25 Mar 2022

Abreu unveils 'integration' of Porto firm ACRLEX

Four lawyers join Porto office in move that promises to hand Abreu membership of the Interlex network

Formal portrait photos of Diogo Pessanha, Benedita Pessanha and Diogo Pessanha

(l-r) Diogo Pessanha, Benedita Pessanha and Pedro Pessanha

Abreu Advogados, one of Portugal’s largest law firms, has announced the acquisition of Porto firm ACRLEX. 

Lisbon-based Abreu said the move reinforces its position in Portugal’s northern market, with ACRLEX counting some of the region’s largest companies as clients as well as foreign businesses and boasting a strong presence in the wine, agriculture, textiles, renewable energies, transport and logistics, real estate and construction sectors.

It is also the only Portuguese member of the Interlex Group, an association of 49 law firms in more than 60 countries that is ranked Band 1:Elite by Chambers and includes Bennet Jones in Canada, Carey in Chile, Demarest in Brazil and Taylor Wessing in the UK. 

And although Abreu will need to apply to join Interlex, it is expected that it will become part of the network in due course.

Four of the seven lawyers listed on ACRLEX’s website have moved across to Abreu in Porto: founding partner Pedro Pessanha has joined the corporate and M&A team, while Francisco Costa Leite will serve as counsel in the public and environment practice. Diogo Pessanha has joined Abreu’s corporate and M&A team as a professional partner, one stage before making full partner, while Benedita Pessanha has come aboard as a senior associate in the firm’s real estate practice.

Their arrival brings Abreu’s lawyer headcount in Porto to almost 30, including four partners and four professional partners.

Pedro Pessanha brings nearly 40 years of experience in the law to his new firm and focuses on commercial law, M&A, foreign investment and international contracts. Costa Leite, meanwhile, has almost 30 years of legal practice and is active in administrative and corporate law, employment law and judicial and administrative litigation, having participated in a number of cases before the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Diogo Pessanha has a dual focus on M&A and financial restructuring operations and corporate and employment law, particularly in the private client, agro-food and health, life sciences and pharmaceuticals sectors.

Finally, Benedita Pessanha is expected to advise real estate developers and investors in residential, commercial, tourism and service projects, as well as private clients and family businesses.

Pedro Pessanha said the integration with Abreu was “a natural step with great impact on the scope of the services we will now offer, integrated in a firm that shares with us the vision and mission of sustained growth and independence.”

Abreu’s managing partner, Inês Sequeira Mendes, described the move as a “significant step” for Abreu along its path toward becoming one of Portugal’s leading independent law firms.

“Pedro Pessanha is a highly recognised lawyer who shares with us a modern vision of the legal profession. We have a strong team in Oporto, focused on clients and with an extensive knowledge of their needs and we believe that with this integration we can consolidate its position and growth,” he added.

The tie-up follows Abreu expanding its presence in Lusophone Africa last July when it formed a partnership with Guinnea-Bissau law firm Armindo Serqueira. The move saw Armindo Serqueira link up with Abreu’s Guinea-Bissau desk, which is made up of Portugal-based Abreu partners Manuel Santos Vítor and Maria Inês Assis. 

Abreu, which has more than 200 lawyers, also seemed to shrug off the impact of the pandemic, reporting last April that revenue had increased 12% for the 2020 financial year to hit €33.6m, a record for the firm.

Listed UK law firm DWF has also looked to build its presence in Portugal recently, announcing an exclusive association with Lisbon law firm Nobre Guedes & Associados as well as with Spanish loss adjusting business RTS Group, in in a move it said would enhance its ability to expand in Latin America and Africa. 

ARCLEX did not respond to a request for comment regarding the next steps of its three remaining lawyers, though a spokesperson for Abreu said that ARCLEX had ceased to exist following the integration.

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