20 May 2021

Cleary Gottlieb dominates Latin American capital markets advisory work

Firm advises on $35bn of deals in opening four months of 2021 - three times more than nearest rival


Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton led the Latin American capital markets advisory league table for international firms after the opening four months of the year, continuing where it finished off last year when it topped the annual ranking, according to data supplied by Ágora by LexLatin.

Cleary worked on 25 transactions during the period worth $35bn, more than three times higher by deal value than second placed Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, which advised on 18 deals worth just over $11bn. The overall pace of the region’s capital markets activity in the opening four months of the year slowed slightly compared to the same period in 2020, which wasn’t impacted by the coronavirus pandemic until midway through March of last year.

Sullivan & Cromwell ranked third by deal value, working on five deals worth $11bn, followed by Shearman & Sterling, which advised on 10 deals worth just under $11bn. Davis Polk & Wardwell completed the top five by deal value, working on 14 deals worth $8bn. Those 14 deals saw it rank third by transaction volume behind Cleary and Simpson Thacher. Milbank also worked on 14 deals, with Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom working on 12. The top 20 of both international tables were dominated by US firms, with Linklaters and Clifford Chance being the only exceptions.

Arturo Carrillo, a New York partner at Paul Hastings, which ranked seventh by value, said: “The first quarter of 2021 has shown some encouraging signs for a rebound in capital markets activity. While Latin America still struggles with the pandemic and a paucity of vaccines, the United States and other countries that have a significant influence on the world economy are beginning to rebound sharply. This has resulted in a commodity boom and an increase in investable funds that has begun to have a positive impact on the Latin American capital markets.”

Latin America has seen an uptick in ESG-related deals, with Chile issuing more than $5bn of sovereign sustainable bonds this year.

Carrillo said: “Social and environmental bonds whereby interest rates increase if ESG targets are not obtained seems to be one of the most active segments in capital markets activity.”

While the market has remained resilient as the continent continues to grapple with the pandemic, the outlook for the rest of the year is uncertain.

David Flechner, a partner at Paul Hastings in Sao Paulo, said: “Latin American capital markets have a tendency to close abruptly when the political and/or economic environment deteriorates, and the prolonged political volatility across the larger markets could undermine the investment climate and recovery plans for the second half of 2021.”

The capital markets data is supplied by Ágora by LexLatin, click here to register for a free trial. It was collected for this article and tables on 19 May.

International Law Firm Capital Markets Deals by Value (First Four Months)
2020 2019 Firm Value ($bn) Deals
1 1 Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton 35.1 25
2 3 Simpson Thacher & Bartlett 11.1 18
3 6 Sullivan & Cromwell 11 5
4 2 Shearman & Sterling 10.7 10
5 4 Davis Polk & Wardwell 8.3 14
6  - Linklaters 8 5
7 13 Paul Hastings 7 5
8 9 Skadden 6.9 12
9 10 Milbank 6.5 14
10 5 Clifford Chance 4.1 8