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Baker & McKenzie has become the first international firm to establish a base in Peru as it enters the region via a tie-up with Peruvian law firm Estudio Echecopar.
The merger will give the firm a base in each corner of the fast-growing Andean triangle - Peru, Chile and Colombia - and marks Bakers’ 15th office in seven countries across Latin America. Based in Lima, the office will be headed by the managing partner of Estudio Echecopar, Ismael Noya, with some of the firm’s 200 lawyers and staff to be employed by Baker & McKenzie.
The decision to go ahead with the deal came after winning partner backing at the firm’s annual meeting last week, although an official launch date is yet to be announced. It is not yet confirmed whether the tie-up will retain the name of the Peruvian firm.
Estudio Echecopar has over 200 lawyers and staff working across areas such as M&A, mining and energy, foreign investment, privatisation, and arbitration and litigation.
In theory Bakers will now be the only international law firm with a true presence in Peru, though other firms have loose alliances - Rebaza Alcázar & De Las Casas is a member of the Squire Sanders Legal Counsel and Payet Rey Cauvi is a member of the Uría Menéndez Latin America Network.
“Clients increasingly are looking to Latin America - and especially the promising nations of the Andean Three [Peru, Chile and Colombia] - for growth opportunities as well as resources,” said Bakers chairman Eduardo Leite in a statement. “We’ve worked with the talented lawyers of Estudio Echecopar for more than a decade and couldn’t have found a stronger team to help us meet our clients’ growing needs.”
Leite noted that the economies of Peru, Chile and Colombia are projected to grow faster than Brazil and Mexico over the next five years. Mexico, for example, has been dragged down by the slump in US consumer spending and has not done as well coming out of the recession as many of its Latin American neighbours.
Bakers has opened a number of other offices this year, launching in Casablanca in July (12 July 2012) and Johannesburg in May (29 May 2012).