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  1. Competition and antitrust
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Creel, García-Cuéllar, Aiza y Enríquez, S.C. has consolidated its leading position in competition and antitrust through its recruitment of several high-profile partners. Carlos Mena Labarthe arrived in 2017 from his role as the first ever head of COFECE’s Investigation and Enforcement Authority, adding weight to the firm’s investigations offering. The firm also attracted one of the country’s leading antitrust lawyers, Iker Arriola, from White & Case S.C., although his focus will be more on M&A work. They add to a full-service team already brimming with talent including practice head Luis Gerardo García and Mauricio Serralde. Recent highlights include advising Delta Airlines on the approval of its $1.5bn joint cooperation agreement with Grupo Aeroméxico. Other clients include Qualcomm, AT&T, and Sanofi-Boehringer.

The ‘service is excellent’ at Galicia Abogados SC; its lawyers ‘have extensive knowledge and a high commitment to the client and provide excellent added value’. ‘Business-oriented’ practice head Christian Lippert is noted for his ‘excellent skills in conducting negotiations’. The firm also boasts a strong bench of associates, including the ‘intelligent, highly committed and responsible’ Gerardo Rodríguez. In line with the firm’s corporate pedigree, the practice is regularly involved in major merger clearances, and recently advised El Puerto de Liverpool, one of Mexico’s oldest department stores, on its $801m acquisition of Suburbia from Wal-Mart Mexico. The firm has also been involved in several major investigations, including one in the financial services sector.

Hogan Lovells BSTL’s top-quality practice is jointly led by Ricardo Pons and Omar Guerrero, both leading lawyers in the field. Pons is particularly active in merger control work, while Guerrero stands out for his expertise in antitrust litigation and investigations. The well-balanced team has been involved in several major mandates, including advising on the Mexican aspects of Bayer’s global takeover of Monsanto, and acting for American Tower Corporation on the acquisition of several telecoms towers from Mexico’s Axtel. The firm has also advised on major cartel investigations in the food, financial services and transport industries.

SAI Consultores, S.C. is a boutique firm with a blend of highly experienced lawyers and economists who often work hand-in-hand on complex competition issues. The firm has been in expansion mode lately, bringing in ‘prompt and assertive’ partner José Ángel Santiago Ábrego, who joined from his own firm Aegis Estonia Juridico (prior to which he was a partner at Valdés Abascal Abogados, S.C.). The team also added to its senior economist ranks with the recruitment from Agon Economics and Law of Eduardo Pérez Motta, who was president of the former Federal Competition Commission between 2004 and 2013. On the legal side, the team is led by the extremely well-regarded Lucía Ojeda and is regularly instructed in major cartel and abuse of dominance investigations. It is also often referred merger clearance work by international companies and law firms. The practice is praised for its ‘closeness to the client, total availability and extensive knowledge of the subject’. Clients include Grupo MVS, Abbott Laboratories, Nestlé and BBVA Bancomer.

Von Wobeser y Sierra, SC’s ‘excellent’ team is led by the extremely well-regarded Fernando Carreño, who ‘has many years of experience and always delivers’. The group stands out for its expertise in cartel and abuse of dominance cases, and is currently involved in over 60% of the cases before COFECE. Notable highlights included acting for Mexican airline Volaris in a major investigation into the allocation of slots at Mexico City Airport. The firm also represented Anheuser-Busch InBev in an investigation into the Mexican barley market, and acted for Infra, the country’s largest producer of industrial and medicinal gas, in an investigation into alleged abuse of dominance. Paloma Alcántara is a key lawyer.

Amilcar Peredo leads the well-regarded antitrust team at Basham, Ringe y Correa, S.C., which handles a healthy mix of merger control matters, investigations, compliance and litigation. On the merger control side, it recently advised CenturyLink on the pre-merger notification procedure, before the Federal Telecommunications Institute (FTI), for the acquisition of Level 3. The group is also acting for Compañia Sudamericana de Vapores in an international cartel case. Other clients include Coca-Cola, PPG Industries, and American Axel.

Greenberg Traurig, S.C. provides ‘great value for the price’, giving ‘very useful advice’. The multidisciplinary team enjoys a strong reputation in the market, handling complex pre-merger filings as well as cases before the federal courts. Recent highlights include representing Mexico City Airport in relation to COFECE’s investigation into the slots allocation process at the airport. The firm also acted for Grupo Bio Pappel in a federal amparo challenge to the conditions imposed by COFECE concerning its acquisition of Scribe. Miguel Flores Bernés, who jointly leads the team with Víctor Manuel Frías, is noted for his ‘thorough knowledge of the subject and previous experience in the Federal Economic Competition Commission’.

Always full of quality and very accurate’, the ‘very professional’ team at Jones Day is praised as being ‘very assertive’ in its advice. Gabriel Altamirano and Bertha Ordaz jointly lead the team, which covers both the contentious and non-contentious side of antitrust and is well versed in regulated sectors such as telecoms. Procter & Gamble is a major client; the firm recently advised it on the $113m sale of a property to DI Metropolitano, which required clearance from COFECE. The group continues to advise Ferrocarril y Terminal del Valle de Mexico on a market dominance investigation.

Mijares, Angoitia, Cortés y Fuentes S.C. has a strong track record in merger control matters, and cartel and abuse of market power investigations. The active team is jointly led by Francisco Fuentes Ostos and Pilar Mata Fernández, who are experienced in dealing with regulators including the FTI. Highlights included advising Macquarie Mexico Infrastructure Management on the transmission of a stake in Energía Eólica del Sur, which had to be approved by COFECE. The team is also advising Grupo Televisa and certain subsidiaries on an FTI investigation into the provision of audio and video services in Mexico.

Santamarina y Steta provides a comprehensive service to its clients, covering both contentious and non-contentious matters. It is regularly involved in sensitive disputes with the regulators involving claims of anti-competitive behaviour, and also advises on cartel investigations and provides dawn raid training to clients. On the corporate front, the firm is well versed in merger clearance for clients across a range of sectors. Ernesto Duhne leads the team, which includes Jorge Barrero and Vicente Grau on the transactional side, and Mariano Calderón for contentious matters.

Valdés Abascal Abogados, S.C. is an extremely well-regarded boutique with a long and impressive history in the practice area. It is best known for its excellent contentious practice, covering cartel investigations and abuse of dominance claims as well as high-profile disputes before the Supreme Court. Name partner Rafael Valdés Abascal is undoubtedly a leading figure in the market, and is backed by a high-quality team of younger lawyers including Enrique de la Peña and Agustín Aguilar López. Major cases included representing an economic agent fined for cartel conduct in the retirement funds market. The firm also advised Henkel on a pre-merger notification for its acquisition of Nattura Labs.

Raymundo Enriquez leads the well-regarded team at Baker McKenzie Abogados, S.C., which handles the full spectrum of antitrust matters. Clients benefit from the firm’s strong sector-led expertise; at senior associate level, Gerardo Calderon – praised for his ‘deep knowledge of competition law’ – has strong experience on the healthcare and energy side, and Luis Amado has a focus on telecoms. Among its recent merger control work, the firm advised Lonza in connection with its acquisition of Capsugel. It also represented a major client in an investigation into the alleged illegal concentration in the commercial use of radio frequencies in the broadcasting sector.

Boutique firm Castañeda y Asociados fields several highly experienced lawyers and economists with a strong track record in pre-merger filings and antitrust investigations. Founding partner Gabriel Castañeda boasts a distinguished career in the field, and was formerly executive secretary of the Federal Competition Commission (the precursor to COFECE). Ricardo Hernández also enjoys a strong market reputation.

González Calvillo, SChas been able to construct a good team’ under highly regarded practice head Cristina Massa, a former commissioner who provides ‘very solid’ advice. Much more than just an adjunct to the firm’s active corporate practice, the group attracts a balanced mix of merger clearance and investigations instructions. On the merger front, it advised DuPont on the Mexican clearance required for its global merger with The Dow Chemical Company. Another highlight was assisting Macquarie Capital in obtaining antitrust approval for its acquisition of Abengoa’s interest in the Norte III power generation project. The firm also advised a major client on an abuse of dominance investigation into the transportation sector.

David Hurtado Badiola heads the impressive two-partner team at Jáuregui y Del Valle, S.C., which acts for a mix of domestic and international clients on the full range of issues, from merger clearances to abuse of dominance claims. Its impressive client list includes SAB Miller, Philips Mexicana, Colgate-Palmolive, and Suzuki Motors. On the investigations side, it has recently advised clients on investigations into the transportation, medical instruments and aviation sectors. Citlali Pérez Rentería is also recommended.

Antitrust litigation is a core area for the impressive team at López Melih y Estrada S.C.. Alfonso Martin López Melih and Juan Pablo Estrada Michel both have very active practices and have been involved in many major cases over the years. The firm is particularly strong on the telecoms front, where it regularly represents América Móvil and Radiomóvil Dipsa (Telcel) in relation to regulatory and antitrust issues, including dominant position claims, before the IFT. Beyond the telecoms sphere, the firm has also represented major clients in the aviation and dairy sectors in relation to investigations.

White & Case S.C. will undoubtedly miss highly rated former practice head Iker Arriola, who left in 2018 to join Creel, García-Cuéllar, Aiza y Enríquez, S.C.. It does however retain several partners with a strong pedigree in this area, notably Antonio Cárdenas, Vicente Corta and Henri Capin-Gally, offering substantial expertise across a range of areas including cartel investigations and merger clearances. The firm recently advised Group Financiero Banorte on the clearance required for its $1.4bn merger with Group Financiero Interacciones, and has also been advising a major global bank on a COFECE investigation into the treasury bond market.

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