Brazilian mining company Vale’s GC Clovis Torres returns to private practice, becoming name partner of rebranded firm Souza, Mello e Torres
Clovis Torres joined Souza, Mello e Torres as partner in April after almost seven years as GC at Vale, a global leader in iron ore production. Torres explains that after 15 years as in-house counsel this was a natural move. “The choice was between a business advice firm and legal services, but the love for the legal profession took over,” Torres says.
Souza Mello rebranded in April from Rolim de Mello – sociedade de Advogados, following the addition of Torres and Luis Souza, former name partner at Cescon, Barrieu, Flesch & Barreto Advogados. “The fact that I get to work with two old friends Luis Souza and Carlos Mello made the decision to join very easy,” Torres explains.
Torres’ many years’ experience in-house, predominantly in the Brazilian mining sector, has equipped him with skills and knowledge that he sees useful for his new challenge. The ability to constantly work under pressure, effectively manage a team of lawyers of different practices and deep knowledge from inside companies are just a few examples Torres highlights as key for his new role. “The most important thing I have learnt from in-house is compliance, because no serious business can survive nowadays without strong risk and compliance monitoring,” he adds.
Besides his 11 years in total at Vale (2003-2007 and 2011-2018), Torres has long in-house experience working for Brazilian mining company Bahia Mineração between 2007 and 2011, the International Finance Corporation from 1997 to 2000 and agrobusiness Cargill from 1995 to 1997. He has previously also worked as partner at Brazilian firm Machado Meyer Advogados from 2000 to 2003, where he worked with Carlos Mello, and at firm Clyde & Co LLP in London.
Mining is a prominent sector in Brazil, but Torres notes it faces environmental opposition and companies must work to change the public’s perception of the industry. “The biggest challenge working in mining is the pressure exerted by stakeholders for more sustainable ways to conduct mining activities,” Torres says. “There is a general perception of the mining industry as a ‘necessary evil’ and to
change this, the sector must work closer with communities and environmentalists, otherwise litigation cases are inevitable,” he adds.
Brazil’s economy is expected to pick up during 2018 and the International Monetary Fund predicts a 2.3% GDP growth this year. Torres also believes the Brazilian economy will do better and expects more M&A deals and IPOs for the near future. “It is also natural to see an increase in exports, which will benefit trade-related legal work,” he says.
Given his long experience in mining, Torres will work on mining and metal-related projects but he will also focus on corporate finance including M&A deals, trade and project finance. “I will help foreign investors to establish their presence in Brazil and help them navigate the Brazilian legal system,” Torres says.