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Steel Hector & Davis LLP: a multinational law firm known for experience, integrity and effectiveness. (Focus on: Special Advertising Feature).

With expertise that extends across virtually all legal disciplines, extensive experience in a broad array of industries and a well-integrated network of local offices, the Miami-based law firm of Steel Hector & Davis LLP has played a key role in helping global companies participate in some of Latin America's most significant business opportunities.

Built on a robust foundation of more than 200 highly trained attorneys worldwide, Steel Hector has the breadth of resources and knowledge to assist clients who are focusing on diverse areas of business in Latin America and the Caribbean. One of Steel Hector's most important strategic strengths is its ability to clarify complex, sometimes contradictory international legal and business practices. "Foreign investors who come to Latin America are faced with different laws and legal systems, and with lawyers who practice in a different style," says Hernando Diaz-Candia, a partner in the Caracas office. "This is why it is so important to deploy the services of a multinational law firm like ours. Our attorneys have the valuable combination of local expertise and U.S. training and experience, which allows us to be highly responsive and to provide business savvy that is effective in helping clients achieve their objectives."

In addition to serving foreign multinationals entering Latin America, Steel Hector advises and assists Latin American and Caribbean-based clients as they move into the United States or European legal arenas. Steel Hector can easily exchange information between its offices and dissect the laws that apply to the parent of a multinational operation in the United States, as well as its affiliates in Latin America.

"We can offer the Dominican or Venezuelan or Brazilian client a level of service that a local firm simply can't provide in areas such as estate planning or U.S. securities transactions. We apply the same high standards of service in a seamless manner to all our clients, wherever they may be," said Raul J. Valdes-Fauli, a partner in Miami.

As one of the world's most prominent law firms, Steel Hector has consistently demonstrated the highest level of proficiency in handling litigation in civil and commercial disputes. The firm's ability to assemble a team of experts to support a client's position has contributed to Steel Hector's success and benefited its international clients.

The firm represents clients in administrative matters, such as appearances in proceedings before foreign regulatory agencies. It is also a leader in the region's evolving participation of the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process.

Steel Hector's attorneys understand that one of the ways to avoid expensive litigation is for businesses and investors to understand the varying legal systems in the region. "We help foreign clients bridge those differences in the laws and cultures that vary from country to country," says Alejandro Pena Prieto, a partner in Santo Domingo.

For example, business agreements in Brazilian law tend to be less complex than under the U.S. legal system because of the local counterparty's reliance on civil law statutes. Moreover, depending on the circumstances, even a rather complete, standard agreement such as those used in the United States might not be fully enforceable in Brazil, explains Francisco T. Ohno, a partner in Sao Paulo. In a dispute, the Brazilian party might be able to present the matter to a Brazilian court, which may apply local legal principles, regardless of the terms of the agreement. As a result, it is essential that such contracts be appropriately checked by counsel of the jurisdictions involved prior to execution. By having offices in both Brazil and the United States, Steel Hector is better able to coordinate and thoroughly analyze the development and execution of such multinational contracts and relevant aspects such as the most efficient tax structure and dispute resolution, among others.

From banking to manufacturing to technology, Steel Hector has extensive experience in assisting public and private sector clients throughout the region. The following sections describe the firm's involvement in some of Latin America's leading industries:


Steel Hector's international strengths are particularly valuable in advising clients on labor and employment matters, which vary widely from country to country and can impede the opening of a company's local office or its ability to manage employees effectively.

"We support multinational clients with their labor contracts, termination of employees and a broad range of labor matters and issues that arise in their day-to-day operations," says Pedro O. Gamundi, a partner in Santo Domingo. "Our experience, drawn from both local and U.S. legal practices, has been extremely successful in protecting our clients from unforeseen risks."

Steel Hector keeps its clients up to date on changes in labor legislation, new court rulings and labor activities throughout Latin America. "Our size is very important," adds Gamundi. "Our offices in Latin America are large enough to provide comprehensive services in an efficient manner, while remaining small enough so clients get the level of personal attention and responsiveness that they deserve."


Steel Hector has a long relationship with the aviation industry through its work for American Airlines in Florida, Brazil, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. Michael Royster, a partner in the Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo offices, notes that the firm has assisted in all aspects of law, including litigation, transactional, tax and labor matters.

The firm is familiar with issues involving private airlines, airport authorities and airline-related entities, such as reservations systems, as well as the growing area of aircraft sale and leaseback transactions. When American spun off its Sabre division as a separate company in the United States, Steel Hector advised the company on tax, labor and corporate effects in Brazil and elsewhere in South America.


Privatization and new technologies have brought many business opportunities in the energy arena. Steel Hector's participation in these complex and extremely large transactions means that it can draw on broad experience.

In Brazil, Steel Hector attorneys have represented oil service companies in corporate, regulatory and litigation matters. In the past year, the nation's oil exploration market has become competitive, creating a boom in oil service companies and revitalizing the Brazilian shipbuilding industry. In the Dominican Republic, Steel Hector recently assisted a U.S. energy company in its successful bid for a major power distribution company and has assisted in the financing of power generation projects.


A recent mining transaction in the Dominican Republic illustrates Steel Hector's ability to provide local and U.S. legal services on a highly integrated basis. After the government-owned Pueblo Viejo gold mine ran into problems that prevented mining operations a decade ago or so, Steel Hector assisted the Dominican Republic's Central Bank in leasing the mine through a bidding process. Canada-based Placer Dome Inc., was selected as the winning bidder in 2001, and Steel Hector worked in the preparation and negotiation of the definitive agreements, which were signed in March 2002.

"A project like this plays to our strengths," says Samuel C. Ullman, a partner in Miami. "As the chief counsel for the Central Bank on project, we were able to bring both our local and international legal expertise together to present an integrated package of services. Now the Dominican Republic is looking for similar types of projects that will be made available for international investment."


Steel Hector has been a key participant in the ongoing privatization of Latin America's telecommunications sector. The firm has advised private clients on obtaining government licenses, establishing joint ventures with local partners and assisting in the formation of new ventures in traditional telephony, wireless and satellite phones, as well as broadband and Internet services. For example, Steel Hector is now assisting in the refinancing and restructuring of Digitel, a major Venezuelan cellular operator owned by Telecom Italia Movil.

Although the industry is consolidating, Miriam Herz, a partner in Caracas, notes that opportunities for new ventures exist, including multimedia and digital television services. "We also have been active in proposed legislation and rule-making procedures," says Herz. "As this is still a highly regulated industry, we have been heavily involved in compliance work, as well as negotiations between operators to provide new services to residential and business customers."


Steel Hector's technology clients range from Hewlett Packard to Microsoft. The firm provides advice on topics such as protecting intellectual property, determining the most appropriate distribution channels and drawing up licensing agreements with end users. The Caracas office has extensive experience with Microsoft and has provided advice to public bodies on electronic documents and electronic signature laws, furthering public-sector understanding of key technology issues.


In order to achieve efficiencies of scale, beverage distributors and bottlers throughout the region are seeking new growth opportunities. Recently, the firm represented a Salvadoran beverage company in the creation of a joint venture with a Honduran brewery and a Coca Cola bottling company subsidiary owned by a South African brewery. "This was the largest merger ever in Central America," said Miami-based partner Valdes-Fauli.


As Latin America continues to offer new business opportunities for investors, Steel Hector will be a key player in the process. "We are a one-stop shop for legal services for companies interested in coming to Latin America or already doing business in Latin America," says Herz. "Our integrated system of offices allows us to consistently obtain the best results for our clients."





200 South Biscayne Boulevard, Suite 4000 Miami, FL 33131-2398

Tel: 305-577-7000 Fax: 305-577-7001

Latin American Offices:


Steel Hector & Davis S.C.

Centro Seguros Sudamerica, Piso 10, Oficina 10-A Avenida Francisco de Miranda, El Rosal Caracas 1060, Venezuela

Tel: 58.212.953.4006 Fax: 58.212.953.4846


Stroeter, Royster & Ohno - Advogados Associated with Steel Hector & Davis LLP

Av. Rio Branco, 108-30[degrees] andar Rio de Janeiro, RJ 20040-001 Brasil

Tel: 55.21.2509.5782 Fax: 55.21.2509.5783


Stroeter, Royster & Ohno - Advogados Associated with Steel Hector & Davis LLP

Av. Paulista, 1842,

conj. 188, Torre Norte

Sao Paulo, SP 01310-923 Brasil




Steel Hector Davis Pena Prieto & Gamundi Ltd.

Pedro Henriquez Urena No. 157

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Tel: 809.472.4900 Fax: 809.472.4999

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Publication:Latin Trade
Date:Jul 1, 2002
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