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Latin America: International firms

Latin America: International firms > Projects and energy > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


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As one of the world’s most dynamic emerging market regions, Latin America continues to be an area of real focus for firms that are at the forefront of projects and energy transactions. Much interest remains in Mexico, which continues to reform and liberalise its energy sector, including its substantial oil-and-gas industry and its power sector. The region continues to push forward major infrastructure programmes to support economic development and further urbanisation; this is especially evident in Colombia which is pushing through its fourth-generation (4G) road transport infrastructure initiative. Firms such as Clifford Chance and Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP have achieved significant roles on 4G road deals, including hybrid financings involving capital markets and bank debt. In addition, economic and political reform in Argentina has attracted considerable interest from firms eager to be at the heart of growing activity in energy and infrastructure projects; renewable energy projects have become a particular feature of the market there.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP is the latest firm to make a concerted effort to target Latin America’s energy and infrastructure market, having launched a new Houston office in 2016. Carlos Treistman and Rodrigo Dominguez head the Latin America practice from Houston since joining from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and George Humphrey has arrived from Andrews Kurth Kenyon LLP to help develop the firm’s oil and gas capabilities in the region. CMS has also expanded ability to handle energy and projects matters in Latin America via tie-ups with firms in Chile, Peru and Colombia early 2017, adding to it established presence in Brazil and Mexico.

Few firms can match Clifford Chance’s ‘very active’ Americas energy-and-infrastructure group in terms of its breadth and depth of expertise across jurisdictions, sectors and transaction types. With its ‘strong Spanish speaking capabilities’, a substantial São Paulo office and Latin America-focused teams in New York and Washington DC, the practice provides a compelling offering to a wide range of Latin American clients and international clients with interests in the region. Notably, it has developed close connections with commercial and investment banks such as Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, JP Morgan, HSBC and BNP Paribas, as well as multilateral agencies and development finance institutions (DFIs) including the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC), International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). Other clients include Iridium, Mota Engil and Odebrecht. It has led the market in representing investment banks, particularly Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, and has developed an especially impressive record with IIC amongst the agency lenders. The practice has gained particular prominence in a number of sectors, especially the Colombian 4G road transport infrastructure programme, and it is also at the forefront of energy and infrastructure transactions in other key jurisdictions such as Peru, Mexico, Paraguay and Argentina. The firm has led the market in project bonds and hybrid financings involving bank debt and capital markets funding, most notably in Peru and Colombia where it has dominated the markets. In addition, the team advised IDB and DNB Group in connection with the bridge financing, and a long term financing structured as a B-bond, of the 71MW Campo Palomas wind farm in Uruguay; this was the first true greenfield B-bond in Latin America. In another substantial transaction, it advised senior lenders IIC and Proparco on the $150m financing to project company Providencia Solar for the development, construction and operation of a solar photovoltaic power plant in El Rosario, El Salvador. The team also advised Credit Suisse on a $30m bridge loan to Ergon Peru for the financing of three photovoltaic solar panel installation projects in Peru. New York’s Gianluca Bacchiocchi is a prominent figure in project bonds and hybrid and multi-source financings, most notably in Colombia and Peru where he advises a range of commercial and investment banks, multilateral agencies and sponsors. Washington DC partner Fabricio Longhin is another market leader in project finance; solely focused on Latin America he has been at the forefront of the 4G infrastructure programme in Colombia, and –as an Argentine– he is also heavily involved in the development of projects, including renewable energy projects, in that jurisdiction. Washington DC partner Catherine McCarthy continues to be a key figure for multilateral agencies and several commercial banks, as does Lori Ann Bean and counsel Christopher McIsaac, who co-leads the Americas energy-and-infrastructure group. Chris Willott has transferred to New York from São Paulo but remains heavily focused on Brazil and wider Latin America. Senior associate Guido Liniado is an up-and-coming name, particularly in relation to Colombia and Argentina-related projects.

Mayer Brown has been a leader on bank-side project financings for many years and now has a fast expanding agency-led and sponsor-side practice. The firm has an impressive mix of bank and agency-led financings, coupled with financings through project bonds and private placements. Long positioned at the forefront of project bonds work, the firm is now leading the way in private placement style project bonds. For example, the team represented the investors in connection with the $127m refinancing of Aeris Holdings (the operator of Costa Rica’s Juan Santamaria International Airport), through a private issuance of senior secured notes; and in early 2017, also advised the noteholders, as investors, in the $285m private placement of senior secured notes issued by Bermuda Skyport Corporation (the operator of the LF Wade International Airport in Bermuda), to finance the design, reconstruction, operation and maintenance of the airport. Transport (including airports and toll roads), and power (including generation and transmission) are key areas of strength for the practice. 2016 mandates included advising Interchile, as borrower, on a senior secured loan for the design, construction, development, ownership and operation of several transmission lines in Chile’s Central and Northern Interconnected Grids. Beyond energy and infrastructure finance, the practice has grown its share of the project development market, especially through its Houston office (which has a prominent reputation in the liquefied natural gas sector), and also in connection with Mexico’s energy reforms. The firm has an established record in Mexico, given further impetus by the 2016 arrival of former Haynes and Boone, L.L.P. partner and projects specialist Ariel Ramos to its relatively new Mexico City office. The firm also remains a significant player in Brazil through Tauil & Chequer Advogados in association with Mayer Brown and is notably active in Peru, Chile, Central America, Paraguay and Uruguay. Head of the Latin America practice Douglas Doetsch is recommended for project finance work, including project bonds and private placement driven transactions. New York and Washington DC-based, Christopher Erckert has a fine record in Latin America in both classic project finance and project bonds, while Chicago partner Barry Machlin has considerable experience in energy and infrastructure projects for a variety of sponsors, bank lenders and agency lenders. ‘Very experienced’ Houston partner Jose Valera is an ‘excellent attorney’, with ‘good knowledge and a solid background’; he is particularly noted for Mexico energy work and LNG-related transactions around Latin America. Also in Houston, Pablo Ferrante is a Latin America energy specialist and is ‘very active in Colombia and Mexico’. Gabriela Sakamoto in Washington DC is a rising star in this market, and Eduardo Lima is the key partner in São Paulo. New York’s George Miller is noted for infrastructure projects in the Caribbean.

The firm to beat’, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP has a ‘strong platform’, ‘great commercial understanding’ and ‘knows project finance extremely well’; it ‘works to get the deal done’. The practice has successfully targeted growth markets such as Colombia and Argentina, and has managed to make the most of its illustrious lender and sponsor client base across the entire Latin America region. Key lender clients include Credit Suisse, Bank of America, JP Morgan and Citigroup. The firm has been at the forefront of the 4G road infrastructure programme in Colombia, work that has included advising Colombian concessionaire Concesión Pacífico Tres (and its sponsors) on structuring a dual-currency project bond and financing package (consisting of two tranches of bonds) used to fund the Pacífico Tres toll road improvement plan; this was the first debt financing of its kind linked to the toll-road concession infrastructure plan of Colombia’s National Infrastructure Agency. The team also advised the international lenders on the $1bn financing for the Pacífico 1 toll road project near Medellín; the consortium leading the project was the first to receive international commercial bank financing for a project under the 4G infrastructure programme. In addition to these landmark projects, but also under the auspices of the 4G programme, the team also had key advisory roles on the Costera, Giradot-Puerto Salgar and Conexión Norte 4G toll roads. In Mexico, the firm impressed with its work as adviser to the joint lead-managers on the $622m financing for the construction of the La Laguna-Aguascalientes natural gas pipeline between the states of Durango and Aguascalientes and the $435m financing of the construction of the Fermaca Villa de Reyes-Aguascalientes-Guadalajara natural gas pipeline that will connect the city of Guadalajara, in the western coastal state of Jalisco, to existing pipelines at reception points in the states of Aguascalientes and San Luis Potosí. Leader of the firm’s global project, energy and infrastructure finance group Daniel Bartfeld has a primary focus on Latin America, including Mexico, Colombia and Chile. Carolina Walther-Meade is also highly acclaimed, particularly in relation to infrastructure projects (including airports and Colombia’s 4G road infrastructure programme), and also has a fine background in mining sector projects. Roland Estevez is gaining increasing market recognition, and ‘very smart’ Los Angeles partner Allan Marks is a, ‘commercially minded’ and ‘focused on getting to a fair position to close deals’. Jonathan Green also has a strong record in Latin America. All partners are New York based unless stated otherwise.

Shearman & Sterling LLP has a long and illustrious history in Latin America and it continues to be in pole position for many of the most sought after energy and infrastructure projects across the region. Mexico, Colombia, Peru and now Argentina are among the key jurisdictions for the practice, with the firm having made considerable headway in the wind energy sector in Argentina. Among a number of headline transactions, the team advised Transmisora Eléctrica del Norte, a joint venture between Engie Energia Chile and Red Eléctrica Chile, on the $822m financing of the construction of its double circuit 600km 500kV transmission line connecting Chile’s two major electrical grids. The practice has also impressed with its roles in substantial midstream oil and gas pipelines and a range of renewable energy projects. In another substantial transaction the firm advised Aeropuerto Internacional de Tocumen, the Panamanian government-owned operator of the country’s principal international airport, on its $575m offering of senior secured notes. Cynthia Urda Kassis has an outstanding reputation for Latin America deals, including those in the energy, infrastructure and mining sectors. Gregory Tan, global head of the firm’s project development and finance group, is a ‘straight shooter and a competent guy’ who has a great deal of experience in Latin America, most notably in Mexico and Central America. Alexandro Padrés is Mexico and New York qualified and is an increasingly pivotal member of the team, and Manuel Orillac provides additional capital markets expertise to Latin America project financings. Regional expert Jeanne Olivier has retired from the partnership but remains as of counsel to the firm, and Robert Freedman is another experienced partner with an impressive record in the region.

White & Case LLP’s commitment to Latin America, which includes a 20-year presence in São Paulo, a large Mexico City office and Latin America focused teams in Miami, New York and Washington DC, ensures that the firm is a virtually ubiquitous presence on substantial and market-first projects in the region. It has an illustrious record in energy and infrastructure projects and an impressive client base that includes a wide variety of sponsors and lenders. The firm is especially strong in the power sector, and recently advised SunPower on the $200m project financing of its 100MW El Pelicano photovoltaic power facility in northern Chile, which will supply power to the capital’s underground rail system, Metro de Santiago, which will become the first public transportation system in the world to run primarily on solar power. In another illustration of the firm’s prominence in renewable energy, the team advised Invenergy and several subsidiaries on the acquisition of and financing for the 70MW Campo Palomas Wind Farm in Uruguay’s Salto department. The firm is also developing a strong power-related practice in Argentina. In addition, it is also particularly experienced and prominent in midstream and upstream oil-and-gas work, including offshore drilling rigs and vessels as well as LNG projects. Miami partner Carlos Viana continues to feature prominently in the Latin America projects and energy scene and has been at the forefront of the power sector for many years. São Paulo partner John Anderson has emerged as a strong player in the offshore oil-and-gas and project bonds sector. Mexico City partner Sean Goldstein is close to the IDB and is recommended for project finance deals and EPC construction matters in Mexico, Peru and Colombia, while Washington DC partner Victor DeSantis is hugely experienced, particularly in offshore oil-and-gas drilling in Brazil and elsewhere, and in other regional infrastructure projects. New York’s Troy Alexander has retired from the partnership, but remains as of counsel to the firm, and Miami-based Jeanine Acevedo was promoted to partner in 2016, adding further depth to the senior ranks for both energy and infrastructure project work. Washington DC partner and project finance specialist Ned Neaher is a ‘very capable guy and calm in a crisis’.

Allen & Overy LLP is on an impressive trajectory in Latin America having worked with a variety of commercial banks, multilateral agencies, sponsors and now, increasingly, a range of funds operating in the energy and infrastructure sectors. ‘Very efficient lawyer’ Sami Mir has transferred to Washington DC from New York to help cement relationships with lending agencies and development finance institutions (DFIs) based there. The team has a broad practice covering a range of infrastructure and energy projects with notable strength in renewable energy projects, especially wind energy, in key jurisdictions such as Mexico, Argentina and Chile. It continues to be at the forefront of power, mining and transportation in Brazil and public-private partnerships (PPPs) remain a growth segment for the firm. In Colombia, the firm advised Shikun & Binui, as the sponsor on the $632m Autopista Perimetral Oriental de Cundinamarca Project, which consists of the design, rehabilitation, construction, financing, operation and maintenance of a 154km network of roads around Bogota under a PPP. In addition, it advised Citibank, Credit Agricole, Sabadell and Natixis on the $104m bridge loan financing to cover certain development costs for the Villavicencio-Yopal 4G road project, also in Colombia. Elsewhere, it advised International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the State of São Paulo on the upgrade of its multibillion-dollar toll roads concession programme. Outside of the infrastructure segment, the firm represented Guyana Goldfields and project company AGM, on the refinancing of the Aurora gold mine project in Guyana. The core Latin America team features New York partner Dorina Yessios who has impressed on a variety of infrastructure projects including the 4G programme in Colombia and wind energy projects in Mexico; in addition, she was the lead partner on the refinancing of the Aurora gold mine project in Guyana. The aforementioned Sami Mir is an up-and-coming name in Washington DC and works with a range of agency clients such as the IFC, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Inter-American Investment Corporation and Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). Head of the São Paulo office Bruno Soares has tremendous connections with both sponsors and lenders in Brazil. New York project finance partners Kent Rowey and Mitchell Silk are also active in Latin America, along with lending agency specialist David Slade in Washington DC.

For many, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP has the benchmark Latin America practice among international law firms and it represents many of the biggest oil-and-gas names across the region. The firm has also developed a leading status in electric power, mining and metals, renewable energy and transportation; and should also receive due credit for its work on behalf of sovereign and sub-sovereign entities. Prominent clients include Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, Mexico’s Ministry of Communications and Transportation, Pluspetrol, Petróleo Brasileiro (Petrobras), Pampa Energía and Vale. In a landmark transaction, the firm advised the Mexican Ministry of Communications and Transportation and Aeropuertos y Servicios Auxiliares, the Mexican government agencies leading the development, operations and management of Mexico’s airports, in a $2bn green bond offering to finance the construction and development of the New Mexico City International Airport. In addition, the practice advised Pluspetrol on the multibillion-dollar development and commercialisation of the Camisea gas fields, which also involved supply arrangements for Peru LNG; and counselled Argentine power company Pampa Energía on the financing of its acquisition of a 67% stake in Petrobras Argentina from parent entity Petrobras, the Brazilian state-run oil company. A separate team advised Petrobras Argentina on its $500m bonds issuance prior to the closing of the acquisition. Chantal Kordula is pivotal member of the team and has impressed with her work on the financing of the new Mexico City International Airport; she has a particularly strong record in infrastructure and renewable energy matters in Mexico. Jeffrey Lewis has a wide variety of oil-and-gas clients and has worked on a multitude of project development and project financings across the region. Richard Cooper is a leader in oil and gas sector restructurings.

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP remains best known for its project and structured finance work in the oil-and-gas industry, especially in relation to offshore drilling vessels and floating production, storage and offloading units (FPSOs). It continues to be a significant player in the project bonds space for both infrastructure and oil-and-gas financings; and clients include Banco Santander, CCR, Embraport, Invepar, Odebrecht, Rutas de Lima and Sete Brasil. The team recently advised Odebrecht Oil & Gas and Teekay Offshore Partners on the $900m long-term limited recourse project financing for an extended well-test FPSO unit to be chartered to Petrobras. It continues to advise ViaQuatro, the operator of Line 4 of the São Paulo subway system, on the project financing of a subway link between the city centre and the western zone. The hugely experienced Stephen Hood and James Vickers are two of the leading project finance specialists in São Paulo. Fellow São Paulo partner Manuel Garciadiaz provides additional project bonds expertise and is one of the market’s most respected capital markets specialists. New York project finance partner Joseph Hadley is another key member of the team.

Hogan Lovells US LLP remains a big player in oil and gas; hydroelectric, conventional and renewable power generation; and LNG, and petrochemicals. It is closely associated with several Latin American governments and their energy and finance agencies and enterprises, and clients include Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), Pemex, Republic of Ecuador, Petroecuador, AES Corporation, Iberdrola, Electrobras, Ecopetrol and Statoil. The firm continued to advise Ecuador in connection with its efforts to attract financings from Asia to finance and develop its national energy plan. The firm’s substantial Mexico City office and global regulatory expertise, made it a strong choice to advise Pemex in connection with Mexico’s energy sector reforms and its creation of new production sharing contracts. In Brazil, the firm has emerged as a prominent adviser to energy sector clients in connection with investigations and white-collar crime issues; in this regard it is one of only a handful of international firms to have an office in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s principal oil and gas centre, and São Paulo. 2016 mandates saw the firm advise Petrobras on the $5.2bn sale of its gas pipeline network. Rio partner Claudette Christian led the foregoing transaction and is part of a wider Latin America team that includes Mexico City partner Carlos Ramos Miranda, who recently advised Pemex on its headline hydrocarbon exploration joint venture with BHP Billiton. Houston and Caracas partner Bruno Ciuffetelli is close to PDVSA; and Miami partner Miguel Zaldivar has an excellent record in the Ecuadorian oil-and-gas industry. In January 2018, Kevin Keenan joined in Houston from Baker Botts L.L.P..

Latham & Watkins LLPcompares favourably’ to other firms thanks to its ‘all-round excellent service’, ‘timely and high-quality advice’, ‘friendly manner’ and ‘ability to manage large transactions’. The firm has top global credentials in the energy sector and has a particularly strong record in oil and gas and power in Latin America; Mexico and Chile are its primary markets. In Mexico, the firm has advised a number of major sponsors on oil-and-gas pipeline projects. The team’s clients include Andes Mining & Energy, Arclight Capital, Ecopetrol, First Reserve, Fermaca Global, IDB, Norddeutsche Landesbank, Repsol, Sempra Energy (and its Mexican subsidiary IEnova), and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation. 2016 saw the firm continue ongoing advice to Fermaca Global on the $425m project financing of the 378km Villa de Reyes–Aguascalientes–Guadalajara gas pipeline, and on the $622m project financing of the 450km La Laguna-Aguascalientes natural gas pipeline; the financings for each pipeline project were undertaken concurrently. Other highlight transactions include advising Spain’s Repsol on the $1.2bn financing for the expansion of the Petroquiriquire oil-and-gas fields, which are operated by Petroquiriquire, a mixed company (empresa mixta) co-owned by Repsol and Venezuelan state oil-and-gas entity, PDVSA. Christopher Cross is co-chair of the energy, oil and gas industry group and has a fine record in Mexico’s oil-and-gas sector, particularly in relation to pipelines. Washington DC’s David Penna was a lead partner on the previously mentioned Fermaca Global pipelines transactions in Mexico and is an increasingly pivotal member of the Latin America practice. Co-head of the Latin America team Antonio Del Pino is another key figure with impressive sponsor-side relationships. Former Washington DC partner John Sachs has retired; but Spanish and Portuguese speaker Veronica Relea was promoted to partner in 2016 and is a key figure in energy, oil-and-gas, and infrastructure projects. Washington DC counsel Luis Torres is also recommended. All partners are based in New York unless stated otherwise.

Arguably, it is in projects and infrastructure sector that the merger of Chadbourne & Parke LLP with Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP will make itself felt most strongly felt in the short term, with both firm’s bringing a substantial practice to the tie-up. The former Chadbourne practice group is ‘go-to for all project finance-related transactional work in the power sector’ where it is ‘without peer in all respects’ according to one client. The practice group’s lawyers are praised as ‘subject matter experts that are very commercial in orientation and mindful of how much money their client is spending’, ensuring value for money on all engagements. Power remains the practice’s main calling card, although the firm has consistently demonstrated its prominence and expertise in oil-and-gas and infrastructure projects throughout region. Recent highlight engagements included advising the multilateral and commercial lenders on the financing of the $1bn Costa Norte LNG-import terminal (and associated 381MW power plant) in Panama, the largest combined-cycle facility and first ever LNG terminal in the country. The former Norton Rose team has strong connections to lending agencies and is a prominent player in LNG, renewable energy projects and transport infrastructure; its recent matters included advising IFC, FMO and ICF Debt Pool on their financing to Transambiental for the implementation, ownership and initial operation of one of the three concessions that will make up Cartagena’s new bus transit system, currently in development. In another substantial transaction the firm advised I Squared Capital Advisors on its acquisition of Duke Energy’s Latin American businesses in Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, El Salvador and Argentina; and the team continues to be heavily involved in the financing of Lima Metro–Line 2, which included advising a syndicate of seven lenders on a $300m working capital facility. São Paulo partner Daniel Spencer continues to earn accolades for his work on the Lima Metro financings. In New York, Todd Alexander is ‘without equal’ in renewable energy project financings, according to one client; and Sarah Devine is emerging as a prominent practitioner in power and infrastructure projects across the region. In Washington DC, ‘brilliant strategist’ Jeffrey Goodman is ‘meticulous’ and ‘very rapid to respond’; Rohit Chaudhry is a ‘truly stand out lawyer for Latin America work’ (he ‘has the full skill set’ and is ‘commercially minded’ and a ‘great negotiator’); and Jeremy Hushon is close to numerous multilaterals and DFIs, and has a fine record in renewable energy and other power projects. Also in Washington DC, Peter Fitzgerald has impressed with his work on the Costa Norte LNG-to-power project, and Noam Ayali is reported as a ‘very good and capable lawyer’. Former Houston partner Ned Crady has joined Baker Botts L.L.P..

Paul Hastings LLP has made significant progress since establishing a prominent Latin America projects team in 2015. The practice, which has ‘very good knowledge of the region and great legal knowledge’, as well as ‘top lawyers for project finance’, is led out of New York by the highly acclaimed Robert Kartheiser who is a ‘fine lawyer’ and has a ‘great ability to reach common ground in difficult negotiations in order to get consensus’; moreover, ‘a very deft negotiator’, he has ‘a special knack for finding solutions to structuring issues that work for all sides’ and ‘has very deep experience with virtually every type of project’. The growing department includes 12 fee-earners that are wholly dedicated to energy and infrastructure work in Latin America, with the vast majority being fluent Spanish speakers and a large number also fluent in Portuguese. The team has an even split between sponsor and lender mandates, and its client base includes Enagas, HSBC, BBVA, Credit Agricole, SMBC, Energias do Brasil, Natixis and Graña y Montero. Mexico and Colombia are the team’s two primary markets, followed by Peru and Brazil. The group has a high market share of road projects in Colombia, including advising Concesión La Pintada, as borrower, and the sponsor group on the $250m financing of the design, development, construction, commissioning and operation of the Conexión Pacífico 2 Road project; part of the first wave of the 4G PPP road concession programme in Colombia. The practice was further enhanced in 2016 with the launch of a São Paulo office under the leadership of energy and project finance specialist Roberta Bassegio, a former partner at leading Brazilian firm Veirano Advogados. Of counsel Elicia Ling, a fluent Spanish and Portuguese speaker, is an ‘exceptionally able and productive senior attorney’, and Cathleen McLaughlin provides additional expertise in project financings involving project and infrastructure bonds. All individuals are New York based unless stated otherwise.

Top notch’, ‘first rate’ and ‘smart’, the practice group at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP is ‘thorough and dedicated’, ‘knows the region and its clients’, ‘gets into the depth of projects’ and is ‘able to dissect ideas in order to find the best solutions’. The team ‘responds on time’, ‘understands and learns about the client’s culture’, is ‘always able to provide fine and precise advice’ and ‘navigate complex waters’. The practice has a formidable reputation for representing borrowers and sponsors in big-ticket and complex green-field project financings in the energy and mining sectors. It is also noted for its expertise in finding solutions for troubled projects in Latin America and is the dominant player in Chilean mining project financings. Recent matters saw the team continue to advise Minera Escondida on the Escondida copper project in Chile, including its latest loan facility from the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Mizuho Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui, Scotiabank and Citibank; the firm has advised on this landmark project since 1988. The team has also established a leading presence in project bond transactions, advising Fiduciaria Bancolombia, as trustee of Fideicomiso PA Costera and of Fideicomiso PA Pacífico Tres, in a pair of project bond issuances ($262m and $380m, respectively), to finance the construction and improvement of toll roads across Colombia as part of the country’s 4G road infrastructure programme. Head of the Latin America practice Sergio Galvis and John Estes are ‘extraordinary lawyers’, provide ‘solid and wise judgment’, and offer a ‘permanent sounding board’. Washington DC partner Robert Risoleo is recommended for project bonds, and is gaining recognition for his work on Colombia’s 4G road programme. Christopher Mann is another key member of the team. All partners are based in New York unless stated otherwise.

The ‘excellentCMS has significantly expanded its Latin America practice with firms in Chile, Peru and Colombia joining the CMS global network in early 2017, linking up with existing offices in Rio de Janeiro and Mexico City. Clients report that ‘response times are always fast’, lawyers’ ‘knowledge of the industry is extensive’ and ‘pricing is amazing for the value it delivers’. The Mexico City office is well known for having advised the Mexican Ministry of Energy (SENER) on the reform of the electricity industry and it continues to be involved in the transformation of that sector. In Brazil, the firm represented PetroRio on a range of FPSO charter and operation agreements and crude oil sales contracts. In Chile, Luis Felipe Arze is ‘highly committed’, ‘always seems one step ahead’ and ‘knows the market inside and out’; he recently advised Eléctricas de Medellín Ingeniería y Servicios on the construction of a new transmission line to help connect Chile’s two main energy systems, Sistema Interconectado Central and Sistema Interconectado Norte Grande. Fellow Chile partner Jorge Allende is a prominent name in mining, energy and resources. Rio partner Ted Rhodes has a fine record on oil-and-gas work in Brazil and elsewhere, and Derek Woodhouse is a big name in Mexico City.

Demonstrating its commitment to Latin America with a steadily expanding network of offices across the region has enabled DLA Piper LLP (US) to generate a greater variety of energy sector engagements. In addition, the development of its agency lender practice in Washington DC, led by Gregory Smith, has furthered its exposure to renewable energy and infrastructure projects, and an impressive client base now includes Concesionaria Vial del Pacifico, OPIC, Pluspetrol, Iridium/ACS and Cosapi. A strong name in project finance, Miami partner John Murphy led the team that advised Concesionaria Vial del Pacifico, Corficolombiana and Iridium on the $1.2bn Conexión Pacifico 1 highway PPP project in Colombia; the first project to be awarded under the Autopistas para la Prosperidad PPP programme, the deal constitutes the largest ever project financing in the local market. Co-chair of the Latin America group and global co-chair of energy Robert Gruendel is another key player in the team, along with Eduardo Gallastegui in Mexico City.

Praised for its ‘swift responses’, ‘deep industry knowledge’ and ‘business oriented advice’, Jones Day is recommended by clients for upstream oil-and-gas matters, particularly in Mexico. Renewable energy and infrastructure projects are also key areas of expertise. The firm has elevated its status with agency lenders such as IDB, thanks in part to the presence of Fradyn Suárez in Miami, and has become increasingly active in Colombia-related infrastructure projects –it recently advised the concessionaire consortium on the $515m project financing for the construction and concession of the Pasto-Rumichaca motorway. The firm is also a major presence in Mexico, where it has a substantial office, and advised the lenders on the $607m financing to First Reserve for its acquisition of an ultra-low sulfur gasoline facility from Pemex. Key clients for the practice include Grupo Aeropuerto de Mexico, Total, Elecnor, Banco Santander, Sempra Energy, Fisterra, GALP, Iberdrola, IDB, Solairedirect, Spectra Energy, Chevron, EDF, BHP Billiton, Engie and Jinko. In São Paulo, Marcello Hallake has a fine record in Brazil-loacated and cross-border projects across Latin America. In Mexico, José Estandía is especially active in relation to the country’s energy sector reforms, including the liberalisation of the electricity market. Fellow Mexico City partners Alberto de la Parra and Manuel Romano are also highly recommended, along with Miami-based co-head of the global projects and infrastructure practice, Richard Puttré, who has a fine record in renewable energy projects and infrastructure projects in Chile, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Costa Rica. Houston partner Scott Schwind is recommended for oil-and-gas transactions in Mexico.

Praised for its ‘quality’, the team at King & Spalding LLP has the ability ‘to interact with technical issues and other advisors in different areas’ and wins plaudits for its ‘fluent coordination and resolution of tasks’. The practice is a leader in Latin American upstream oil and gas and LNG, and has experienced a significant uptick in Mexico projects and a growth in LNG work in Brazil; its client base centres on independent and mid-market oil-and-gas companies, and a growing cohort of private equity houses. Power is another strong feature of the practice in the region and a team led by Kelly Malone (Singapore office managing partner and head of the global power group), advised Empresa de Generación Eléctrica Cheves on the development, construction and financing of the 168MW hydropower project in Oyón and Huaura, Peru. The Tokyo office also continued to advise MODEC, Mitsui & Co, Marubeni Corporation and Mitsui OSK Lines, on the charter, project development and multibillion-dollar financings of a number of FPSO vessels to be located in Brazillian offshore waters. Houston partner Vera de Gyarfas is noted for upstream oil-and-gas projects, LNG and energy infrastructure work; Ken Culotta, leader of the global transactions practice, has tremendous upstream experience and is increasingly involved in midstream and pipeline projects; and John Crespo is the key name for oil-and-gas M&A and joint ventures. Washington DC counsel James Alford is also recommended. All named individuals are Houston-based unless stated otherwise.

A ‘top level law firm in infrastructure, banking and project finance,Linklaters LLP is ‘more knowledgeable of the Latin America market than other top global law firms’ according to one client, and demonstrates ‘strong skills, good industry knowledge and experience, and great sensitivity to commercial aspects’. The Latin America practice –which is ‘very smart, commercial and efficient’, provides ‘excellent service’ and ‘executes well’– is evenly balanced between infrastructure and energy, and is especially active in Colombia, Chile, Mexico and (increasingly) Argentina. Historically, the firm has had a significant share of offshore oil-and-gas transactions in Brazil. 2016 mandates saw the practice advise on one of its first airport projects in the region: assisting the sponsor consortium with the $900m expansion development and project financing of the Arturo Merino Benitez Airport in Chilean capital, Santiago. In the M&A segment, the team advised Pampa Energía on its acquisition of Petrobras Argentina from Brazilian parent, Petrobras. Michael Bassett delivers ‘supreme performance’ in oil and gas, and is widely recognised for his expertise in vessel financings, including drilling rigs, drillships and FPSOs for Brazil’s offshore market. Matthew Poulter is noted for project bonds and infrastructure finance expertise, especially in relation to Colombia’s 4G road infrastructure programme. Vijaya Palaniswamy has a fine record in energy and infrastructure projects, including the above mentioned airport mandate, LNG projects in Chile and solar projects in Peru.

Sophisticated’, ‘good to work with’, Sidley Austin LLP is ‘very active in Mexico and beyond’. The firm has impressed with its work related to the restructuring of the electricity sector in Mexico, and it continues to be a significant player in oil-and-gas and renewables transactions. The team advised Mexican state utility, Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE), on the development of natural gas transportation pipelines between the US and Mexico. In other headline deals it advised Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, GIC, on its participation in the acquisition of a 90% stake in Petrobras’ Nova Transportadora do Sudeste pipeline unit, as part of a consortium led by Brookfield. The team also continued to represent Partners Group regarding its investment in the under-development Seabras-1 fibre optic telecommunications cable between the United States and Brazil. Key figures include Houston-based Sergio Pozzerle (a prominent name for renewable energy); Glenn Pinkerton, (who has an impressive record in energy projects in Mexico, Brazil and Peru); and James Rice who is ‘quick to understand the issues’ and ‘helps to move the process along while protecting his client’s interests’. In Washington DC, Kenneth Irvin leads on the relationship with Mexico’s CFE and Ayaz Shaikh is recommended for project finance in the renewable energy sector.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP has a tremendous standing in energy, including solar, wind, and oil and gas. Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Peru are currently especially active jurisdictions for the firm, and recent mandates saw it advise Jefferies and Seaport Global Securities on Stoneway Capital’s $500m senior notes offering to finance a thermal power project in Buenos Aires province; it was the first greenfield project bond in Argentina for over 25 years. The team also advised Compañía de Petróleos de Chile Copec on its $747m acquisition of ExxonMobil’s fuels-and-lubricants distribution business in Colombia, Peru and Ecuador; and represented the initial purchasers in Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE)’s $1bn bond offering. Other clients include Abengoa, Colbún, Empresa Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (Entel), Minsur, OHL Concesiones and Transportadora de Gas del Norte. Core Latin America team members David Williams, Todd Crider, Jaime Mercado, and Juan Méndez are all experienced in energy and projects matters.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is well known for renewable energy, oil and gas, and infrastructure projects. The team advised First Solar on the development, construction and $290m financing (provided by IFC and OPIC) for the 141MW Luz del Norte solar power plant in the Atacama Desert, Chile; and also represented Credit Suisse on its $200m loan to Peru’s Graña y Montero to finance part of its equity contributions to Concesionaria Gasoducto Sur Peruano, which is developing a pipeline running from the Peruvian Amazon to the cities of Cusco, Apurimac, Puno, Arequipa, Moquegua and Tacna. ‘Brilliant and effective’New York partner Alejandro González Lazzeri is primarily focused on Latin America and has a wide range of sponsor and lender relationships. Lance Brasher and Paul Kraske are also active in the region.

A ‘first rate’ and ‘top notch firm’, Vinson & Elkins LLP has ‘deep knowledge of all energy related matters’ and is a global giant in the oil and gas industry whose clients recommend the firm for midstream and upstream activities in Latin America. The practice group’s lawyers are ‘highly experienced’, ‘focused on the clients’ needs’ and ‘a pleasure to work with’; and the partners ‘aggregate value by applying their global experience to solve complex issues that clients may find in a specific jurisdiction’; indeed, the firm’s ‘concept of teamwork overcomes cultural differences and contributes to building a harmonious and positive multijurisdictional working environment’. The firm has a significant market share of Brazilian upstream M&A deals and is now transferring that experience to Mexico, where it is also extremely active in the midstream segment and is experiencing an uptick in engagements from energy-focused private equity groups. Clients include Talos Energy, Riverstone, Key Energy Services and Gas Natural Atlantico. Recent mandates include advising Talos Energy on its participation in Mexico’s round one bidding process for exploration and production contracts for offshore shallow waters. Houston partner Boyd Carano is a ‘very experienced energy and M&A lawyer’ who has ‘great personal skills’ and a ‘very practical approach’. He and John Connally are praised for their ‘loyalty, deep knowledge of the industry, excellent negotiation skills, responsiveness, and open minded views’. Mark Spivak has joined Baker Botts L.L.P..

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP brings a ‘refreshing approach to legal work’, by being ‘very constructive and creative throughout the process’, and by ‘keeping solutions simple and effective in spite of the complexity of a deal’. The firm is known for its record in energy work throughout Latin America and of late has experienced a notable uptick in renewable energy engagements, including substantial solar power projects. One recent mandate saw the team advise Canadian Solar on the $400m development of a 190MW solar farm in Brazil, one of the largest ever solar projects in the country. The team represents a variety of developers, private equity investors and contractors and, to a lesser degree, a number of lenders. Clients include Mitsubishi Corporation, Diamond Generating Corporation, Och-Ziff Capital, LUKOIL, Talos Energy Ram Power, Safari Energy and Total E&P Americas. Mexico and Central America remain the practice’s principal markets, but South American jurisdictions including Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador and Chile are becoming increasingly important. Los Angeles partner Dino Barajas is an ‘expert on energy transactions’ and is praised for his ‘business acumen’, ‘industry knowledge’ and ‘Latin America expertise’. He is commended for his ‘ability to find creative and simple solutions to complicated problems’ using a healthy balance of ‘practicality and rigour’. Houston partner Steven Otillar is a leader in upstream oil and gas, and an expert in jurisdictions such as Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Argentina. Houston’s Douglas Glass is also recommended.

Andrews Kurth Kenyon LLP is best known for its agency-led practice in Washington DC, although it also has a wide range of commercial lender and sponsor clients. The firm is active across Latin America from Mexico and Central America to Argentina, from where it is receiving a growing number of engagements, particularly in renewable energy and gas-fired projects. Recent mandates include advising Energia del Pacifico, as sponsor, on the development and financing of a 350MW power plant and LNG terminal in El Salvador; and representing Energía del Caribe, also as sponsor, on the development of a natural gas power plant in Mexico. Washington DC partner Vera Rechsteiner has an outstanding record in Latin America, particularly in renewable energy; and Houston partner Doris Rodríguez is a native Mexican who works with a range of sponsors and lenders. Houston’s Mark Thurber is recommended for oil-and-gas and power project development. George Humphrey has joined Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP’s newly launched Houston office.

Baker Botts L.L.P. is widely known for its illustrious client base and its esteemed record in upstream oil and gas, LNG and renewables. Project finance specialist Mark Spivak joined the Washington DC office from Vinson & Elkins LLP in early 2017, bolstering the firm’s Latin America credentials; the firm’s regional client base includes E.CL, Engie, Globeleq Mesoamerica Energy, Hunt Energy Horizons, Hunt Oil Company (Peru LNG), Repsol and Sempra Energy. Highlight engagements include advising Costa Norte LNG Terminal and Gas Natural Atlantico on the long-term purchase of LNG from Engie for gas-fired power generation in Panama. Co-chair of the Latin America practice Carlos Solé is closely-linked to Mexico’s energy sector and the industry reforms there, and has a broad practice that reaches across Latin America and includes energy transactions in Chile, Costa Rica and Honduras; he is regarded as ‘excellent’, ‘good to deal with’ and ‘capable of getting deals closed’. Jason Bennett and David Jetter are key members of the team. All are based in Houston.

Cuatrecasas has a fine record in Latin America, principally on transactions under Spanish law, and is particularly noted for its experience in renewable energy and transport infrastructure. Clients include Pemex, Grupo Cobra, Banco Santander (Brasil), Pampa Energía, Banco Bradesco, Grupo Gestamp and Banco BTG Pactual. Highlight engagements include advising Banco Santander Brasil and Banco Bradesco on a R$437m bridge loan and R$396m long-term financing to Gestamp Energías Renovables (and subsidiaries), for the development of a series of wind farms with a total capacity of 128MW in the state of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil. Rafael Mínguez is a leader in project finance and has extensive Latin America experience. Fernando Bernad, Manuel Follía and Agustín Cerdá are also key members of the practice.

Very supportive without over-lawyering’, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP provides ‘excellent service’, is ‘practical and responsive’ and constantly demonstrates ‘business mindedness’. The firm has an impressive record in infrastructure projects in Latin America and is a growing presence in oil and gas and renewable energy. It is increasingly active in Mexico’s hydrocarbons sector and maintains an impressive record in Chile, Brazil, Colombia and Peru. It continues to advise OPIC on the financing and restructuring of the installation of a 4G LTE network in six Colombian cities. New York partner Melissa Raciti-Knapp is ‘sensitive to the key issues’, ‘avoids over-heating negotiations’ and ‘achieves results’. London partner and Spanish speaker Graham Watson is increasingly active in Latin America’s oil-and-gas sector and was the lead partner on advice to BG regarding its $80bn takeover by Royal Dutch Shell, which involved assets in five Latin American jurisdictions.

Greenberg Traurig LLP’s commitment to the Latin America region has gained it a number of key engagements in energy and infrastructure projects, and its Mexico City office has helped position the firm for a number of headline matters in the country. Elsewhere, the firm advised Klabin on its $300m financing from IDB for Project Puma, a green-field pulp mill and infrastructure project in Paraná, Brazil. Miami partner Randy Bullard has an impressive record in Latin America project finance and vice chair of the firm Patricia Menéndez-Cambó is particularly recommended for telecoms infrastructure projects. Mexico City partner Juan Manuel González is a senior project finance partner with a wealth of experience in infrastructure and energy matters.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP is an international leader in energy and natural resources and has strong links to Latin America through its Madrid and New York offices. Clients include Chevron, BP, BG Group, Petrobras and RMB Resources. The regional practice group advised BHP Billiton on a range of matters connected to the Pampa Norte Copper project in Chile, including EPC contracts for the material handling facility and the concentrator plant; and also advised Corporación Nacional del Cobre (CODELCO), Chile’s state-controlled mining group, on a pair of EPC contracts related to the Radomiro Tomic Mine Phase II and the Chuquicamata Copper Mine project. Madrid partner Ignacio Paz and New York’s Juan-José Zentner are key members of the Latin America practice.

Hunton & Williams LLP has a formidable record in telecoms infrastructure projects, notably submarine cable systems. The firm is also active in renewable energy projects for agency lenders and international banks, and has advised on several road infrastructure projects over the years. Recent mandates include advising Corporación Interamericana para el Financiamiento de Infraestructura (CIFI) regarding the follow-on financing for the Corredor Turistico, a 220km toll road in northern Honduras. Miami partner Fernando Margarit is a leader in Latin America telecoms infrastructure and submarine cable systems; and Latin America practice chair Fernando Alonso and Ellis Butler are also key members of the team.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP is recommended for upstream and midstream oil and gas and LNG in Mexico and Brazil; this includes projects and M&A. The firm recently advised Baja California Sur Gas Transport on a $2.5bn liquefaction and regasification project in Mexico. In addition to oil and gas work, the firm is a growing presence in renewable energy. Its client base ranges from major oil companies to smaller independent players and funds making investments in Latin America. Felipe Alice is a senior name in the oil and gas area and Ulises Pin is strongly recommended for telecoms infrastructure projects; however, both Brian Bradshaw and Dave Asmus have moved to Sidley Austin LLP.

Top of the list’ and ‘second to noneMorrison & Foerster LLP is praised for its ‘response times’, ‘efficiency’, ‘value for money’ and ‘experience’ particularly as regards wind power. The firm has a strong focus on renewables, particularly in the Mexican market, and continues to advise Oak Creek Energy Systems on the landmark 300MW Tres Mesas Project in Tamaulipas, Mexico. Tokyo partners Michael Graffagna and Dale Caldwell have a number of illustrious Japanese clients that have interests in the region, most notably in the mining and oil-and-gas sectors. Los Angeles partner Jeffrey Chester is a prominent player in the Mexican wind energy sector.

Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP has strong connections to lending agencies and is a prominent player in LNG and renewable energy projects; transport infrastructure is another key focus of the practice group, whose clients include Ex-Im Bank, IFC, OPIC and Marubeni. The team advised IFC, FMO and ICF Debt Pool on their financing to Transambiental for the implementation, ownership and initial operation of one of the three concessions that will make up Cartagena’s new bus transit system, currently in development. Based in Washington DC, ‘brilliant strategistJeffrey Goodman is ‘meticulous’ and ‘very rapid to respond’; Sarah Devine is emerging as a prominent practitioner in power and infrastructure projects across Latin America; and Jeremy Hushon is close to numerous multilaterals and DFIs, and has a fine record in renewable energy and other power projects. Former Houston partner Ned Crady has joined Baker Botts L.L.P..

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP’s newly launched Houston office has a strong affinity with Latin America, particularly in relation to energy M&A, energy development and project finance. The practice is largely centred on midstream and downstream oil-and-gas, and power and renewables projects. The team is especially prominent in Mexico, although it is active throughout Latin America. Recent mandates include representing EDP Renewables on the development and construction of a 200MW wind farm in Coahuila, Mexico; and it also advised Sky Solar Holdings on the project financing provided by IDB for six contracted solar photovoltaic projects in Uruguay totalling some 80MW. Other clients include VINCI Airports, Eurus Energy America, Monterra Energy, ConocoPhillips and BHP Billiton Petroleum. Carlos Treistman and Rodrigo Dominguez now head the Latin America practice after joining from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, while co-head of the global energy and infrastructure group Blake Winburne is also active in the region, having joined from McDermott Will & Emery LLP. The hire of George Humphrey from Andrews Kurth Kenyon LLP has given the Latin America group even more credibility in oil and gas matters.

Squire Patton Boggs has an impressive record in Mexico where it has represented Pemex on a range of projects including major natural gas pipelines. The firm has also impressed in power and renewables matters across Latin America, and has a unique presence in the Dominican Republic, where it recently advised the lead arrangers and bookrunners on the $533m refinancing of Aeropuertos Dominicanos Siglo XXI (Aerodom) through a bond offering and syndicated loan. Washington DC partners Paul O’Hop and Alvaro Mestre have a fine record in oil-and-gas, power and renewables, and infrastructure projects; Mestre is chair of the firm’s Mexico desk. Kevin Levey is recommended for infrastructure and pipeline projects.

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