Deals of the YEar awards
For many Latin American issuers, 2022 was a year to hunker down and prepare for a more favorable marketplace.
For global law firm Cleary Gottlieb, however, the sharp slowdown in traditional capital markets issuance among its clients hardly meant less work for the firm. Amid the uncertainty, says partner Juan Giráldez, clients were busy “exploring alternative ways of doing transactions.”
Aside from the increased workload from the evolving demands of clients, major regulatory changes in key capital markets, including the US and Brazil, also meant more onerous disclosure requirements for issuers, which in turn translated into more work for lawyers. From that perspective, adds Giráldez, “it was a good and intellectually challenging year.”
Yet despite traditional capital markets transaction volumes having declined, Cleary, which wins the award for Law Firm of the Year – Latin America, nevertheless advised on a significant number of landmark transactions during the course of the year – including a several that picked up Deals of the Year awards.
For example, it advised on Chile’s ground-breaking $2 billion sustainability-linked bond in March as well as the $364 million blue bonds placed by Belize in a milestone debt restructuring in November of the prior year – two exemplary cases of creative approaches taken by sovereign issuers.
While Giráldez acknowledges that transaction work largely dried up in capital markets last year, he notes that creativity was nevertheless in full view across a range of liability management transactions, “some with very interesting features.”
A significant number of issuers, having anticipated an impending downturn, sought to refinance debt early on in the year, when market conditions still permitted. Giráldez expects the market to remain challenging in early 2023, with liability management and refinancing setting the tone until volatility subsides.
“If things go well on the inflation and interest rates fronts, we should start seeing a scenario like 2021 in the second half of the year,” he says. “We should then start seeing some follow-ons from big companies, before IPOs start to appear again.” LF