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GC Powerlist > GC Powerlist: US: Latin America Specialists
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For 30 years, The Legal 500 has been analysing the capabilities of law firms across the world, often relying on client feedback to produce an authoritative guide to the best private practice firms and partners. The GC Powerlist series reverses this process, collecting testimony and nominations from hundreds of private practice lawyers to shine a light on the best in-house counsel working in a particular market. ...read more
With the launch of the GC Powerlist US: Latin America Specialists, we draw attention to the best Latin America and Caribbean-focused regional counsel working in the US today.
The role of Latin America regional counsel has evolved considerably over the past ten years. Increasingly, cultural familiarity and local knowledge is recognised as an invaluable asset. At the same time, a large number of such roles have migrated from Latin American jurisdictions to the US. Overseeing 33 Latin America and the Caribbean markets, each with their own idiosyncrasies, from thousands of miles away can create a somewhat unique set of challenges for Latin America regional counsel. Those featured in the GC Powerlist US: Latin America Specialists have all, in their own way, found ways to deal with geographical remoteness, recurrent political and economic crises, cultural and commercial diversity and a host of other challenges that the role presents.
To produce our list of specialists, we canvassed opinions from law firm partners and in-house counsel, both in the US and across Latin America. We sought to identify those corporate counsel that have been instrumental in changing or forming opinions within their company or industry; developing technical solutions to complex issues; creating innovative structures to ensure that the in-house function is driving the business forward; or providing a business working model that other corporate counsel should follow.
If you have feedback on the GC Powerlist: US: Latin America Specialists, or wish to nominate other in-house individuals (either in the US or global), please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope that this listing will stimulate debate around the role of the in-house lawyer and help corporate counsel with possible improvements and efficiencies in running their departments.
GC Powerlist: US: Latin America Specialists
(listed in alphabetical order; click on an individual to view an expanded biography)
Corporate general counsel
Assistant general counsel – head of legal (CALA)
Luis Francisco Aparicio
Vice president and general counsel
Ricoh Latin America
Vice-president & regional counsel
Senior legal counsel for Latin America
Executive director – associate general counsel, Latin America
Assistant general counsel
Murray Energy Corporation
General counsel, Latin America
Senior vice president, general counsel – North America and Latin America
Head of legal Latin America
Vice president and associate general counsel
Vice president and regional general counsel – Latin America and Caribbean
Jaime Borja Lascurain
Legal director Latin America
Managing director and chief legal officer
Digital Bridge Holdings
Chief counsel -Latin America operations
Larra Call Waldmann
Associate general counsel and compliance officer for Latin America and Canada
Emir Calluf Filho
Legal director Latin America and corporate
International Flavors & Fragrances
General counsel, chief compliance officer and secretary
Playa Hotels & Resorts
Aon Latin America
Guilherme (Bill) Carvalho
Chief legal and compliance officer
Director and assistant general counsel, debt capital markets
Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Senior legal counsel and senior director of compliance
Associate general counsel for M&A, strategy,
Avis Budget Group
Assistant general counsel
Senior vice president – business and legal affairs and general counsel
HBO Latin America
Assistant general counsel
Rune Riegels Christensen
Group vice president, regional legal officer Americas
Shana Cochrane Smith
Vice president, general counsel and secretary
Employment and Latin America counsel
YKK Corporation of America
Vice president legal affairs
Phoenix Packaging Group
Managing director, investment banking and capital markets origination legal
Senior vice president and regional general counsel, Caribbean and Latin America
Associate general counsel – LatAm
Maria Fernanda Font
Vice president and head of legal
DHL Express Latin America and DHL eCommerce – Americas
Jorge Fernández González
General counsel Latin America and global channel services
Adrián Fernández Mondragón
Regional chief counsel and compliance officer Latin America
Senior vice president and deputy general counsel
Pan-American Life Insurance Group
Assistant general counsel
Philip Morris International
Associate general counsel, Latin America
Regional counsel, Latin America and the Caribbean
Gonzalo Garcia Lussardi
Vice-president and regional general counsel Latin America and Caribbean
Area legal director – Latin America
Legal affairs director, Puerto Rico, Caribbean and Central America and Latin America compliance lead
Legal counsel – Latin America and the Caribbean
Vice president, deputy general counsel
General counsel, Latin America, and senior vice president and deputy general counsel
Latin America general counsel
Phoenix Tower International
Managing director, head of legal and compliance of Latin America and Iberia
Assistant general counsel, corporate external and legal affairs, Latin America
General counsel, Latin America
General counsel – Americas and EMEA
Air Products and Chemicals
General counsel – Latin America region
Nissan Motor Corporation
Senior vice president and deputy general counsel
Delta Air Lines
Regional head, legal and compliance
Sandoz Latin America
Vice president and general counsel, Group Stationery, Latin America, Middle East & Africa
Managing director, general counsel for Latin America and Mexico
Vice president and deputy general counsel – North America and Central America
Director, senior counsel
Natixis North America
Juan Pablo Malfavon
Legal director – Latin America
Vice president, chief compliance officer and senior deputy general counsel
Baker Hughes Incorporated
Senior director legal, Caribbean and Latin America
Senior legal director and compliance officer -Latin America
Associate general counsel – Latin America region
Vice president, business and legal affairs
NBCUniversal Hispanic Group
Director, assistant general counsel
Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Managing director and general counsel
Ivania Oberti Naranjo
Director of business, compliance and legal affairs for Latin America
PVG Insurance Group
General counsel, Latin America and managing director
Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Jennifer J. Perez
Bupa Global Latin America, Bupa Global Market Unit
Juan Pablo Perez
General counsel – Latin America
Vice president and senior legal counsel
HSBC Securities (USA)
Latin America regional counsel
General counsel – US
Executive director and international counsel, Latin America
Juan M. Rincon-Cortes
Director and associate general counsel – Latin America and the Caribbean
Latin America area legal counsel
Chief international counsel and legal hold officer
Fidelity National Financial
Vice president legal, Latin America
Millicom International Cellular (Tigo)
Senior counsel Geo Central – Latin America and Caribbean
Vice president, chief of legal affairs – Latin America Division
Cristina Scarano Canino
Vice president, head of business and legal affairs, Latin America and US Hispanic
Inter-American Development Bank
Astrid Seijas McGeeney
Vice president and associate regional counsel
Turner Broadcasting System Latin America
Senior vice president and general counsel for Hispanic Enterprises and Content
General counsel, North and South America
Office of the general counsel
Inter-American Development Bank
Senior vice president, general counsel, corporate secretary and chief compliance officer
Royal Caribbean Cruises
Chief legal officer, Latin America and Caribbean and global senior counsel
Assistant general counsel, Latin America
Alex J Tolston
Executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary
Hemisphere Media Group
Regional counsel (Northeast and
Senior vice president and general counsel, Latin America, government and public policy
Senior director, legal and compliance -Latin America
Boston Scientific Corporation
Senior vice president, general counsel
Viacom International Media Networks (The Americas)
Associate general counsel and regional compliance director – Americas
Corporate counsel international
The Brink’s Company
Morela Zubillaga de Paris
Director and senior counsel
Assistant general counsel
Fuelled by its growing middle class, Latin America has seen an increased demand for high-quality education recently, along with a surge of companies looking to provide it. Among the leading providers is Ilumno, a Miami-based network that partners with institutions across Latin America and has more than 200,000 students enrolled in its accredited distance-learning degrees. Diana Abril, corporate general counsel for Ilumno, leads all external and internal legal teams across Latin America and advises the company on its legal and regulatory affairs. Colombian-born Abril has been with the company – originally known as Whitney International University System, founded by education entrepreneur Randy Best – since 2012. Her contribution, says one nominator, has been wide-ranging: ‘[Abril] is consulted on all areas of the company’s operations and is often closely involved in its strategy and business development initiatives. While she is an outstanding lawyer, she has also shown how a general counsel can contribute far beyond giving legal advice to an organisation.’ Abril began her career as an associate in the corporate, securities and tax department at Carlton Fields before moving in 2008 to become general counsel of eLandia, a US-based technology networking company with a large presence in Latin America. She is a member of the National Association of Women Lawyers and the South Florida Group of Regional Counsel.
Francisco Acuña is one of a small number of lawyers employed by Ciena, a global supplier of telecommunications networking equipment, software and services. Although Ciena posted revenues of $2.6bn last year it is advised by a team of just 14 lawyers (nine of whom are based in the US). As a result, Acuña, like all of Ciena’s legal team, is expected to contribute far beyond his official responsibilities. In addition to handling Ciena’s legal affairs arising in and related to the Latin America region, Acuña is responsible for engaging with internet content providers who serve as Ciena’s clients and suppliers, including tech giants such as Google and Microsoft. He also sits as a member of its regional compliance committee and is in charge of company-wide compliance programs in the region. Before joining Ciena in 2013 he was corporate counsel and, later, senior corporate counsel at Level 3 Communications, with his responsibilities including supporting all legal affairs in its Latin America division. He has also held a number of in-house roles, including at telecoms companies 360 Networks (now Globenet) and AT&T and global publishing house Bertelsmann.
Weston, Florida-based Ricoh Latin America serves the South and Central America, Mexico, and Caribbean regions with a range of office devices, including print and graphic systems, scanning technologies, digital and analogue duplicators, and office software such as document storage and management systems. Luis Francisco Aparicio joined the company in 2012 and has become a key adviser to its regional activities, earning ‘deep trust and respect from those whom he works with’, according to one nominator. He previously provided legal support to the Caribbean and Latin America region at multinational technology company Avaya and, before that, as an associate in the litigation team at Colombian firm Avelier Abogados.
UPS, the world’s largest package delivery company, has been increasingly active in Latin America over recent years, investing in new facilities as it seeks to compete with rival carriers for a share of the regional healthcare market. As part of these activites it has opened healthcare product centres in Brazil and Chile, expanded its pharmaceuticals and biotech products storage and distribution facility in Mexico and, in summer 2017, opened a new 76,000-square-foot healthcare-dedicated facility in Colombia. Alix Apollon serves as vice-president and regional legal counsel for UPS Americas where he is responsible for all legal matters arising in Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean. He also oversees the company’s compliance programmes throughout the Americas and chairs its business risk and compliance committee. He was previously in private practice at leading Miami-based firm Fowler, White, Burnett & Strictroot.
Fernando Avila-Bavaresco joined ConocoPhillips in Venezuela in 2003 and moved to its Houston, Texas office in 2007. He now serves as senior legal counsel, providing advice to the Latin America exploration and business development units on legal, contractual and regulatory matters. He is spoken of as ‘a great legal counsel and a great guy’ and as ‘one of the most knowledgeable and sharpest counsel in the oil and gas sector operating in Latin America’. Avila-Bavaresco has handled a range of matters in his time with ConocoPhillips, from advising on seismic and drilling activities in Peru to helping to close and deregister entities in a number of Latin American jurisdictions and overseeing major commercial claims and arbitrations. Before joining ConocoPhillips he worked at PDVSA Petroleo Venezuela.
Ines Bahachille joined Ingram Micro, the world’s largest wholesaler of technology products and services, in March 2017 following nearly 10 years spent as senior counsel at Diageo. She was widely nominated by senior law firm partners across the US, Central and Latin America and was praised for her ‘familiarity with the laws and operating culture of a large number of countries’, her ‘strong personality and ability to lead teams toward a solution’ and her ‘quick mind, steady temperament and overall skills as a lawyer’. Dual-licensed in New York and Venezuela, Bahachille has worked in-house in both the US and Latin America. She joined Diageo in 2008 as legal counsel and head of corporate security for the Andean region, based in her native Venezuela. In 2013 she was appointed vice president of legal and director of corporate security for Diageo West Latin America & Caribbean, based in Miami. She began her legal career in the litigation department of Venezuelan state-owned oil giant Petroleos de Venezuela before a spell in New York as part of the foreign associate programme at Sullivan & Cromwell. She then joined the legal department at Arthur Andersen in Venezuela as a senior associate before moving on to the in-house team at Terra Networks, a web portal owned by Telefonica de España, becoming the first in-house lawyer to represent an internet company in both Venezuela and Colombia at the time. She has also worked as legal counsel and compliance lead for Sun Microsystems (now Oracle). Bahachille is a frequent speaker at conferences and has published articles about e-commerce and electronic transactions.
Andrew Balcar joined Ohio-based Murray Energy Corporation, one of the largest independent operators of coalmines in the US, in 2013 as assistant general counsel. He has substantial experience of dealing with Latin America-based matters, including acting as project lead on Murray Energy Corporation’s acquisition of Colombian mining company Colombia Natural Resources (CNR) from Goldman Sachs in 2015. Since then, he has dealt with a number of issues in the region ranging from coal sales, transportation, transloading, and contractor agreements. One nominator praises his ‘deep understanding of the Latin American market and the various commercial sensitivities that surround energy-related projects in the region’, while another comments on his ‘ability to manage outside counsel in a number of Latin American jurisdictions on a variety of deals simultaneously while also ensuring projects remain on track’.
Bridgestone has long held a strong presence in Latin America and now, through the various subsidiaries that form its Latin American Tire division, operates more tire sales outlets than any rival manufacturer in the region. Adam Balfour joined Bridgestone as senior legal counsel in 2014 and was appointed general counsel for Latin America two years later, taking on legal responsibility for one of the company’s core markets and working closely with Bridgestone’s various regional business units and subsidiaries. The Latin American tire market has been subject to a number of challenges in recent months and Balfour is credited with helping to keep the company competitive through his core skill of ‘adapting rapidly to the challenges of a hugely demanding role in an extremely diverse set of markets’. Before moving in-house, Balfour worked in the capital markets group at Kirkland & Ellis. He began his career at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.
Mary Barrazotto is senior vice president, general counsel – North America and Latin America for Brown-Forman, one of the largest spirits and wine companies in the US and owner of brands including Jack Daniel’s and Early Times whiskeys, Woodford Reserve bourbon and Finlandia vodka. She holds responsibility for all commercial matters in Latin America while playing a parallel role as antitrust compliance officer, representing Brown-Forman in all regulatory issues connected with the production and marketing of its brands globally and the sale of its products in North America, Latin America and IMEA (India, Middle East and Africa), managing all litigation and providing legal support to the human resources department. She is also Brown-Forman’s representative to the Code Review Board and the Laws and Regulations Committee of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) and serves on the Wine Institute’s Public Policy Committee. Barrazotto joined Brown-Forman in 1990 and was promoted to the position of vice president in 1998. She became senior vice president in 2012 and general counsel for North and Latin America in 2014.
Diana Becerra joined 4finance, Europe’s largest and fastest growing online and mobile consumer lending group, as Miami-based Latin America head of legal in December 2015. Her appointment as the company’s first regional counsel for Latin America came following 4finance’s launch in Argentina and just as it was preparing to announce new operations in Mexico (operating under the Vivus brand). With a large smartphone penetration, the Latin America region presents a big opportunity for 4finance, and Becerra has been brought in to add her expertise in cross-border transactions and knowledge of the region’s legal and business culture. Before joining 4finance, Becerra held a number of positions, including lead counsel for Latin America, at Us-based wireless telecommunications company Brightstar.
In June 2017 Michelle Beckers joined marketing execution company InnerWorkings in a pan-geographic counsel role, providing legal support to the company’s non-US operations with a special focus on Latin America. She had previously served a similar role as vice president and assistant general counsel for global operations at Rimini Street, a leading provider of independent enterprise software maintenance and support services. At Rimini Street, Beckers was similarly responsible for all non-US legal affairs and led a team of five lawyers – one of whom was based in São Paolo, Brazil – covering global legal operations. In her new role at InnerWorkings, Beckers will take on work that had previously been completed by outside counsel. The opportunity to step into a role with an even greater focus on Latin America appealed to Beckers, who as a student spent a year in Venezuela toward her JD and has also worked at a Peru-based law firm. ‘The fact that I understand the relationship between civil and common law is very useful when it comes to advising on Latin America-based matters’, she says, ‘but knowing how business works is even more important. Things tend to move slower and the advice you get from law firms is often theoretical and needs to be filtered much more by the GC before it reaches business to make it clear how it applies to a course of action. However, it is a fascinating market precisely because it’s so difficult to deal with from a commercial and legal perspective. The number of jurisdictions and applicable law alone is at times overwhelming and if a business has a strategic plan to grow or establish a new entity it needs close support from internal lawyers’.
Cristiano Bernarde is responsible for all legal affairs across the Latin America and Caribbean region at German multinational enterprise software business SAP, a major provider of software systems and applications that help some of the largest companies in the world run more efficient businesses. Based at SAP’s regional headquarters in Miami, he manages legal affairs relating to nearly 4,000 employees spread through 16 offices in Latin America and the Caribbean. Bernarde joined SAP in 2007 as general counsel for Brazil, in which role he introduced new governance standards while encouraging close interaction between legal and business teams, helping the Brazilian unit to become one of the company’s best performing entities. Since 2011 he has been Miami-based regional counsel, leading a team of more than 20 lawyers based in a number of key jurisdictions. He is a member of both SAP’s Latin America and Caribbean leadership team and the global legal leadership team. Before joining SAP he spent five years as legal manager at Siemens Brazil. He was previously an associate at leading Sao Paolo-based firm Felsberg & Associados.
Since 2012, Jaime Borja Lascurain has been legal director for Latin America at customer experience and call centre technology provider Genesys, overseeing everything from intellectual property to litigation and compliance while partnering with the regional leadership team on matters relating to the day-to-day operation of the business. He previously spent over a decade at multinational technology company Avaya, occupying a number of positions including head of contracting for Latin America and Canada and worldwide contracting operations leader. He has also worked at Lucent Technologies in Mexico City and as a paralegal at the Mexico City offices of Basham, Ringe y Correa, one of the largest full-service law firms in Latin America.
US-based communications infrastructure investment firm Digital Bridge was formed in 2013 to acquire, fund and manage a range of assets in the communications infrastructure sector, from cellular and broadcast towers to rooftop antenna. The company was co-founded by Blackstone Group alumnus Ben Jenkins, with Piero Bussani, a long-standing general counsel to operating companies of the Blackstone Group, brought in as chief legal officer in 2015. Digital Bridge has been particularly active in Latin America – portfolio companies include Boca Raton, Florida-based Andean Tower Partners, Mexico Tower Partners and Vertical Bridge – and has completed a number of innovative funding rounds aimed at increasing penetration in the region. Bussani has been at the forefront of much of this work, helping Digital Bridge to navigate the region’s tough, consumer-focused regulations and shareholder return policies, while mitigating its exposure to other legal and economic risks. He is a member of the Bar in New York, the District of Columbia and Connecticut, and is an Authorized House Counsel in Florida.
Kimberly-Clark (K-C) Corporation’s brands, which include household names Huggies nappies and Kleenex tissues, are used by a quarter of the world’s population every day. Its regional operation in Latin America, which covers 18 countries and employs over 16,000 people, is overseen by Rodrigo Bustamante, who joined K-C as chief counsel for Latin American operations in 2015. He received several nominations from private practice lawyers based in both the US and throughout Latin America and was widely praised for both his work at K-C and his contributions to Cargill, where he spent eight years as in-house counsel, initially working from its Brazilian offices before moving to its US base where he was later appointed general counsel for Latin America. He is, says one, ‘among the finest corporate counsel I have worked with. His ability to coordinate team in multiple jurisdictions is exemplary and he always shows a keen understanding on the local realities which operating units must contend with.’
Larra Call Waldmann is associate general counsel and compliance officer for Latin America and Canada at Cardinal Health, a Fortune 500 manufacturer and distributor of pharmaceuticals and medical products that serves over 75% of hospitals in the US. She is nominated for her ‘ability to engage with and manage teams in a number of jurisdictions’ and her ‘very detailed knowledge of regulatory matters across a range of markets’. A longstanding adviser to companies in the life sciences and healthcare sectors, Call Waldmann deals with everything from FCPA and anti-corruption monitoring to transactional matters. Before joining Cardinal Health she worked for software and outsourced legal talent provider Axiom, in which capacity she was seconded into senior in-house roles at Baxter International, Walgreens and, in 2015, Mallinckrodt, where she served as senior counsel for Latin America. She has also held senior legal roles at Colson Associates, a privately held group of companies owned by the Pritzker family, and medical technology company Stryker.
In the world of fine fragrances getting things right in Latin America is hugely important. Brazil is the largest market for fine fragrances in the world and the third largest market globally for beauty products, while many other countries across the region offer huge potential for growth. For S&P 500 constituent International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF) – a global leader in the creation of flavours, fragrances and ingredients for the consumer sector – having a lawyer who understands the region and its commercial dynamics is key to commercial success. Emir Calluf Filho, IFF’s legal director for Latin America, was nominated by law firm partners in both the US and Brazil for his ability to find novel ways of structuring commercial agreements. And in the industry in which IFF operates, this ability to think laterally is very important. ‘For the most part we are selling products that are hard to imagine unless you feel them, taste them or smell them’, says Calluf. ‘And a large part of what we are selling is creativity, fantasy and other subjective items. That means the day-to-day sales process is very different, and of course it can be hard to capture all the nuances of these relationships in an agreement. But that’s the beauty of it – the executives from our customers and suppliers, along with our own executives, are much more likely to be taking a view on the subjective qualities of the product they are buying and it’s a business that has a lot of trust. If we are creating something that will become a major customer’s best-selling product then we have to find ways of working together which allow both sides to understand the other’s approach. That makes it very challenging but also incredibly interesting to me as a lawyer.’ Calluf had previously run IFF’s Latin America legal operations from Brazil but a 2016 move to New York, which also saw him take on additional responsibility for corporate matters, moved him into a more strategic role within the business, including as part of IFF’s Latin America regional committee. ‘Being based in Brazil of course placed me closer to a very important market, but I also found that I was getting heavily involved in the country-specific items. While the move to the US has expanded my role away from purely Latin American matters, I now find it is far easier to divide my time among all the countries in the region, and to understand how this region fits in with our wider corporate strategy.’ He is supported by two lawyers based in Brazil who continue to oversee day-to-day legal matters on his behalf. Nominators drew attention to Calluf’s ‘incredibly important role in [IFF’s] success in the region’, but Calluf himself reserves praise for the company’s creative area: perfumers and flavorists. ‘They are really the rock stars of our world. If a customer says they want a product for people in a specific age range with particular notes or taste, we rely on them to show their genius. However, novel products are increasingly hard to find and the industry relies on commercially complex relationships to thrive. I am very proud that, by helping to maintain these relationships, I can play my own part in bringing fragrances and flavors to life.’
David Camhi was appointed as Playa Hotels & Resorts first ever general counsel in 2011, just five years after the company was established. Playa specialises in the acquisition and development of all-inclusive beachfront resorts in Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean. Camhi has played a big role in the resort chain’s expansion. His most recent achievement came in late 2016 when he led Playa through its $1.75bn merger with Pace Holdings, a special purpose acquisition company backed by private investment firm TPG. The deal came just as Playa was preparing its IPO, with the newly merged company eventually listing on NASDAQ. As a result, Camhi helped transform the Dutch-listed private company into a publicly-traded global organisation with robust governance structures. Camhi is a part of Playa’s six-person executive team and has, throughout his time with the company, made a big contribution. Earlier successes include setting up Playa’s legal function and establishing new relationship with external counsel – something which allowed him to reduce the company’s legal expenditure by $2.5m during his first year as GC – leading a major multi-billion dollar transaction that involved debt refinancing, negotiating a joint venture, the exit of an existing investor, introduction of a new investor and the sale and acquisition of several hotels. Born and raised in Colombia, Cahmi is admitted to practice law in his home country, Mexico and New York.
Cuba-born Marta Carreira-Slabe took an unusual route to law. She began her career as a broadcast journalist and news anchor in Illinois before retraining as a lawyer and becoming clerk for the Office of Legal Counsel at the University Of Illinois. She later joined Sidley Austin as an associate in its Chicago office. She is now chief counsel for Latin America at Aon – a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions – where she oversees a team of lawyers throughout the region and handles transactional matters, litigation and regulatory affairs across its retail brokerage, reinsurance brokerage, and human-resources consulting arms. One nominator, a senior partner in private practice, says of her: ‘Marta Carreira-Slabe thoroughly deserves to be included in any list of outstanding counsel advising on Latin America-facing transactions. She combines an extremely sharp mind with first-rate people skills and a strong commercial sense. [She has] shown herself to be one of the finest corporate counsel around’. She is a core part of the regional business strategy and frequently counsels the business on new initiatives. Known as a leading figure in promoting regional compliance programmes, Carreira-Slabe also trains the wider Aon Latin America business on compliance and anti-corruption policies.
Bill Carvalho was appointed as chief legal and compliance officer at The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf) – one of the six continental governing bodies affiliated with Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the international world governing body for football – in August 2016. His arrival followed a much publicised difficult period at Concacaf, with far-reaching corruption allegations levelled at former president Jack Warner and general secretary Chuck Blazer prompting the association to institute a number of reforms along with a thorough review of its auditing procedures. Carvalho’s appointment formed a key part of Concacaf’s bid to restore public trust and implement sound governance standards. In addition to overseeing day-to-day legal matters, he leads the association’s compliance and integrity programmes and brings a reputation as both one of the outstanding corporate counsel in the US and an expert in Latin American regulatory and compliance matters. Formerly vice president and associate general counsel for Yahoo! in the Americas, Carvalho was widely nominated for inclusion by in-house and private practice sources who commented variously on his ‘wide-ranging experience of extremely challenging matters involving regulatory bodies’, his ‘great skill at building relationships with senior leaders within and across organisations’ and his ‘highly developed people skills and sharp intellect.’ Another nominator says: ‘[Carvalho] has one of the coolest jobs in the world now – he is helping to reshape a major sporting body and making a real impact on the reputation and sustainability of a global game. His hard work and natural abilities are a really unique combination, and Concacaf is fortunate to have found such an outstanding talent to oversee its strategy.’
Since 2013, Adlin Castro-Escobar has advised on broker-dealer, investment grade and Latin America debt capital markets transactions at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York, where she serves as assistant general counsel. Described as a ‘talented lawyer and a valuable member of the team’, she impressed nominators with her ‘intelligence and work ethic’ while leading transactions in Latin America. Senior private practice lawyers who have worked with her on a number of matters as designated underwriters’ counsel commented that she ‘consistently provides invaluable insight’ and ‘displays a detailed understanding of her employer’s and clients’ goals and how those goals relate to broader legal issues’. She began her career as an associate at the New York office of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, which she joined in 2008.
Andrés Cedrón joined Michigan-based Fortune 500 medical technologies company Stryker Corporation in 2010 as its first dedicated Latin America legal specialist. He now heads the legal and compliance teams responsible for Stryker’s Latin America and Canada businesses, acts as legal director for its Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa divisions, and sits as part of the global legal leadership team. Overseeing teams across such a wide geographical area in a highly regulated industry can be challenging, but Cedrón says it has allowed him to rethink the way legal services are provided. As a result, he has spent the last two years introducing a shared services model to allow each of Stryker’s regional teams to scale up quickly by drawing on the expertise and resources of other lawyers across the company. A further advantage of this approach, says Cedrón, is that it helps regional counsel to isolate the truly local aspects of a matter and act as translators across different cultures. This, he says, has been particularly useful in the Latin America region, where a constantly shifting set of political and economic issues has made translation particularly useful. In Cedrón’s words, ‘we [in the legal team] are “tropicalisers” who take a US business model to Latin America and modify it to suit the local circumstances. It’s a region where personal relations matter a great deal and where an understanding of local cultures and practices can help business make better decisions’. Before joining Stryker, Cedrón spent a number of years in private practice as an associate at Sullivan & Cromwell in New York and Hunton & Williams in Miami. In both roles he specialised in Latin America-based matters, covering everything from sovereign transactions and capital markets to project finance and M&A.
Kimberly Chainey’s wide-ranging role sees her leading on the legal aspects of Avis Budget Group (ABG)’s global M&A matters, protecting its global IP and supporting its strategic initiatives around new developments such as connected and autonomous vehicles. In addition to this huge workload, she leads the vehicle rental services provider’s Latin America legal team and plays a hugely important role in helping to inform the company’s wider Latin America strategy. One external counsel nominator who has worked closely with Chainey comments: ‘As you might imagine from looking at her resume, [Chainey] is truly exceptional. She does a number of very different jobs, each of which would stretch the average lawyer to their limits. Her work in Latin America has been first rate and alone would justify her inclusion as one of the leading corporate counsel active in the US today, but she has somehow managed to combine this with a global role that is critical to the operations of a very large and successful business’. Chainey joined ABG in 2014 as legal lead for Latin America and Asia Pacific before being promoted to her current role in 2016. She previously led the international legal function at global confectionary company Hershey’s as associate general counsel and has carved out a reputation as an exceptional adviser on cross-border and multijurisdictional matters.
Daniel Chavez joined US photovoltaic manufacturer First Solar as assistant general counsel in February 2016. He was previously a partner at Texas-based law firm McDermott Will & Emery where he primarily advised investors on energy projects in Latin America. He is, in the words of one nominator, ‘a truly great lawyer whose record as an adviser in the energy sector is comparable to any other counsel I have worked with. He not only gives sound legal advice but is able to reflect on the wider economic and political risks and considerations associated with any given project. The matters he has advised on in Latin America are among the most challenging projects of recent times and he brings a truly exceptional range of skills and depth of knowledge to his role’. Before joining McDermott in 2014 he was managing director and general counsel at Houston-based emerging-market focused private equity and real estate investment firm Zaff Capital where he oversaw legal, compliance and corporate governance matters. He has also worked as senior counsel at energy development and services company AEI Services and at Mexico-based wine producer Casa Pedro Domecq, where he started his career in 2002.
Lin Cherry is senior vice president – business and legal affairs and general counsel for HBO Latin America Group, distributor of the premium pay television services HBO, Max and Cinemax and a number of other pay television services including Sony Entertainment Television, Lifetime, The History Channel, and Telemundo. Cherry joined HBO Latin America Group in 2014 and has more than 20 years of experience advising on media and technology transactions, including 17 years spent in senior in-house positions in the media sector. She was previously senior vice president, general counsel and chief business development officer of DLA, a subsidiary of América Móvil which operates the ClaroVideo on demand service. Between 2006 and 2011 she was senior vice president and general counsel of MySpace, where she played a critical role in the launch of MySpace Music, an online platform allowing artists and record labels to promote and sell content online, by leading negotiations on joint venture agreements with Sony, Warner, Universal and EMI along with a number of smaller, independent labels. She had also held positions as general counsel of Tata Sky Limited – a joint venture between News Corp. owned Star Group and the Tata Group set up to provide DTH satellite television throughout India – and as vice president for business and legal affairs of satellite provider DIRECTV Latin America.
Christian Chomat has a wealth of experience in the legal sector, having held private practice and corporate counsel roles across the Americas. Currently assistant general counsel at Ravago Amercias, Chomat is responsible for legal affairs across North and South America. Operating out of the Orlando, Florida office of the world’s largest reseller and distributor of plastics, rubber, and chemicals, Chomat has had a busy period as the Belgian company continues its international expansion. His position sees him handle all commercial transactions, general corporate work, real estate, finance, litigation, tax, and compliance matters. Since joining Ravago in 2013, Chomat has been part of a number of corporate matters as it expands its expertise through acquisitions – most recently in the chemical distribution field. Chomat’s previous career as an associate at law firms Diaz & O’Naghten and Robert Allen Law provided him with the skills needed to be an excellent in-house lawyer, having gained experience in M&A matters, financing, contracts and commercial real estate. Before his private practice experience, he was manager of business affairs for AOL Latin America.
One of the most impressive things about multinational service provider ISS is that in spite of its size – revenues in 2016 were 79bn Danish Kroner, or around $12bn – few people have heard of it. Services tend to be invisible, at least until they are not provided effectively, and it takes an awful lot of front-line staff to keep them that way. Unlike most large service providers, ISS employs its own staff rather than working with sub-contractors. In the Latin America region alone it employs around 40,000 people, this in spite of a recent downsizing in Brazil, its largest regional market, from around 18,000 to just under 10,000 employees. With that many employees, labour issues are inevitably at the forefront for ISS’s regional legal officer, Rune Riegels Christensen. ‘Globally, the challenge we and many others in the sector face is not only that we have a large workforce’ says Christensen, ‘but a large and churn-prone workforce. In Brazil, for example, we have around a thousand people coming and going every month. The HR machinery involved in sustaining that it is enormous and absorbs a huge amount of time.’ And in a market like Brazil, where on average around 10-15% of employees file a labour claim upon leaving a job – with the burden of proof falling on the employer – the churn in headcount can be hugely expensive. Forming a strategy to deal with these issues has occupied a lot of Christensen’s time. ‘Previously, we would be reluctant to pay anything unless the courts said we had to. That strategy was about building a reputation as a company that will not be intimidated by frivolous claims. We have since refined that strategy and focused on ensuring that we [have] the right documentation, but the bigger challenge is finding ways to collect and retain documentation, especially in an extremely decentralized business like ISS. In the Brazilian labour system, it is not enough to do things right – if you cannot document that you did things right you will still lose in court. In almost all instances the problem we face is not that we as an employer have failed to pay correctly or on time, but rather that we cannot conveniently locate complete sets of time slips or all receipts duly singed by the employee to counter the claim. I have worked hard to make sure site managers are checking the relevant documents are signed, collected and sent to our central offices on time. That way, when a claim comes in we are immediately in a position to refute it.’ The complex nature of ISS’ service contracts means Christensen is frequently involved in negotiations with commercial counterparties. Christensen comments: ‘The ISS integrated facilities services contracts are highly complex documents that essentially look after all aspects of a company’s facilities, whether that’s security outside, the people sitting in the reception area, cleaning, maintenance or making sure the coffee machines work and are fully stocked. Many companies, even some blue chip clients, are not yet quite prepared for that degree of sophistication in facility services contracts, and at times there is an element of having to educate the customers on how the commercial and legal models work.’ For the Danish-trained Christensen, working in the LatAm region has come as a welcome surprise. ‘A big trepidation when going to law school was that law is an inherently national skill, and by educating myself to be a Danish lawyer I was concerned that I would limit my ability to work internationally. But the red thread through all of my career has been M&A, and that is a great thing to specialise in if you want to work internationally.’ Indeed, Christensen’s first exposure to the Latin American market came while working for his previous employer, Denmark-based rescue and safety services operator Falck. ‘The company was very keen to complete an acquisition in Brazil’, he recalls, ‘but they were also nervous enough to want a Danish person to sit closer to the deal. I ended up initially in Rio de Janeiro in early 2011, during which time the company was negotiating an acquisition in Colombia for a regional player with operations in six countries, which led to my moving to Medellin, Colombia later in 2011.’ Unfortunately for Christensen’s wanderlust, Falck wanted him to return to Copenhagen and take up a management position, which he respectfully turned down in order to continue his travels with ISS. There have been downsides, however. Now based in Miami, he spends over 150 days a year away from his family conducting country visits. This, he says, has been a professional hardship as much as a personal one: ‘The big weakness to sitting isolated in an office in Miami is that I don’t accidentally happen upon something happening, so to speak. I am completely dependent on people telling me what’s going on. There is a risk that you only hear it if people want to tell you. The best way to overcome that is to pick a team you can trust and treat them fairly to ensure that your trust is returned. As with so much in ISS, it comes back to managing a labour force!’
US-based, NASDAQ-listed NII Holdings provides mobile communication services in Argentina and, through its subsidiary Nextel Telecomunicações, Brazil. Shana Smith joined NII in 2009 and has served as the company’s general counsel and corporate secretary since 2015. In addition to leading NII’s legal affairs, Smith is responsible for its corporate governance, ethics and compliance programmes, handling litigation, human resources, trademark and IP work, and executive compensation. She has also served as member of the board of directors of NII’s subsidiaries in the US, Western Europe, the Caribbean and South America. Before joining NII, Smith was corporate counsel for securities and finance at global wireless services and internet provider Sprint Nextel and before that worked as a corporate associate with Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver and Jacobson.
Metro Atlanta-based YKK Corporation of America oversees the operations of Japanese manufacturing group YKK – best known as the world’s largest manufacturer of zips – in Canada, the US and Central and Latin America. Since 2011, Valeria Cometto has served as lead counsel for the US company’s employment affairs with parallel responsibility for all legal and compliance matters in Latin America. As such, Cometto oversees a range of work relating to YKK’s manufacturing centres in Mexico and El Salvador and its offices in Honduras and Medellín, Colombia, home of the country’s booming fashion industry. One nominator who has worked closely with Cometto says, ‘her role is very broad and sees her involved in all aspects of the company’s operations in the region. She seems to do everything and anything that will help the company to achieve its objectives, which is a good definition of a strong general counsel’. Before she joined YKK, Cometto was an employment litigator at the Atlanta office of Ford & Harrison.
Adrienne Cornejo has more than 25 years of legal experience across in-house and private practice roles, covering different sectors and holding a number of international roles. In her current role as vice president and general counsel of Phoenix Group, a private packaging company based in Florida with operations in the United States, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Venezuela. Cornejo manages the legal department, transactions and world-wide legal affairs. Before joining Phoenix, Cornejo spent 15 years in the pharmaceutical industry, where she was an in-house counsel for some of the largest public companies in the world. Over the course of her career Cornejo has handled a number of international matters, with a particular focus on the Latin American markets – her fluency in both Spanish and English has helped during these matters, as has her working knowledge of French and Arabic.
Since joining Citigroup in 2010, Mariel Creo has supported a number of economically significant capital markets transactions, including offerings by institutions in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Panama and Mexico. She impressed nominators with her ‘deep understanding of the relevant Latin American financial and regulatory environments’ and her capacity to handle multiple transactions. One senior private practice nominator commented on her ‘tireless work’ and ability to ‘contribute immeasurably to the success of [a] deal’, adding that her ‘perceptive legal mind and unique insights have been invaluable to our collaboration and success’. Creo began her career as Mexico-based corporate counsel with Cemex in 1996. She has been an associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Mayer Brown in New York and, from 2007 to 2010, a senior associate at White & Case in New York. In addition to her knowledge of Latin American market practice and legal frameworks and experience in complex capital markets and banking matters, Creo stood out to nominators for her collaborative and personable manner: ‘She has an always-cheerful demeanour’, comments one nominator, ‘and our work experiences with her have been consistently positive.’
One of four continental general counsel serving Marriott outside the US, Brenda Durham is lead counsel for the company’s hotels and resorts throughout the Caribbean and Latin America and legal group leader for international lodging operations. In this latter role she oversees Marriott’s continental general counsel in Asia-Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East and Africa. She has been particularly active in promoting Marriott’s diversity and inclusion programme, helping to build on the strengths of the first such a programme to be established by a hospitality company. She is recognised, says one nominator, as ‘one of the truly outstanding Latin America-facing general counsel working in the US today’, who brings ‘a mature, executive-level judgement to bear on all matters’. She is, says another: ‘a general counsel who could easily make the transition into other parts of the c-suite and add the same level of insight and value’.
Dominican-born Rosa Estrella has carved out a somewhat unique career representing Japanese-headquartered biopharma companies as Latin America counsel. Since November 2016 she has led the Latin America legal function at Japanese pharmaceutical company Astellas, which, through its affiliates in Brazil and Colombia and its extensive distributor network, sells branded pharmaceutical products throughout the region. Estrella is responsible for managing and overseeing the legal support function teams in Brazil and Colombia, as well as providing general legal counsel to the Latin America business teams located in the US. She handles all legal matters related to the manufacture, promotion, distribution and sale of Astellas’ products in the wider region. ‘Variations in legislations and regulatory frameworks across the region mean that there is no one size fits all approach that I can use as Latin America counsel’, says Estrella. ‘It is therefore extremely important to be well aligned from a local and global standpoint if we want to conduct business successfully in the region.’ Before joining Astellas she was assistant general counsel at Japanese research-based pharmaceutical company Eisai. Estrella arrived at Eisai in 2008, just as the company was looking to enter the Latin American market. Over the next eight years she was one of the key players in establishing the company’s presence in the region, helping to incorporate its Mexican and Brazilian entities and build distribution links across a number of other countries. She started her in-house career in 2004 when, following her time as an associate at Chadbourne & Parke in New York (1999-2004), she took a business development and support role in the international legal team of Dutch pharmaceutical company Organon International. Organon was acquired by Schering-Plough in 2007 and subsequently merged with Merck. Speaking of her current and previous roles advising on Latin American matters, Estrella comments: ‘Given the number of countries and the host of special challenges in connection with IP, compulsory licenses, parallel trading, as well as counterfeiting issues in the region, in our fast-paced environment, it is key to have in place a solid network of local experts and reliable, local counsel knowledgeable in your industry to be able to act at the drop of a pin. Couple that with complying with constantly developing local legislation and global laws with extra-territorial jurisdiction is a huge task for any regional counsel, particularly one working in a heavily regulated industry.’
Since 2003, Maria Fernanda Font has played a big part in facilitating the growth in the Americas division of logistics, air, land and sea freight, e-commerce, and global mail carrier Deutsche Post DHL. Originally lead counsel for the Caribbean, she was given additional responsibility for Central America in 2004, South American regulatory affairs in 2005 and, from 2005 to 2009, for North American regulatory affairs. Since 2011 she has been responsible for legal matters at DHL Express Latin America and DHL e-commerce for the Americas, two of the division’s four business units. DHL Express has long been the dominant player in the freight and logistics market across Spanish-speaking South America and has a roughly equal market share as FedEx in Brazil. Fernanda Font was nominated for her ‘ability to manage multiple strands at the same time’ and for being ‘a great lawyer and GC with a deep understanding of Latin America’. She has also been involved in some of the company’s most important regional initiatives, including the 2012 opening of its air hub in Querétaro, Mexico and the development and expansion of its medical services and life sciences logistics coverage.
Based at 3M’s Minneapolis headquarters, Jorge Fernández González is responsible for the company’s legal operations in Latin America and holds parallel responsibility for all non-US regions as legal head of the global channel services division, which supports the sale and distribution of products in markets that are not served from 3M’s regional hubs and subsidiaries. In his role as general counsel for Latin America, González deals with human resources and employee-related matters, manages a team of lawyers spread across a number of jurisdictions and supports the sale and distribution of a vast 3M product range that includes everything from adhesive tape and office supplies to aircraft components and medical devices. He is also the ‘translator in chief’ who helps to bring 3M’s innovative product lines to market by working closely on the regulatory and anti-trust implications of each new launch. González has held a number of positions at 3M since he joined the company 2000. Before being appointed to his current role in 2014, González led both the legal and human resources departments at 3M in Iberia.
Adrián Fernández Mondragón is regional chief counsel and compliance officer for Latin America at broadband, enterprise, and wireless infrastructure company CommScope. He handles a range of matters, from transactional work to government relations and data privacy and is, says one nominator, ‘a hugely experienced Latin America-facing counsel who brings sound judgement to each and every matter’. He has also provided legal and business support to CommScope’s wider regional strategy of increasing internet speeds by migrating networks to new technologies. Before joining CommScope in 2016 he was Mexico-based legal manager and compliance officer at global information, data, and measurement company Nielsen. He has also served as Mexico-based legal counsel at DuPont and as Latin America regional counsel at GE.
Since 2015, David Flavell has led the legal function responsible for PepsiCo’s Latin American beverage and foods business, including PepsiCo Mexico Foods and PepsiCo South America, Central America and Caribbean Foods (SACCAF). He also oversees North American legal affairs for PepsiCo’s snack food subsidiary Frito Lay and leads a team of more than 80 lawyers and support staff across North and South America. Since 2016 he has taken on additional responsibility for global employment and human rights issues. Flavell joined PepsiCo’s Dubai offices in 2011 as senior vice president and general counsel for the Asia, Middle East and Africa (AMEA) regions, where he oversaw some of its most important matters in the region, including the re-franchising of its bottling operations in China. He is, says one nominator, ‘that most valuable of assets to a global business: a senior adviser who can adapt rapidly to new markets while maintaining an understanding of the group’s overall strategy and priorities. Anyone who has worked with him will tell you he is a truly outstanding business leader’. Flavell has extensive experience advising multinational corporations in emerging markets. He has previously served as Shanghai-based general counsel for Danone’s Asia Pacific and Middle East business, as well as M&A and global transactional counsel for New Zealand-based global dairy ingredient businesses Fonterra Cooperative Group. Before moving in-house he spent 10 years as an M&A and anti-trust partner at leading Australian law firm, Corrs Chambers Westgarth.
Pan-American Life Insurance Group is US-based group of international insurance and reinsurance companies with branches and affiliates Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, and 13 Caribbean markets. Patrick Fraizer joined Pan-American as senior vice president in 2006 and became general counsel in 2015. He also serves as director of the group’s compliance department. Fraizer has been closely involved in overseeing some of Pan-American’s biggest deals outside the US, including its 2011 purchase of American Life Insurance Company (ALICO) branches in several Caribbean jurisdictions along with ALICO operations in Panama and Costa Rica and Pan-American’s 2015 merger with Mutual Trust Holding Company. Before joining Pan-American, Fraizer was vice president and senior international counsel for the Principal Financial Group, where he oversaw all legal matters outside of the US. He is a member of the American Bar Association, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Association of Life Insurance Counsel, the Louisiana State Bar Association, the Iowa State Bar Association and the Iowa Society of Certified Public Accountants.
Carrie Freed directs and oversees complex litigation across many different Latin American jurisdictions in her role as assistant general counsel at Phillip Morris International. Moreover, she does so with ‘with endless energy, a stern determination in producing good results for the company and a great ability to bridge the cultural gap between civil and common law systems and between substantive and procedural law.’ Before joining the US tobacco giant’s defence and litigations department in 2012 Freed was an associate at Hunton & Williams.
Tech Data acquired Avnet’s Technology Solutions business for $2.6 billion in early 2017, announcing shortly afterwards that it would continue with the existing staff. As such, Bettina Freire, associate general counsel and head of Latin American legal affairs at Avnet, transitioned to Tech Data’s Latin America leadership team. She is praised by nominators for her ‘ability to form strong relationships at all levels’ and ‘outstanding drafting skills’. She was previously international counsel at Latham & Watkins, where she advised on a range of matters in Latin America, Asia Pacific and Europe, and before that head of the legal department at Corporación Antiguo Puerto Madero, the largest real estate and infrastructure developer in Argentina.
Casey Furman heads legal affairs for the Latin America and Caribbean operations of Verifone, an electronic payment company that sells merchant payment devices and operating systems to businesses across the world. Furman works closely with the executive function for Latin America and the Caribbean to oversee all deals in the region. He has also played an important role in supporting Verifone’s wider evolution from a device sales company to a solutions provider by making sure the Latin American aspects of this change run smoothly. ‘As part of the expansion of our services business’, says Furman, ‘we are striking new deals for field services and repairs, software development and licensing, professional services, payment gateways and commerce enablement solutions. These expanded services offerings grow our recurring revenue base and allow us to more comprehensively serve the needs of our clients in a market that is seeking better ways to solve the growing complexity of payments with ever more frictionless and secure solutions’. From his base at Verifone’s regional headquarters in Miami, Furman has had to find creative ways to manage a legal team spread over a number of jurisdictions. ‘For an in-house lawyer, being close to the ground and understanding the culture of the region, and how to do deals there is important’, says Furman. ‘Like many LatAm counsel, I have had to develop new ways to use things like video conferencing so the team feels like a team and not a collection of isolated individuals’. The number of territories in which Verifone has operations is also a complicating factor from a legal point of view: ‘Each country in which we operate has its own often highly specific standards’, says Furman. ‘At the same time, all point of sale devices need to be up to Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards around things like data security. Part of the value that a legal team adds is finding that difficult balance between the local and the international while ensuring that major clients trust our offering. A prerequisite for making a sale in this industry is that clients are first and foremost comfortable with security. The security of our devices is one of our big competitive advantages, and finding ways to communicate that makes a front-line contribution to the business’. Before moving in-house, Furman spent eight years at White & Case, with the bulk of this time spent in the firm’s São Paolo office. ‘Working at a large international firm but being based outside the major hubs of New York or London is some of the best preparation you can get for the move in-house’, says Furman. ‘You end up in more of a corporate generalist role and that experience enables you to move in-house and get comfortable with a broad mandate very quickly’.
Gonzalo Garcia Lussardi is described by one nominator as ‘without a doubt one of the most experienced and respected LatAm counsel working in the US today. His knowledge of the region from both a legal and commercial standpoint means he can add an enormous amount of value to a matter and spot things that escape others at the discussion table.’ As vice president and general counsel for Latin America and Caribbean at Johnson Controls, he oversees 90 subsidiaries in 21 countries and territories across six business lines and manages a team of US and regional legal counsel. He was previously Latin America counsel for Tyco before its 2016 merger with Johnson Controls, supervising a team of 14 in-house lawyers and 50 law firms across region. He began working at Tyco in 2007 as Buenos Aires, Argentina based regional counsel responsible for legal matters in Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia and Paraguay and has also worked in-house at Telecom Argentina and in private practice at the law firm Correo Argentino.
For nearly 30 years now, Armando Gómez has worked for some of the largest multinationals active in Latin America, including Colgate-Palmolive (1989-1998), GSK Mexico (1998-2001), Eli Lilly (2004-2010) and, since 2011, AstraZeneca. He also spent time at Mexican IP firm Becerril, Coca & Becerril (2001-2004), where he represented some of the world’s largest pharmaceuticals companies and developed a number of innovative IP defence strategies. He is described by one nominator as ‘one of the principal legal contributors to the current agenda of pharmaceutical IP protection in Latin America. [His work has led to] a remarkable and lasting change in the way patents are defended.’ For example, during his time at Eli Lilly, where he served as Mexico-based general counsel for LACMASS (Latin America, Caribbean, middle and small size countries), Gómez worked closely with The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) – a leading industry body promoting pharmaceutical research and innovation – to devise a number of strategies in defence of IP rights, many of which are still in force today. At a time when Latin America GCs focused purely on corporate and commercial work, Gómez’s expertise and deep involvement in IP allowed him to make a distinctive contribution to the organisation – and the industry as a whole. Now based at AstraZeneca’s Delaware campus, Gómez finds himself working on a much broader range of matters across Latin America. He is frequently involved in investigations, transactions, risk mitigation, compliance, competition law, and labour and employment law. He has also overseen the redesign of AstraZeneca’s Latin America legal team and reduced its pool of external advisors. These efficiencies in headcount and redesign of external support reflect a wider transition in pharmaceuticals, with larger manufacturers shifting their focus from primary care to specialty care products. Attracting and developing legal talent and maintaining cost-effective relationships with competent external counsel is an area of focus for Gómez, who has worked to ensure the team is delivering continued legal support across the region. Throughout his long career, Gómez has seen the role of Latin America counsel evolve: ‘When I began [in-house], almost all senior LatAm counsel positions were taken by US or European lawyers. But in the last ten years there has been a growing realisation across a range of organisations that local knowledge can be a big asset. The idiosyncrasies of a particular market or region make it extremely important to employ regional counsel who understand that local business culture.’
Described by one nominator as ‘an exceptional lawyer with a deep understanding of the commercial dynamics that govern cross-border matters’, Bernardo González-Irizarry has been a member of Merck’s legal team since 2006. He joined as the global pharmaceuticals giant’s head of legal for the Caribbean region and has since taken on additional responsibility for all legal matters across Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and Central America, in which capacity he supports the production, marketing and sale of pharmaceutical goods in 21 markets. He is also compliance lead for the wider Latin America and Caribbean region, and was nominated for his ‘extremely proactive and innovative approach to designing and implementing robust frameworks and policies’. González-Irizarry frequently delivers compliance and ethics training to the company throughout the region and advises on topics such as investigations. In 2009, he played an important role in overseeing the regional integration of Schering Plough entities following its acquisition by Merck. He was previously responsible for a number of business divisions at Puerto Rico-based industrial chemicals company Ochoa Group (now Mays Ochoa).
Motorola Solutions, Inc. (MSI) was created in 2011, following the spinoff of its mobile phone division (Motorola Mobility). Now headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, and with a revenue of over $6bn, MSI is a specialist provider of data communications and telecommunications equipment. John Guzman first joined the company in 2013, initially as a contract and compliance specialist based out of the Miami and Fort Lauderdale offices. As he gained knowledge of the company’s operations he has acquired more responsibility – both operationally and geographically. In his current role as legal counsel for the Latin America and Caribbean, he oversees internal legal support for commercial, corporate, procurement, litigation, compliance and ethics, as well as managing external counsel. His dedication to improving the skills of his team, and encouraging continuous learning, means that the MSI team is of exceptional quality. Guzman is also assistant secretary, a member of the data privacy and antitrust committee, and a member of the senior leadership team in Latin America and the Caribbean. His dedication to safeguarding the company against challenges, and preparing it for change, was cited by numerous sources.
Terry Hammons is vice president, deputy general counsel, corporate, chief regional counsel and assistant secretary at Albemarle Corporation, a Charlotte, North Carolina based company that develops, manufactures, and markets engineered specialty chemicals worldwide. Hammons’ role sees him acting as chief regional legal counsel for Latin America while also overseeing Albemarle’s worldwide corporate legal activities and providing legal support to its corporate governance, SEC compliance, finance, treasury and tax functions, as well as the Lithium Resources team. His recent Latin America-based work includes overseeing Albemarle’s 2017 acquisition of 50% stake in its former joint venture, Chile-based magnesium potassium salts producer, Sales de Magnesio, and, in 2016, negotiating Albemarle lithium exploitation agreement with Chile’s economic development agency, Corfo. Before joining Albemarle in 2015, Hammons spent 12 years as in-house counsel at Air Products and Chemicals, where he held a number of positions up to assistant general counsel for corporate and commercial matters. Before that he worked as an associate at Hunton & Williams in Virginia (from 1999 to 2001) and at Arnold & Porter in Washington, D.C. (from 2001 to 2004). A former college football star, Hammons has been co-owner of a CrossFit affiliate in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania since 2014.
AT&T subsidiary DIRECTV is one of the leading global digital television entertainment services provider in the US and Latin America (including Mexico and the Caribbean). In the latter market it serves over 19 million subscribers through its subsidiaries and affiliated companies and is a leading player in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, and Colombia. Since 2004, Michael Hartman has overseen legal, regulatory, governmental affairs and anti-piracy matters at DIRECTV Latin America, impressing nominators with his ‘truly remarkable grasp of how a large number of markets operate and how the interests of a huge [media company] can be served through legal expertise’. Hartman’s various accomplishments include guiding government relations efforts in response to new regulatory regimes in a number of countries, leading negotiations on acquisitions in Argentina, Brazil and Peru, and playing a central role in the formation of the Alliance Against Pay TV Piracy (Alianza Contra la Piratería en Televisión Paga), a pan-regional alliance of pay TV companies whose mission is to combat video piracy in the region. In 2013, Hartman’s success in handling the many regulatory and legal issues faced in Latin America was acknowledged and he was given the additional role of corporate secretary and deputy general counsel of DIRECTV in the US – adding a further 26 million customers to his list of stakeholders – while continuing to oversee matters at DIRECTV’s Latin America business. In 2015, DIRECTV was acquired by AT&T to form a newly combined entity that is now the largest pay-tv provider in the world. Hartman was well placed to advise on legal matters arising from this merger, having previously been involved in negotiating and overseeing the approvals and closings related to DIRECTV Latin America’s combination with Sky Latin America. Prior to joining DIRECTV Latin America, Hartman was general counsel at internet portal and content aggregator StarMedia Network (now CycleLogic), helping to shape the company’s strategy of targeting users in Latin America. He was previously an associate in the corporate department of Debevoise & Plimpton, where his practice focused on transactions in Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula.
As in-house counsel at Phoenix Tower International (PTI), Matías Hercovich is responsible for all legal and corporate aspects of the company’s Latin-American M&A, real estate and telecommunications transactions. He also oversees the work of junior and senior in-house counsel as well as local outside counsel in several jurisdictions in Latin America and the Caribbean, such as Colombia, Peru, Costa Rica, Panama and Dominican Republic. Among his achievements in the role have been: closing a seven year credit facility between PTI’s local subsidiaries in Costa Rica and Panama and a consortium of lenders led by Banco General, joined by Towerbank, Metrobank and Costa Rica-based Banco General; closing a $45m five-year credit facility with Scotiabank to finance the acquisition of Teletower Dominicana, the only independent tower company in the Dominican Republic; acquiring Brazilian company T4U to own and operate 529 wireless infrastructure assets with a pipeline of over 250 wireless towers under construction for all of the major wireless operators in Brazil and closing a transaction with Digicel to acquire the ownership or management rights relating to 202 wireless communication tower sites from Digicel in El Salvador. A native of Chile, Hercovich began his career in the corporate and intellectual property practice groups at Prieto y Compañía, one of Chile’s leading law firms. After more than five years with the firm he studied at Columbia Law School before joining Greenberg Traurig’s Latin America corporate group in Miami, working mostly for Phoenix Tower International before joining the company as Latin America general counsel in January 2015.
Joe Hill is currently a managing director and the head of legal and compliance for Latin America and Iberia at BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager. He is, says one nominator, ‘sharp, kind, smart and great to work with. [Hill] consistently displays a solid command of local and international law, as well as a unique insight into the specific challenges affecting each matter under discussion. His ability to think not just about the legal issues facing a given transaction, but the future ramifications of the transaction and what legal issues might flow from those ramifications, is something that all companies seek out in a head of legal and compliance, but few ever really find. He is deeply knowledgeable about each country in Latin America and spends a significant amount of time working in the region. His engaging personality and extensive experience working throughout the region for over two decades means he has a tremendous network to draw upon in Latin America.’ Since Hill joined Blackrock in 2013 it has grown to become the largest asset manager in Latin America, doubling its size in the region from around $65bn in assets under management (AUM) to around $120bn AUM over the past four years. BlackRock has also recently become a regulated entity in Mexico by transforming into an independent investment advisor, a change of status which required a lot of work from Hill and his team of six lawyers. Overseeing legal and compliance issues in both Latin America and Iberia has allowed Hill to improve compliance procedures by on-boarding Latin America-based clients through BlackRock’s offices in Madrid. As Hill explains, ‘applying a European Union level of vetting and having that vetting carried out by experienced BlackRock professionals allows us to follow stringent regulatory standards and gives a much more consistent approach than we would be able to achieve by using English speakers in the US or by syndicating the process out across Latin America’. Hill also sits on the executive committee that runs the Latin America and Iberia region. His involvement goes far beyond monitoring compliance issues. ‘Usually when a GC is asked to interact with executive leadership committees, they are asked to serve as a moral compass’, says Hill. ‘The great thing about BlackRock is that everyone is expected to be a moral compass and when someone speaks up they have the immediate support of the business. That means I get to spend far more time analysing the wider business strategy and working closely with other leaders in the company’. Prior to joining BlackRock, Hill served as the principal lawyer for Latin America at MetLife for six years and JP Morgan Chase for 12 years. During his time at MetLife, Hill found himself handling the integration of all entities in Latin America and the Caribbean as well as Spain and Portugal following the company’s $16.2bn acquisition of America Life Insurance Company from AIG. He has also gained experience from private practice, working as an associate at Mayer Brown in New York and Uría & Menéndez in Spain. Fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, he is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a director of the US-Spain Chamber of Commerce.
Though headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the Latin America division of Microsoft has a strong presence in each of its subsidiaries across the region. Supporting these operations is assistant general counsel Robert Ivanschitz, who leads a group of 37 full-time employees in the central legal function alongside sizable teams based in Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, and Peru. The Latin America legal team is divided into four main areas, covering: commercial and transactional work; government affairs; corporate philanthropy; and cyber security. This huge range of activities means that a great deal of Ivanschitz’s time is spent making sure his team has the resources, capacities and skills to support the business. While maintaining team cohesion can be challenging over such a large number of markets, working in a company like Microsoft helps. ‘There is a lot of technology we can leverage to help overcome physical distances and create common legal team. SharePoint allows us to work with a common stockroom of documents and other technologies allow us to work across borders’, he says. Ivanschitz has also been closely involved in some of Microsoft’s most important matters across Latin America, including the provision of cloud services, tax collection, citizenship support services and election management software to a number of governments. Microsoft frequently shares information on cyber threats, along with highly sophisticated software to combat these threats, with governments and large institutions across the region and has occasionally filed its own law suits to help identify those responsible for security breaches. One of the biggest challenges facing cloud providers is moving data from one country to another in a secure and compliant fashion. While some regions, notably the European Union, have agreed a privacy shield to ensure data transfers comply with best-practice, Latin America is far more piecemeal. ‘We comply with European and US model clauses to help governments in the region get comfortable with the safe treatment of citizens’ data, but it is a process which requires me to work with regulators and large clients. It requires a lot of time and resources to do this, but by organising the team across industries we have learnt to service our clients much more effectively. The questions a large bank in Mexico might have are frequently the same as those a large bank in Brazil will have, and those questions will have often been addressed in another jurisdiction already’. The tendency of clients’ issues and questions to cluster by industry across geographies means Ivanschitz is able to leverage Microsoft’s powerful central legal team in Redmond, Washington. He reports to Rich Sauer, Microsoft’s corporate vice president and deputy general counsel and supporting lawyer to the company’s hugely influential head of global sales, marketing and operations, Jean-Philippe Courtois.
Susanne Kandel is Latin America general counsel at American Tower, a major owner, operator and developer of wireless and broadcast communication real estate. Present in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Peru, American Tower operates in partnerships with large multinational carriers throughout the region, including AT&T, Telefónica and América Móvil. With Latin American growth in the tower industry now far exceeding that of more developed markets in North America and Europe, the region presents a strong opportunity for American Tower, and Kandel has been closely involved in some of its most important recent tower acquisitions. A further opportunity for the company comes from the pressure on local carriers to unlock capital by selling and leasing back their tower portfolios, which Kandel has helped to exploit with her ‘commercial acumen and strong negotiating skills’. Kandel is, says one nominator, ‘a vital link between American Tower’s substantial commercial ambitions in the region and the legal and regulatory knowledge needed to realise those ambitions’.
For any regional counsel, coping with a large number of different markets, each with their distinctive commercial, regulatory and legal drivers, is often the biggest challenge of the job. For Air Products and Chemicals’ Thomas Kenyon, those difficulties are compounded by a role which sees him overseeing the Americas and the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) regions. This is all the more impressive given the significance of the matters he typically oversees. In a role as geographically broad-ranging as Kenyon’s, helping business adapt to a patchwork of regulations and market norms becomes essential. His work has become widely known across Latin America in particular, and many sources praised his strengths. Nominators highlighted Kenyon’s ‘deep familiarity with international regulation’ and ‘ability to translate regulatory expectations across a number of jurisdictions into a coherent plan of action for the business in its global markets’. One nominator, the managing partner at a leading firm in Chile, comments that Kenyon, ‘has built a quality legal team and demonstrated versatility and adaptability to balance legal dynamics with high execution and compliance standards’. Previously a litigation and anti-trust partner at law firm Dechert, Kenyon joined Air Products as litigation counsel in 2003. In 2013 he became assistant general counsel for the Americas and was given additional responsibility for EMEA two years later. In 2017 he was appointed general counsel to both regions.
Based in Franklin, Tennessee, Dale Kimball has primary responsibility for all legal issues in the Latin America region at Nissan. Kimball manages a team of 15 lawyers and reports to both the company chair for the region and Nissan’s global general counsel in Japan. He took on the position of general counsel for Latin America in 2015 – just a year after Nissan Latin America was established as a corporate region – and continues to hold his earlier responsibilities as assistant general counsel for corporate and transactions. He has worked on a number of important matters in the region since taking on the role, including Nissan’s move in 2015 to become an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) in Argentina and the introduction of a new direct business model in Chile. Kimball joined Nissan in 2012 as legal lead for matters related to the construction of a new plant in Resende, Brazil. He arrived with significant expertise in the Latin America region, having previously served as of counsel at Cacheaux Cavazos & Newton where he represented clients on international legal issues related to a number of jurisdictions in Latin America, and as senior legal counsel for Latin America at Nokia. He also served as European legal director and senior executive leadership team with responsibility for Europe, Turkey, Russia and CIS for global confectionary brand Cadbury.
Described as ‘an exceptional attorney’, Delta Air Lines’ deputy general counsel Matthew Knopf impressed nominators with his ‘great attention to detail and the consistent excellence of his work’. Knopf joined Delta in early 2016, a time when the airline was exploring opportunities in Latin America. The region is now very much on Delta’s radar, with the airline seeing unit revenues on routes to Brazil grow by 45% in the last quarter of 2016, a period in which revenues rose by more than 4% across Latin America as a whole. Arriving during a time of increased cross-border activity, Knopf’s ‘friendly and positive demeanour, meticulousness and expert understanding of even the most arcane details of various financings and transactions’ allowed him to make an instant contribution to the company. Knopf was previously a partner in the corporate group at the Minneapolis office of Dorsey & Whitney, where he also led the firm’s global mergers and acquisitions practice. At Delta, his responsibilities include corporate transactions, M&A and strategic alliances, SEC reporting and corporate governance, marketing transactions, financing matters and aircraft transactions. This varied workload is enough to challenge even the most experienced of lawyers, but Knopf remains calm: ‘In each of these subject-matter areas and many others’, says one nominator, ‘[His] expertise has shone through. He has a unique gift for seeing through to the heart of a matter and comprehending the legal issues that stem from it. For his expertise, his attention to detail, and most of all for the consistently outstanding results he produces for his employer, Matthew Knopf deserves [wider recognition]’.
Carlos Lanardonne is general counsel and compliance officer for the Latin America region at Sandoz, the generics division of global pharmaceutical company Novartis. Before joining Sandoz in May 2014 he was Novartis’ country compliance and legal head for Argentina. ‘It is a big step to go from overseeing a single country to managing the whole region’, says Lanardonne, ‘but an even bigger change is moving from the pharma division – which is the biggest division in the company and the one which has a reputation for innovative, fast-paced work – to the generics division which has the largest global reach and is the clear leader in the biosimilars sector. The legal risks, specifically related to intellectual property (IP), are completely different when it comes to generics’. The transition, he says, required a radical shift from a mentality of protecting patents to one of attacking the validity of weak patents – something few lawyers in the industry get to experience, but an experience he says Novartis is uniquely positioned to offer its staff. ‘This is without a doubt the best company for a lawyer looking to develop an understanding of the industry because it gives you an exposure to both the research-intensive pharmaceuticals perspective and the generics perspective. We only attack those patents we genuinely think are weak for legal reasons’. Upon joining Sandoz, Lanardonne’s first challenge was to build a high-performance legal team within the generics division. Of the current team of 22 – split between legal and compliance – 17 have been recruited since his arrival three years ago. Building the team from the ground up meant it had no collective history to bind it together, but Lanardonne turned this to his advantage: ‘When you start from step one you can set the rules and define the culture and everyone is happy to abide. Then it’s a case of coaching and developing the team so it becomes a true team. Building a team split around different countries is of course much more difficult than building it in one country, and it is especially difficult in Latin America because the issues we face differ so much from market to market’. To overcome the obstacles presented by physical distance, there is, he says, no substitute for face-to-face contact. Lanardonne holds monthly videoconferences to review regional topics, share best practices, and explore commercial opportunities in the region. He also holds a yearly regional meeting which brings the team together for several days to define a collective strategy. But, he says, it is not just about work. Getting each member to interact on a personal basis is just as important. ‘For me it is so interesting to see a team dynamic develop; when one person gains the trust of another person a team starts to form. It has reached the stage now where I don’t find out if the legal head in Brazil reaches out to the legal head in Argentina. They no longer need to contact me first to make the connection because they have mutual trust and have become friends’. Another major recent achievement of the legal function has been facilitating an ‘enormous quantity of business development deals’ over the past three years. Lanardonne explains: ‘Multinationals’ internal development centres focus on the European and US markets. As a result, multinational generics manufacturers in Latin America tend to have a narrow portfolio in comparison to local companies. We have responded to this challenge by shifting our focus to exploring business opportunities. For example, we made changes to the way we negotiate deals by leaving out things that didn’t make sense to the Latin American market. As a result, we went from a typical eight month negotiation process to a two to three month process, with templates already agreed. We have signed many deals as a result and proven to be a strong partner to business. The Sandoz legal and compliance teams are now working hand-in-hand with the company and generating revenue while safeguarding the enterprises’ reputation’.
LaTanya Langley serves as vice president and general counsel at BIC International, the world’s number one manufacturer of ballpoint pens and a leading producer of other writing instruments. To get a sense of its size, consider this: BIC makes and sells more than 22 million stationery and pen products every single day. It is also a leading manufacturer of lighters, shavers and other consumer products. Langley’s role sees her overseeing legal matters globally for BIC’s largest business unit, the stationery products division. Additionally she is responsible for legal matters in more than 150 countries across Latin America, Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific. She is also responsible for implementation and training related to BIC’s anti-corruption compliance program globally. This unusually broad role gives Langley a hugely important place in the company – and an extensive travel schedule – and makes her a key partner to senior management. With Brazil serving as BIC’s second-largest market after the US, the Latin America region plays an important part in Langley’s role. She is also recognised as a strong advocate of women in leadership and has undertaken a number of employee relations initiatives across the region. Before joining BIC in October 2015, Langley served as Diageo North America’s general counsel of Diageo Guinness USA and general counsel and corporate secretary of Guinness Ghana Breweries based in Accra, Ghana. Before moving in-house she was an associate in the corporate department at Shipman & Goodwin and an associate in the business finance and restructuring department at Weil, Gotshal & Manges. She is a member of the New York and Connecticut Bars and the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut.
‘Senior managers have told me I need to keep a diary’, says Samuel Libnic, Citigroup’s general counsel for Latin America and Mexico. ‘With all the experiences I’ve had at Citi, I will be able to write a thriller one day’. Libnic joined Citibank Mexico in 1996 as its general counsel for global corporate and investment banking. In 2001 – just as the Argentine financial crisis, which cost Citi almost $2bn, was beginning to bite – he became deputy general counsel for Latin America, a position he held until being appointed overall general counsel for Latin America in 2007. ‘Latin America is the region where you will find the biggest number of financial crises in the world’, says Libnic. ‘Every two or three years we have a crisis, and if it’s not a financial crisis there will be an economic, political or social crisis. But I have lived through so many of these crises now that I have almost become the fireman. When we have a significant crisis in the bank, people come to me’. Utilising his knowledge of the company and the region, Libnic has continued to acquire positions of increasing responsibility: he joined Citigroup’s legal management committee (2010), became vice president of the Citibank N.A. board of directors (2012), was appointed a member of the board of directors of Banco de Chile and, since 2013, has been the direct report for the legal department of Citigroup’s Mexican banking subsidiary, Banamex. Managing this huge range of responsibilities would, he says, be impossible without the support of his team and the wider business. ‘They are the ones on the front line trying to protect the shareholders. They are the ones who understand the region and its ups and downs. But to have such a team you need stability, and I am fortunate that Citi has a very low rate of attrition. Most of the team has been with us more than 10 years. They live and breathe Citi. That is because business opens the door to us, invites us to meetings and gets us involved at the inception stage of any regional strategy’. This close involvement between legal and business has also benefited Citi’s board and shareholders. ‘External counsel may give you an opinion that a certain thing is legal, enforceable and valid, but there is a huge difference between something legal and something you want to be involved in as a business. A lot of banks have paid billions of dollars in fines, often not because they did something illegal, but because they did something that was legal and stupid. Most of the time I am consiglieri or counsellor to senior management, and my judgement and strategy are more important than my legal opinions. As internal counsel, we are the ones who bring that balance internally and make sure the organisation doesn’t do something stupid’. A number of businesses have been punished for taking shortcuts in Latin America, particularly in jurisdictions where the law is not well written, where regulators are relatively unsophisticated or where regulatory enforcement is weak. As such, the controls exercised by Libnic and his team have been hugely important. A further significant risk, says Libnic, comes when those working outside the region fail to appreciate its dynamics: ‘You don’t want to look like the guy who is always saying “no”. But at the end of the day our client is the shareholder, not the banker. We need to protect shareholders against risks’. In 2016, Citi began cutting most of its retail-banking and credit-card operations across Latin America, with its Brazil, Argentina and Colombia-based units moved into a holding company in preparation for a sale. At the beginning of that year, Libnic had around 420 lawyers in his team. By end of the year his team had fallen to around 370. It will decrease further to around 350 lawyers this year. However, the bank remains committed to the region – and for good reason. In 2016, Latin America and Mexico produced $10bn for Citi, representing 14% of its global revenues. The 26 countries across the region in which Citi has a presence have become hugely important to the bank, and they are becoming more important each year as the region’s contribution to global revenues edges upwards. For the bank’s lawyers, says Libnic, the region remains a great place to work. ‘The most incredible part of our job is the range of issues we cover. In the morning we can be dealing with a criminal investigation, two hours later we can be dealing with a huge financing or IPO, and by lunch we might be dealing with a political crisis that has erupted somewhere. Not only is each matter complete different, it is more often than not hugely important to the jurisdiction in which it happens. Citi is a big player with a very important presence in Latin America and what we do has big consequences for the economic and political situation there. It is a great privilege and a huge responsibility to work in such a company’. Before joining Citi, Libnic worked at Shearman & Sterling in New York and at leading Mexican firm Basham, Ringe and Correa. He is licensed to practice law in Mexico and New York.
Violeta Longino is vice president, deputy general counsel and regional compliance officer for North America and Central America at French multinational group AccorHotels, the world’s leading hotel operator with a market capitalisation of €11bn ($12.2bn). As a dual citizen (US and Mexico) and dual-qualified lawyer (Florida and Mexico), Longino is well placed to advise AccorHotels in connection with its operations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. She advises on a wide range of matters, from negotiating management and franchise agreements across the region to advising senior management of each hotel on sales, marketing, e-commerce, procurement, IT and human resources strategies. She also acts as the group’s regional risk correspondent, identifying, quantifying and mitigating legal risk in the region. In 2016 Longino was closely involved in Accor’s $2.9bn acquisition of FRHI Holdings, a deal which added luxury properties such as Raffles Singapore, The Savoy in London, Shanghai’s Fairmont Peace Hotel and The Plaza Hotel in New York to Accor’s portfolio while giving co-investors Qatar Investment Authority and Kingdom Holding Company respective stakes of 10.4% and 5.8% in the French company’s share capital. Following her active role in the deal, Longino is now working on the post-closing integration phase by overseeing the addition of 42 hotels to Accor’s North American portfolio. Longino has 20 years of experience advising businesses in the US and Central America and has worked on transactions in the US, Central and Latin America and Europe. Her learning has come from her time in private practice – at Holland & Knight and Greenberg Traurig – and as GC at a number of multinational public and private companies across the US and Latin America. She has been with AccorHotels since October 2014 and was previously Miami-based regional general counsel for Desca – Grupo Amper, a Spanish multinational public company with operations in the US, Samoa, and across a number of Latin American countries. Prior to this she was general counsel at multinational privately-owned company Phoenix Packaging Group, where she oversaw a legal team covering the US, Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela. Longino has been widely recognised as one of the leading corporate counsel working in the US and has received or been shortlisted for a number of awards, including the Latin American Corporate Counsel Association’s social responsibility award 2016, its litigation management award 2014, and its top in-house women award 2015. She is a mentor on the International Graduate Program at the University of Miami School of Law where she frequently lectures on international topics and serves on various professional committees. Her current engagements include: Chair of the In-House Committee of The Florida Bar International Law Section; regional leader (North & Central America and the Caribbean) of women at AccorHotels Generation; and member of the advisory committee of the International In-House Counsel Group (formerly known as South Florida Group of Regional Counsel).
Something of an outlier in this list, Mitchell Lowe is, strictly speaking, not a legal counsel. Since 2015 he has served as president at Sizzling Platter, the US franchise operator behind well-known brands including Detroit-based Little Caesars Pizza and global donut and coffee franchise Dunkin’ Donuts. Between 2006 and 2015 Lowe served as Sizzling Platter’s general counsel and continues to oversee much of the company’s legal work, including supervising two lawyers based in Mexico. He has also played a big role in helping the company expand across Latin America recently, working on a number of acquisitions, negotiations and financings across the region, including deals to expand the Dunkin’ Donuts franchise in Mexico and, more recently, helping Little Caesars open its first restaurant in Chile. Nominators praised Lowe as ‘a very sharp negotiator’ with ‘a remarkable ability to zero in on key issues and articulate them in a manner which allows all parties to find common ground’. Another spoke of his ‘fundamentally un-lawyerly approach to negotiations, which sets him apart from all other lawyers in the room and gives him a big advantage when it comes to finding a breakthrough.’ Prior to joining Sizzling Platter, Lowe was a litigation associate in the San Francisco office of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius.
Donal Luna is director and senior counsel at the New York offices of Natixis, the international corporate, investment, insurance and financial services arm of Groupe BPCE, the second-largest banking group in France. Luna joined Natixis in 2014, just as it was stepping up its expansion in Latin America. It now has a licensed bank in Brazil and has representative offices in Mexico, Peru and Argentina as well as asset management operation in Colombia, Mexico and Uruguay. He frequently advises the company on cross-border transactions between the US and Latin and Central America and has been involved in some of Natixis’ most important matters in the region. Immediately before joining Natixis he was an associate with White & Case.
Formerly the animal health division of Pfizer, Zoetis, the largest producer of medicine and vaccinations for pets and livestock in the world, became an independent company in 2012. Zoetis’ current legal director for Latin America, Juan Pablo Malfavon, led the legal aspects of the spin-off and subsequent IPO, an offering that was received favourably by the market and has seen the company’s shares climb from an initial offering price of $26 a share to around $62 as of summer 2017. For Malfavon, however, the work is still ongoing. ‘When it was decided that we would separate the animal care division from Pfizer we of course knew it would not be a simple thing to do. There are many stops along the way and you’re always thinking about how to proceed. As a lawyer, you are dealing with this kind of thing for many years, but the company has performed incredibly well and that is a sign that we got things right’. Malfavon was well prepared for the rigours of the deal, having previously been involved in Pfizer’s sale of its consumer division to Johnson & Johnson in 2006 and its acquisition Wyeth for $68bn in 2009, one of the largest integrations ever completed in the pharmaceuticals sector. While Malfavon’s experience in pharmaceuticals has proved useful, subtle but important differences in the animal healthcare sector have presented him with new challenges. For example, documenting transactions can prove difficult at times. ‘There are a lot of verbal agreements between vendors, suppliers and the major buyers of medicines for animals in this region. We are trying to change the way of doing business in the sector and I spend a lot of time now looking at how we can influence practices in the field to encourage modern practices among the major buyers, but it can be difficult when the customer is a large farm in a remote region. That means the job of lawyer is key’. Malfavon has also been busy setting up the Latin America legal and compliance function at Zoetis, which largely inherited Pfizer’s geographical footprint. A team of two lawyers based in Mexico and a paralegal in Argentina supports him in overseeing a region which generates around a quarter of Zoetis’ total revenues. Following a restructuring of the legal team, Malfavon has been focusing on compliance training. ‘Throughout my career I have looked to build new and better ways of making compliance part of the operating culture’, he says. ‘In 2004, during my time at [the Mexican subsidiary of] Abbott, I created the organisation’s compliance policies and implementation framework. What excites me about it is finding ways to train and educate the sales teams about compliance, to help them understand the importance of compliance and explain why we have all these practices. It is about creating a fair market where we ensure everyone gets the best products, not the most promoted products. That’s why we need to care’. Before taking up his New Jersey-based role at Zoetis in 2012, the majority of Malfavon’s 20 year in-house career was carried out in Mexico, including working at the Mexican subsidiary of Abbott Laboratories and as Latin America regional counsel at Pfizer in Mexico. He has also worked for Colgate Palmolive, General Motors and Philip Morris.
Jay Martin is the vice president, chief compliance officer and senior deputy general counsel for industrials and oilfield services company Baker Hughes Incorporated (BHI), now a part of General Electric. Martin is among the most experienced and respected legal and compliance professionals in the US. Indeed, his reputation in the compliance community stretches far beyond US borders, earning him the nickname “the dean of compliance”. Martin oversees a team of more than 30 employees in Baker Hughes’ global ethics and compliance group and is frequently called to address legal and compliance matters that arise in the company’s Latin America operations. He has previously held positions as general counsel of Mobil Oil’s worldwide exploration and production division and as general counsel of Mobil Natural Gas.
Marisol Mateos in an in-house lawyer with unrivalled experience in the hotel and hospitality industry. Across the course of her career she has worked for three of the best-known brands in the world: Melia Hotels International; Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, and, as of September 2016, Marriott International. At the start of her career, she spent one year as an attorney at Argentinean law firm Basualdo & Mateos, before joining Melia Hotels in Majorca, Spain as an internal consultant. Her next move, staying with Melia, saw her move back to Latin America to take up a role as corporate counsel in Mexico. This position was one of considerable importance – not only was Mateos responsible for legal analysis and counsel as Melia opened new sites in Mexico, but she also created the legal department for the Americas division of the company. This work set her in good stead for a move to Miami, where she continued to have oversight of the Americas, along with several countries outside the region. Over a 20 year period in this role Mateos became an expert in litigation, investments, leadership, risk management, negotiation and strategic decision making. Among her most impressive work have been overseeing joint ventures and strategic partnerships in Dominican Republic, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, Venezuela, Antilles, Colombia, Peru, and Argentina. In February 2015, Mateos moved to Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide as director of legal for Latin America. Two years later, Starwood was acquired by Marriott International. Mateos’ considerable experience was an asset that Marriott did not want to lose, and she was given the role of senior director for legal in Latin America and the Caribbean. Mateos has also played a leading role in the development of the South Florida Group of Regional Counsels, a network of in-house lawyers that work together to help develop the profession.
Miami-based Rodrigo Medina is responsible for providing legal and compliance support across Latin America for Medtronic, the largest standalone medical technology company in the world and a global leader in the manufacture and sale of device-based medical therapies. Medina has been particularly active in developing and implementing compliance programmes across the region. After joining Medtronic’s offices in Brazil in 2007, Medina was closely involved in implementing its business conduct standards and anticorruption policies. He has since been pivotal in expanding this programme and was recognised by nominators as ‘one of the leading figures in promoting sound corporate governance across Latin America’ and ‘a leading light in a number of areas of legal practice who commands the widespread respect of his peers’. He began his legal career in 2000 as a trainee at the Rio de Janeiro office of leading IP firm Dannemann Siemsen Bigler & Ipanema Moreira and worked in two other firms before moving in-house at the Brazilian offices of German multinational chemical and pharmaceuticals company Bayer.
Andrea Mon oversees legal affairs relating to Rockwell’s subsidiaries in Latin America, a region home to the company’s largest factory – located in Monterrey, Mexico – as well as major production facilities based in Tecate, Mexico and Jundiai, Brazil. She also advises the company’s regional president and monitors antitrust and competition law compliance throughout the region. She was recognised by nominators as ‘an excellent team leader who is able to provide advice on a range of complex matters’, and a ‘highly driven counsel with a deep understanding of [Rockwell’s] business’.
Melanie Montenegro heads the legal function at NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises, a division of NBCUniversal aimed at Hispanic and Latino Americans in the US broadcast through the American Spanish-language platforms Telemundo Studios, the largest Spanish-language US content producer, and Telemundo Internacional, the second largest distributor of Spanish-language content worldwide. She is frequently involved in some of the most challenging and exciting legal matters, from acquiring scripts, negotiating production services agreements, and overseeing production on some of the most popular Spanish-language entertainment titles. Montenegro was born in Guatemala and subsequently relocated to New York, where she began her career at Kaye Scholer. After six years with the firm she moved to Spanish Broadcasting Systems (SBS) in Miami as corporate finance counsel. She was later appointed as SBS’s executive vice president and general counsel before joining NBC Telemundo Universal Enterprises in 2013.
Jennifer Munoz is director and assistant general counsel providing legal support to Bank of America Merrill (BAML) Lynch’s M&A financial advisory and Latin America bank finance groups. She has, says one private practice nominator, been ‘closely involved in some very important matters in the [Latin America] region and has shown herself to be a truly exceptional legal adviser.’ Munoz is a member of BAML’s advisory board for New York chapter of the Hispanic/Latino organisation for leadership and advancement (HOLA) and a member of the legal department’s pro bono committee. Before joining BAML in 2014 she was counsel at Mitsubishi Corporation’s trading division. She has also been an associate at French multinational banking group Société Générale and worked as an associate at the law firms Linklaters and Cravath, Swaine & Moore in both New York and London. She is a member of the Hispanic National Bar Association and the Inter-American Affairs Committee of the New York City Bar Association.
Gretchen Nagy has served as general counsel at US-based real estate-focused investment and management company Jamestown since 2007 and as managing director since 2012. Jamestown entered Latin America in 2013, since which time Nagy has overseen a number of projects in the region, including negotiating agreements with local partners in Peru, Colombia, Brazil and Chile. According to one nominator, Nagy has ‘very quickly grasped the commercial and legal dynamics of the region and is now very much a Latin America expert. She has added substantial value to Jamestown’s regional portfolio with her highly refined understanding of how to negotiate and structure deals.’ Before joining Jamestown, Nagy was a partner with Branch, Pike, & Ganz and, following its merger with Holland & Knight, a senior counsel with the latter firm.
Ivania Oberti Naranjo is a member of the senior management team and director of business, compliance and legal affairs for Latin America at boutique insurer PVG, part of a multinational holdings group with interests in the US and Latin America. In addition to overseeing day-to-day legal matters she works closely with PVG’s senior management to design and implement new business structures across the region and to develop regulatory and compliance frameworks to assist in these markets. Naranjo is directly responsible for overseeing on-the-ground operations at PVG’s legal offices in Venezuela – its largest operation – and also manages a wider network of lawyers and other professionals spread throughout the region. Nominators recognised Naranjo’s ‘ability to coordinate a “virtual legal team” over a huge number of markets, each of which pose their own regulatory pressures and introduce very complex commercial considerations’.
Isaac Osaki is general counsel for the Latin America region at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, where he also serves as head of legal for the global rates and currencies group, the regulatory reform and resolution planning group and counsel to global markets sales and agreements and documentation groups. He was previously chief compliance officer for Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and U.S. Trust’s global wealth and investment management division and has served as general counsel for a number of investment banking and market businesses at Bank of America Securities. Before moving in-house he was associate at the law firms Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft and Locke Lord.
Jennifer Perez is senior counsel for Bupa Global Latin America (Bupa), a division of UK-headquartered private healthcare insurer Bupa International. One of the largest medical insurers in the world, Bupa provides its members access to a global network of hospitals and clinics and offers coverage in both members’ home countries and abroad. Perez has been with Bupa since 2009, providing legal support to its health insurance activities across Latin America and the Caribbean. She also plays a key part in the company’s employee relations initiatives and has, in recent years, re-designed Bupa’s corporate governance programme. Perhaps her most notable contribution to Bupa has been helping it to expand in the region. In 2012, Perez led on the Florida registration of three international offices – a process she completed in an accelerated time of four months and which made Bupa just the second international insurer to open operations under the enabling regulatory law. She followed this by leading on the opening of new Bupa offices in Guatemala (2013) and Panama (2014). These activities led to Perez and the Miami-based legal team being recognised with the Regulatory and Financial Services team award at the 2015 Global Counsel Awards. In 2013, she was chosen as one of 12 “Hispanic Women of Distinction” by Latina Style Magazine, and as one of 40 Rising Stars by the Daily Business Review. She has since been acknowledged with a number of further awards, including being named one of Attorney at Law Magazine’s “Attorneys to Watch” in 2015. Recognition has also come from within Bupa. In 2010, Perez received Bupa’s employee award for ethical achievements while in 2011 she was nominated to attend Bupa’s UK-based leadership programme designed to build the next generation of senior leaders within the company. Perez has been a member of the elected board of directors of the Cuban American Bar Association (CABA) since 2009, in which time she has led significant fundraising activities to provide funds for the provision of free legal aid to disadvantaged members of the community. She also frequently participates in CABA’s mentoring programme, helping to raise funds for those who cannot afford tuition and to guide young students to their first legal jobs.
Juan Pablo Perez is Cisco System’s general counsel for Latin America. Based in Miami, Perez oversees a team of seven lawyers located in Cisco’s core regional markets providing advice on everything from commercial and transactional work to IP, litigation and compliance. At the same time, Perez must track broader issues affecting both Cisco and its corporate customers. ‘Some of our most important customers in the region are service providers such as large telecoms companies’, says Perez. ‘That means we need to partner with government affairs and work hard as a legal team to understand how regulatory issues in each country affect their business and what they are looking for in a contract. We are constantly mapping this change so our commercial teams can keep on top of it.’ Cisco’s wider legal department is known for its technologically sophisticated approach sharing information and resourcing matters, and Perez has worked alongside them to develop platforms specific to the Latin America legal function, particularly in the area of contract management. Prior to joining Cisco in 2013 he spent 13 years at Oracle where he held a number of positions including regional general counsel for Latin America. His time at Oracle coincided with a period of rapid expansion for the company throughout Latin America, and Perez was closely involved in driving the acquisition and integration of a number of companies. While at Oracle he also oversaw significant growth in the Latin America legal team. He is, says one nominator, ‘a hugely experienced tech-focused lawyer who understands how to work in a dynamic sector while also dealing with the risks that arise from volatile market conditions. His dedication to learning and understanding the technologies Cisco creates is an admirable trait that makes him a cut above many other lawyers I have encountered.’
Shafiq Perry is vice president and senior legal counsel at HSBC in New York, where he is frequently involved in analysing cross-border loans to Latin America-based corporates and helping to underwrite securities for the bank’s larger institutional clients in the region. Perry works closely with HSBC’s lending arm in the US on acquisition finance transactions originating out of New York, often in conjunction with HSBC lawyers based locally in the Latin America offices. Perry supports the regional team that underwrites loans by advising on and managing the risks associated with them. He is also frequently involved in matters involving HSBC’s UK headquarters that touch upon New York law or that involve a US investor base and raise questions relating to syndication, documentation, market practices and risks. Within his immediate team, he is part of a group of four lawyers that cover a wide range of businesses, including project finance, acquisition finance, lending, debt and equity capital markets and M&A advisory work. Being based in such an international team, says Perry, is a good opportunity to develop as a lawyer. ‘I have to deal with a range of matters in Latin America that really run the gamut of investment banking products and services. It makes my practice much more general and gives me exposure to a wide variety of important work.’ As a result of this breadth of work, Perry has been involved in a number of extremely important transactions, including Anheuser-Busch InBev’s $103bn purchase of SAB Miller in 2016. Another example came in Autumn 2016, when he advised HSBC in connection with Banco de Bogotá’s US-denominated subordinated notes offering, a matter Perry describes as ‘somewhat like a switch tender, but involving a novel loan-to-bond exchange settlement structure, the first of its kind in Latin America. My role was ultimately one of ensuring that the relevant stakeholders were comfortable with the risks and aware of what issues might arise.’ Before joining HSBC Perry worked as an associate in the finance group of Paul Hastings’ New York office.
Alexandra Pizzinini has three post-graduate degrees and is fluent in five languages (English, France, Spanish, Portuguese, and German). This thirst for knowledge has shaped her professional life as a lawyer. Based in New York, Pizzinini is currently the Latin American regional counsel for Swiss Re, a global provider of insurance and reinsurance solutions. In this role she oversees legal, compliance and regulatory matters in 20 countries across the region (including the Caribbean), with the help of her team of 10 direct reports. Since joining Swiss Re in 2005 Pizzinini has been involved in matters related to corporate governance, litigation, arbitration, M&A, as well as cross-border internal and external compliance. Although Pizzinini and her team have a good regional and practice area coverage, it is still necessary to use outside counsel across the 20 countries they support – and Pizzinini has expertly managed external budgets for legal advice in a time of increasing cost constraint. Today she is considered by peers as an expert in regulatory, corporate, compliance, M&A, and reinsurance matters, ably supporting Swiss Re in its expanding commercial ventures in Latin America. Swiss Re’s senior executives have often asked her to present a risk assessment of Latin America to other members of the senior management team across the world. Before joining Swiss Re Pizzinini was an associate at international law firm Cozen O’Connor where she was able to build her knowledge of the insurance market and cross-border litigation. Before practicing law as an attorney in New York, she spent a time working at an NGO focussed on the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is currently seated in The Hague.
Mark Prybylski is chief legal counsel of Argos USA, the US arm of cement producer Argos and a subsidiary of Colombian conglomerate Grupo Argos. Prybylski is described as ‘an exceptionally knowledgeable GC’ by one nominator, who adds: ‘Argos is tremendously fortunate to have a general counsel of Prybylski’s calibre, and the difference he makes is clear’. As US general counsel, Prybylski has been involved in a number of Argos’ prominent North American acquisitions – including its 2016 acquisition of HeidelbergCement’s production plant in West Virginia and related terminals in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New York for $600m. He has, says one source, ‘a firm understanding of the market in Latin America, with an intimate knowledge of the objectives and concerns that a strategic player faces when making cross-border acquisitions’. Praised as ‘an extraordinary lawyer and consummate professional’ who brings ‘insight and collaboration’ along with ‘an unmatched work ethic and creativity’, Prybylski is thoroughly deserving of his place in the GC Powerlist.
Santiago Rabassa is described by one nominator as ‘a seasoned business adviser who can always find ways to solve even the most difficult problems’. Since 2015 he has supported the global biopharmaceutical company Alexion in Latin America and has won praise for helping to align the company’s business strategy to the regional market, ‘adding a huge amount of value by bringing his extensive knowledge and experience of regulatory regimes and transactional structures to bear on [Alexion’s] activities’. Before joining Alexion, Rabassa was Covidien’s US-based vice president and general counsel for Latin America and, for a time, Canada. He joined shortly after Covidien’s spin-off from Tyco Healthcare in 2007 and remained as a key advisor until its 2015 merger with Medtronic. He has also held a number of senior legal positions at companies in the telecoms and technology sector, including Autodesk, Marconi Communications and Global One (previously Sprint International). He began his career at Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle where he worked as an associate in Washington, DC, and later Mexico City.
Citibank director and associate general counsel Juan Rincon-Cortes supports the Latin America and Caribbean operations at their regional headquarters in Miami. The bank has operations in almost every country across the region, and Rincon-Cortes advises on a wide range of matters and business segments, acting as a true generalist, from corporate global banking to local consumer and retail products and services to internal investigations and special projects. He is primarily responsible for advising and overseeing on some of the main revenue-generating and control activities at the bank, including complex cross-border transactions and financings, treasury and trade solutions, regulatory affairs, securities, corporate governance and reporting requirements, product approval and handling all sorts of sensitive matters for senior management. He also represents the legal function on a number of internal committees, initiatives and projects and is responsible for appointing and managing external counsel, both local and global, for Latin American matters. Before joining Citibank in 2010, Rincon-Cortes was a senior associate in the energy and infrastructure group within the banking and finance team at the Washington, D.C. office of Clifford Chance. He has also worked in the finance and capital markets teams of Hunton & Williams and Baker Botts in Washington, D.C. and as an associate in the Mexico City office of leading Mexican firm Galicia Abogados. He is dual-qualified in the US and Mexico and also holds two Masters of Laws degrees, obtained from The London School of Economics and Political Science (2001) and The George Washington University School of Law (2006).
Ramon Rivera leads the Latin America legal function at research-based pharmaceutical company AbbVie, overseeing a team of senior legal counsel located in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, and Guatemala. Under Rivera’s leadership, the team supports all countries in Latin America and the Caribbean – a $1bn sales area with close to 2,000 employees – on a broad range of matters including commercial litigation, intellectual property, distribution agreements, supply chain issues, labour and employment and corporate and transactional work. In addition to his Latin America responsibilities, Rivera provides guidance to AbbVie’s president of international markets (covering Latin America, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Japan and Asia Pacific) and gives strategic and legal risk advice to a range of senior business leaders across a number of functions. He has led several global legal initiatives and works closely with the ethics and compliance and global trade compliance departments. Before taking on the role of Latin America area legal counsel in late 2016 Rivera served as AbbVie’s ethics and compliance director for the region, a role in which he co-presented updates to the company’s chief executive and the entire senior executive team on AbbVie’s international compliance programme. During his two years as Latin America ethics and compliance director, AbbVie earned the highest category of compliance audit results in all countries in the Latin America region. The region also earned the highest recognition for the most impactful, innovative, and cross-functional compliance programs in AbbVie’s internal global compliance competition. Rivera began his career with AbbVie in 2011 as divisional counsel, in which role he led and co-led a number of significant projects including structuring the sale of a business unit to Abbott Laboratories for $5.3bn – a matter which required him to protect AbbVie’s pharmaceutical assets and sites in Europe, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Australia and saw him receive the AbbVie Significant Achievement Award – helping to lead AbbVie’s global IP strategy as part of a cross-functional team and leading internal and external counsel on Abbott Laboratories’ spin-off of AbbVie Inc. In his time with AbbVie he has been awarded a number of honours, including the president’s award three times, most recently in 2016 in recognition of his ethics and compliance leadership, the AbbVie significant achievement award three times, and, in 2013, the Abbott chairman of the board and chief executive officer recognition. In 2016 he was placed on the AbbVie director development programme, which is restricted to the top performing global directors in the company. Before moving in-house he held positions at the law firms DLA Piper (2007-2011) and Jenner & Block (2005-2007) and at Ernst & Young (1999-2005). Rivera holds a number of positions externally and is a member of the American Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association and the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois. He has been a guest lecturer at the DePaul University School of Computer Science, Telecommunications, and Information Systems and has published research in the Journal of Taxation of Global Transactions.
Rodolfo Rivera is a well-known figure in the US in-house legal market. In his current position he is chief international counsel for Fidelity National Financial – a Fortune 500 company that provides insurance, claims management services, real estate solutions and information services. Rivera manages all of Fidelity’s corporate and litigation matters outside of the US, and has had a particular focus on Latin America in recent years. Rivera was ultimately responsible for the successful opening of a Fidelity National Title office in Mexico, opening an extremely significant new market for the company. His expertise in the region is such that he is often asked to speak at events. In addition to his expertise in corporate law, litigation, and labour and immigration matters, Rivera’s understanding of global businesses has allowed him to oversee Fidelity’s international expansion – at one point coordinating attorneys in 34 countries to ensure insurance policies in each country were issued correctly. Rivera has held a number of wider roles within the in-house legal community, including at the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) as the International Committee President and as a member of the Global Board of Directors.
Karen Salas-Morales heads legal affairs for Latin America at publicly-traded international telecommunications and media company Millicom International. Millicom offers a range of telecom and digital services to over 56 million customers and trades primarily under the Tigo brand across its markets in Latin America and Africa. It is the second largest pay-TV operator in Spanish-speaking Latin America and accounts for just under half of all active mobile money subscribers across the region through its Mobile Financial Services account. In addition to overseeing the Latin American legal team, Salas-Morales provides legal advice and guidance to Millicom’s global treasury team and the Latin American regional executives, as well as being responsible for managing US human resources issues along with the company’s global business-to-business, digital and home (cable and broadband) business units. She has more than 17 years of experience representing multinationals across Latin America and the Caribbean gained from her time both in-house and in private practice. Prior to joining Millicom, Salas-Morales was a partner in the corporate department of international law firm K&L Gates.
Victoria Sánchez leads all aspects of the legal support function for MasterCard’s Geo Central division, covering Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and all the Caribbean region. She is a sophisticated, international attorney with extensive experience in corporate, financing, M&A and structuring matters in Latin America. A hugely talented and multi-lingual lawyer with experience of working across Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico), as well as in the US and UK, Sánchez caught nominators’ attention with her deep understanding of how to conduct business across jurisdictions. One nominator, based at a leading Dominican firm, says Sánchez excels in ‘coordinating work in multiple countries with incredible efficiency. She has been able to generate synergy not only between her [team] and her outside counsel in different countries, but she has been instrumental in fostering synergy between local counsel of different countries thereby channelling and coordinating the work on behalf of her company in an innovative and efficient manner. She engages personally in every aspect of the projects she [works on] and follows up with incredible diligence and perseverance until the desired outcome is obtained. In my experience, she has been one of the most productive in-house counsel that I have known’. Another commented that Sánchez has a rare ‘ability to understand the legalese of different countries and how to enable Mastercard to conduct business in all parts of the world’ and praised her ability to work within a large number of regulatory regimes while understanding the ‘policies and customs of the countries she covers across the region’. In her role at Mastercard, Sánchez handles a wide range of commercial work across Geo Central – including business agreements and licenses, sponsorship deals, cardholder promotions, franchising, e-commerce, and intellectual property – and provides support on labour, litigation, antitrust, and regulatory matters.
Iván Sandoval is chief of legal affairs for Latin America (including the Caribbean) at Colgate-Palmolive. He has, says one nominator, ‘been a leader in Colgate’s different government and stakeholder initiatives across the region, navigating the complexities of diverse cultures and institutions while maintaining and furthering Colgate’s stellar reputation when it comes to legal and compliance matters. His tenure has contributed to ensure that Colgate continues to be a highly admired and respected company in times when that is increasingly hard to achieve.’ Though he reports to general counsel, Jen Daniels, Sandoval sits within the Latin America division rather than within the wider legal team. As a result, much of his time is spent supporting the divisional president and helping to develop the company’s regional strategy. Sandoval also oversees a team of nine direct reports based in jurisdictions throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Ensuring the company’s wider regional strategy matches its on-the-ground operations is, says Sandoval, one of the most challenging aspects of the role: ‘For a multinational company, the regional general counsel is a very important connecting thread. What we do in one market – particularly in terms of legal actions – may have implications for our ability to operate in many other markets and regions.’ In addition to his managerial role, Sandoval is frequently involved in more significant matters throughout the region. The projects he works on can often take surprising turns, as he found in 2013 following Colgate-Palmolive’s decision to close its main factory in Nuevo Polanco, Mexico City – a base from which it had operated since the early 1950s. Initially built on the city’s perimeter, the site had become engulfed by urban sprawl, making it a poor place for large-scale manufacturing operations. The strategic decision to move production exposed Sandoval to the full complexity of overseeing matters in the region: ‘The mechanics of shutting down a factory can be overwhelming and occupied a significant part of my time. From engaging and communicating with unions to establishing new production facilities elsewhere in Mexico, this was a project that reminded me nothing in business is simple.’ To complicate matters further, the premises were being sold to a very demanding buyer, the US State Department, which had earmarked the site for its new Embassy. ‘Above and beyond the materiality of the transaction – which was part of our filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) – it introduced significant reputational issues and required extensive negotiations with Mexican and US authorities’, says Sandoval. ‘That helped me build strong relationships with the chief executive and other senior members of the company.’ A year after he started work on the matter, Sandoval was moved from Mexico City to Colgate-Palmolive’s New York-headquarters and promoted to his current role. Sandoval has been with Colgate-Palmolive for more than 20 years, in which time he has served as legal director for the company’s Mexican subsidiary and as assistant general counsel of its EMEA operations.
Cristina Scarano Canino is a business and legal professional with expertise in the media and television industry. In her current position at BBC Worldwide she has responsibility for legal matters relating to the Latin America and US Hispanic divisions. Scarano Canino joined the international division of the British news and media company in December 2016. Known to be a highly skilled negotiator, she has been part of major transactions from both the commercial and legal side – experience that earns her a great deal of respect from her peers. Before joining BBC Worldwide, Scarano Canino spent four years as legal and business affairs lead for Latin America at FremantleMedia, one of the leading creators, producers and distributors of television brands in the world. In this role she managed law firms across Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and the USA, mostly covering labour and employment and IP matters. FremantleMedia has a number of high profile TV shows, such as Got Talent, Idol and X Factor, and Scarano Canino oversaw the licensing, negotiation and production across the region. Earlier on in her career, she spent over five years as director of business and music affairs at Telemundo, a US Spanish-language terrestrial television network. This role gave Scarano Canino a foundation from which to grow into one of the best television legal specialists in the Americas.
John Scott has served as general counsel and general manager of the legal department to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) since August 2015. IDB is one of the largest sources of development finances to Latin America and the Caribbean, providing loans, grants, and technical assistance to a variety of projects targeted at reducing poverty, improving access to health and education and developing infrastructure. It is owned by 48 sovereign states from Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, North America and Asia, though only extends loans to the 26 Latin American and Caribbean members. Scott has been with IDB since 1985 and has held a number of leadership positions, including chief counsel for corporate legal affairs and assistant general counsel for the legal financial office. He now advises IDB’s board of governors and executive directors on all legal matters relating to its activities.
Atlanta-based Astrid Seijas McGeeney is vice president and associate general counsel for Turner Latin America. She oversees all legal matters across Latin America, including the acquisition of new content for Turner’s portfolio of pay-television networks in the region, securing licenses for such content, and work related to advertising and merchandising. One nominator praises Seijas McGeeney for ‘her modern mind-set when it comes to legal matters – she has a built a very effective, modern legal department that is, in many ways, a good example of best-practice for a legal function.’ Before she joined Turner in 1999, Seijas McGeeney worked at Torres Plaz & Araujo, one of Venezuela’s largest firms. After the research deadline for this publication passed, Victor Roldan assumed responsibility for the Latin America region for Turner beginning in June 2017.
Described by one senior law firm partner as ‘one of the strongest general counsel I have ever worked with’, Ana Siegel received a wide range of nominations for her work at NBCUniversal as well as for her previous role at Fox Latin America Channels. Since 2015 she has been lead counsel for Hispanic Enterprises and Content at US multinational media conglomerate NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of telecommunications and media giant Comcast. In her current role, Siegel oversees all legal matters – from transactions to litigation and employment law – and serves as head of the business and legal affairs team. As a key member of the company’s senior leadership team Siegel is frequently involved in strategic commercial agreements, working alongside Kimberley Harris, executive vice president and general counsel, and Cesar Conde, chair of NBCUniversal International Group and NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises. Before joining NBCUniversal, Siegel was senior vice president and general counsel at Fox Latin American Channels where she led a team of lawyers and support staff based in a number of Latin American jurisdictions, the US and the UK. As one nominator says, ‘for a long time now, [Siegel] has been trusted to provide board-level advice to dynamic media organisations in a fast-moving and challenging market. That alone should tell you all you need to know about her skills as a lawyer’.
Andy Smith heads legal operations across the Americas for French multinational automotive components supplier Valeo. Based in Troy, Michigan Smith’s role sees him cover a huge range of markets and issues. Though he covers both US and Latin American legal affairs, nominators pointed to his expertise in the latter market. Fluent in Spanish and able to draft in Portuguese, Smith has a long running association with the region. Shortly after graduating in 1997 he spent a year at a small non-profit organisation headquartered in a rural community in Baja California, Mexico near the San Diego border, helping to run a number of programmes offering free lunches, English as a second language classes, after-school tutoring and sports activities for children. Before joining Valeo in 2011, Smith was an associate in the corporate department of leading Detroit-based firm Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn and, from 2005 to 2006 an associate in the New York office of Davis Polk & Wardwell where he was a member of the firm’s capital markets, credit and Spain and Latin America practices. Before this Smith spent time as an analyst in the Latin American treasury centre of General Motors Acceptance Corporation in Detroit – formerly a wholly-owned subsidiary of General Motors and currently an independent Fortune 300 financial services firm (Ally Financial). This saw him training and supervising treasury teams across the region, negotiating loan agreements with banks throughout Latin America and developing, launching and administering a number of innovative capital markets programmes, including what was, at the time, the largest medium term note programme to be launched in Mexico. Smith has received a number of awards and recognitions over the years, including being named top corporate counsel in 2013, 2014 and 2016 by DBusiness, Detroit’s leading business journal. He is, in the words of one nominator, ‘a general counsel who combines the detailed technical knowledge of a top-tier law firm partner with the general commercial sense of a senior business leader – one of the truly outstanding counsel I have come across in my many years of practice’.
Michael Sopchick works in the office of the general counsel at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), reporting to general counsel John Scott. The ‘exceptionally talented’ Sopchick is described as a ‘valuable collaborator in [the IDB] mission’. He is cited for both his ‘unparalleled professionalism’ and his ‘deep understanding of the capital markets and the relevant contexts in which both IDB and its counterparties must operate’. In particular, says one nominator, his contribution as lawyer to IDB’s Global Debt Program ‘cannot be overstated’. Sopchick previously worked as an associate in the Latin America practice at Sullivan & Cromwell.
Bradley Stein oversees more than 40 staff across the corporate legal, litigation and claims and global compliance and ethics groups at Royal Caribbean Cruises and its associated brands. He joined the company in 1992 and became general counsel in 2006. He also serves as corporate secretary and chief compliance officer. He is, says one nominator, ‘able to cope with a broad variety of legal matters in the day-to-day operations of the company while also driving larger projects that have a real strategic importance.’ While Royal Caribbean has been active in Latin America, nominators emphasised that Stein’s expertise was not confined to that region alone. ‘A true global counsel’ is how one nominator describes him. Stein is a member of the Florida and New York Bar associations.
Over the course of his career Michael Sukenik has built up an impressive array of experience in the legal sector, from working in private practice, in-house and at the US Court of Appeals. In his current role at multinational restaurant operator Yum! Brands, Sukenik covers a wide range of practices and geographies. Based between Dallas, Texas and Miami, Florida, Sukenik holds the role of chief legal officer covering Latin America and the Caribbean for Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) and Pizza Hut, two of the holding company’s most prominent restaurant brands. This position sees him advising on legal and compliance matters in over 40 jurisdictions, and sitting on the executive leadership teams of both brands. In addition, he acts as senior counsel for KFC and Pizza Hut globally. As one nominator observes, ‘not only does he have a huge job, but he also excels at what he does. He has a sharp and aggressive legal mind, but importantly, he always has his eye on the Yum’s business goals. He has helped re-shape that business while navigating legal regimes across numerous countries. Sukenik is pragmatic and creative, and challenges those he works with to produce the best end result, ensuring success.’ Since Sukenik joined Yum! Brands in 2013 he has worked on a number of crucial matters including advertising, licensing, governance, data privacy, trademark protection, ethics and compliance. Before he moved in-house, Sukenik spent two years as an associate at law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher where he represented a number of clients in regulatory, trial and appellate proceedings. Between 2010 and 2011 he was law clerk to the Honorable Marjorie O. Rendell of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in Philadelphia. He has also had spells as an associate at Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz, and Latham & Watkins, both in Chicago.
Chad Tatum is associate general counsel with responsibility for Latin America at Dart Container, the world’s largest manufacturer of foam cups and containers. Tatum oversees legal matters related to Dart’s manufacturing operations in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Panama and related to sales activities throughout the region. He is nominated for his ‘strong understanding of the region and ability to manage external legal teams effectively’ and ‘strong commercial skills’. Before joining Dart in 2013, Tatum served as associate general counsel and head of Latin American legal and business matters for specialty construction company DRC, where he led on a number of contentious matters in Latin America. He trained as a litigator and has worked as an associate at the Florida-based firms Conroy Simberg and Murray Morin & Herman.
Alex Tolston is general counsel of Hemisphere Media Group (NASDAQ: HMTV), a leading publicly traded Spanish-language media company that operates television networks in the US and Latin America. One nominator, a senior partner at a US law firm, says the following: ‘I consistently interact with general counsel of large corporations and Tolston – by far – is at the top of the list in terms of [those] who understand their board of directors and management team, their company’s investors and business, and the applicable law’. Indeed, Tolston was among the most highly nominated counsel to feature in this list, with law firm partners from both the US and a number of Latin American jurisdictions expressing their admiration for his ‘vast experience in M&A’, his ‘experience overseeing and coordinating operation in many jurisdictions’ and his ‘understanding the local regulations and the local environment’. Described as a ‘dynamic, results oriented and business minded general counsel who can balance numerous transactions with the other needs of his company at once’ and ‘a very fine lawyer with a deep knowledge not only of his field of expertise but also of corporate and contractual law, arbitration and much else, as well as a thorough knowledge of Latin America’, Tolston has been involved in a number of high-profile matters across the region. Hemisphere owns five Spanish-language cable television networks distributed in the US, two Spanish-language cable television networks distributed in Latin America, the number-one-rated broadcast television network in Puerto Rico, as well as several broadcast and digital joint ventures with leading media partners. In the past six months, Tolston has led a number of teams that have significantly expanded Hemisphere’s operations. For example, he was pivotal in helping to obtain a ruling from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authorising Hemisphere to increase its foreign ownership to 49.99%, which exceeds the 25% cap otherwise applicable to owners of TV broadcast stations in the US. The FCC has taken steps in recent years to modernise its rules concerning foreign ownership of media platforms, though the application of these new rules to broadcast media has been slow to gain traction. Led by Tolston, Hemisphere sought a declaratory ruling from the FCC. For a US-based broadcaster with commercial interests in Latin America, this represents a significant development. Various jurisdictions in Latin America grant US broadcasters reciprocity on foreign ownership limits, and increasing the threshold of foreign ownership permitted in the US, allows Hemisphere to benefit from a reciprocal increase in permitted foreign ownership in certain Latin American markets. Parallel to these negotiations, Tolston led on a deal which saw Hemisphere obtain a concession to operate a nationwide broadcast television network in Colombia in partnership with leading Colombian TV programming producers and, as a result of the FCC’s ruling, the company is expected to be able to increase its equity interest in the partnership to a higher level than would otherwise be permitted under Colombian law. The transaction saw Hemisphere and its joint venture partners awarded the third national broadcast concession licence in Colombia, breaking the entrenched duopoly that has, until recently, defined the Colombian broadcast television landscape. ‘We view Colombia as an amazing opportunity’, says Tolston. ‘Our management team has a proven track record of taking underperforming networks and making them best-in-class, including taking our Puerto Rican broadcaster, WAPA, from number three to number one in Puerto Rico in only two years, and maintaining WAPA’s leadership position for eight consecutive years. The entire broadcast market in Latin America is strong, but pay-TV penetration is still not as pervasive as some other well developed media markets like the US, which makes it extremely enticing. It’s fascinating to study various Latin American jurisdictions, because they each have their own distinct rules and procedures and we’re rapidly getting up to speed on the market and what the next opportunity may be.’ Tolston’s work on matters such as this have impressed those he works with, and his ‘ability to manage complex issues with the proper balance’ struck a number of nominators. One law firm partner describes his interaction with Tolston during a particularly complex transaction that saw Hemisphere in negotiations with a number of the largest players in the media market and ‘some of the most sophisticated outside counsel around’. The deal, which the partner describes as ‘easily [one of] the most challenging I have worked on’, involved a complex business agreement and a huge number of transaction documents. Tolston was at the centre of parts of the negotiations, dealing with, and managing the expectations of ‘at least five different constituencies.’ His ‘incredible’ work on this matter was instrumental to a successful resolution of a transaction that proved to be hugely important to Hemisphere’s operations. Before moving in-house, Tolston practiced in the corporate department at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in New York. He acted as outside counsel on Hemisphere’s 2013 initial public offering and joined as its general counsel shortly after.
Allison Tomlinson is lead counsel in the Northeast region and Latin America at architecture, design, planning and consulting firm Gensler, where she provides legal support to offices in Mexico, Brazil and Costa Rica as well as five offices in the US and Canada. Tomlinson handles everything from litigation to human resources and employment issues and is, says one nominator, ‘a good example of a modern corporate counsel; [she has] the ability to cover a lot of things at once without ever dropping the ball and, just as important, never losing sight of her company’s objectives’. Her responsibilities also include providing legal oversight to Gensler’s global technical leadership committee and product design groups, and training staff across the organisation on risk and compliance matters. Before she joined Gensler in 2009 she was assistant general counsel at multinational engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff. She has been a board member of the Association of Corporate Counsel’s Greater New York Chapter since 2013.
Sean Treglia is senior vice president and general counsel, Latin America, government and public policy at CBRE, the largest commercial real estate services company in the world. Since joining CBRE in 2007, Treglia has made a significant impact on its real estate projects in Latin America, both by providing what one nominator calls ‘best-in-class legal advice that often surpasses the level of top-tier law firm partners’ and by helping to develop the company’s processes and structures in the region. For example, in his time with the company Treglia has: built CBRE’s first Latin America legal department, covering 10 countries; introduced an outside counsel management system, reducing legal spend by around 30% and significantly reducing employee-related claims in the region, and helped to introduce a new litigation management system in Latin America. While Treglia’s role focuses on Latin America, he has also had a much wider impact on the business. For example, he designed and built CBRE’s first government contracts, compliance and contracts management functions and has advised senior management on a range of significant matters globally. He has also worked as part of the senior leadership team involved in a number of complex acquisitions, joint ventures and other commercial agreements and has restructured a number of entities within the group. Treglia’s background is somewhat atypical of a successful corporate adviser. Before joining CBRE he spent much of his career providing public service and pro bono legal advice. In 2003 he founded the Treglia Group, representing community-based non-profit organisations as proxy general counsel. He has also served as president to the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission and as special adviser to The University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication, where he delivered seminars and workshops on topics related to election and non-profit law. From 1997 to 2006 he was program officer at The Pew Charitable Trusts where he worked with a range of public listed and not-for-profit organisations on issues related to campaign reform, ethics and compliance.
Fatima Wolff is senior director for legal and compliance across Latin America at Boston Scientific Corporation (BSC), where she leads a team of five lawyers covering Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru, Mexico, Central America, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, and the Caribbean. Wolff is known as a skilled lawyer who provides strategic and commercial advice to BSC’s operations across Latin America, but it is her expertise in the field of compliance that caught the attention of nominators. Of her own role, Wolff says: ‘Understanding how and when businesses innovate is essential to being a good counsel because we in the legal function should be fostering that innovation by highlighting opportunities. A lot of markets are driven by compliance now, which means legal teams can act as an agent of commercial change. Collaborating with the business is becoming much more important to a successful legal function than it once was, and business is also becoming more aware of the role compliance plays in its profitability. Taking a deep look at compliance across the region and asking how we can modify our operations is increasingly an area that cuts across law and commerce’. As part of her role, Wolff frequently works with health care providers across Latin America to ensure BSC’s code of conduct is met. ‘There is no other way to do business but a legally compliant way’, she says. ‘It requires a joined-up strategy that includes training, audits on our commercial partners, and frequent interaction to ensure we are all aligned. It’s not a traditional paper-based compliance programme, it’s a dynamic and hands-on approach’. These efforts have been in part a response to stricter regulatory and compliance standards globally, but Wolff says they are also a useful business development tool in Latin America. ‘We live and breathe this as a company because we want clients’ purchasing decisions to be informed solely by the quality of the healthcare products they are buying. BSC will always win on quality, so if we can help eliminate bribery and corruption in the markets we serve it will be in our interests’. Wolff has been with BSC since 2011. She joined as senior compliance counsel and has been in her current role since November 2015. Prior to joining BSC she served as general counsel with International Meal Company, where she led the legal team on a $100m private placement and offering memorandum for a $247m IPO in Brazil. She has also held the position of vice president and assistant general counsel at Norwegian Cruise Line and senior counsel with Answerthink (now known as The Hackett Group). Before moving in-house Wolff spent time as a senior associate in the Warsaw, Poland office of White & Case, worked with the United Nations International Labour Office in Geneva, Switzerland and as a commercial litigation associate at Kramer, Levin, Naftalis & Frankel, in New York City.
Larissa Zagustin is general counsel for the Americas cluster at Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN), owner of some of the world’s best-known entertainment brands including Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon. Admitted to practice in Venezuela, Florida, and the UK, Zagustin has had the type of life that lends itself to cross-border legal work. She was born in Caracas, Venezuela and spent a large part of her childhood in Vienna, Austria. After returning to Venezuela to study law, she began her career at Venezuelan firm Bentat, Hoet & Pelaesz (now Hoet, Pelaez, Castillo & Duque) and subsequently moved to Miami to take a second law degree. Via an internship, she joined Viacom’s in-house team fulltime in 2003. Her early years with the company saw her work on a number of Latin America-facing matters, including advising MTV Networks in the region (before taking on full global responsibility for the channel), but she was also frequently engaged in hugely important deals elsewhere, including leading Viacom’s 2007 joint venture with Indian company Network 18. In 2014 she was promoted to general counsel for the Americas cluster, which includes Canada, US Hispanic and Latin America, leading teams of lawyers based in Miami, Buenos Aires, and São Paulo to help continue Viacom’s expansion outside the US. For example, in 2016 she led on Viacom’s $345m acquisition of Argentine TV Network Telefe.
Davidson, North Carolina-based Gary Zaugg has been associate general counsel and regional compliance director for the Americas at global industrials company Ingersoll Rand (IR) since 2015. Described as ‘an incredibly bright counsel’ and ‘a highly effective business adviser’, Zaugg has made particularly notable contributions to IR’s approach to corporate governance in Latin America. One nominator says he is ‘a standout advisor on legal, reputational and financial risks who constantly works to introduce new and better ways of allowing business to operate in the region.’ Zaugg was previously senior compliance counsel for Latin America at 3M and has served as a special agent and assistant legal attaché for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Jorge Zemborain is described as ‘an outstanding lawyer . . . smart, committed, extremely efficient [and] a great team leader’ by one nominator. Since 2010 he has overseen legal operations across Latin America for The Brink’s Company, a global leader in cash management, secure logistics and security solutions. Brink’s operates in ten counties throughout Latin America, employing over 30,000 staff across the region. Zemborain contributes his broad experience of the regional market and has led M&A transactions in Chile, Brazil and Argentina, among other countries. Recently, Brink’s signed an agreement to acquire Argentina-based cash-in-transit and money processing company Maco Transportadora de Caudales for over $200m, with Zemborain closely involved in negotiating and structuring the agreement. Zemborain has previously worked in-house as as business and legal affairs director, Latin America at Fox Interactive Media and as regional counsel for Latin America and the Caribbean at BP. He has also worked in private practice at the law firm Brons & Salas in his native Argentina.
For nearly 20 years, Morela Zubillaga de Paris has advised BNP Paribas on its corporate banking activities in Latin America. A period of rapid growth and subsequent restructuring into pan-Americas reporting lines has seen her take on a new role as director and senior counsel sitting in the legal department with general counsel of the Americas, Peter Cooke. Her work is, says one US-based private practice nominator, a good example of how lawyers are able to drive business in the region, with the source commenting that she has ‘been able to get very interesting deals done that in the past nobody would have thought were possible. She has the type of legal mind that can negotiate outside the four corners of the document and get people confident with novel structures.’ Of her own role, Zubillaga de Paris says she frequently acts as a mediator between New York law documentation and local realities: ‘It is not easy to grasp certain legal concepts and the way of doing business in the region, so regional counsel take on an added significance’, she comments. ‘Often a transaction can look amazing on paper, but when you look more closely you realise it is not enforceable or is not going to work because of various local realities. As in-house lawyer you really must listen to the advice of local counsel to get the structures right. Internal advisers also take on a great importance. We are responsible for understanding what is likely to be acceptable to the organisation itself.’ Originally from Venezuela, Zubillaga de Paris began her career at the New York offices of Shearman & Sterling and, later, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy.
Miami-based Jurg Zundel oversees all legal services across Latin America and the Caribbean for Caterpillar, one of the largest manufacturers of construction and mining equipment in the world and a leading provider of services and financial products to the industrials sector. During his more than 20 years with Caterpillar, Zundel has held positions in a number of jurisdictions and seen the share of revenues generated outside the US gradually increase. However, weak end-user demand and adverse economic conditions have held its Latin American markets down in the past year, with the share of global revenues from the region falling to 7% (by far the lowest of Caterpillar’s four geographical regions). Nonetheless, the potential for the market makes it a key part of the company’s strategy, with one nominator commenting on Zundel’s ability to ‘leverage his vast experience of this and other developing regions to help the company retain its competitive position in the face of conditions that have challenged all multinationals’. He is, in the words of another, ‘a truly exceptional legal counsel who can bring the precious commodity of a long and successful career in business to help create solutions in the most challenging of situations.’ A Swiss national, Zundel holds law degrees from both the University of Zurich and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is a board member of Americans for Immigrant Justice, a not-for-profit law firm that protects and promotes the basic human rights of immigrants.
Lex Mundi, the world’s leading network of independent law firms, is proud to be the exclusive partner and co-organiser of this first GC Powerlist US: Latin America Specialists.
Together with our member firms in Latin America, we applaud The Legal 500 for highlighting and recognising those members of the US in-house legal community who shown themselves to be experts in the Latin American market.
Lex Mundi member firms in the region have experience working with some of the best in-house lawyers within companies operating across a variety of sectors. This is why a world ready network such as ours is happy to support a publication which identifies and recognises corporate counsel who are constantly looking to develop innovative technical solutions for complex situations, adapt and be creative in challenging socio-political environments, and create innovative structures to help accomplish their organisation’s goals.
In order to help outstanding in-house lawyers focused on Latin America, Lex Mundi member firms in the region work seamlessly together to offer coordinated, cross-border legal advice. Through Lex Mundi, top-tier firms build deep relationships among specialist lawyers to make shared investments in three key areas: training for partners and associates in up-to-date transaction and project management skills; sharing know-how in connection with legal issues, deal trends and global markets, and strengthening capabilities for the seamless execution of cross-border work.
With more than 1,700 lawyers located in 34 jurisdictions in Latin America, our member firms offer on-the-ground legal expertise that spans a wide range of industries. No matter where your business is located today, or where you are expanding to tomorrow, our legal services platform is positioned to provide industry and market-specific advice and solutions that are tailored to your needs.
We at Lex Mundi hope this GC Powerlist US: Latin America Specialists initiative will be the first of many that recognise in-house lawyers’ working outside the jurisdiction in which they and their companies are based. We would like to congratulate the corporate counsel nominees for their innovative and valuable contributions to the legal profession.
A special thanks to the following Lex Mundi member firms that made this first GC Powerlist US: Latin America Specialists possible:
- Alvarado y Asociados, Nicaragua
- Arias, Fábrega & Fábrega, Panamá
- Basham, Ringe y Correa, S.C., Mexico
- Brigard & Urrutia Abogados, Colombia
- C.R. & F. Rojas – Abogados, Bolivia
- Demarest Advogados, Brazil
- Estudio Olaechea, Peru
- Facio & Cañas, Costa Rica
- GUFA LAW, Honduras
- Guyer & Regules, Uruguay
- Marval, O’Farrell & Mairal, Argentina
- Pellerano & Herrera, Dominican Republic
- Pérez Bustamante & Ponce, Ecuador
- Peroni Sosa Tellechea Burt & Narvaja, Paraguay
- Romero Pineda & Asociados, El Salvador
GC Powerlist is a trading name of The Legal 500 Series and Legalease Ltd, and operates in multiple legal jurisdictions worldwide.