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Costa Rica > Corporate and M&A > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

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  1. Corporate and M&A
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Leading lawyers

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Aguilar Castillo Love, a ‘top law firm’, clearly fields one of the most active M&A departments in Costa Rica, with seven partners who are ‘strongly dedicated to promptly providing any necessary assistance’ and ‘making clients feel like it is a priority’. Based on ‘a very strong knowledge of the market’, the team assists large multinational corporations as well as local entities with joint ventures, the incorporation of corporate entities, corporate restructurings, competition issues, cross-border mergers and acquisitions: 2016 highlights included advising Dos Pinos on its multimillion-dollar acquisitions of a local chocolate factory from Mondelēz and a manufacturing facility from BICSA; assisting TUI with the sale of a local operation to Cinven, including advice on merger control aspects; and advising Tyco International on the Costa Rican leg of its merger with Johnson Controls International. Other key clients include Hewlett Packard Enterprise, General Electric and American Express. The ‘commercially astute’ John Aguilar-Quesada, Marco Solano and founding partner John Aguilar-Osborne jointly head the practice, which recently saw the promotion of Tatjana Rojas, Andrea Sáenz-Mederas and the ‘very supportive’ Esteban Agüero to the partnership.

Considered ‘one of the best firms in the region’, BLP’s sizeable corporate and M&A department ‘adapts its advice to the client’s specific needs’ and stands out for ‘the high accessibility of its lawyers’. The nine-partner group is particularly prominent for its involvement in cutting-edge M&A transactions, but is equally often retained for company incorporations, free trade zone regime advice, corporate restructurings, venture capital matters and antitrust issues. The diverse 2016 caseload underlines this in impressive fashion: Uri Weinstok advised BASF on the $3.2bn acquisition of stocks of chemical company Chemettal, including assistance with related competition matters; Ronald Lachner advised Unigroup on establishing its operations in Costa Rica, and with the obtaining of free trade zone status; and the ‘business-focused’ Eduardo Calderón advised Bridgestone on the implementation of a complex corporate divestiture for the sale of its operation in Venezuela to Grupo Corimon. Other transactional highlights included advising Japanese trading company Sumitomo on the $751m purchase of Costa Rican banana producer Fyffes, and Wyndham Hotel Group on the acquisition of Argentine hotel chain Fën. David Gutiérrez is also highly regarded.

Transactional powerhouse Consortium Legal attracts praise for its ‘responsiveness’ and ‘practical approach’: the two-partner corporate and M&A practice receives a steady flow of high-profile M&A instructions across various industries and is also highly adept at assisting with project finance, joint ventures, antitrust matters, corporate restructurings and corporate day-to-day issues. In notable highlight work, Juan Manuel Godoy (who ‘always gives accurate advice’), is assisting ICU Medical with the potential $250m acquisition of certain Pfizer subsidiaries; he also recently advised Globeleq Mesoamerica Energy on the $250m sale of its Inversiones Eólicas de Costa Rica subsidiary to Multi Inversiones Eólicas de América, and assisted Unopetrol with the acquisition of nine gas stations from Total Petróleo Costa Rica. The team’s diverse client roster also includes Florida Chemical Supply, Conducen SRL and Akamai Technologies. Rolando Laclé Zúñiga ‘finds creative solutions’ and is also recommended. Notably, the firm has also hired a new regional managing partner, Valeria Di Palma; formerly in-house counsel for Central America and the Caribbean at HP, her appointment signals the firm’s desire to further consolidate its regional operation.

A pillar of the Costa Rican market and long among the leading domestic full-service offerings, Facio & Cañas has extensive experience assisting local and foreign corporations across all industry sectors with the full spread of corporate and M&A issues, including restructurings, competition and compliance advice. In 2016, the group continued to demonstrate its versatility in numerous high-profile matters: highly regarded practice co-head Carlos Valverde advised medical device manufacturer St. Jude Medical on its acquisition by Abbott Laboratories; and Laticrete International on its acquisition of a local manufacturing and distribution business. Other headline work saw Sergio Solera assist Emerson Electric with the local aspects of its $4bn spin-off from Emerson Network Power (including the establishment of, and asset-and-employee transfers to, the new company); and advise Nissan Motor and Mitsubishi Motors on competition authority notification matters before the Costa Rican authorities pertaining to the companies’ $2.3bn merger in 2016. Practice co-head Víctor Garita is the key contact for contentious corporate matters.

With five offices across the region, Pacheco Coto’s highly regarded corporate and M&A team attracts a diverse portfolio of high-profile, cross-border instructions from regional clients and international corporations alike; the team’s caseload reflects its deep expertise across the full spectrum of joint ventures, M&A, spin-offs, corporate finance, commercial contracts, compliance and antitrust matters. Recent M&A highlights saw the group advise Guatemalan company Grupo Multiversiones on its acquisition of an 400MW energy generation project; and assist Marvin M Schwan Foundation with the sale of the Peninsula Papagayo Project to Gencom. Other work included advising a group of Brazilian and US investors on corporate finance matters related to a capital investment deal. Apart from its great reputation in the real estate and energy sectors, the practice group is also frequently instructed by clients from the pharmaceutical and telecoms industries. Hernán Pacheco O heads the team.

Andrey Dorado and Carolina Flores both moved to Arias after the break-up of the former Arias & Muñoz, bringing with them an ‘excellent’ corporate and M&A team that has ‘the capacity to advise across the region’. The three-partner practice, which also includes Vicente Lines, is supported by senior counsel Melania Dittel and five associates, and continues to assist domestic and regional corporations as well as international blue-chip clients with M&A transactions, corporate restructurings, and antitrust and compliance matters. Recent notable work included advising Mondelēz on the $28m sale of its El Gallito business unit to Dos Pinos; and assisting SAAM with its $49m acquisition of a majority equity participation in Sociedad Portuaria de Caldera. Key clients include Interenergy, GlaxoSmithKline and Unilever.

Batalla Abogados is certainly the primary destination for those seeking sophisticated venture capital advice, but in addition to its strong track record in transactional private equity matters and cross-border fund formation, the five-partner group is equally adept at assisting with multijurisdictional mid-market M&A transactions (particularly on the seller side), joint ventures, compliance and corporate day-to-day issues. In past highlights, key figure Rodrigo Zelaya advised Oikocredit Global Equity on its investment in Cafetalera Nicafrance, including the capitalisation of Nicafrance Outgrowers. The client roster also includes private equity fund CASEIF III and Grupo Cajas y Bolsas. ‘Savvy’ managing partner Alejandro Batalla ‘has vision’ and is another name to note. Importantly, in the wake of the departure of former ‘AFC’ tax team to Consortium Legal in July 2017, the firm retains fiscal capability with a small team built around experienced senior associate Alejandra Arguedas, who has over 12 years’ experience and joined the firm from the former Arias & Muñoz in mid-2016; key support comes from associate Paola Vargas.

Central Law Costa Rica’s corporate and M&A department has particular clout in the real estate and infrastructure sectors, and frequently advises on joint ventures, mergers, acquisitions, restructurings and corporate day-to-day matters. Past matters saw Rafael Quirós, who co-heads the practice along with Mauricio González, assist Fire Solutions Mexico with a shareholder’s agreement related to the restructuring of its Costa Rican subsidiary. The practice’s client roster also includes BT LatAm Costa Rica, TLC Trade and Grupo Coprosa.

Sfera Legal’s ‘amazing’ Eric Scharf and his team of six associates kept impressively busy in 2016, advising on a high number of M&A deals while concurrently assisting its international client base with cross-border joint ventures, company reorganisations and distribution agreements, among other matters. The group was particularly active on the seller side and advised Marevalley Corporation on the $70m sale of its majority stake in the company to Crédito Real, as well as RSL-Telecom on its acquisition by Ufinet. In other notable work, the group assisted Kellogg’s with the termination of a distribution agreement; advised Coopeleche on a commercial alliance with Grupo Lala and Florida Ice & Farm; and was also very active in compliance, merger control and antitrust matters. Key clients include Sony, Panamerican Life Insurance and BioMar.

Zürcher, Odio & Raven’s experience and expertise in cross-border M&A and corporate finance matters is highly appreciated by domestic and international clients alike, but the five-partner group is also skilled in assisting with competition, compliance and corporate day-to-day matters. The team’s high-profile client base includes industry heavyweights such as Walmart, Hyundai and Siemens. Alberto Raven-Odio is the key contact.

Expertis GHP Abogados’ ‘impeccable’ corporate and M&A department is made up of seven ‘excellent and absolutely reliable’ lawyers, who are ‘knowledgeable about their subjects’ – particularly the pharmaceutical, renewable energy and real estate industries. Led by ‘all-round corporate talent’ Guillermo E. Zuñiga, the group frequently advises on multijurisdictional M&A transactions, restructurings and company incorporations. In recent highlight work the team assisted Pfizer with the the local aspects of the $1bn sale of its global infusion therapy business to ICU Medical; advised Coopelesca on the $47.7m acquisition of a corporation that owns and operates a 19MW hydroelectric power plant; and assisted Dutch energy start-up Yellow Plant with its incorporation in Costa Rica. Other key clients include DHL and Arenas del Mar Hotel. Mauricio Paris is ‘truly committed to the client and its business needs’.

Lang & Asociados’ corporate team provides ‘exceptional legal support’ and ‘excellent services’ to domestic and international clients across various industry sectors and particularly stands out for its ‘great knowledge of the IT, telecoms and medical device industry’. Drawing on expertise that ranges from M&A, shareholder agreements and corporate governance to free trade zone advice and company incorporation, the ‘very knowledgeable’ Henry Lang and his team handle a diverse caseload on an ongoing basis: recent highlights include assisting Builder Homesite and EX² Solutions with the acquisition of Costa Rican app development company Aplicativa; advising Product Automation Corporation on its local incorporation; and assisting Chilean digital television provider VGL with its participation in a possible joint venture with Costa Rica’s largest energy and telecommunications agency so as to bring its services to the country. Other key clients include Microsoft and Nitinol Devices & Components.

Lexincorp fields three ‘reliable and experienced’ partners dedicated to the full array of corporate and M&A matters, including expertise in due diligence, compliance and corporate day-to-day matters, as well as shareholder disputes. While the ‘very responsive’ team frequently advises on cross-border matters in close cooperation with its five regional offices, recent domestic highlights included assisting Pandi Costa Rica with a shareholder dispute (and the subsequent acquisition of the remaining minority shares by the majority shareholders); and advising Camarones de Exportacion on bankruptcy proceedings. The client base also includes Convergys Customer Management and Novelteak Costa Rica. Practice head Arnoldo André is ‘very efficient’.

Nassar Abogados has a traditionally strong reputation for its sophisticated corporate and M&A practice, and while the group’s service offering ranges from M&A and joint venture advice to restructurings, corporate governance, compliance, and corporate day-to-day matters, the team is especially well-known for its niche expertise in aviation law and foreign trade. The high-profile client roster includes American Airlines, IBM, DHL, and Burger King. Aviation and corporate expert Tomás Nassar is highly regarded.

Gómez y Galindo – LatamLex’ corporate capabilities span the entire spectrum of M&A transactions, due diligence, company incorporations and corporate day-to-day matters: in 2016, practice head Adriana Ramos assisted Marian Baker School with due diligence measures and a share sale; advised Grupo Arrend on the opening of its business in Costa Rica (and associated operational matters); and assisted Grupo Zen with the corporate structuring of a new real estate development. The client roster also includes Grupo Q, Jet Telecom and Grupo Morval.

Following the dissolution of Arias & Muñoz in late 2016, Dentons Muñoz has responded to the evolving local and regional market by joining the worldwide Dentons network. While the majority of its former corporate and M&A department joined Arias, the practice group is steadily re-establishing itself, both locally and regional, and indeed the firm intends to open offices in Guatemala and Panama during the course of 2017. Current corporate capabilities rest on the shoulders of Pedro Muñoz and Daniel Araya, who have longstanding experience in advising on transactional matters and recently assisted Costa Rican brewery Cerveza la Selva with the potential sale of shares to a Canadian investor. The ‘reliable’, four-strong team is also increasingly focusing on cross-border antitrust and compliance matters.

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