In a move announced to partners earlier this month, international law firm Hogan Lovells has made known its plan to open an office in Rio de Janeiro amid thriving markets in corporate finance, project finance, and investment banking.

The Brazilian office, which is slated to open later this year, is initially expected to focus on energy, infrastructure, and project finance.  Those areas will be of increasing importance in upcoming years as the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics, both of which feature events hosted in Rio, draw closer.  Hogan Lovells is one of the first full-service international law firms to establish a base in Rio, although a number of US firms, mainly from the US have offices in Sao Paolo. Most recently Cleary Gottlieb announced its intentions to open in the city (August 2011).

The Rio office will be headed by partner Claudette Christian, who brings over 25 years of corporate and commercial transactional experience to the table.  Her background in project finance encompasses work done both domestically and abroad, and she has represented Latin American and Caribbean investors in a variety of projects including the $2.7 billion Bolivia-Brazil Gas Pipeline Project.

Establishing a permanent office in Brazil not only allows Hogan Lovells to take advantage of the rapid growth of the Brazilian economy, but also enables the firm to avoid tightened regulations as to how firms with no local office can operate in Brazilian markets.  Although the firm maintains relationships with several local firms in Brazil, the local office is expected to increase both the number and variety of services it will offer once established in Rio.  In addition to projects in areas such as Mongolia, India, and Qatar, the Rio office represents part of Hogan Lovells’ plans for expansion in the short time since the Hogan and Hartson – Lovells merger.