A partner in our finance practice, Melissa brings a personal touch to each transaction. Even in the most contentious and complex negotiations, she finds workable solutions and brings parties together by listening carefully to their concerns and objectives.
Her experience representing lenders, borrowers and other parties in a wide variety of financings and private equity ventures allows her to analyze issues from several perspectives. She has represented both domestic and non-US lenders, including commercial banks, export credit agencies, multilaterals, insurance companies and other financial institutions. She also acts for US and Latin American borrowers and sponsors in corporate financings, project financings, hybrid financings, private placements, first lien/second lien financings and sovereign lending.
Many of her matters involve financings or private equity transactions for companies or projects located in Latin America
. She also has significant experience in domestic matters. This multijurisdictional experience – and knowing how the same issues are addressed in different contexts – is helpful in arriving at thoughtful, constructive solutions.
Her Latin America transactions draw upon her language skills and ability to bridge cultural differences. Alongside local counsel, she and her team routinely negotiate and draft in Spanish and Portuguese.
Melissa’s focus countries are Brazil and Mexico. Clients interested in inward investment in either country, as well as Brazilian or Mexican companies investing abroad, will benefit from her understanding of Latin America generally and Brazil and Mexico specifically.
When she advises on a matter involving one of her key sectors, her advice is based on a deep understanding of the industries and assets involved.
“An expert in Latin American projects.”
The Legal 500 2016
“Melissa Raciti-Knapp co-heads the Latin America practice and has experience working on power, gas and mining projects. Observers praise her as ‘a lawyer with real knowledge of banking and finance.’”
Chambers USA 2010
“Melissa Raciti-Knapp has ‘an encyclopedic knowledge of her subject; when she’s on a deal, you can be sure it will be done the right way.’”
Chambers Latin America 2009
- Rabobank’s New York Branch and the Bank of Nova Scotia in a syndicated financing for Masisa, a Chilean forest products company.
- Banco Sabadell in a syndicated financing for the construction and development of a W Hotel in Vieques, Puerto Rico.
- An export credit agency on a limited recourse financing for the development of a major copper mine in Peru.
- Women in Business Law Award - Shortlisted, Euromoney, April 2016.
- Latin America’s Top 50 Female Lawyers, Latinvex, April 2015.
- Latin America’s Top 100 Lawyers - one of 14 project finance laywers, Latinvex, January 2015.
- Leading Lawyer, IFLR 1000, June 2015.
- Latin America’s Top 50 Female Lawyers, Latinvex, April 2014.
- Most Inspiring Women in the Latin American Legal Profession, Latin Lawyer, November 2013.
Career to date
Prior to joining Freshfields, Melissa was an associate at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy in New York.
Qualifications and education
Melissa received her JD from Columbia University School of Law, where she was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and Senior Editor of the Columbia Law Review, and her BA, magna cum laude, from Columbia College, where she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She is admitted to practice in the State of New York.
English, Spanish, with working knowledge of Portuguese and Italian.