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Colombia > Banking and finance > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

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Who Represents Who

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Brigard & Urrutia’s 45-strong practice, built around the areas of project finance, capital markets and private equity, and derivatives and structured products, has a ‘solid and large enough team to handle transactions in record time, without losing sight of quality’. Handling cross-border financial transactions, including syndicated and club deal loans to private and public Colombian entities, Carlos Fradique-Méndez led the team that advised on the financing of $1bn Hidroituango hydroelectric power station project, the largest in the country. Alongside Luis Gabriel Morcillo, he also participated in the structuring, formation and fund raising of a $1bn local private equity fund for Old Mutual Alternative Investments which will invest in infrastructure projects located in Colombia. Manuel Quinche, whose ‘experience, and ability to negotiate and conciliate’ is highlighted by clients, acted as counsel to Refinería de Cartagena, as former borrower, and Ecopetrol, as former sponsor and current borrower, in connection to the assumption by Ecopetrol of Refinería de Cartagena’s $2.66bn debt. Other clients include Itaú Unibanco, BBVA, Export Development Canada, IFC, BTG Pactual and Goldman Sachs. Sergio Michelsen is also recommended.

Offering ‘high quality service’ accompanied by ‘deep knowledge, experience and negotiating capacity’, Gómez-Pinzón Abogados (GPA) advises across the full spectrum of banking and finance services. Highlights for the 20-strong practice group include advising Bank of America, Citigroup Global Markets, Merrill Lynch and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation on a $749m loan to natural gas distributor Grupo Energía Bogotá. The department is led by the ‘terrific’ Ricardo Fandiño, who led assistance to Banco Davivienda on its issuance of peso-denominated bonds worth $495m. José Luis Suárez, Daniel Londoño and Natalia Garcia are also recommended; however, Jaime Robledo has moved to Brigard & Urrutia.

Without a doubt the best in Colombia’ is how some clients see Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría’s 14-strong team, which has broad experience in banking, capital market and structured finance transactions, as well as in regulatory issues, and advises on product structuring, the incorporation of financial entities and authorization for the acquisition, merger and/or division of such entities. Juan Fernando Gaviria and Jorge Di Terlizzi are both highly regarded and led the first long-term financing of a private initiative road project in Colombia by advising Goldman Sachs, as structuring bank, and Bancolombia et al, as lenders, on the 4G Antioquia-Bolivar road project. The team also acted as local counsel to Bank of America Merrill Lynch regarding GNB Sudameris’ $300m notes issue. In addition to Gaviria, key practitioners Claudia Barrero, Hernando Padilla and Javier Valle co-head the practice. Other clients include Credit Suisse, Neuberger Berman Europe Limited and Colombia Movil.

Posse Herrera Ruizcontinues to be a leading law firm’, advising, for instance, Concesión Ruta al Mar on the $480m financing of the 4G PPP road project using both international bonds and local loans. The 13-strong team, under the direction of Mariana Posse, also advised Grupo Sura on $350m bond issuance under Rule 144A/Reg S, with Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley as initial purchasers; and counselled Bodytech regarding the structuring and negotiation of a $104m multijurisdictional loan. Other clients include Corporación Andina de Fomento (CAF), International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation. Jose Alejandro Torres is very well regarded.

Co-led by the ‘sophisticatedJaime Trujillo and Ricardo Trejos, Baker McKenzie S.A.S.’s practice is particularly active in acquisition finance, a segment where it is currently advising Brookfield Infrastructure Group on the financing of its acquisition of Gas Natural via a tender offer involving a $200m syndicated facility with both US dollar and Colombian Peso (COP) tranches. The team is also growing its experience and expertise in project finance with other mandates including counsel to a major Asian financial institution regarding the financing of a 4G toll road project. Other clients include JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, The Bank of Nova Scotia, Bank of New York Mellon and Lloyds Bank. Daniel Botero is also a key team member.

DLA Piper Martinez Beltrán’s practice attracts praise for the ‘depth of its consultancies’, ‘excellent response times’ and the fact that ‘the partners attend the issues and their costs are in line with the quality of the service’. The firm works across the spectrum of banking and financial transactions and regulation. Led by Camilo Martínez, ‘a lawyer with a lot of knowledge and judgment, and with great experience in financial and banking matters’, the team advised Coviandina on the execution of a bridge loan agreement for the Chirajará-Fundadores PPP road project. The practice group has also been enriched by the broad experience of Juan Manuel de la Rosa, who joined from Baker McKenzie S.A.S. in January 2018 as co-head of the corporate M&A practice group. Sebastián Celis is also a key name.

Offering a service that is ‘consistently goodDentons Cardenas & Cardenas’ eight-strong practice is led by Bernardo Cárdenas, with Eduardo Cárdenas also a key member. The incorporation of Santiago González in the office’s energy and natural resources department has increased access to financings in that sector, as well as growing the firm’s client list. The team acted as local counsel to Exportkreditnämnden, US-Exim Bank and SACE–Servizi Assicurativi del Commercio Estero, as lenders, in the assumption by Ecopetrol of the financing granted to Refinería de Cartagena (Reficar) – originally the guarantor and borrower, respectively – in order to finance the refitting, expansion and upgrade of the refinery. The team also acted as local counsel to a financial institution regarding the PPP financing of a 4G project. Praised for her ‘responsiveness’ and her ‘negotiating skills’ as well as her knowledge Catalina Pinilla was recently made partner. Associate Angela Botía is also noted.

Garrigues’ clients appreciate an ‘excellent’ service which brings ‘personal attention and specific knowledge about means of payment’. A former director general of financial regulation at the Ministry of the Economy (MHCP) as well as financial superintendent, former of counsel, now partner Roberto Borras leads the practice. He and counsel Camilo Gantiva, are both ‘highly competent with a good relationship with the regulators, and with a good capacity to understand customer needs’. The team assisted Alpha Holding with the local guarantees and regulatory issues related to the company’s $300m bond issue. Principal associate Francisco Noguera advised a syndicate of lenders (Compartimento Deuda Privada Infraestructura Privada I del FCP 4G, Credicorp Capital–Sura Asset Management, Banco Davivienda and Banco de Bogotá) on the $900m project financing for the Coviandina PPP toll road project for the third stretch of the Bogotá-Villavicencio highway.

In addition to loans and financings, CMS Rodríguez-Azuero advises local and international financial and banking entities regarding complex regulatory issues and the structuring and implementation of new products or the restructuring of existing ones. ‘Enormously experienced’ founding partner Sergio Rodríguez Azuero and Daniel Rodríguez co-head the nine-strong practice, which assisted Mitsui Auto Finance with establishing its vehicle-finance business in Colombia. The mandate required the design of a contractual structure capable of accommodating the credit and security agreements that will be used by the company’s vehicle financing structure, as well as relevant tax, insurance, financial and antitrust issues. Other clients include Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Interamerican Investment Corporation (IIC), Banco de Chile and Global Green Growth Institute.

Boutique firm Durán & Osorio Abogados Asociados is involved in a number of major projects – and their financing – in the road, airport, natural resources and social infrastructure sectors, among others. Active in the projects sector since 1995, the firm has unparalleled experience advising public and private clients involved in public-private partnerships, privatizations and infrastructure projects in Colombia but has leveraged this participation to play a role in financing matters. The team has worked for the Colombian and Peruvian governments, international organizations such as the World Bank, IFC, IDB, Latin American development bank CAF, among others, as well as key players of the investment banking industry in Colombia (Corficolombiana, Inverlink, Sumatoria). Practice head Jorge Gabriel Taboada and Àlvaro Gasca are the key names.

Norton Rose Fulbright has been active in significant acquisition finance (including a number of cross-border financing deals), as well as with Rule 144A/Reg S bond issues, and on working capital facilities for local companies, including some where the lender has been a multinational agency. Practice head Luis Carlos Neira advised an international fund, looking to invest in the transport sector on the financing of a transport concession. Head of corporate Ana Cristina Jaramillo acted as counsel to private equity vehicle Finsocial on its capitalization via a share issue equivalent to 50% of the equity of parent entity Kandeo Private Equity Fund. Head of Energy Leopoldo Olavarría is also a key member of the finance practice. However, the team lost Jorge Neher and Hernán Rodriguez to Dentons Cardenas & Cardenas.

Following the dissolution of its tie-up with Bogotá-based CMS Rodríguez-Azuero, Contexto Legal Abogados’s banking and finance practice is now led by Carlos Andres Gonzales, who also directs the Medellín-based firm’s securities and capital markets, and administrative and public procurement, practices. Recent mandates include advising Metro de Medellín – as a non-financial entity – on the regulatory aspects of its introduction of a prepaid-card ticketing system for travel on the mass transit system and its extension to the payment of other services. Other clients include Factor Dinero and RCI Banque Colombia.

Holland & Knight’s Colombian office is managed by Enrique Gómez Pinzón; he also leads the cross-border investment and financing department, which advises banks, multilateral financial institutions and borrowers in complex, high-end transactions. The practice is currently advising a major infrastructure concession management company, in the purchase and sale agreement to secure an interest in a concession for the design, construction, finance, operations and maintenance of a toll road project in Colombia.

The seven-strong practice at boutique firm Mosquera Abogados, S.A.S. counts regional public entities such as Grupo Energía Bogotá and Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM), as well as multilateral agencies and local and international corporations among its clients. Led by Juan Pablo Mosquera, the team recently advised MUFG Union Bank on the structuring and negotiating of a $125m long-term facility in favour of Tenaris Tubocaribe.

Muñoz Tamayo & Asociados is highly recognized in Colombia for the structuring and restructuring of debt across multiple jurisdictions. Founding partner Diego Muñoz and Felipe Trías (who has over 30 years’ experience), led a team acting as local counsel to Global Quality Steel, as borrower, on a three tranche, $51m senior secured financing; and assisted insurer Talanx International with the acquisition of a 91.33% stake in Generali Colombia Seguros, for €30m. The 10-strong practice group also continued to work with Codere, after last year’s focus on restructuring its €1.2bn debt. Other clients include Grupo Financiero Banvivienda, Cobiscorp and Global Quality Steel (GQS).

Competitive from a fee perspective’, Parra Rodríguez Abogados has the reputation of being ‘one of the best firms in Latin America practicing in the area of aircraft finance’. Highly specialised in structured financed, the five-strong team is led by the ‘very responsive’ Bernardo Rodríguez, who, with over 25 years’ experience is ‘the dean of the aviation finance bar’ and ‘has in-depth knowledge’. The firm was active in numerous aircraft finance transactions, including both PDP transactions and transactions with major international aviation finance groups. It also acted as counsel to the US underwriters on a bond issue by a regional development entity and worked with a British company in connection with an offshore energy financing concerning a foreign-flagged vessel in Colombia. Associate Cesar Barajas Ruiz is also recommended.

Founded in 2014, Chalela | Abogados is an energy-law boutique that acts for international and multilateral financial institutions, underwriters and sponsors on corporate finance, project finance, capital markets and derivatives, among other matters. Led by Federico Chalela, the 12-lawyer-strong team has particular expertise in finance related to oil and gas, mining, renewable energy, infrastructure and energy-related service companies and projects. Clients include Equion Energia, Repsol, Quala and Gran Tierra.

Led by recommended Juan Pablo Gonzalez, Esguerra Asesores Jurídicos’s ‘very supportive and knowledgeable’ practice is experienced in regulatory matters, incorporations, reorganizations, M&A and the liquidation of financial entities, as well as capital markets and project finance. The team advised AdCap Colombia on the liquidation of two investment funds valued at over $53m, due to a major fraud in the securities originator. Other clients include Cooperativa Epsifarma, Emssanar and Financiera de Desarrollo Nacional.

Lloreda Camacho & Co.’s practice brings ‘solidity and legal responsibility in arguments and global understanding of the business’ and is ‘timely according to our needs’. Led by Santiago Gutierrez and supported by Juan Sebastián Peredo (both noted for their ‘long-term vision’), the practice assisted Banco Popular (Grupo Aval) with the review, modification and renewal of its structures for carrying out project finance and secured finance transactions, facilitating the bank’s competitiveness in these market segments. In other work, Colombia Fintech retained the team as its legal advisor in the negotiation of crowdfunding regulations with the Colombian Ministry of Finance and the Superintendence of Finance.

Impeccable, with technical and human excellence’, Palacios Lleras is experienced in regulatory matters, privatisations and acquisitions as well as representing financial institutions in arbitral, administrative and judicial proceedings. The practice has been advising several Colombian Banks in relation with the liquidation of a large Colombian electricity company, which has substantial debts with several financial institutions. Well-known for his ‘trajectory and recognition’ Hugo Palacios Mejía leads the department; Oscar Gutiérrez is also very well regarded.

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