The Legal 500

Guatemala

Editorial

Legal market overview

Despite Guatemala remaining the largest economy in Central America and one that has been pointedly open to foreign investment, the country still lags behind other Central American jurisdictions, such as Costa Rica, El Salvador and Panama, in terms of attracting inbound finance. The socio-political environment deters investors, and this is particularly affecting areas such as mining, hydroelectricity and agribusiness, where the country should enjoy a competitive advantage. Nevertheless, the economy has done relatively well under President Otto Pérez, with GDP expected to grow at 3.6% in 2014, and he continues to actively promote Guatemala as an investment destination.

In the M&A sector, Guatemala continues to serve as a first stop for the region, with companies entering joint ventures with a view towards acquisition of control or gaining substantial shares in local companies. A large volume of transactions originate in the US, particularly mid-sized US companies expanding into Central America, secondly come European businesses, and thirdly, so-called multi-Latinas: there is a growing trend of Latin American corporations expanding in and beyond the entire region, acquiring companies locally. The increased presence of (predominantly) Canadian and European mining companies is notable, and there is also substantial activity coming from neighbouring Mexico, to the north, with companies eyeing the entire Central American region and using Guatemala as a point of first landing. Above and beyond this transactional activity and day-to-day corporate matters, corporate restructuring has kept many law firms busy, particularly given the tax reforms of early 2012.

The banking and finance market has remained largely stable with firms seeing, at best, a slight increase in the volume of work. After a considerable consolidation in the sector over the last decade, with over 30 banks reduced to eighteen, recent years have seen a number of local banks acquired by key foreign players, such as Bancolombia’s acquisition of a 40% interest in Guatemalan Banco Agromercantil in 2013. Firms also report more activity from financial institutions in second-tier financings. Project finance is heavily concentrated in infrastructure and renewable energy.

An emerging economy brings with it issues related to counterfeiting, and in the IP sector, anti-counterfeit efforts present one of the biggest challenges. The bulk of the work in intellectual property matters relates to trade marks, including registrations for domestic as well as international clients, portfolio management and litigation. Guatemala remains one of the countries operating a ‘first to file’ rather than a ‘first to use’ system. Only a handful of firms focus on patent matters and while such work remains restricted to the registration of patents, the market has boomed since the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) came into force in 2006.

In Guatemala’s still relatively compact legal market, lawyers generally continue to cover multiple practice areas; and at the firm level, a considerable volume of work is constituted by domestic firms acting as local counsel for larger international players. The more traditional and longstanding domestic firms, such as Mayora & Mayora, S.C., Carrillo y Asociados, Arenales & Skinner-Klée and IP boutique Viteri & Viteri vie with established regional firms Arias & Muñoz, Consortium – Centro América Abogados, Aguilar Castillo Love and Lexincorp, as well as regional newcomers Pacheco Coto and García & Bodán. More specialised firms, such as dispute resolution-focused Comte & Font – Legalsa, have also successfully managed to make their mark on the legal landscape and smaller new firms, such as 4abogados, are gaining visibility.

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  • Avellum Partners Advised Nadezhda Group on Corporate Restructuring

    Kyiv, 29 December 2014 - Avellum Partners advised Nadezhda Group ("Group"), operating in the liquefied petroleum and gas industry, on tax planning for holding structure of the Group, all legal and tax aspects of corporate restructuring and acquisition finance issues, aimed at obtaining finance from international finance institutions ("IFIs").
  • Avellum Partners Advised on Exchange Offer of Metinvest

    Kyiv, 14 January 2015 - Avellum Partners acted as Ukrainian legal counsel to Deutsche Bank AG, London Branch and ING Bank N.V., London Branch, who acted as Dealer Managers, in connection with the exchange offer of Metinvest B.V., the parent company of a vertically integrated group of steel and mining companies ("Metinvest") for its USD500 million 10.25% guaranteed notes due 2015, coupled with the new issue of USD289.7 million 10.5% guaranteed notes due 2017 ("Notes") under its USD1,500,000,000 Guaranteed Medium Term Note Programme and a 25% cash consideration. The Bank of New York Mellon, London Branch acted as the Exchange Agent. The Notes are listed and admitted to trading on the Global Exchange Market of the Irish Stock Exchange.
  • Gorodissky new practices

    In December 2014 the IP team of Gorodissky & Partners was joined by Valery Narezhny who will be in charge of the firm's new law practices such as taxes, customs and commercial laws. Valery graduated from Finance Academy under the Government of Russia (Moscow) majoring in "Finances and Credits" and the Academy of Law and Management (Moscow) majoring in "Civil Law", holds PhD degree in economics. He is specializing in taxes, currency, customs, labor and commercial laws and in court disputes. Valery started his carrier in the state bodies (Tax Policy Department, Ministry of Finance, and Government Administration), worked for a number of Russian and international law firms. He is author of more than 150 publications and 9 books on taxation and civil law issues. Valery Medvedev, Managing Partner, Gorodissky & Partners, commented: "It appears from our clients' enquiries that they are in the need to obtain consultations and professional advice relating not only to protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights but also to IP issues governed by taxes, labor, currency and commercial laws. Valery Narezhny having considerable experience and knowledge in these practices will no doubt enhance our team of lawyers and considerably enlarge the range of the firm's legal services"
  • HaoLiWen helps client resolve TP case with the customs

    HaoLiWen has advised a multinational client in a case of the customs challenge against import transfer pricing. Recently, this case was successfully closed. The customs has accepted the transfer pricing policies of the client.  The client has incurred no further import tax exposure, and the deposits put up with the customs for the shipments in question are to be refunded by the customs to the client.  
  • VEGAS LEX to support 2015 Jessup Moot Court Competition

    The VEGAS LEX law firm will support this year's Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, the largest and most prestigious law school competition, which will take place in Moscow from January 28 through February 1.
  • P+P Pöllath + Partners berät die Deutsche Bank und DN Capital bei Investitionen in Onlineportal Wi

    Der Onlinehändler Windeln.de hat seine bislang größte Finanzierungsrunde abgeschlossen. Mit einem Investitionsvolumen von insgesamt etwa EUR 45 Mio. beteiligten sich neben dem Hauptinvestor Goldman Sachs auch die bisherigen Geldgeber MCI Management, 360 Capital Partners, die Londoner Beteiligungsgesellschaft DN Capital sowie mehrere Deutsche Bank Fonds.
  • AT/USA: Schoenherr advises AIM Software Group on investment by Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe

    Schoenherr advised AIM Software Group ("AIM") on the receipt of an investment from and transfer of a majority interest to U.S.-based private equity firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe ("WCAS"). AIM is a leading provider of data management software products to the financial services industry. Under the terms of the transaction, which was announced on 14 January 2015, AIM's existing management team will continue to operate the business and maintain a significant ownership stake in the company. WCAS is also investing primary capital in the business which will be used to further accelerate AIM's expansion.  read more...
  • 12 January 2015 - Walgreens Acquires the Remaining Equity Ownership in Alliance Boots

    Walgreen Co., the largest drug store chain in the United States, has completed the acquisition of the remaining 55% equity ownership in Alliance Boots GmbH, the Swiss parent company of a leading international pharmacy-led health and beauty group. Walgreens had acquired 45% in Alliance Boots GmbH in 2012 with the option to proceed to a full combination by acquiring the remaining 55%.
  • 15 January 2015 - Daniel Leu elected partner

    We are pleased to announce that we elected Daniel Leu as partner as of 1 January 2015. Daniel Leu, a Certified Inheritance Law Specialist, advises private clients on corporate and estate planning, on the handling of estates, in connection with foundations and trusts and on questions in connection with the place of residence. Other areas of work include advising clients who buy or sell real estate in Switzerland and art law.
  • MOLITOR expansion continues

    Luxembourg, 26 November 2014 - MOLITOR Avocats à la Cour, have continued expansion plans by announcing the recruitment of experienced litigator François Cautaerts. François comes to MOLITOR from Philippe & Partners as a partner, with Paulo Lopes Da Silva, in litigation and Dispute Resolution as well as specialising in Restructuring & Insolvency.