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Cervantes Sainz, S.C. continues to be one of the most active firms for in- and out-of-court restructuring matters. In the latter case, a recent highlight was the €870m restructuring of Isolux Corsan’s Mexican subsidiary, a company involved in the development of some major infrastructure and electricity projects in the country, such as the Mexico-Toluca Train and Transmission and Distribution projects with Mexico’s Federal Electrical Commission (CFE). Ongoing high-profile restructurings that continue from the previous year include the $3.2bn restructuring of Empresas ICA, involving the restructuring of some of its subsidiaries by means of a formal insolvency proceeding (concurso mercantil), as well as the out of court restructuring of the company’s debt; and the representation of the ad-hoc committee of secured note holders in the insolvency proceedings of Oro Negro. Practice head and bankruptcy and restructuring specialist Alejandro Sainz led the team in all cases. The team is further made up of ‘important lawyer’ Luis Cervantes, who covers the litigious side of matters, as does Manuel Ruiz, who also has experience in arbitration. Octavio L Hernández was promoted to partner, and he also covers corporate and financing transactions. Associates Santiago Alessio and Gabriela Avendaño provide additional support.

Especially known for its litigation work, Guerra González y Asociados, S.C. is ‘undoubtedly a band 1 bankruptcy firm’, according to peers. The team has been active on all the country’s recent most high-profile bankruptcy cases, including representing the sponsor in the MXN$130bn restructuring of Empresas ICA; Altos Hornos (AHMSA) in its $1bn restructuring; and Oro Negro in its $1bn insolvency, among others. All thirteen partners at the firm cover bankruptcy matters, but the core team comprises Jaime Guerra González (‘a legend in bankruptcy proceedings’), ‘talented’ Jesús A Guerra Méndez, Patricio F Hidalgo Estrada and senior associate Elías Mendoza Murguía.

While reflecting the excellence of the firm’s other financial practices (with which there is an overlap), Nader, Hayaux y Goebel, SC’s ‘top notch’ bankruptcy and restructuring practice stands on its own merit, acting for creditors and debtors on some of the most complex and high-end cases in recent Mexican history, including cross-border ones. The 10-strong team, led by Michell Nader S and Javier Arreola – ‘both extremely knowledgeable and commercial’ – has over 30 years’ experience, handling every aspect of bankruptcy and restructuring, including strategic positioning and strategic alliances, structuring, coordination and litigation, documentation, asset divestitures, leveraged buyouts, debt repurchases, debt swaps, debt-to-equity swaps and refinancing through means ranging from take-out lenders, private equity and public offerings of commercial paper, notes and bonds to financial and leveraged leases. For clients and peers, Nader is an institution in his own right, as attested by one client: he is ‘highly knowledgeable across a wide range of subjects, and he has extremely deep connections in the country. He is our first choice on all matters in Mexico. I would recommend NHG, and in particular Michell, with the highest referral possible. He is a true partner and is trusted with all of our most important and sensitive matters without hesitation’. He and Arreola continued to work on long-standing cases, such as assisting the largest group of creditors in the insolvency and workout of major steel manufacturer Altos Hornos de México (AHMSA). Arreola represented Fondo Nacional de Infraestructura (FONADIN) as co-investor in the capital stock of Energía Eólica del Sur (EES), as part of the MXN$1.67bn restructuring and refinancing of the Oaxacan wind farm project. Insurance specialist Yves Hayaux-du-Tilly L has niche expertise working for regulated entities; within the context of its dissolution and liquidation, he represented Chrysler Financial on the sale of its Mexican financial-services operations to Grupo Financiero Inbursa. Hans P Goebel C assisted Oro Negro with its $1bn insolvency, involving several jurisdictions; while (in conjunction with Nader), Adrián López G advised Sumitomo Mitsui Bank and other creditors on the restructuring of Abengoa. ‘Very prominent’ senior associate Lucia G Laganá ‘demonstrates great ability’ in the cases she works on, which include the AHMSA matter, among others. Clients include Argentem Creek Partners, Bank of America, Barclays Bank, Rabobank, Danske Bank, Portigon, PGIM Real Estate, DE Shaw, and LandAmerica Financial Group.

Ritch, Mueller, Heather y Nicolau, S.C. continues to stand out in the bankruptcy and restructuring market due to the presence of Thomas Heather, one of two Mexican lawyers (along with Solcargo’s Fernando Pérez Correa) who acts as comptroller, receiver or conciliator (insolvency trustee). A recent and headline grabbing example of this was his role in the MXN$130bn restructuring of Empresas ICA and its subsidiaries (the largest ever insolvency proceeding in Mexico and Latin America). Recent work also involved two insolvency proceedings, with the team completing the additional $400m restructuring of Geo Hogares Ideales; and representing the institutional investors (led by WAMEX Private Equity) in the $40m restructuring of New Water Capital and its subsidiary. Other mandates saw the team represent creditor, JP Morgan, in the $1bn restructuring of Altos Hornos (AHMSA), and International Finance Corporation (IFC) in the $200m restructuring of Abengoa. The 24-strong team is led by Thomas Heather, a reference point in the market who has over 30 years’ experience in the sector. Key support comes from banking and finance specialist Jean Paul Farah Chajín, and associate Adriana Padilla Rivas. Other clients include Gerald Metals Mexico, EMX Capital, Arrium Finance, and AuKing Mining.

Full-service Santamarina y Steta is unusual in the Mexican market for being ‘very strong on both the transactional and litigation sides’ of bankruptcy and restructuring, thereby making it ‘unique’. Like the other top tier firms in this practice, the team has been present on some of the most recent headline grabbing cases, including among others, assisting Geo Hogares Ideales and Abengoa with their respective $400m and $200m restructurings – both matters showcasing the firm’s main focus on the debtor side. Fernando del Castillo is a ‘guru’ in the practice area, and definitely ‘someone who stands out’. Key support comes from Alfonso Castro.

The ‘great’ 12-strong bankruptcy and restructuring team at Solcargo impresses clients with its ‘cross-border acumen and thoughtful strategy’. One noted the team is ‘quick to check conflicts, to address our immediate needs, present strategy, and have an understanding of complex international issues’. Another pointed to the lawyers’ professional qualities, such as ‘attitude and aptitude’ and ‘depth in dealing with the issues at hand’. The practice group represents both creditors and the companies subject to bankruptcy proceedings and has acted on some of the most important cases of the last years – most notably, the bankruptcy of Compañía Mexicana de Aviación (Mexicana) – including, with Fernando Pérez Correa, acting in the roles of comptroller, receiver, and conciliator. The team’s ongoing highlight cases include acting as receiver (liquidator) to the estate of ARC Internacional México; as IFECOM-appointed conciliator/mediator in the bankruptcy proceeding of Retículas Gráficas; representing the debtors in the Turbo (fmly: Biciclo) and TGC Ingeniería bankruptcies; and representing CVI Global Lux Oil and Gas 2 as creditors in the Oceanografía insolvency case. The team also assisted Novus Intellego in the insolvency of Avalon Marine (fmly: DyR Evya), in which obtained its client the status of sole secured creditor. In other headline work, the team acted as counsel to Zuma Energía in the liquidation proceedings of Banca Cremi, a complicated case that has lasted for over 11 years involving one of the main Mexican banks of the 90s. Pérez Correa leads the practice, supported by dedicated right-hand man Abimael Hernández; according to clients ‘they stand out as a good team’, bringing ‘capacity, knowledge, responsibility, strategy and concrete execution’ to the table. The practice also counts on José Covarrubias on the litigious side, and associate Zulima González.

Litigation boutique Quijano, Cortina y de la Torre Abogados is well known in the market for its bankruptcy and restructuring work. A recent and ongoing work highlight involved assisting the trustee and agent in the $103m insolvency procedure of Cozumel Caribe. The 12-strong team is led by Javier Quijano Baz and Xavier Cortina and includes associate Pablo González de Cossío.

White & Case S.C.’s bankruptcy and restructuring team is one of the market’s most impressive and sizeable, totalling 19 lawyers, including six partners. While a standalone practice, the team works in an integrated manner with the office’s other finance departments – banking and finance, capital markets and real estate – and is also able to draw on the firm’s global network, including insolvency lawyers in the US, which is useful for cases involving American assets or bondholders. The lawyers have the expertise to assist clients with both restructurings and in-court bankruptcies and have acted on some of the more important cases of the last years, such as the court-assisted liquidation of Oceanografía (in which the team represented SAE as receiver), and in the court-assisted liquidation of Banco Bicentenario. Recently, the team assisted Banobras with the bankruptcy of infrastructure development company Abengoa México, led by practice head Vicente Corta with partners Álvaro E. Garza-Galván and Enrique Espejel. The team further includes partners Manuel Groenewold, who acted on the Oceanografía mandate and who also has a strong banking and finance and capital markets practice, and Maria Teresa Fernández-Labardini, who covers compliance and acted on the Banco Bicentenario liquidation. Partner Juan Antonio Martín handles banking and finance, capital markets and real estate. Iker Arriola left to join Creel, García-Cuéllar, Aiza y Enríquez, S.C..

At Creel, García-Cuéllar, Aiza y Enríquez, S.C., the bankruptcy and restructuring practice draws on its leading banking and finance expertise to assist clients (creditors and debtors) on all non-litigious aspects of corporate recovery, insolvency, restructurings and workouts. The team of four partners and five associates has been present on some of the more relevant bankruptcy and restructuring cases of the last years, including those that affected the home ownership sector in Mexico, namely assisting Credit Suisse as creditor in the restructuring of Urbi Desarrollos Urbanos and its subsidiaries; Deutsche Bank in connection with the recognition and workout of its claim against major Mexican mortgage originator, Metrofinanciera; and the IDB regarding the renegotiation of its partial credit guarantee under the pre-pack bankruptcy proceeding initiated by Metrofinanciera. The practice group continues to act as counsel to Banorte and GEO on the restructuring of the housing developer’s debt with the bank, including a potential corporate restructuring of GEO. The case was led by practice head Carlos Aiza and Pedro Velasco; both also handle banking and finance and capital markets matters. Rodrigo Castelazo and senior associate Emilio Aarun continued to advise the bond-holders in the restructuring of $100m-worth of medium term notes issued by Arendal; the case was a cross-border restructuring of NY law-governed notes issued by a Mexican company in the context of a potential bankruptcy of the client. Velasco worked on two of the firm’s other highlight cases (assisted by Aarun in the first instance), one involving the restructuring of a loan in the real estate sector within the context of the bankruptcy of a developer, and another a complex cross-border restructuring of a credit agreement between several entities. Key partner Mercedes Haddad is also part of the team; and Iker Arriola joined the firm from White & Case S.C. in early 2018. His practice covers banking and finance, capital markets, corporate and M&A, restructuring and real estate. Clients include Credit Suisse, Credit Suisse (Cayman Islands Branch), ING Wholesale Banking, Actinver Wealth Management, Invex, CI Banco, Novo Banco, Mercantile Cap Advisors, Apollo Management Singapore, Mexico Retail Properties, and CSE Mortgage LLC/Capital Source (a division of Pacific Western Bank).

The 14-strong bankruptcy and restructuring practice at Hogan Lovells BSTL relies on its reach from offices in Mexico City and Monterrey, and on its varied expertise across financial practices and commercial litigation, to advise creditors and debtors on voluntary and involuntary bankruptcies and financial restructuring proceedings. Drawing on its niche expertise in sub-sovereign financing, the team assisted the state of Zacatecas with obtaining a $377m credit from Banorte and Banobras for the purpose of refinancing its public debt. In another case, this time on the side of Banorte, it closed Fibra Uno’s MXN$2.7bn credit facilities, obtained from the client. Ongoing cases include advising creditors Banco Bradesco and Banco Votorantim in the bankruptcy of Desarrolladora Homex – the former on collecting its consideration following a ruling recognising the client as creditor, and the latter on a successful commercial complaint filed against Homex following the client obtaining full recognition of the credit it was owed. Practice co-head and commercial litigation and bankruptcy specialist Omar Guerrero led these last two cases. He is based in Mexico City, as is fellow practice co-head Federico de Noriega, who focuses on financial transactions, including out-of-court restructurings, and who continued to advise Banco de Chile on the bankruptcy proceeding of Corporación Geo. Also a key practitioner, finance specialist René Arce Lozano is based in Monterrey; he assisted the state of Zacatecas and Banorte. Support also comes from corporate partner Juan Francisco Torres Landa, as well as from Jorge Valdés King (who recently made partner) and counsel Luis Peón; both are bankruptcy and commercial litigation specialists. Other clients include Archer Daniels Midland, Hewlett Packard, Sony Corporation of America, Solunion Mexico Seguros de Crédito, and Talkpool.

A firm with an especially strong litigation practice, Martínez, Algaba, de Haro, Curiel y Galván-Duque, S.C. is reputed in the market for having a great deal of experience in acting on the side of creditors in bankruptcy and restructuring cases. Recent and ongoing examples of this include representing HSBC and Banco Santander in the $400m restructuring of Geo Hogares Ideales; and a creditor in the bankruptcy of Compañía Mexicana de Aviación. All nine of the firm’s partners have bankruptcy expertise, but key among them are Jorge De Haro and Roberto Martínez.

The ‘always accessible and very professional’ seven-strong bankruptcy and restructuring team at Von Wobeser y Sierra, SC advises both debtors and creditors on in- and out-of-court work. Clients appreciate ‘the personalised care’ with which lawyers handle trials, which leads to ‘good legal assistance regarding the stages of the procedure, as well as support in making the right decisions. The practice remained active on some of its ongoing highlight mandates, such as advising Burger King on the insolvency proceeding of Operadora de Franquicias Alsea (regarding the possibility of collecting royalties from the franchise contract executed between the latter and the client); Corporativo Procter & Gamble, as creditor, on the insolvency of Grupo Corvi; and Gavilon, also as creditor, on the insolvency of Ganadera La Tizapa. In the bankruptcy proceedings of Oceanografía, the firm assisted three of the company’s creditors with obtaining recognition for unsecured credits, namely DF Deutsche Forfait ($59m), Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen Girozentrale ($19m), and Bayerische Landesbank ($6m). In another highlight case, the team acted for Zebra Technologies company Telxon in a $532,567 claim brought against Unimicro (as a consequence of a pending balance from a previous mortgage trial) which will probably lead to Unimicro being declared bankrupt. Valued for his ‘attention to clients’ needs’, as well as for being ‘very thorough and reliable’, practice head Diego Sierrais a studious lawyer and well versed in the subject of bankruptcy in Mexico’ according to sources. Dual qualified in Mexico and the US, he is particularly well positioned for cross-border mandates. Other clients include TK Holdings, BAC Florida Bank, and American International Group.

Small litigation boutique Bufete Davalos y Asociados has a long-standing track record in restructurings and insolvency proceedings, mostly for creditors, both domestic and international. Four lawyers handle matters at the firm, with name partner Carlos F Davalos being the key contact for contentious bankruptcy matters.

Well regarded in the market for its litigation work in this area, López Melih y Estrada S.C. continues to represent secured creditors GE Capital, CEF México and GE Servicios Financieros in the bankruptcy of Turbo (fmly: Biciclo); having previously also represented Urbi Desarrollos in its bankruptcy. Name partner Alfonso López Melih’s practice – he leads on the above mandates – is well regarded by market commentators.

The firm Ramirez Ornelas Abogados concentrates on commercial litigation, with a special focus on bankruptcy and insolvency where it represents creditors and insolvent companies in both in- and out-of-court cases. It stands out in the market for the four decades-worth of experience embodied by name partner Gerardo Ramírez Ornelas, who was a member of the team that drafted the "Ley de Concursos Mercantiles" legislation which currently regulates insolvency proceedings in Mexico. The firm continues to represent BBVA, Banorte and Prudential Real Estate Investments, as creditors, in the bankruptcy proceedings of Corporación Geo, and also assisted Unicronos, on a pro bono basis, in restructuring its debt and business plan through a formal insolvency proceeding (involving the obtaining of a stand-still among other judicial protective measures, permitting the achievement of a bankruptcy agreement with the majority of its creditors). The team is led by Ramírez Ornelas and includes associates Ángel Fabricio Escalante Sánchez and Julián San Martín Díaz.

With offices in Mexico City and Monterrey, litigation boutique Rivera Gaxiola, Carrasco y Kálloi, S.C. demonstrates a special focus and expertise in matters concerning the finance sector that has seen it cement its position on the litigious side of bankruptcy and insolvency. The outfit represents both creditors and government entities, and recently acted as Mexican counsel to Oro Negro in its cross-border insolvency. The case was led by Alonso Rivera Gaxiola, who has over 25 years’ experience in the area, including in financial restructurings. The team can also call on José Luis Carrasco, Pedro Iván Quevedo, Alejandro del Castillo, and Ramón Fernández Vigil.

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