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Colombia > Corporate and M&A > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Corporate and M&A
  2. Leading lawyers
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Brigard & Urrutia fields ‘one of the largest corporate teams in the country, and its lawyers possess an unrivalled knowledge of the industry’. A team led by Sergio Michelsen advised Compañía de Petróleos de Chile (COPEC) on the Colombian element of its $747m acquisition of ExxonMobil’s operations in the Andean region (Ecuador, Peru and Colombia), including due diligence and special indemnities related to labour and environmental issues. In other highlights, Michelsen and José Francisco Mafla were the key names advising TransUnion Netherlands II on the acquisition of Central de Información Financiera (CIFIN), an institution heavily regulated under the data privacy and habeas data legislation; and a team led by Dario Laguado advised Catterton Partners on its $47m purchase, via its subsidiary Catherine Spain Holdings, of a significant minority interest (including governance rights) in Bodytech. Other significant clients include 3M Colombia, AIG, Biomax and Booking.com. Managing partner Carlos Umaña, Manuel Quinche and Álvaro Cala are all key members of the practice. As we go to press in mid-2017, the firm has announced its opening of an office in Cali under the leadership of M&A and competition specialist Alejandro García; and hired Jaime Robledo, former co-head of the corporate team at Gómez-Pinzón Abogados (GPA), bringing the head count of partners in the practice group to six.

Gómez-Pinzón Abogados (GPA)’s corporate team provides ‘service of the highest quality; the partners and junior members are always responsive, and have proven to possess a very robust business acumen/industry knowledge’. The practice has outstanding expertise in public and private target acquisitions, including negotiated and hostile purchases and highly complex cross-border transactions; it advised Credit Suisse and Inverlink for example (who were acting on behalf of the Colombian state) on the $2.1bn sale of the state’s interest in ISAGEN to Brookfield Asset Management. The team also acted for CIFIN’s shareholders (comprising 17 banks) in negotiating the sale of a 71% interest to TransUnion Netherlands II ExxonMobil, Guirnaldas, Empresa de Energía de Bogotá (EEB), and Open Market are also clients. Andrés Hoyos, Pablo Rabelly, Paula Samper, Daniel Londoño, Patricia Arrázola and recently promoted partner Natalia García are all recommended. Former practice co-head Jaime Robledo has moved to Brigard & Urrutia.

The 38-strong corporate team at Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría is praised for its ‘technical skills, modern approach and “can-do” attitude to instructions’. The practice covers corporate structuring, commercial contracts, public offerings, the formation of equity funds, and national and international M&A. Juan Carlos Rocha led advice to Canadian company Brookfield on its $2.1bn acquisition of a 57.6% stake in recently privatised power corporation ISAGEN, followed by the $1bn purchase of an additional 26.2% stake. Claudia Barrero acted for Medellín-based Grupo Argos on its acquisition of an additional 43.8% interest in ODINSA, involving an exchange tender offer paid in cash and preferred shares. Felipe Cuberos advised Danone group on its sale to Alqueria of its stake in their Colombian joint venture Danone Alqueria, and also on licensing issues relating to the Activia and Nutriday brands. Tax specialist Martín Acero, Hernando Padilla and Nicolás Tirado are other active members of the practice.

One of the best in the region’, Posse Herrera Ruiz has an ‘active’ 37-lawyer team, including seven partners, and is regularly involved in big-ticket transactions, acting for major local and international corporate players. Oscar Tutasaura is assisting Fairfax Financial Holding on the $250m acquisition of insurance provider AIG Colombia; Jaime Herrera acted for FEMSA Logística on its acquisition of an 80% interest in Operaciones Nacionales de Mercado-OPEN MARKET, a high-profile corporation in Colombia’s logistics market; and José Alejandro Torres advised Grupo Sura on its $538m acquisition of a 7.3% stake in Sura Asset Management from General Atlantic. Other clients include Delta, Diageo, COPEC and AON. Jaime Cubillos, Gabriel Sánchez, Vivianne Baptiste and Lina Prieto are also noted for their expertise.

Baker McKenzie S.A.S. has a very wide-ranging corporate practice, and ‘understands business drivers and companies’ needs’. A team led by Juan Manuel de la Rosa advised Advent International Corporation on its acquisition of a 30% interest in Lifemiles, which owns and manages a high-profile airline loyalty programme in Latin America. Jaime Trujillo leads the practice, with associate director Juan Felipe Vera also recommended.

Dentons Cardenas & Cardenas’ team stands out for its ‘knowledge of the legal and business market’. Work highlights included advising the ad hoc committee of bondholders on Pacific Exploration & Production’s debt restructuring, valued at approximately $5.3bn; the work included the implementation of a Debtor-In-Possession (DIP) financing via a $500m note issuance. Mauricio Borrero headed a team acting as local counsel to JP Morgan on the $180m sale of its interest in Banco Caja Social to Fundación Social. Practice heads Eduardo Cárdenas and Dario Cárdenas are both recommended, with the latter highlighted as ‘extremely responsive, conscientious and highly professional’.

Lloreda Camacho & Co. is appreciated for its pragmatic approach to clients’ instructions and its timely response to queries. The team advised Almacénes Éxito regarding the indirect acquisition of a majority interest in Argentinian supermarket chain Libertad; and director of the corporate and finance practice and co-head of M&A Santiago Gutiérrez advised The Ford Foundation (a not-for-profit entity) in relation to the opening of branches in the country, in a highly regulated sector. Fondo Acceso, Merck Sharp & Dohme Colombia are also clients. Head of the government procurement department and co-head of M&A Andrés Hidalgo is also noted.

CMS Rodríguez Azuero Contexto Legal Abogados’ corporate team is praised for its ‘knowledge, professionalism and partner accessibility’, as well as ‘its personalised service’. Guillermo Hernán Villegas co-heads the practice with Juan Camilo Rodríguez, who recently led advice to Vinci/Indigo Park on its acquisition of a 50% stake in parking services corporation City Parking. The team is also advising Austrian company TANNPAPIER in relation to its Colombian corporate restructuring, involving tax, corporate, real estate and foreign exchange issues.

DLA Piper Martinez Beltran works for local and international corporations, assisting in relation to M&A, due diligence, spin-offs, and general corporate matters. Practice head Camilo Martínez acted for Organización Ardila Lulle on the acquisition of highly-regarded Colombian financial newspaper La República, involving diverse matters including trade marks, movable assets, real estate and business contracts. The group advises SATENA on all corporate matters connected to its operations in Colombia; Martínez leads the advice with support from associates Andrés Torres and Sebastián Celis. Director of the tax law practice Felipe Ospina is also noted.

Garrigues has ‘a proven track record advising on transactional operations’, and ‘its level of service is one of the best in the world for M&A matters’. Felipe Quintero attracts praise for his ‘vast knowledge, pragmatism, business acumen and total dedication to cases’. The firm advised gas power corporation Termo Mechero Morro on a substantial investment made by Ashmore Group in the company, covering the negotiation and review of the investment agreement and completion of the transaction; and also acted for Mexican restaurant operator Alsea on its $18m acquisition of Colombian chain Archie’s. Other significant clients include Corona, Cementos Molins and Prosegur. Ignacio Londoño is also recommended.

Holland & Knight fields ‘an experienced and respected corporate group’ which works with local and international corporations on cross-border transactions, M&A, joint ventures, and venture capital and private equity investment. It advised exploration and production company PetroLatina on the $525m sale of its oil assets to Gran Tierra Energy; and is advising Corporación de Ferias y Exposiciones (Corferias) in connection with its $200m joint venture with Hilton Hotels for the financing, construction and operation of a hotel. The 18-strong group is led by Enrique Gómez-Pinzón, and notably includes energy specialist José Vicente Zapata, Juan Carlos Valencia, Danilo Romero and Julián Santos.

Norton Rose Fulbright’s corporate group is led by Ana Cristina Jaramillo, who has vast expertise in complex corporate restructuring and M&A deals. Jaramillo and the ‘experiencedLuis Carlos Neira recently advised Air Liquide on the purchase of a majority interest in medical industry corporation Oxymaster, while a team led by Hernán Rodríguez assisted IAMGOLD Corporation in the acquisition of several mining titles in the city of Antioquia. Jorge Neher and Leopoldo Olavarría are also key members of the practice.

Cavelier Abogados fields a multidisciplinary team led by Martha Bonnet. The practice is well known for its expertise in control management and risk prevention in connection with money laundering and the financing of terrorism, and is also experienced in matters of corporate governance and in assisting international clients opening operations in the country.

Well known for its tax capabilities, Godoy & Hoyos Abogados SAS continues to cement its presence on the corporate side, advising local and international corporations on transactional, contractual and regulatory matters. It acted for Ecoentorno’s shareholders on its $2m sale to Ecoeficiencia, and also advised equity fund Fondo de Capitales Privados on an investment in technology corporation Telemetrik. The nine-lawyer team is headed by Jaime Moya.

Muñoz Tamayo & Asociados’ eight-lawyer practice specialises in acting for international corporations and private equity funds seeking to invest in the country. It acted as local counsel to France’s Essilor in due diligence matters connected to the acquisition of a majority interest in a well-known Colombian optical laboratory, as part of a multi-jurisdictional asset and share acquisition. Other notable clients include Sibelco, Monster Energy Colombia, The Catalyst Group, and Poch Colombia. Managing partner Diego Muñoz and Felipe Trías lead the practice.

The ‘extremely professional, committed, diligent and efficient’ group at Parra Rodríguez Abogados is experienced in assisting clients opening activities in the country, and has particular expertise in share sales and acquisitions, distribution agreements, and real estate and aviation matters. It has recently advised a multinational family-owned corporation on a high-profile acquisition valued at more than $50m. Ecopetrol is also a client of the practice. Bernardo Rodríguez and Álvaro Parra head the team.

Pinilla, González & Prieto Abogadosis well regarded for its work in the real estate and construction sectors, and also provides corporate assistance to clients in the pharmaceutical, education and communication industries. The firms advises Inclam on a variety of corporate matters including foreign investment, labour law and contracts, and has also assisted Exkal Colombia in resolving internal governance conflicts. Carlos Felipe Pinilla is the name to note.

A new addition to the ranking, Deloitte Asesores y Consultores’ corporate team is led by Mario Andrade and advises across a variety of areas including foreign exchange regulation, corporate compliance, and due diligence. Its recent work includes assisting a well-known corporation in the hospitality industry on due diligence matters during its sale process.

Esguerra Asesores Jurídicoshas an excellent level of services, is very professional, and offers value for money’; ‘its thorough knowledge of the market permits it to provide an integral service’. It advised Seguros Generales Suramericana on its acquisition of Royal & Sun Alliance-Colombia and their subsequent merger, and also acted for the shareholders of Televideo on the sale of Mediapro Group. Juan Pablo González, Alfonso Miranda, Felipe Piquero and Andrés Jaramillo lead the 13-strong practice.

Palacios Lleras’ ‘compact’ corporate team ‘punches above its weight’, and advises clients on capitalisations, spin-offs, liquidations, and general corporate matters. Work highlights included acting for Coriant Operations and Coriant Colombia on their merger to consolidate operations in the country. Drummond, Econometria, Inversiones Barridau and Miya Colombia are also clients. Hugo Palacios Mejía and Oscar Gutiérrez Herrán are the key contacts.

A young, specialist firm, Chalela | Abogados advises clients on general corporate matters, commercial agreements, corporate governance, shareholder agreements and tax matters, and has experience in the oil and gas, energy, mining, infrastructure and transportation industries. Federico Chalela is the key name.

Boutique firm Gallego Abogados attracts praise for ‘its great knowledge of corporate legislation, advice on complex cross-border instructions but above all its capacity to explain complex matters in an accessible language’. It serves an array of international clients, many of them from German-speaking jurisdictions. It is currently advising landfill gas corporation Biogás Doña Juana on various corporate matters related to its activities in the country, including compliance with local regulations. The ten-lawyer team is headed by Helmuth Gallego.

Clients appreciate Sanclemente Fernández Abogados S.A.’s ‘personalised and timely service’. It advises on corporate, due diligence and administrative issues, and is noted for its expertise in energy and natural resources. Antonio Sanclemente and Diana Sanclemente are both recommended.

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