Law firm Mayer Brown is setting up a new office in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in an effort to strengthen its Latin American presence.

The new office will be headed up by Stephen Hood, a lawyer with extensive international experience, particularly in Brazil. Hood will become a partner of the firm. He moves from Clifford Chance, where he was equity partner since 1978.

Following Hood’s appointment, the firm expects to add around a further 12 lawyers to the Sao Paulo office over the next 18 months. These new hires will work alongside the existing 40 Latin American practice group lawyers working in Mayer Brown offices around the world.

Mayer Brown’s chairman James Holzhauer comments: “Our expansion into Latin America represents another significant step forward in our global growth plans. We have actively represented clients in Brazil and throughout Latin America for more than 15 years but have done it from afar.”

In particular, Mayer Brown is aiming to improve its presence in the Brazilian market following the growth of IPOs, infrastructure financing and cross-border acquisitions in the region.

The lawyers in the Sao Paulo office will mainly be focusing on foreign investment, debt and equity capital markets, structured finance, corporate transactions, infrastructure, trade and project finance. Lawyers will only practise US and English law, but will work closely with Brazilian law firms.