sustainability practice group, backed by the firm’s two main partners. The firm’s broad base of prominent mining and infrastructure clients rely on the team for matters including licensing related to large-scale projects, public contracts and environmental disputes at administrative, civil and criminal levels. Oil service companies, waste management organisations and international investors are some of the clients that look to Schmidt Valois for environmental counsel.
Key partners: Practice head Sonia Agel, who was formerly general counsel of the national oil and gas agency ANP, and Guilherme Schmidt, who previously worked in-house for Shell Brazil. Paulo Valois Pires, Antonio Luis Miranda and Rogério Miranda also do work in this area.
Analysis: Schmidt Valois has a solid oil and gas regulatory offering that leverages its extensive in-house experience accumulated by its partnership at some of Brazil’s biggest oil and gas players. The firm represents companies before oil and gas and energy regulators at the federal, state and municipal levels, and has defended several parties involved in the case over Chevron’s oil spill. Mergers and acquisitions are also within this team’s remit; it has helped ExxonMobil acquire a stake in offshore oil blocks in Brazil.
Corporate and M&A
Key partners: Eduardo Cirne Lima leads here. He advises clients on mergers and acquisitions, corporate restructuring, and initial public offerings. Name partners Paulo Valois, Sonia Agel and Guilherme Schmidt, who offer energy focus to clients in the sector on acquisitions and joint ventures, round off this practice.
Analysis: Schmidt Valois’ strong energy focus is evident in its corporate practice. Clients from the sector feature prominently on its books; hiring the team for M&A deals and other corporate matters. For example, French energy conglomerate Engie hired the firm to help it purchase its US$8.7 billion acquisition of Brazil’s largest gas pipeline company TAG. Offshore oil explorer AziLat is another client. The team wins praise from clients for its top-quality service, commitment and availability.
- Engie gets US$8.7 billion for Petrobras pipeline buy as privatisations gain momentum
- Engie buys Petrobras gas pipeline company for US$8.6 billion
- Petro Rio buys stake in Brazil’s Frade oil field
Most recent deals
Key partners: João Agripino Maia leads this area after joining in 2020 from Veirano Advogados. He advises clients on corporate taxation, cross-border transactions and tax litigation matters. Maia has represented several companies in audits and administrative appeals. Counsel José Gustavo Braga also features.
Analysis: Schmidt Valois’ tax department offers clients tax litigation, consultancy, review, planning, corporate restructure and preventive advisory services. Several well-known oil and gas and energy companies are present on Schmidt Valois’ books, while client reviews attest to the quality of legal service offered by Braga and his team. Companies look to the firm for advice on tax implications related to acquisitions and divestments. Anglo-Dutch oil major Shell and Wilson Sons Group, a Brazilian port logistics operator, are important and regular clients. The firm has demonstrated a willingness to move away from more traditional sectors too, with new digital companies appearing on its client roster.
Work highlights: A well-known chemical company called on the firm’s services to guide it through the tax implications of a divestment.