The Atlanta-based law firm of Wasserman West has added to its Latin American expertise, recruiting an Argentine attorney with vast deal-making experience as the country’s economic prospects brighten.
Maria Fernanda Farall joins the Latin America-focused firm from her previous position running the Atlanta office of a boutique firm based in Buenos Aires.
Before that, she worked in Atlanta for international law firm Jones Day, where she handled complex deals like the $750 million Chinese acquisition of a South African bank’s assets in Argentina, among others. Ms. Farall’s clients span the globe in industries such as oil and gas, banking, chemicals, hospitality and technology. She has been recognized for excellence in corporate M&A and finance matters by various legal publications.
“María’s impressive international corporate and transactional hands-on-experience together with her practical knowledge of legal and business culture in Latin America reinforces our ability to provide first-tier services to our clients doing business across the region,” principal Guillermo Wasserman said in a news release.
She’s the firm’s second Argentine-born attorney following Mr. Wasserman, himself licensed to practice both in Buenos Aires and Georgia.
The two see the nuanced knowledge that comes from having worked extensively in their home country as a competitive advantage versus larger firms that may have Spanish skills but not localized expertise.
“It’s not only the language, but the culture and business,” Mr. Wasserman told Global Atlanta in an interview. That — and the ability to navigate bureaucratic minutiae that can save clients real money.
Of course, all this didn’t matter as much when there were fewer cross-border deals flowing to Argentina, but all that has changed.
Despite recent hiccups including a tense IMF bailout, confidence is on the rise thanks to a raft of reforms by the government of President Mauricio Macri. While moves like freely floating the peso and ending fuel subsidies have hit poorer communities (voters) harder, they have also helped assure the world that the country is on a fiscally sustainable path.
Ms. Farall is sanguine about Argentina’s prospects, especially given the solid showing of Mr. Macri’s Cambiemos coalition in last year’s parliamentary midterms.
“It takes time for true change to happen, but the fact that it’s a slow progression makes it more substantive and gives it certainty,” she told Global Atlanta. “The problems that Argentina had when Macri started were too big to tackle in a year.”
A quiet year without an election could yield even more progress, though Mr. Wasserman believes the government could be benefiting from voters’ antipathy toward the past rather than true belief in the future.
He always advises clients to have an “exit strategy,” knowing that crafting this in advance will make the deal stronger overall, even if nothing goes wrong — and it could go very wrong.
Of course, Wasserman West’s expertise isn’t at all limited to Argentina. The firm prides itself on a wider Latin American focus, with deep experience in Brazil and in crafting broad, regional strategies that take into account the specifics of each country.
Among Principal Robert West’s many completed deals across the Americas and Europe are Brazilian relocations to the U.S., along with a $500 million U.S. firm’s acquisition of a Brazilian technology company. Both he and Mr. Wasserman speak fluent Portuguese.
Ms. Farall is energized to be working with a firm that is seasoned enough to handle large, complicated transactions but small enough to provide personalized service.
“Wasserman West has rapidly become one of Atlanta’s firms of choice for companies doing business in Latin America,” she said in a news release. “It is exciting to be part of this organization whose lawyers provide unique expertise in Latin America.”
Staying in Atlanta is also a plus. Since she arrived here in 1994 (pre-Olympics) the city has slowly blossomed into a more well-rounded hub for global business. And Argentines are starting to know it better. Ms. Farall is now even getting messages from back home about the Atlanta United soccer team’s Argentine head coach, Tata Martino, whose hiring sparked a spurt of news articles about the city.
“It’s good to see that a coach of Atlanta United can put Atlanta and his team on the map in Argentina.”