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

Editorial

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  1. Corporate and M&A
  2. Leading lawyers

Leading lawyers

  1. 1

Full-service firm Brigard & Urrutia’s corporate team provides ‘an unrivalled quality of service which is paired with extraordinary knowledge of the industry’; its lawyers ‘have great business acumen and understand clients’ needs’. One of the largest corporate groups in the country, with seven partners, it advises an array of major local and international corporations on complex, high-value transactions. A team led by Sergio Michelsen, Darío Laguado and Luis Gabriel Morcillo advised Casino Group on the indirect acquisition by its subsidiary Almacénes Éxito of 18.8% of the total capital in Brazilian chain Grupo Pão de Açucar, giving Éxito a controlling stake in the target company; the advice also covered the indirect acquisition of Argentine supermarket chain Libertad, involving four jurisdictions and with an aggregate value around $1.8bn. In other highlights, the team acted for General Electric on the Colombian element of its global acquisition of the Alstom Group; and assisted Berry Plastic Group on its $2.45bn purchase of Avintiv. Other key members of the team include Manuel Quinche, Álvaro Cala and José Francisco Mafla.

A leading firm in the corporate arena, Gómez-Pinzón Zuleta is very active in Colombia’s transactional market. In headline work, ‘experienced, capable, judicious and creative’, the sizeable group acted as counsel to Almacénes Éxito (a subsidiary of the Casino Group) on its $1.8bn acquisition of its parent company’s participation in Argentine supermarket chain Libertad and Brazil’s Pão de Açucar. ‘Experienced lawyers’ Jaime Robledo and Andrés Hoyos led the advice. The team also advised three corporate groups in the flower industry on the integration and restructuring of their shareholdings in several jurisdictions. Other recommended individuals include Daniel Londoño, for his expertise in M&A and cross-border transactions; Lina Uribe, who is a specialist in corporate and energy matters; and recently promoted partner Pablo Rabelly.

Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría takes a ‘multi-disciplinary, modern approach to all instructions it receives’. The 34-strong group is ‘technically sharp and has a “can-do” attitude’. Juan Carlos Rocha, who focuses on transactional work, acted for the Colombian branch of Brookfield Asset Management on its $2bn acquisition of a 57.6% stake in Colombia’s largest hydropower plant, Isagen; Claudia Barrero led advice to Grupo Argos on its $168m hostile tender offer for shares in ODINSA; and Felipe Cuberos led advice to PalmElit on the execution of a joint venture for the development, production and commercialisation of palm seeds. Tax specialist Martín Acero and Hernando Padilla are also recommended. Other clients include Bank of America, Siemens, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation.

With a team of 38 lawyers, Posse Herrera Ruiz has a very active practice and has been involved in some of the country’s most significant corporate and M&A transactions; its ‘services are second to none’ and it is ‘one of the best firms of the region’. A team led by ‘responsive and well-informed corporate practitioner’ José Alejandro Torres acted for Grupo de Inversiones Suramericana on its $267m acquisition of JP Morgan’s participation in Sura Asset Management; the ‘experiencedJaime Cubillos led advice to Abraaj Group (as a shareholder in Koba International Group) in connection with Valorem’s 34.32% shareholding increase in Koba as a result of the exercise of a preferential right, valued at $68.9m; and the ‘very capable and recognisedJaime Herrera advised FEMSA on its $600m acquisition of a 60% stake in Socofar. Ernesto Cavelier, Alvaro José Rodríguez, Oscar Tutasaura and Francisco Urrutia are all highly recommended.

Excellent firmBaker McKenzie S.A.S. is valued for its ‘top-notch service’, ‘superior knowledge’, and ‘great responsiveness’. It advised Advent International on the acquisition of a 30% minority participation in Lifemiles, one of the largest coalition loyalty programme operators in the region, from Avianca Holdings; and practice head Jaime Trujillo led advice to Donaldson Company on its acquisition of filter manufacturer Industria Partmo. Trujillo and Juan Manuel de la Rosa are ‘probably two of the top M&A lawyers in the country’, with the latter also noted as ‘having leveraged his US experience very well – he is also very easy to deal with and cool under pressure’.

A significant presence in the market, Dentons Cardenas & Cardenas has an ‘impressive track record handling M&A, joint ventures, corporate restructuring and general corporate advice’, and ‘its very dedicated practice is led by partners heavily involved in each instruction’. Among its work highlights, it advised two international corporations on the $400m sale of shares in a well-known bank to foreign private equity funds; and assisted Chilean corporation Colbún on a possible bid for Isagen, including advising on the pre-qualification process, financing and due diligence, although the client ultimately decided not to participate in the public bidding process. Other clients include Microsoft, Alpina and Ford Motor Corporation. The department is headed by Eduardo Cárdenas, a former corporate and regional counsel at Microsoft, and ‘very experienced and recognised practitionerBernardo Cárdenas. Newly promoted partner Mauricio Borrero is also noted.

Lloreda Camacho & Co.’s multi-disciplinary practice ‘provides excellent advice in a timely and practical manner. Its solid group of lawyers act as a team, understand business needs, and in terms of fees, are flexible’. Work highlights included acting for Almácenes Éxito on the indirect acquisition of a majority stake in Argentine supermarket chain Libertad, and also the purchase of Ceibotel and Carnes Huinca, with an aggregate value of $270m. The team is also advising Brambles Group on the acquisition of Empacotecnia, a local crate producer and rental company serving major retail corporations in the country. Fondo Acceso, Merck Sharp & Dohme Colombia, and Grünenthal Colombia are also clients. The ‘extremely professional and respected’ Santiago Gutiérrez heads the corporate and finance practice, and Andrés Hidalgo leads the firm’s government procurement work.

DLA Piper Martinez Neira serves an array of local and foreign clients on M&A and other corporate transactions, and is noted for ‘its thorough analysis of cases and their implications during and after a deal’. ‘Knowledgeable expert’ Camilo Martínez heads the group, and recently advised a Colombian importer on the $40m sale of its most strategic business to a global international corporation. The firm was also instructed by a well-known Latin American gas corporation to conduct due diligence in relation to a thermal power plant and to structure the acquisition proposal, although the client chose not to pursue the purchase. Clients have included Grupo Aval, Editorial El Tiempo, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan.

Garrigues’ Colombian practice is quickly gaining traction in the market, attracting high-end, complex instructions from local and international clients. Led by the ‘expert’ Felipe Quintero, the six-lawyer team was boosted by the arrival of Ignacio Londoño, who was a founding partner of the now defunct DLP/De La Calle Londoño López & Posada. The firm is advising Spanish cement corporation Cementos Molins on a $370m joint venture with multinational Corona to develop a cement production and sale business in the country; and also acted for Mexican restaurant chain Alsea in relation to its sale of the Archie’s chain.

Holland & Knight maintains a well-respected practice, acting for local and international corporations on all aspects of their business operations, particularly on the transactional side; clients include Empresa de Energía de Bogotá, EXL and Kit Capital. Head of department Enrique Gómez-Pinzón is ‘a notable practitioner’, and works alongside ‘responsive and agile’ energy specialist José Vicente Zapata and Juan Carlos Valencia, who has significant international experience. The team acted for the shareholders of a well-known Colombian corporation on its acquisition by a major global brewing corporation. The team expanded its capabilities with the hire of Danilo Romero, former head of now defunct firm Romero Raad Abogados, and Julián Santos from ExxonMobil.

Norton Rose Fulbright’s 12-lawyer practice acts for large private and public companies including multinational corporations in a variety of industries, particularly the energy sector, and benefits from the wider firm’s global M&A expertise and network of specialists. The group acted as counsel to Nivel 7 on its $9m acquisition by Blackboard, an educational technology company; and advised a major energy corporation on the sale of a majority stake in a power generation company, a transaction worth over $60m. Other clients include Pacific Rubiales, Bridgestone Firestone, Puma Energy and Campari Perú. Mauricio Zagarra leads the practice, and Luis Carlos Neira, Jorge Neher and Leopoldo Olavarría are also noted for their experience.

Rodriguez Azuero Contexto Legal Abogados is the result of the merger of Rodriguez Azuero-Asociados and Contexto Legal Abogados, and has offices in Bogotá and Medellín as well as a significant network of correspondents in other cities in the country. The group acts for an online services provider on corporate, contractual, tax and regulatory matters. It also acted for a private equity fund in the acquisition of a Colombian logistics corporation, covering tax structuring matters as well as the negotiation and drafting of the shareholders agreement. Guillermo Hernán Villegas and Camilo Rodríguez are the key names.

The corporate practice at dynamic firm Cavelier Abogados is led by Martha Bonnet and is well versed in corporate matters, notably in control management and risk prevention relating to money laundering and the financing of terrorism. The multi-disciplinary team is highly rated for its corporate governance expertise, and is also active advising clients opening operations in the country.

With a strong reputation for its tax practice, Godoy & Hoyos Abogados is increasingly active in transactional, contractual and regulatory instructions, with a particular forte advising clients in the oil-and-gas and infrastructure sectors. Among its highlights, it advised Vitol on a private bidding process initiated by Total E&P relating to transportation rights in the Ocensa pipeline, a matter valued at $150m; and acted for Cenit (a subsidiary of Ecopetrol) on the $20m sale of six hydrocarbon plants in different municipalities of the country, including the sale of real estate and the structuring of a private invitation to key players in Colombia. Its roster of clients also includes AdamG, Oleoducto Bicentenario de Colombia, and Pacific Stratus Energy Colombia. Jaime Moya and Alberto Bravo are the key names.

Muñoz Tamayo & Asociados specialises in advising foreign clients investing in Colombia, especially major corporations and private equity investment funds. It acts in complex corporate transactions, including related regulatory matters. Clients have included names such as Monster Beverage Corporation, Marsh & McLennan, and Bayer AG. Diego Muñoz Tamayo and Felipe Trías head the practice.

Parra Rodríguez Abogados’ nine-lawyer practice advises local and international clients on opening business activities in the country, and is experienced in share sales and acquisitions, distribution agreements, and transactions in the real estate and aviation sectors. Work highlights included advising Knauf International on its entry in the Colombian market via its acquisition of wallboard producer Gyptec, and on other day-to-day corporate matters. Álvaro Parra and Bernardo Rodríguez lead the practice.

Pinilla, González & Prieto’s ‘committed group of lawyers’ is well known for its work in the real estate and construction sectors but also covers areas such as pharmaceuticals, education and communication. Under the leadership of Carlos Felipe Pinilla, it provides ongoing advice to Inclam, in relation to matters including foreign investment, labour law and contracts.

A new entry to the ranking, Chalela | Abogados is a young firm which is quickly gaining visibility in the market. It provides advice on general corporate matters, commercial agreements, corporate governance, shareholder agreements and tax matters. The practice acted for Manuli Fluiconnecto Holding on the acquisition of a minority participation in an industrial tools distribution company. Federico Chalela - is the key contact.

Palacios Lleras’ compact team is well respected in the market. Previous work highlights have included advising MIYA Colombia on closing down its operations in the country, and acting for Gloria on matters such as commercial licensing and distribution arrangements. Oscar Gutiérrez Herrán and Pedro Pacheco Jiménez lead the practice.

Sanclemente Fernández Abogados S.A.’s four-partner group provides ‘personalised and speedy services’ on corporate, due diligence and administrative matters, with a strong client base and a particular focus on the energy and natural resources sectors. Antonio Sanclemente and Diana Sanclemente are the key contacts.

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