Features

Daniela Aranha – GPA 

Realizing a lifelong dream to serve others 

As a kid, I dreamed of becoming a doctor, following in my father’s footsteps. After graduating from school, that is what I did. I passed a medical college entrance examination in my city, São Paulo. But I did not find myself enjoying my studies, and I was missing writing and reading, which I love, so I left medical school. 

The same year, my older friends were studying law and were very excited about the classes and legal cases. I went to some of the classes and thought I may make a difference as a prosecutor or lawyer defending the right sides. 

Daniela Aranha

Daniela Aranha

I was extremely excited and engaged after passing the PUC-SP—Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo entrance examination. After several internships, I was trying to understand what I would like to specialize in, like civil law with a federal judge, criminal law with a prosecutor, environmental law at the CETESB – Environmental, or the State of São Paulo company. 

After returning from almost a one-year travel in Europe for an exchange program in law at the University of Salamanca in Spain, a legal English course in London and a French course in La Rochelle, France, I started as an intern in a big law firm that today is called Cescon, Barrieu, Flesch & Barreto Advogados—i was in the capital markets and banking department. 

I loved it. Unlike public service, I found a new world with capital markets. The activities and procedures were fast, the teams were engaged, and the matters discussed were diverse, involving Brazilian Security Exchange Commission and Stock Exchange rules and cases, economic, financial and accounting matters related to emerging or consolidated Brazilian companies in a context of maturing of Brazilian capital markets, which, as a consequence, enables economic and employment growth. I coordinated and participated in initial public offerings, follow-on and debt offerings and certain financing agreements in local and international markets. 

After having experienced capital markets for three years, I wanted to have a broader expertise in corporate law and M&A, so I worked in a law firm called Dias Carneiro Advogados, which at the time was associated with one of the biggest law firms in Spain. 

Daniela Aranha – GPA 

I could deepen my knowledge of corporate law, gaining experience with corporate restructuring transactions, including joint ventures, spin-offs, drop-downs and liquidation. Also, working there enabled me to diversify, be in touch with day-to-day corporate and contract aspects, and understand the main legal concerns of the companies in the M&A transactions, including labor, civil, and regulatory.  

After five years as a senior lawyer, I planned to reunite all of my technical knowledge and know-how and to gain experience as an in-house counsel. That is when I started working at Grupo Pão de Açúcar, known as GPA, one of Brazil’s biggest retail food companies. 

When I arrived, Casino, an important French food retailer, had acquired GPA’s shareholding control a few years before. Such a transaction is considered an important case in Brazil, not only due to its legal matters, but because of the importance of GPA, as it represents one of the most emblematic companies in Brazil, created more than 70 years ago by a Brazilian family group. 

When I started in 2015, GPA had diversified activities in the retail business, other than food retail, as a former controller of companies that operated home appliances and non-food e-commerce businesses. It also controlled companies or operated with multiformat brands, including hypermarkets and cash and carry. 

My activities throughout the years have evolved according to the corporate structure changes and strategies of the management of the company, as follows: 

I started as senior counsel of the legal corporate department, focusing on the creation and/or improvement of processes and policies for improvements of best corporate governance practices under Brazilian rules and integration and compatibility of group Casino policies, as applicable. Also, I participated in and coordinated several internal corporate reorganization transactions to simplify the Brazilian internal corporate structure and reduce operational costs and processes. 

As coordinator of the legal corporate and capital market department, I also participated in important M&A transactions to advance GPA’s digital transformation and expand GPA’s investment in technology, with the acquisition of startups operating in the food segment and delivery of GPA’s products to the costumers and the creation of joint venture for a loyalty program with retailers. 

Daniela Aranha – GPA 

In parallel, I also coordinated debt offers in the local markets and negotiated financing transactions to finance the company’s activities. I also participated in discussions about rules applicable to publicly held Brazilian companies, disclosures of material facts, and good corporate governance practices. 

Throughout the years, it is essential to point out that strategic decisions were made for the company to focus on the food retail business, with the premium brand strategy, multichannel and digital sales. 

As such, there have been several other corporate reorganization transactions that I also participated in, including cross-border transactions with companies ultimately controlled by Casino and M&A transactions for the sale of non-core assets and the hypermarkets business. 

In addition, I concluded my Master of Laws – LL.M. in Corporate Law at Instituto de Ensino e Pesquisa – Insper in São Paulo in 2018. My dissertation on “Cross Border Mergers in Light of Brazilian Corporate Law” was considered one of the best in the LLM program, and, for that, it was published as a book by Editora Almedina.  

Since 2019, I have been the legal manager of Corporate, Capital Market, Intellectual Property, Contractual Law, Data Privacy and Competition laws. 

This new position has enabled me to learn more about the company’s day-to-day operations and the detailed activities it develops. Also, in coordinating the commercial transactions of the areas of the whole company, we were able to improve processes and information stream among the areas, especially in cases we identify that one transaction may affect an ongoing project of other areas, being able to support the areas to renegotiate certain conditions to avoid conflicts.  

I also have found challenging, but at the same time extremely gratifying, the opportunity to manage a bigger team. I believe that, professionally, it has been my biggest concern and, therefore, the time that I mainly dedicate, as it involves the distribution of affairs, to guide members of the team according to the interests of that internal client, a global view of the ongoing projects to understand all the aspects it may affect (including teams of other areas), to control deadlines and analyze the priorities and to think “outside the box” and try to simplify the processes and the documents we use every day.  

I have learned to work with and as a team, which involves getting to know each member of the team, recognizing and motivating them to use their main qualities, supporting them with their difficulties and helping them to develop confidence in their abilities to be improved and to engage them all to always work as a team, in the most collaborative way in a healthy environment.  

View this feature in the Vanguard Spring I 2024 Edition here.

Published on: March 14, 2024

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