Best Lawyers

An interview with Best Lawyers Advisory Board member Pedro Aguiar de Freitas of Veirano Advogados.

Can you tell me what brought you back to private practice after working for the major energy employers in the country?

Well, I think that was a good time to make use of the experience that I had working with large corporations. It was just a different collection of clients; different companies required me to take a different perspective of players in the industry. And on the other hand, I [could] provide them with my expertise that I learned in my several years in-house both at the infrastructure construction level, also the financing operations, and more recently that is related to compliance.

With the global trend focusing on renewable energy [Paris Agreement with the UN, Brazil ratified it in September 2016], what are your thoughts on the future of the energy sector and mining industry law in Brazil?

I’m very positive on that. We have seen investments in the energy sector in Brazil, both with solar and wind, and a new interest in nuclear energy, which is very interesting. Regarding mining, I think the major deterrent was the price of commodities. But now the general price of commodities is recovering. The issue in Brazil is after the Samarco Mariana accident in 2015, some of the environmental agents got [stricter] regarding the operations of mining. It’s just more careful.

Since clients are a lot more cost-sensitive today, how is the firm finding ways to be price-effective for its clients?

Basically we have to have a big focus on value added and work very much with the client to try to figure out where exactly we can be of value, providing good assistance and understanding the parameters of the case so that we can have the billing arrangement that fills the nature of the project.

What do you consider to be the most pressing legal issue in your region currently?

I think that nowadays in Brazil there are a lot. It’s twofold, and they are interconnected. One is basically because of all these investigations going on in large corporations and the political sector—compliance and corruption matters—it’s very much at the top of the agenda for most of the companies and law firms as well. … Also in the political system in general: it affects the government, the hiring agent, and companies also as service providers. The compliance is not only in the system that the company has or investigations on past acts, but also relationships with suppliers, customers in general, policies of the company, and concerns with banks and all the investors to invest in the projects and be associated with companies. In all aspects related to that, it impacts financing, relationships with suppliers, and even in some cases, the continuation of some infrastructure projects. So that’s one challenge. That’s one level that requires legal work and forms. The other one is the needs that a country has for infrastructure projects. We see new players coming in. … [It’s] related to the new investors that we are receiving in Brazil and in the infrastructure sectors in general. Chinese companies have been investing very happily in Brazil the past couple of recent years. Very recently we had the privatization of four airports, and they were bought by Fraport from Germany, Vinci from France, and Zurich from Switzerland. They’re all new in operations as airports in Brazil. I see a big transformation in the Brazilian market with an increase of very different … and final players in the market. That’s the situation right now.

My last question is more about you: how did you find yourself in this specific practice area?

I was very excited because this was something that was always changing. We’ve had to deal with crisis management a lot in the past couple of years regarding some projects that we had been assisting. Then there’s the aftermath of the crisis situation of the recovery, some M&A, and now an influx of different disasters in Brazil and different ideas that bring a new perspective. It’s very interesting when you have a life that you’re exposed to new ideas and new matters coming up. It’s very exciting at the moment.