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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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Projects and energy work was a major focus of international law firms in 2017 and into 2018. The macroeconomic picture and the growing demand for infrastructure and energy fomented transaction activity. Firms have typically benefitted from broad geographic coverage with individual economies providing a sudden surge in projects and deals. Mexico’s opening up of the energy sector to foreign investors has provided an especially fruitful source of instructions for top international law firms. So too has Argentina’s RenovAR and wider PPP programme. Colombia also continues to provide a good pipeline of deals as it seeks to augment its transport infrastructure. The mining and resources sector has seen an uptick in deals as commodity prices continue to improve, while the entire Latin America region is generally awash with renewable energy projects. On a negative note, Venezuela’s political and economic struggles have led to a stark decline or near elimination of deal opportunities.

With the capital markets continuing to provide a good source of capital for projects, firms continue to focus much of their attention on project and infrastructure bonds. Notably, Clifford Chance, already a leader in this segment, hired of New York capital markets partner Hugo Triaca from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP to further augment its position. In the energy space, Sidley Austin LLP recruited Houston partners Brian Bradshaw and David Asmus from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, while the latter firm hired Latin America specialist John Crespo and Mexico qualified Adrian Talamantes from King & Spalding LLP.

Clifford Chance further cemented its formidable position in project bonds and capital markets-driven financings with the hire of New York partner and Argentine native Hugo Triaca from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. The firm, which has ‘great lawyers’, continues to impress with its connections to key investment and commercial banks such as Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, JP Morgan, HSBC and BNP Paribas, and also maintains a leading multilateral agency (MLA) practice in Washington DC. The firm has a wealth of Latin American natives working at senior, mid- and junior level, and covers the product range from classic project finance to capital markets fund raisings. It advised Argentina’s Ministry of Finance on the design and implementation of its PPP programme and subsequently represented a number of investors, developers and prospective lenders on projects to be developed under the programme. The firm is also involved in multiple renewable energy projects in Argentina. It continues to be the dominant force in Colombia, where it was engaged on the refinancing of El Dorado airport and seven on-going fourth generation (4G) toll-road financings. Peru is another key market, where it has worked on the headline Lima Metro, Red Dorsal and Longitudinal de la Sierra projects. It is a market leader in Uruguay and Paraguay projects, including renewables and PPP projects, and has a strong presence in other key markets such as Mexico, Brazil and Chile. The firm has advised key parties in a series of Colombia’s 4G road projects, including advising key client Goldman Sachs on the multi-source financing for the Ruta al Mar private-initiative toll road, featuring both bonds and loans. It also advised Altán Redes, a consortium backed by Morgan Stanley and the World Bank, on the 20-year PPP contract to build an open-access wholesale wireless network that will cover more than 92% of the country’s population; it is the first PPP agreement to be executed in the Mexican telecoms industry. In another headline deal, the firm advised the lenders on the $380m financing of the expansion of Line 1 subway in Lima, Peru. Washington DC partner and Argentine native Fabricio Longhin is dedicated to Latin America, with an especially strong record in Argentina and Colombia, including in Colombia’s 4G road programme and Argentina’s RenovAr renewable energy initiative; he is ‘a skilled lawyer’, ‘very business oriented’, ‘lenders like him’ and ‘he has cornered the Argentine market’. New York partner Gianluca Bacchiocchi, who is a ‘smart guy’, ‘incredibly responsive’, ‘one of the best lawyers on the street’ and ‘more knowledgeable and thoughtful than anyone’ according to one client, is a leading name in project bonds, hybrid and multi-source financings, particularly those involving securitisation-type structures; he has an especially strong record in Colombia and Peru. Madrid partner José Guardo is also a key member of the team, having pivotal roles in projects ranging from Mexico down to Argentina. Washington DC partners Catherine McCarthy and Lori Ann Bean are frequent advisers to MLAs and commercial banks on Latin America projects. Former São Paulo partner Chris Willott, who is now in New York, continues to focus on Brazil and the Southern Cone jurisdictions. Senior associate Guido Liniado, who is highly acclaimed by clients, is recognised for Colombia and Argentina projects, while Washington DC senior associates Alberto Haito and Jessica Springsteen are also recommended. Christopher McIsaac, the former co-head of the Americas energy-and-infrastructure group, has retired.

Mayer Brown continues to cement its position in projects and energy in Latin America. The firm’s now well-established Mexico City office has further enabled it to build market share in energy and infrastructure, particularly in relation to the liberalisation of Mexico’s hydrocarbons sector, and the firm’s notable Houston office is also actively involved with the Mexico market. Its Chicago, New York and Washington DC offices provide further connections to key lenders, including commercial banks, MLAs and development finance institutions (DFIs), and a number of sponsors and borrowers. The firm has a significant market share of high profile renewable energy projects in Latin America and has attracted a consistent pipeline of infrastructure project engagements. In addition to mainstream project finance, the firm is also at the forefront of project and infrastructure bonds. Clients include Panama Canal Authority, Invenergy, Banco de Credito del Peru, Credit Suisse, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, Celeo Redes, Grupo Odinsa and Empresas. The firm is praised for its ‘market and legal knowledge, efficient work, proactivity and value for money’. It advised Celeo Redes Operación Chile on the $600m issuance of US dollar and Chilean peso-denominated notes to finance electricity transmission projects; this was the first portfolio project bond in Chile. It also advised Invenergy on the acquisition, development and financing of the Energía del Pacífico Project, a greenfield LNG-to-power project in El Salvado. Other matters include representing the noteholders (private investors) in the private placement of $136m in investment-grade rated project bonds issued by Invenergy to finance the operation of its 70MW Campo Palomoas wind energy project in Uruguay. New York and Washington DC-based Christopher Erckert is the most celebrated partner in the team, having a solid record in mainstream project finance and project bonds, including in the infrastructure and renewable energy sectors. Ariel Ramos is a key name in Mexico City, while Houston-located Francisco Mendez (who previously spent 20 years at ExxonMobil as an in-house lawyer for Latin America), is at the heart of the Mexico energy reform-related work. Spending much of his time in the country, Mendez was involved in the formation of the Mexican Hydrocarbons Association and is highly regarded in the upstream oil and gas sector. Also in Houston, Jose Valera and Pablo Ferrante are prominent in upstream oil and gas, power and renewables transactions in Mexico and elsewhere, while Edward Lima at Brazilian affiliate firm Tauil & Chequer Advogados in association with Mayer Brown is another pivotal practitioner. Chicago-based Barry Machlin has a great deal of experience in Latin America energy, infrastructure and mining projects, while Gabriela Sakamoto in Washington DC is an emerging talent.

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP is a giant of Latin America’s project development and project finance sector. It is active across industries and across the region. It represents a variety of participants to transactions, including traditional debt and equity investors, government lenders and private sponsors. It has a series of top practitioners that are active in the region and it has successfully developed a new generation of talent. It recently advised Actis on its $1.25bn acquisition of InterGen’s Mexican assets, including a portfolio of six combined-cycle gas turbine projects and a 155MW wind project with partner IEnova. In another landmark deal, it advised Macquarie on the acquisition, development and financing of Norte III, a 907MW combined-cycle gas turbine power plant in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. Additionally, it advised the lenders on the project financing of Aela Energia’s wind portfolio, including the Aurora and Sarco projects in Chile. Leader of the firm’s global project, energy and infrastructure finance group Daniel Bartfeld ‘is definitely a leading name’, and is recognised for his work in Brazil, Mexico and across the region. Carolina Walther-Meade is ‘very active in Latin America’ and has a hugely impressive record in infrastructure, energy and mining projects across the region. Roland Estevez is an increasingly prominent name in the market, especially in relation to power and renewables projects in Mexico and Chile. Los Angeles partner Allan Marks and Jonathan Green are also experienced in Latin America deals. The ‘excellent’ Jaime Ramirez, a genuine Latin America specialist, was elected to the partnership in January 2018, having been part of the team on significant transactions such as advising the international lenders on the financing of the 875MW Tierra Mojada combined cycle gas facility in Guadalajara, Mexico. Daniel Michalchuk has impressed in Mexico oil and gas deals, especially in the pipelines segment. Alec Borisoff has transferred from Tokyo to New York and is an experienced figure in Latin America, recently representing Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in the financing and restructuring of the construction and operation of the Embraport container and liquid bulk port terminal in Santos, Brazil. All partners are based in New York unless stated.

Shearman & Sterling LLP has a broad-based practice, covering oil and gas, power, renewables, transmission lines, transport infrastructure, and mining and metals. Moreover it has widespread geographic coverage, including major jurisdictions such as Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Argentina, Ecuador, Paraguay and Bolivia. The Latin America team covers a mix of project development, project finance and project refinancings, including those involving capital markets issuances. It has an even balance of Latin American and international sponsor clients, along with a rich variety of lender clients, including commercial banks, private equity funds, sovereign wealth funds and pension funds. Recent mandates include advising Y-GEN Eléctrica and Y‐GEN II Eléctrica, the joint venture operations owned by General Electric and YPF, on the $220m financing of the construction of two gas-fired power stations in Argentina; this was the first project finance loan to close in Argentina for more than a decade. The practice also represented Carso Gasoducto Norte on the $545m non-recourse project financing of the 630km natural gas pipeline from Samalayuca, Chihuahua to Sásabe, Sonora in Mexico. Gregory Tan is global head of project development and finance, has a strong focus on Latin America, and delivers ‘a consistently good experience in terms of knowledge and an ability to be commercial in his approach’. Head of the firm’s mining and metals practice, Cynthia Urda Kassis is ‘a fixture on the Latin American scene especially in mining and oil and gas’, a ‘lovely human being who persuades and wins points through logic and reason rather than fist pounding’, she is ‘very smart, very constructive, and very capable and clever – clients love her’. Alexandro Padrés is Mexico and New York-qualified, and has an especially strong record in Mexican and Chilean renewable energy and mining projects. Robert Freedman provides further senior expertise in energy sector transactions. Associate Augusto Ruiloba is ‘a very good attorney’; ‘incredibly smart and business oriented’, he ‘knows how to deal with clients and people sitting across the table from him’.

White & Case LLP launched a Houston office in February 2018, bringing in a number of senior practitioners with significant Latin America experience. The new Houston partners Jay Cuclis, Steven Otillar and Christopher Richardson have a strong focus on Latin America and significant oil and gas expertise; they joined from Vinson & Elkins LLP, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP respectively. Building on the firm’s strong profile in downstream oil and gas, the new team extends its expertise into upstream and midstream development and commercial issues. With its eminent Mexico City office, the firm is well plugged into Mexico’s hydrocarbon sector reform-related work. Beyond oil and gas, the firm continues to impress in power and renewables, including in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. It has also experienced growth in PPP engagements, including in Paraguay and Argentina. Showcasing its expertise in infrastructure and project bonds, the firm advised the banks on the $2bn cross-border debt issuance by state-owned Petróleos del Perú-Petroperú; the proceeds of what was the largest-ever offering by a Peruvian issuer are intended to finance a large-scale upgrade and modernisation of the Talara Refinery. It also represented Invenergy as sponsor, and Nicefield as borrower, in the refinancing of the 70MW Campo Palomas wind farm project in Uruguay. The firm is commended for its expertise in structuring and negotiating EPC, TUA and LNG contracts related to project development activities. Clients are ‘highly satisfied’ with its ‘support in all aspects’ and highlight its ‘customer oriented’ approach with its ‘interest in understanding client needs and commitment to these during the whole process’. ‘The level of service is high’ with ‘very prepared lawyers that deliver excellent performance’. Latin America project finance head Carlos Viana is ‘always a collegial professional and easy to work with’. São Paulo-based John Anderson provides ‘deep commitment’, ‘good technical coverage’ at a ‘reasonable cost’. In Mexico City, Sean Goldstein does an ‘excellent job’, is ‘always on top of what his associates are doing, and is always available to clarify, intervene and participate in any discussion or negotiation’. He has ‘sound experience’ in project development and project finance in the energy sector. Washington DC partner Victor DeSantis is recommended for oil and gas and infrastructure project finance; he is ‘very reasonable’, ‘knows what he is talking about’, has ‘years of experience’; ‘very commercial, practical’ he ‘is not out there to win points’, and ‘has a view on getting deals done and not getting lost in the weeds’. Washington DC’s Ned Neaher is also recommended for lender-side engagements and Miami-based Jeanine Acevedo is another key name in the team. New York’s John Vetterli brings leading capital markets expertise to the firm’s project and infrastructure bonds engagements. Former Mexico City partner José Ignacio Segura Alonso has joined Creel, García-Cuéllar, Aiza y Enríquez, S.C.. Named partners are based in Miami unless stated.

Allen & Overy LLP has experienced consistent growth in energy, mining and infrastructure projects. Power is a particular forte of the practice, which is active in Mexico and throughout Central and Southern America. It now represents a wide range of commercial banks, MLAs and DFIs, sponsors and private equity funds that invest in projects. It has experienced a notable uptick in renewable energy engagements in Argentina as part of the nation’s RenovAr programme, including for MLA clients, and is also increasingly active on behalf of Asian clients in conventional energy projects. Beyond the energy sector, it continues to be prominent in infrastructure, including in Colombia’s 4G toll-road initiative and advised International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the State of São Paulo on its revamped multibillion-dollar, toll-roads concession programme. Moreover, it is praised for its ‘exceptional mining practice’. Other headline deals include advising Genrent del Peru on the $106m refinancing of the 80MW Iquitos thermoelectric facility in Peru, via a private placement; this was one of the first project financings in South America to use this debt structure; and Cubico Sustainable Investments and Parque Eólico el Mezquite on the financing of a 249MW wind project in Mexico following their successful participation in CENACE’s Long Term Auction. New York partner Dorina Yessios is commended for renewable energy projects, especially in Mexico, and has a fine record in toll-road projects elsewhere. Spanish speaker Sami Mir is a ‘really good lawyer’ who is ‘very practical’ with ‘very targeted experience and industry expertise’ and has been pivotal to sustaining and building the firm’s relationships with Washington DC-based MLAs and DFIs. Head of the São Paulo office Bruno Soares is an outstanding figure in Brazil, with close connections to both lenders and sponsors. São Paulo senior counsel Mark Manisty is also a key figure.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP has an outstanding reputation in Latin America with unrivalled breadth of geographic and industry coverage. The firm’s long-term commitment to Latin America has enabled it to build an illustrious client portfolio of leading oil and gas, mining and metals companies, and it continues to be prominent in conventional power and renewable energy. Its client base is weighted towards sponsors and includes Vale, Pampa Energía, Fenix Power, Aeropuerto de Cancún, Petróleo Brasileiro (Petrobras), DP World and ENAP. The firm is also at the forefront of Argentina’s PPP initiative, thanks in part to its illustrious Buenos Aires office led by the hugely respected Andrés de la Cruz. Beyond Argentina, the Latin America team advised the Mexican Ministry of Communications and Transportation and Aeropuertos y Servicios Auxiliares on the $4bn green bond offering to finance the construction and development of Mexico City’s new International Airport. It also represented ENAP, the Chilean state-owned oil and gas company, on its joint venture with Methanex for the supply of natural gas. In addition, the firm advised long-term client, Mexican state-owned oil company Pemex, on its $4bn Rule 144A/Reg S debt offering and two concurrent liability management transactions. The team has also experienced growth in infrastructure finance in Brazil and renewable energy projects in Mexico. Chantal Kordula has made a big impression in the Mexican market and continued to advise on the above-mentioned headline Mexico City International Airport financing; she is also recognised for her work on oil and gas and renewable energy projects in the jurisdiction. Adam Brenneman has impressed in waste-to-energy projects in Mexico and also on transactions in the Southern Cone region. Jeffrey Lewis is a noted figure in oil and gas and natural resources transactions, and acts for some of the biggest names in the industry such as Vale, Pluspetrol, Pemex and ENAP; he is also noted for his project finance record in Chile. Jorge Juantorena deserves recognition for capital markets-driven financings, including the green bond issuance used to finance Mexico City’s new International Airport project.

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP continues to be especially prominent in upstream and downstream oil and gas and has a significant market share of Brazil-originated international project financings. In addition, it is one of a select few firms to operate at the forefront of project bonds in the region. Clients include Banco Santander, CCR, Dubai Ports, Embraport, Invepar, Odebrecht, Rutas de Lima, Sete Brasil and Vinci Highways. The team advised Línea Amarilla, VINCI Concessions and VINCI Highways, as sponsors, on a $65m senior secured loan to finance the completion of the Linea Amarilla toll road in Lima, Peru; the financing of this project uses a rare hybrid structure, comprising of notes issued in 2012 and a senior secured term loan. Maintaining its strong profile in the Brazilian offshore oil and gas sector, the practice continued to advise Odebrecht Oil & Gas and Teekay Offshore Partners and their subsidiaries on the $900m long-term, limited-recourse project financing of an extended well-test floating production, storage and offloading unit (FPSO) to be chartered to Petrobras. The seasoned Stephen Hood and James Vickers are prominent names in São Paulo, where they are at the forefront of oil and gas and infrastructure projects in Brazil and other Latin American jurisdictions such as Peru. New York partner Joseph Hadley is another key name for Latin America project financings, as is versatile São Paulo partner Manuel Garciadiaz, particularly for project bonds.

Hogan Lovells US LLP continues to lead the way in major project financings involving Asian entities, including in Ecuador, Venezuela and Honduras, and is also building its presence in the Mexican energy sector through its offices in Mexico City and Monterrey. Its offices in New York, Houston and Miami have a strong focus on the Latin America region, and it remains one of the few international law firms to have offices in both Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. It is also a leader in representing state-owned entities and government-linked companies in Ecuador, Venezuela, Honduras, Colombia, Brazil and other Latin American jurisdictions. Clients include the Republic of Venezuela, Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), Pemex, Republic of Ecuador, Petroecuador, Fermaca, Petrobras, PetroAmazonas and Statoil. The practice advised Mexico’s state-owned oil and gas company, Pemez, on its agreement with BHP Billiton to develop the deep-water Trion Block in the Gulf of Mexico. Houston partner Bruno Ciuffetelli is co-chair of the Latin America practice group and long-standing adviser to PDVSA and other Venezuelan state-owned entities. Miami-based fellow co-chair of the Latin America team José Valdivia has extensive energy sector experience, especially in Ecuador and Venezuela. Also in Miami, Miguel Zaldivar is co-head of infrastructure, energy, resources and projects, and is a frequent adviser to the Republic of Ecuador and its state-owned energy companies; he also has extensive experience in project financings involving Asian lenders. Head of the Rio and São Paulo offices Claudette Christian is prominent in oil and gas projects and project financings in Brazil. Mexico City partner Carlos Ramos Miranda is noted for energy and infrastructure projects in Mexico and other Latin American jurisdictions.

Latham & Watkins LLP is a global leader in projects and energy, with a high number of its US-based practitioners having a strong focus on Latin America. It has an especially strong position in Mexico, followed by Chile and Colombia. The firm’s core Latin America team has leveraged its internal expertise to work on a series of matters involving the interplay between project finance, M&A and private equity. Clients include First Reserve, Fermaca Global, Norddeutsche Landesbank, Repsol, IEnova, Sempra Energy and Andes Mining & Energy. Recent mandates include advising Vista Oil & Gas on its $650m listing on the Mexican Stock Exchange; this was the first special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) IPO in Latin America; and Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec on its acquisition of an 80% stake in Enel Green Power’s Mexico-based portfolio of wind and solar assets. Other mandates include advising US-based investment fund ICE Canyon, as a purchaser of senior secured notes issued by Stoneway Capital, to finance the construction of four power plants in Argentina. The firm provides an ‘excellent service’, ‘very strong team’, ‘very rapid response times’ and ‘practical and helpful advice’. Washington DC’s David Penna is a pivotal member of the team, leading many of the firm’s key project finance transactions in the region, including in the energy, oil and gas, and infrastructure sectors. Co-chair of the energy, oil and gas industry group, Christopher Cross is noted for oil and gas transactions in Mexico and Latin America team co-head Antonio Del Pino is recommended for M&A, joint ventures and private equity transactions involving energy assets. Veronica Relea is another prominent partner and Washington DC counsel Luis Torres has led on a series of high profile transactions, most notably in Argentina. All partners are based in New York unless stated otherwise.

A top firm for power and renewables in particular, Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP’s merger with Chadbourne & Parke has helped cement its relationships with a range of DFIs and ECAs. The integrated team now frequently advises the likes of Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), IFC and IDB. It also advises a range of commercial banks and sponsors and is ‘definitely in the mix’ for top engagements, according to one rival firm. Other clients include Macquarie, Enel Green Power, Credit Agricole, Mitsubishi and Engie. The Latin America team has an especially strong record in Mexico, where it is at the forefront of renewable energy projects and hydrocarbon sector auctions. Chile and Colombia are also notably active jurisdictions. A team led by New York and Mexico City partner Raquel Bierzwinsky advised Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC), IFC, The Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ, Banobras and Bancomext, as senior lenders, on the financings of the 150MW Solem I and 140MW Solem II photovoltaic projects in Aguascalientes, Mexico; these were the first two solar projects under Mexico’s long-term clean energy auctions to obtain project financing. In Chile, the firm has developed a significant market share of solar and wind projects. In Colombia, it is very active in power and oil and gas, while it has gained a foothold in Argentina with a series of infrastructure engagements, including a number that are part of the nation’s PPP programme. São Paulo partner Daniel Spencer is widely recognised for his work on the Lima Metro financings, renewable energy financings in Peru, infrastructure deals in Brazil and securitisations in the oil and gas sector. New York’s Todd Alexander has a sizeable profile in Latin America, including in major renewable energy projects in Mexico and Chile. In the Washington DC office, Peter Fitzgerald has impressed in a number of major Latin America projects, while the ‘very constructive’ Noam Ayali ‘fights his points but knows when to stop arguing’, ‘won’t delay the deal’ and is a ‘very good and capable lawyer’. Hernán González Estrada is the key name in Mexico City where the firm recently hired Jose Sifuentes from local firm Nader, Hayaux y Goebel, SC to bolster its reserve-based lending practice. Strong teams in Canada and London have also contributed to the firm’s success in Latin America’s mining sector. Former Washington DC partner Rohit Chaudhry, a ‘tremendous lawyer’, has joined Kirkland & Ellis LLP.

Paul Hastings LLP has a high market share of big-ticket engagements in Latin America, thanks in large part to the presence of the widely commended and multi-lingual Robert Kartheiser. The promotion of Elicia Ling, a fluent Spanish and Portuguese speaker, to the partnership has given the firm additional senior level credibility. The team has advised on a series of headline power sector transactions in Mexico, a number of road infrastructure projects in Colombia and it is developing a strong position in Argentina. Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama and Peru are all other key markets for the practice group, which includes project bonds and multi-tranche financings among its particular strengths. Key clients include HSBC, Credit Agricole, Natixis, Grupo Odinsa, Energias do Brasil, Fisterra and OHL. Recent mandates include advising the lenders on the ongoing $130m project financing for the design, installation, operation and maintenance of solar photovoltaic systems by borrower Ergon Peru, which will supply electricity to rural areas not connected to the power grid in Peru. It also assisted Concesión Ruta al Mar and Construcciones El Cóndor, as borrower and sponsor, respectively, on the $175m bond financing of the construction, rehabilitation, improvement, operation and maintenance of the approximately 491km Ruta al Mar toll road project in Colombia (one of a number of road projects the firm has advised on in Colombia). Brazilian energy specialist Roberta Bassegio provides further senior level expertise in São Paulo and Cathleen McLaughlin delivers additional capital markets expertise in project and infrastructure bond transactions. All individuals are New York based unless stated otherwise.

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP is ‘a fixture in the mining and oil and gas scene’, primarily for sponsors. It is also noted for complex and big-ticket infrastructure projects. The firm has operated at the forefront of Latin America project finance for decades and is typically engaged in a relatively small number of top-strata transactions. It is ‘the best in the business’, with a team that is ‘strong and deep’ and ‘extremely good at giving business focused advice that addresses the key issues and focuses on problem solving’; one client says its ‘knowledge of Latin America mining is unparalleled’. The firm does indeed have a significant market share of mining projects in Latin America, especially on the sponsor side, and with the recovery of commodity prices, it is experiencing higher levels of activity in the sector. In addition, it has advised on a series of bulge-bracket acquisitions in the energy sector, including a number by Chinese investors. It continued to represent State Grid International Development on its acquisition of a 95% interest Brazil’s largest privately-owned electric energy generation and distribution group, CPFL Energia. It also advised Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) on a series of transactions, including its acquisition of a majority stake in Transportadora de Gas del Perú. Head of the Latin America practice Sergio Galvis is ‘the leading mining lawyer in Latin America by a long margin’, according to one client who says he is ‘smart, calm, insightful and a pleasure to work with’. Christopher Mann, who heads the firm’s global infrastructure practice, also impresses in infrastructure, power, energy, mining and natural resources. John Estes is noted for mining sector transactions and Werner Ahlers has worked on a series of M&A deals involving energy assets. All partners are based in New York.

CMS is only the second international law firm to build a presence in Brazil and all the Pacific Alliance nations. A high proportion of its Latin America focus is on energy, natural resources, oil and gas, and infrastructure. The firm is ‘capable of handling very complex work related to energy and infrastructure, mainly in agreements governed by English law’, according to one client. It has a ‘respected background in energy projects around the world and applies this expertise to solve legal problems’ and is ‘highly responsive, accurate and knows how to address the client’s concerns in an adequate timeframe’. Recent mandates saw the practice advise Eneva on the termination and replacement of existing coal purchase contracts for two thermal power plants in the North East of Brazil; and, via its Chilean office, advise Enagás Chile on the restructuring of the capital stock of GNL Quintero, reducing its shareholding in the company from 60% to 45%, by selling a share to Borealis Infrastructure Group. ‘A mature and experienced lawyer’, Rio de Janeiro-based Ted Rhodes ‘is always accessible to his clients’, ‘makes on-time and assertive responses’ and ‘demonstrates knowledge and humbleness’. Chile partner Jorge Allende is noted for mining, energy and resources and Derek Woodhouse is a prominent figure in Mexico City.

DLA Piper LLP (US) has steadily expanded its Latin America practice in recent years, giving it greater exposure to top-level projects and energy transactions. It now has a presence in multiple jurisdictions across the region, where its clients include Pemex, HSBC, IDB/IIC, Banco Santander (Mexico), OPIC and Stoneway Capital. It advised US EX-IM Bank and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) on the financing of the Cerro de Hula wind project in Honduras (the largest wind farm in Central America), and also represented Pemex on its $521m sale of its stake in gas distributor Ductos y Energeticos del Norte to IEnova. Washington DC partner Gregory Smith has strong connections to a number of prominent MLAs and DFIs; New York-based global co-chair of energy Robert Gruendel is also active in Latin America and ‘client-favouriteEduardo Gallástegui is the key name in Mexico City. The firm hired project finance of counsel Amala Nath, who is ‘high quality’ and ‘understands clients’ needs’, from Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP in January 2018; Nath has substantial experience in Latin America and frequently advises MLAs.

Jones Day’s substantial Latin America practice has developed an ever-increasing market share of projects and energy engagements throughout the region. Oil and gas, power, renewable energy and transport infrastructure all form part of a flourishing practice. It advised Grupo Aeroportuario de la Ciudad de Mexico on the Mexican law aspects of its $4bn green bond issuance, and also represented Autopistas del Sol on a Rule 144A/Reg S $300m senior notes issue (with a concurrent senior secured notes-offering to certain investors in Costa Rica) in what was one of the largest project bond issuances in Central America in recent years. Moreover, it provided US and Mexican law advice to JinkoSolar on the development and financing of three photovoltaic solar power facilities in Mexico. The team is ‘among the best’, ‘demonstrates considerable knowledge and is always responsive’, ‘covers multiple jurisdictions and has significant relevant experience’, according to clients. Miami-based head of the global projects and infrastructure practice, Richard Puttré has an outstanding record in renewable energy, infrastructure and mining projects in Mexico, Central America and other jurisdictions such as Peru and Chile. São Paulo partner Marcello Hallake has a fine record in energy transactions, while José Estandía and Alberto de la Parra are key names in Mexico City. Miami partner Fradyn Suárez is noted for Latin America project finance, including for MLAs and commercial banks. Former Houston partner Scott Schwind has joined Saudi Aramco.

King & Spalding LLP has achieved further growth in Mexico and Brazil especially, while Argentina is an emerging market for the firm. It continues to be recognised for its leading position in LNG, together with upstream and midstream oil and gas. The firm typically represents sponsors but also has a growing number of private equity clients operating in the energy space. Recent mandates include advising Sierra Oil and Gas on the negotiation of two joint operations agreements (JOAs) with other companies that were awarded licenses to explore Blocks 4 and 5 of the Salinas Cuenca deep water region in Mexico; and representing SeaOne Caribbean on the development of a compressed gas liquids (CGL) production, transportation and delivery project at Gulport, Mississippi, that will transport CGL to import facilities in the Caribbean. The firm is praised for its energy-sector expertise, including its ‘quality services and scheduling’, ‘breadth of team to interact with technical issues with other advisors for different areas’ and its ‘fluent coordination and resolution of tasks’. Key practice contacts include Houston partner Vera de Gyarfas who is noted for upstream oil-and-gas projects, LNG and energy infrastructure work; and senior figure Ken Culotta, who leads the global transactions practice, impresses in upstream oil and gas, and has significant additional credibility in midstream storage terminals and pipeline projects. Both are strongly praised by clients.

Linklaters LLP’s traditional strength lies in energy and infrastructure. It has experienced notable growth in Argentina with a series of wind farm projects and has leveraged the firm’s powerful international platform to advise on a number of European and Asian investments. Chile has also been an active market for the firm in recent years. Clients include Santiago Solar, Astaldi, Aéroport de Paris, VINCI Airports, Red Eléctrica Corporación and EDF Energies Nouvelles. On the infrastructure side, the firm advised the sponsor consortium on the $900m expansion and project financing of the Arturo Merino Benitez Airport in Santiago, Chile, and the subsequent equity restructuring in 2017. It also represented Santiago Solar (and its sponsors) in the $120m project financing of a 115MW solar plant in Chile. Energy and infrastructure specialist Vijaya Palaniswamy has focused on Latin America since 2004 and is noted for his extensive record in Chile. Michael Bassett is a prominent name in vessel financings, including bank and bond financings for drilling rigs, drill-ships, LNG carriers and FPSOs. Conrado Tenaglia is better known for corporate finance; nevertheless, as an Argentine native, he has been pivotal to the firm’s progress in the Argentina market. Matthew Poulter has extensive project finance and project bonds expertise and has achieved prominence in Colombia’s 4G road infrastructure programme.

Sidley Austin LLP further expanded its practice with the hire of Houston partners Brian Bradshaw and David Asmus from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP; both have considerable Latin America experience and provide additional senior level expertise in upstream oil and gas and LNG. They link up with a strong Houston-based team, including Glenn Pinkerton and James Rice, who cover a range of power, renewable energy and oil and gas matters in Latin America. Washington DC partner Kenneth Irvin, co-leader of the global energy practice, has a longstanding relationship with Mexico’s state-owned electricity utility CFE, advising it on the development of new natural gas pipelines from the Texas border.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP’s impressive connections in Latin America have enabled it to build a reputation in oil and gas, and in renewable power, especially solar and wind. The firm has gained a solid foothold in the Argentina market, in part thanks to the experience of Latin America department head David Williams in the jurisdiction. The firm recently advised the initial purchasers on the $500m project bond offering by Stoneway Capital, and also advised Argentina’s MSU Energy on its inaugural $600m high yield bond offering. In addition, the firm is building its profile in PPP programmes and is at the forefront of private equity investment in the energy sector. Other clients include Abengoa, Compañía de Petróleos de Chile COPEC, Empresa Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (Entel), The Mosaic Company, OHL Concesiones and Trafigura. Additional key team members include Todd Crider, Juan Francisco Méndez, São Paulo-based Grenfel Calheiros and senior counsel Kirsten Davis. All are based in New York unless stated.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP has a particularly strong record in renewable energy deals, leveraging this expertise to be a notable force in key jurisdictions such as Chile, Mexico, Central America and now Argentina. It is recognised as a predominant sponsor-side firm on Chilean solar energy project financings. Clients include a range of key lenders such as Credit Suisse, Citibank and Bank of America, as well as prominent sponsors such as First Solar and SunEdison. The firm has a solid mix of M&A, finance and project development work. It recently advised SunEdison on its sale of a portfolio of solar PV projects in Uruguay, Brazil, Chile and Mexico to Actis Capital, (including 578MW of operating projects and 1,000MW of projects in the early-stage development). It also advised a US-based private equity fund on acquiring and financing an existing power project in Mexico that supplies the Guatemalan and Mexican power markets. Washington DC-based Lance Brasher is global head of energy and infrastructure and has a solid record in Latin America. Also in Washington DC, Paul Kraske and counsel Jorge Kamine are key names, as is ‘very highly-regarded’ New York finance partner Alejandro González Lazzeri.

Vinson & Elkins LLP’s principal markets are Brazil and Mexico. While having a strong presence in deals stemming from Mexico’s energy reforms, the firm has also experienced growth driven by increasing transaction activity in Brazil. In both jurisdictions, its global leadership in the upstream oil and gas sector is a key factor in many engagements. The ‘excellent’ firm ‘is one of the leaders in energy’ and continues to impress in midstream and upstream oil and gas, refined products, and in the renewable energy sector. The firm’s global focus on private equity has resulted in an uptick in advisory roles in private equity investments in Latin America energy assets. Clients include Talos Energy, Riverstone, Key Energy Services, Exxon Mobil, Pattern Energy Group, Statoil and Occidental Chemical. The team is ‘highly experienced, focused on clients’ needs and are great colleagues’. The department has ‘deep knowledge in any energy related matters, particularly oil and gas’, and its partners ‘aggregate value by applying their global experience to resolve complex issues that clients may find in a specific jurisdiction’. Moreover, the ‘firm’s concept of teamwork overcomes cultural differences, contributing to building a harmonious and positive multijurisdictional working environment’. A team led by London based Alex Msimang advised Statoil on its $2.5bn acquisition of a 66% stake in – and operational control of – Brazil’s Carcara offshore field from Petrobras, as well as on its sale of a 33% interest in BM-S-8, also part of the Carcara field, to ExxonMobil Exploracao Brasil. In addition, it is representing Occidental Chemical in its establishment of a $1.5bn, 50/50 joint venture with Mexichem to build an ethylene cracker at OxyChem’s plant in Ingleside, Texas. Houston’s Boyd Carano has deep experience in Latin America, especially in Mexico and Brazil. Msimang and Carano are ‘straight forward, have excellent negotiation skills and understanding of clients´ needs, diversity and the culture gap’.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP has an especially strong record in power and oil and gas projects in Mexico and Central America. It is now broadening its activities to the rest of South America. The Latin America team has also made a big push to develop its practice in Cuba, leveraging the firm’s globally renowned public law and policy practice. Key clients include Mitsubishi Corporation, which the firm has advised on a range of Mexico and Caribbean projects. Key global client LUKOIL is also active in Latin America, while other clients include Gente Oil Global, Canadian Solar, Total E&P Americas, Talos Energy, EP Energy and Baker Hughes. The practice group advised Och-Ziff Capital and DKRW on the development of an LNG storage and regasification terminal in Sonora, Mexico; and assisted Canadian Solar with the development of a 190MW solar farm in Brazil. Los Angeles partner Dino Barajas is a native Mexican and has worked on power deals there for over 20 years, including both conventional and renewable energy sources. Houston’s Douglas Glass and Stephen Davis are also key members of the team; the latter has an exceptional record in the LNG sector. Former partner Steven Otillar has joined White & Case LLP.

Baker Botts L.L.P. has an impressive mix of renewable energy, conventional power, LNG and upstream and downstream oil and gas work in Latin America. The firm has an intense focus on work arising from Mexico’s energy sector reforms, while remaining active in Central America and other South American jurisdictions such as Chile. The practice covers project development, project finance, corporate acquisitions, joint ventures and foreign direct investments. It continues to advise Costa Norte LNG Terminal and Gas Natural Atlantico on the long-term purchase of LNG from Engie for gas-fired power generation in Panama. Project finance specialist Mark Spivak, who joined the Washington DC office from Vinson & Elkins LLP in 2017, also advised on the project financing for the first LNG import terminal in Panama from a group of MLAs and commercial financing institutions. Chair of the Latin America practice Carlos Solé is closely linked with Mexico’s energy reform-related matters and has a fine record in oil and gas and LNG in Mexico, Central America and other Latin American jurisdictions. Ned Crady and Efren Acosta have joined from Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP; both have considerable Latin America experience.

Baker McKenzie LLP has a substantial Latin America footprint and a sizeable market share of power and oil and gas deals in Mexico and Brazil. Chile and Argentina are other active markets for the firm. José Roberto Martins at Brazilian associate firm Trench Rossi Watanabe in São Paulo, heads Baker McKenzie LLP’s Latin America energy, mining and infrastructure group and has extensive experience in renewable energy. He recently advised Brazilian wind-power developer Casa dos Ventos Energias Renovaveis on the sale of 16 wind farms to UK-based private equity fund Actis, through the funds’ wind platform Echoenergia. Mexico City’s Benjamin Torres-Barron is at the forefront of Mexico’s energy sector reform-related work.

At Bracewell LLP, Houston-based Manuel Vera is licensed to practice in Mexico and is a recognised leader in Mexican upstream and midstream oil and gas transactions. He recently advised long-term firm client Kinder Morgan on on-going legal issues relating to its natural gas pipeline in Mexico. The Latin America team was further reinforced through the recruitment of New York partners Nicolai Sarad and Fernando Rodriguez Marin, from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP; Sarad specialises in energy and transportation projects in the US and Latin America, and Rodriguez Marin focuses on infrastructure, energy and real estate projects in Latin America and Spain.

With offices in Mexico City, São Paulo, and a strategic alliance in Bogota, Cuatrecasas has committed considerable resources to Latin America, while many of the partners in Spain also have a strong focus on the region. Argentina, Chile and Peru are other key markets for the firm. The practice recently advised Pemex on the main project agreements for the construction, operation and maintenance of a gas compression station in the Gulf of Mexico. Marco Antonio de la Peña is co-head of the Mexico City office where he leads the energy practice, while Rafael Mínguez heads the finance group in Madrid and has extensive experience in Latin America – especially in relation to wind energy. Fernando Bernad is similarly respected for renewable energy projects in Latin America, while Manuel Follía and Agustín Cerdá also have a strong background in the region.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP has considerable Latin America expertise and experience within its ranks. New York partner and Spanish speaker Melissa Raciti-Knapp has a fine record in the region, notably advising OPIC on a regular basis. Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Peru and Brazil are key markets for the practice. Historically more lender oriented, the firm has brought in a number of sponsor engagements in recent years. Clients include IIC, Petroperú, KfW IPEX Bank, Mizuho Corporate Bank, Cintra Global, Rabobank, Banco Sabadell and Albertis Infraestructuras. Recent mandates include advising Mizuho and a syndicate of lenders on the restructuring of the project financing for La Murulla IV, an offshore oil-drilling rig located in Mexican territorial waters. The team also represented state-owned oil company Petroperú in the drafting and negotiation of the EPC contract for the expansion and modernisation of the Talara Refinery.

Greenberg Traurig LLP’s sizeable Mexico City office is furthering the firm’s standing in energy and infrastructure matters. It advised Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, as financial adviser to the Mexican Ministry of Communications and Transportation, on the structuring and coordination of the competitive tender process for the development of its nationwide 4G mobile, wholesale shared network (Red Compartida). Telecoms and road infrastructure is a key strength of the firm. Juan Manuel González is the key name in Mexico City.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP is a leader in mining and resources, a global strength of the firm. It is at the forefront of copper mining projects and transactions in Chile especially. It advised Chile’s government-owned copper mining company Corporación Nacional del Cobre (CODELCO), on a BOOT scheme for a desalination plant at its Radomiro Tomic mine. The firm is ‘at the very top’ according to one client and is praised for its ‘excellent work’, ‘availability’ and expertise in mining projects. ‘Service delivery is excellent and is based on a deep degree of understanding of the clients’ businesses’, according to one client, while another emphasises the team’s ‘great knowledge of structuring projects’ making it ‘among the best firms we have worked with in project development’. New York’s Juan-José Zentner has ‘excellent commercial knowledge and skills’, ‘a lot of experience in projects’, ‘is a very specialized lawyer and is fluent in Spanish’; his ‘delivery stands out’ due to ‘his proactive style’ and he is ‘always asking the right kind of question to better understand how he can help the client’. Madrid partner Ignacio Paz is another key member of the Latin America practice, along with New York project finance partner Edward Dougherty who is especially active in the oil and gas space.

Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP has a traditional mix of power and oil and gas projects, while growing its infrastructure practice with a number of port-related engagements. On the energy side, the firm has gained most traction in renewables, but it has seen steady growth in gas-fired and LNG projects. The firm has renowned connections to major agency lenders, such as IDB, as well as a range of commercial lenders and sponsors. Historically, the firm has impressed most in Mexico and Central America but more recently it has grown its presence in Argentina, Chile and Colombia. Other clients include Corporación Interamericana para el Financiamiento de Infraestructura (CIFI), Wartsila, Energia del Pacifico and Energía del Caribe. Recent mandates include advising Energía del Caribe on the EPC contracts, transportation agreements, interconnect agreements, and gas purchase agreements related to the development of a natural gas power plant in Mexico. Washington DC-based Vera Rechsteiner is a leader in renewable energy projects in Latin America, while Houston-based Mexico native Doris Rodríguez is noted for oil and gas projects and advising agency and commercial lenders, corporate sponsors and high net-worth family businesses. Also in Houston, Mark Thurber advises a number of sponsors and investors looking to acquire operating assets, and New York partner George Pavlenishvili is experienced in renewables financings across Latin America. Miami partner Fernando Margarit, part of the legacy Hunton & Williams team, has a fine record in telecoms infrastructure projects, especially submarine cable systems.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP experienced a changing of the guard during 2017, with former partners Brian Bradshaw and David Asmus, leaders in upstream oil and gas and LNG, joining Sidley Austin LLP. In their place, the firm recruited prominent Latin America specialist John Crespo and Mexico and Texas qualified Adrian Talamantes from King & Spalding LLP. The new senior team is even more Latin America focused, especially with the additional presence of legacy up-and-coming partners Felipe Alice and Humberto Padilla Gonzalez, who are Brazil and Mexico-qualified, respectively, and both are also admitted in New York and Texas. The team now features strongly in upstream and midstream oil and gas, LNG and power. It has a proven track record in brownfield and greenfield project development, joint ventures and M&A, particularly in Mexico, Brazil and Argentina, followed by Chile, Central America and the Caribbean. Recent work includes ongoing advice to Baja California Sur Gas Transport on a major LNG project in Mexico and represented PetroRio on a series of equity investments in the US.

Morrison & Foerster LLP is especially prominent in wind energy projects in Mexico, and continues to be active in solar, conventional power and mining projects around Latin America. Led by Los Angeles partner Jeffrey Chester, the firm continued to advise Oak Creek Energy Systems on the development, financing and sale of Phase 3 of the 300MW Tres Mesas Project in Tamaulipas, Mexico (Phase 3 and Phase 4 are being developed under Mexico’s new energy laws, which allow the participation of private investors). Chester and his team also advised Oak Creek on the development of the 300MW Eolica Mesa La Paz wind power project in Tamaulipas, Mexico, and its sale to EnerAB, a joint venture between Grupo Bal and AES Corporation. Tokyo partners Michael Graffagna and Dale Caldwell are also active in the region on behalf of Japanese clients.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP’s nascent Houston office has gained considerable market share in Latin America thanks to the prominence of the partners and team it has assembled there. The broad projects and energy practice has notable strength in renewables, conventional power, transport infrastructure, and midstream and downstream oil and gas. Mexico is a core focus for the team (the group includes three Mexico-licensed attorneys), but it is also active in Central America, Colombia, Peru, Brazil and Uruguay. A team led by George Humphrey represented Proman (and its subsidiaries G2X Energy and Gas y Petroquímica de Occidente) in the development of a $1.3bn petrochemical facility in Mexico, with the firm advising on the arrangements and structure of natural gas supply from the US to the site in Mexico. It also continued to advise EDP Renewables on the development and construction of a 200MW wind farm in Coahuila, Mexico. Carlos Treistman and Rodrigo Dominguez head the Latin America practice, which includes key partners George Humphrey, Blake Winburne and Matthew Archer. Paris partner Yves Lepage is also active in the region and advised VINCI Airports on its purchase of regional airports in Colombia. All partners are based in Houston unless stated otherwise.

Squire Patton Boggs is noted for renewable energy and oil and gas projects in Mexico. Midstream natural gas pipeline-matters are a particular forte of the team, most notably head of the Mexico desk Alvaro Mestre. Fellow Washington DC partner Paul O’Hop is also active in the Latin America region, including in Mexico, Central America, Brazil and Argentina. Houston of counsel Fernando Cano-Lasa is a former Pemex in-house counsel. The firm also has an office in the Dominican Republic.

Winston & Strawn LLP’s growing Latin America team has a fine record in project finance, including in energy and infrastructure. The firm is ‘top of the pile’ according to one client who suggests that ‘the level of service is exemplary’ with the team ‘clearly understanding clients’ goals’ and delivering on ‘highly structured project finance’ matters. Operating at the forefront of industry trends, it advised the note purchasers in the $412m private placement by Chile’s Inversiones Latin America Power. Claude Serfilippi is ‘extremely responsive’ and ‘draws on his experience to apply concepts from various aspects of his work to create solutions’.

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