Clifford Chance snaps up ex-Argentine govt adviser

Clifford Chance has hired a key Argentine government lawyer involved in the world’s largest series of arbitrations linked to the collapse of the South American country’s economy in 2001.

Carlos Ignacio Suárez Anzorena worked as the Argentinian Attorney-General’s lead legal adviser until he was snapped up by Clifford Chance, although his appointment is subject to work permit approval.

“Our objective is to do more Latin American work generally. Focus will be on commercial and government disputes,” said Clifford Chance arbitration partner Audley Sheppard.

Anzorena defended ongoing claims brought by around 35 companies, including Total, Vivendi and the Suez Group, against Argentina.

The country has not instructed external counsel on the claims, which are being handled through arbitration.

The companies launched the actions after Argentina reversed its policy of pegging the peso to the US dollar in the wake of the collapse of the country’s economy in 2001. The claimants, which are seeking $16bn (£9bn) compensation, invested in Argentina on the condition that the peso would not free-float, they claim. Argentina’s withdrawal from the dollar led to a fourfold devaluing of the peso.

“Anzorena’s profile and CV may be attractive for investors with a claim,” said one source.

Clifford Chance has one of the cases being handled by litigation partner David Lindsey in its New York office. Most of the highly lucrative Argentine work is being handled by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer Paris partner Nigel Blackaby, who is instructed on 10 arbitrations.

Others acting for the claimants are partner Doak Bishop at King & Spalding, Paolo Di Rosa at White & Case’s Washington DC office and Philippe Pinsolle at Shearman & Sterling’s Paris office.

Allen & Overy has been confliced out because it is acting for banks helping to restructure Argentina’s economy.