Mattos Filho Veiga Filho Marrey Jr & Quiroga Advogados has hired two partners in its Rio de Janeiro office.

Luiz Gustavo Bezerra, a partner in environmental law, joins the firm from Motta Fernandes Rocha Advogados where he was head of the environmental practice. M&A and corporate partner Adriano Castello Branco previously served as a board member at Eneva.

These hires are part of a strategic move to grow the firm’s Rio practice. “In Rio we have been growing steadily for the past few years, since 2010 we have grown more than 25% a year on average in terms of numbers of lawyers. Part of the strategy is to offer a full-service firm in Rio,” explained managing partner of the firm’s Rio de Janeiro office, Pablo Sorj.

In addition to his experience at Eneva, Castello Branco also worked at various positions (such as M&A Executive, Corporate Finance Manager and Legal Manager) at EBX Holding. Before moving in-house, Castello Branco gained some experience working at law firms Veirano Advogados and Davis Polk & Wardwell. Gustavo Bezerra works as a professor of environmental law and has also worked as head of the environmental practice of Mayer Brown.

Gustavo Bezerra expressed that the opportunity to develop the environmental practice of Mattos Filho was appealing. “I’ve always developed environmental practices at the firms that I worked at before. Here, we have a strong practice mainly focused on contaminated sites and waste policy issues in São Paulo. [Still,] there is huge room for further developing the practice.”

Although São Paulo is often considered the economic center of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro is attractive for many reasons. The city is recognised for being a hub for oil, gas and energy matters, and Brazil’s oil company, Petrobras is headquartered there. Furthermore, the municipality is Brazil’s second most populous.

“Rio is a strategic city from an economic perspective in Brazil,” Castello Branco commented.

While the political and economic climate is difficult in Brazil, Castello Branco expressed that there remains room for M&A overall. “There are a lot of opportunities happening. The dollar is quite strong. This puts foreign investors in a good position to look for interesting assets at an interesting price, and that of course opens a lot opportunities for M&A to take place. There might be the case where assets are not well-developed, sitting in the current corporate scheme and by switching hands, one can unlock a lot of value.”

Sorj agreed. “The infrastructure and health care sectors are attracting strategic investors and private equity firms. As soon as we have a more stable political environment, we should see a huge increase in M&A work," Sorj said.