Garrigues, a global firm that expanded into Chile in March with the incorporation of local firm Avendaño Merino, has added partner Pedro García Morales to its team from Morales & Besa. García focuses his practice on banking, capital markets, project finance and energy.

Lateral hires of this nature are unusual in Chile. For one thing, it is not common in Chile for a partner to move from one firm to another. Furthermore, global firms are still new to the market in Chile. Baker & McKenzie has an office, Uría Menéndez has an association with regional firm Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría, and others are rumored to have their eye on the country, but the market is dominated by large local firms.

“The reason why I believe Garrigues would be very successful is because they have a global view. They are a fully integrated law firm that is on the edge of the technology and they also have a very strong track record on many industries and sectors,” said García of his decision to move to the firm.

García will head the firm’s new finance practice, a practice which Avendaño Merino did not cover but that the firm felt was important to have. The practice will focus on assisting financial institutions like banks and institutional investors but will also assist developers and sponsors of projects.

“Right now in Chile probably the only sector or area of project finance which is moving ahead is energy,” said García. He explained that Chile’s government has successfully awarded energy generation companies contracts with energy distribution companies. “There is a law that entices the use of renewables so there is a huge amount of particularly solar but also wind projects that are being developed within Chile. Some of them have an influx of money that come from long-term agreements for 15 years that they entered into with electric distribution companies.”

There is expected to be some work outside of energy, but as of now, project finance in mining is virtually nonexistent due to the price of copper. “There is also infrastructure [project finance], but [to] a lesser extent since infrastructure projects are mostly PPPs (public-private partnerships), and the government has not been very active in launching new projects as it has been within the energy sector,” García said.

The firm also recently hired litigation and arbitration partner Mónica Van der Schraft Greve, tax lawyer José Domingo Peñafiel Zañartu, and corporate and M&A lawyer Eduardo Díez Rojas.