As Brazil’s economy continues to do well while most of the world founders, international investors, corporations, and law firms are flooding in – which makes it an exciting time for Francisco Niclós Negrão ’00, MA ’01, an economist and lawyer based in São Paulo who specializes in antitrust and international trade for major national and international corporations.
“Right now, with an economy that is strong and more reliable and stable, Brazil is attracting national and foreign investments, and we are seeing many companies and law firms that are extremely interested in developing partnerships in Brazil,” says Negrão, who practices at powerhouse law firm Magalhães, Nery e Dias Advocacia in São Paulo, the most traditional law firm in Brazil focusing on economics and law. “There are and will continue to be significant investments in infrastructure, and also specific investments regarding the World Cup and the Olympics, with ripple effects in many other sectors of the economy. It is a very interesting and exciting time.”
Niclós Negrão represents major clients in a wide range of industries, from beverage producers to pharmaceutical manufacturers to energy companies. His focus includes assisting corporations with complex mergers and acquisitions, antitrust investigations, and litigating trade infringement cases. And, as a certified compliance and ethics professional, a significant part of Niclós Negrão’s work involves designing antitrust compliance programs so that corporations don’t run afoul of Brazil’s strengthened antitrust laws.
“It is a job I enjoy very much,” says Niclós Negrão, who creates specifically tailored programs for each client, and has trained more than 3,000 employees of major corporations in antitrust compliance. The penalties for violating antitrust laws can be severe, including criminal penalties, he notes. “The fact is, you are really helping companies to prevent problems before they happen. It is satisfying, because you can help someone to avoid making a wrong decision that may have severe consequences.”
Niclós Negrão, who was born in Spain and moved to Brazil as a child and speaks fluent English, Portuguese, and Spanish, wanted to go to college in the U.S. and chose Brandeis because of its strong economics program, faculty reputation and small class sizes. The son of an economist, he knew he wanted to study in that field, and he enrolled in the intensive BA/MA program at Brandeis. Given his interest in international trade, the program’s global focus – students are required to spend a semester abroad – appealed to him, and Niclós Negrão studied one semester in Milan. A focused student, he graduated Phi Beta Kappa and as the only “highest honors” graduate in economics in the undergraduate class of 2000. His thesis on “Expanding Trade Links for Mercosur: the EU, NAFTA options” reflected his early interest in international trade. He also received the Morris and Anna Feldberg Prize for Outstanding Work in Economics, and was the class speaker at the Economics Department graduation ceremony.
After completing his master’s degree, he returned to Brazil and decided to sit for the entrance exam for a civil service job with Brazil’s Finance Ministry. To his initial surprise, he scored ninth-highest among 3,700 applicants, an achievement for which he thanks his professors at Brandeis. “I really credit Brandeis for that,” says Niclós Negrão. “I have no doubt that the reason I did so well is that Brandeis has a really strong faculty that was very organized and dedicated, and a solid program. When I was in the exam, I would remember my Brandeis classes and case studies, and that made the difference.”
While working at the Ministry, he studied for his law degree at the Centro Universitário de Brasília, writing a thesis on a worldwide cartel among vitamin suppliers, in line with his interest in international trade and antitrust. “I’ve always liked the mix of law and economics, and what I do now reflects that mixture because of my focus on antitrust and international trade,” says Niclós Negrão, who chose to go to a Brazilian law school because he planned to practice there. “In antitrust and trade cases you must know the procedural side, which is law, but the discussion on the merits is rooted strongly in economics.”
As Brazil’s economy continues to develop, Niclós Negrão plans to be right there, working with major companies on antitrust, trade, and compliance matters. “The fact you can help change the culture of a corporation for the better,” he says, “is very gratifying.”