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A Rising M&A Star Is Poised to Help V&E Build Up Its Digital Infrastructure Practice

“V&E has always been very strong in traditional infrastructure and is now doubling down on digital infrastructure. The firm saw in me an opportunity to make a further investment in that practice.”

The digital revolution has spurred significant investment in digital infrastructure in recent years, and the trend shows few signs of slowing down. In fact, the Covid-19 crisis accelerated demand for connectivity as remote work and e-commerce became the norm. As a result, investors are increasingly focused on the sector as they seek to capitalize on upgrades to digital assets around the world.

“Private equity investors who in the past would only be looking at traditional infrastructure are now looking at digital infrastructure,” said Vinson & Elkins partner Gabriel Silva.

Silva has witnessed first-hand growing investor appetite for digital infrastructure assets such as fiber networks, telecommunications towers, and data centers. A rising M&A star, Silva actively advises private equity firms as well as public and private companies engaged in transactions in the digital infrastructure sector.

In January, Silva joined V&E’s M&A and Private Equity practice. Based in New York, Silva is set to play a key role in expanding V&E’s digital infrastructure practice.

“V&E has always been very strong in traditional infrastructure and is now doubling down on digital infrastructure,” Silva said. “The firm saw in me an opportunity to make a further investment in that practice.”

Silva’s recent work in the sector includes advising DigitalBridge — a global investment firm focused on digital infrastructure — on multiple transactions in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. He has also recently advised Data Foundry on the $420 million sale of its data centers in Texas to Switch.

That kind of experience sets Silva apart from M&A generalists who advise on digital infrastructure transactions. Lawyers who are less familiar with data centers and other infrastructure assets might waste time on matters that are less consequential to a transaction while missing out on issues that are more relevant to their clients.

In hiring Silva, V&E has also added an M&A practitioner with deep experience in Latin America, another growing practice for the firm. Silva, who grew up in Brazil and speaks fluent Spanish and Portuguese, represents a wide range of clients on cross-border transactions involving the region.

Among his Latin America deals to date, Silva represented Brazilian food giant Marfrig on the $2.4 billion sale of Keystone Foods to Tyson Foods, and on the $969 million acquisition of a 51% interest in the U.S. beef processor National Beef.

“We understand how businesses operate in Latin America and we understand the legal framework in the region,” Silva said. “We can deliver much more to our clients in a much more efficient way than our competitors.”

While Silva is at an early stage in his career, he’s already earned the attention of clients and peers. He has been recognized as a leading practitioner by several publications over the last few years, and he was recently included among 30 V&E lawyers cited by Chambers Global.

“His client service is great, he is always available, and he does great work,” a client told Chambers. “He is also very easy to work with.”

Silva received his first law degree from Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo and a post-graduate degree in Brazilian corporate law from Fundação Getulio Vargas. In 2012, he relocated to New York and was elected partner at a Magic Circle firm in 2019. Along the way, he received an LL.M from Columbia Law School.

Before the pandemic hit, Silva kept a rigorous travel schedule, regularly flying to Latin America and Europe to meet with clients. He’s looking forward to resuming travel once the pandemic is over.

“I like being in front of my clients and being able to sit down with people, enjoying a face-to-face conversation and making personal connections that will last for your whole career,” he said.

Over the years Silva encountered V&E lawyers working on the opposite side of transactions and was impressed by their work.  More recently, a friend who worked at V&E invited Silva to meet his partners, and ultimately Silva agreed to join the firm.

“I was very much attracted to V&E’s private equity practice,” Silva said. “V&E is a firm where people will pick up the phone if you call.”

Silva said he’s gratified by the fact that his team did not hesitate when he invited them to join him at V&E. His key clients have followed him as well.

Now that he’s settled into the firm, Silva is ready to make his mark. “My goal is to make sure that when people talk about digital infrastructure, or when they think of legal work in Latin America, V&E is going to be the first law firm to come to mind,” he said.