The Legal 500



Legal market overview

With the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in March 2013 and the victory of his appointed successor, Nicolás Maduro in April’s elections, occurring amidst rumours of electoral rigging, Venezuela remains in a state of flux. Nonetheless, many of Venezuela’s lawyers hope that the new president might usher in a more business-friendly period.

Despite the country’s vast oil resources, new investors prepared to brave Venezuela’s current business environment remain in short supply. In response, the legal market has become acclimatised to limited M&A and financing activity, with Venezuela’s practitioners compensating for the dearth of transactional activity by advising on the numerous state expropriations that occurred during the Chávez era – principally in contentious-administrative, litigious and arbitral instructions. Such was the number of cases lodged at the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) that Venezuela eventually withdrew from the ICSID convention in 2012.

New labour legislation ensuring shorter working hours, longer periods of maternity leave and pensions for all Venezuelans, has also meant increased levels of compliance and advisory work for law firms with regard to the law’s effect on clients’ businesses.

The UK-based firm Norton Rose LLP arrived in Latin America in 2012 via its merger with Macleod Dixon, thereby gaining a substantial foothold in Venezuela (and Colombia) where the Canadian firm had maintained offices. A subsequent strategic development saw Norton Rose, LLP combine with US-based firm Fulbright & Jaworski LLP in June 2013 to become Norton Rose Fulbright, the tie-up deepening the firm’s capabilities still further, particularly in oil and gas.

Notwithstanding the lack of new foreign investment in Venezuela, a number of law firms have continued to invest in certain practice areas. In mid-2012, D’Empaire Reyna Bermúdez Abogados welcomed the widely respected tax lawyer Humberto Romero-Muci as partner, together with his team of nine practitioners, from former Deloitte member-firm Romero-Muci & Asociados, Despacho de Abogados, where he was a co-founder. The firm also ramped up its environmental law offering when it incorporated Francisco Bolinaga and his team from Bolinaga Levy Márquez & Canova (which ceased to exist in October 2012), where he was a founding partner and head of the environmental practice; as well as labour law expert Victorino Márquez, who was a founding partner and head of the defunct firm’s labour law department. Araquereyna also benefited from Bolinaga Levy Márquez & Canova’s demise when it welcomed public law team head Antonio Canova and Luis Alfonso Herrera as partners of the firm.

Other firms have also made new hires. Despacho de Abogados Miembro de Hogan Lovells appointed Diogenes Bermudez as counsel; formerly at Petrobras Venezuela, his practice focuses upon infrastructure and project finance, particularly within the Latin American oil and gas sector. Hoet Pelaez Castillo & Duque recently incorporated Jesús Alberto Sol Gil from KPMG’s Venezuelan legal branch, where he led the tax law and tax disputes practices.

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  • Joost Fanoy appointed partner at BarentsKrans

    The Hague, 4 July 2014 - BarentsKrans has appointed Joost Fanoy as a partner in the Antitrust & Public Procurement department, effective as of July 1, 2014. Joost specializes in European law in general with a particular focus on European and Dutch competition, public procurement and state aid law and is the head of the Antitrust and Public Procurement Practice Group. Joost is also a member of the Cartel damages team of BarentsKrans.
  • PineBridge Acquires 50% Stake in Romatem

    PineBridge Investments Middle East, a global multi-asset class investment manager with regional headquarters in Bahrain, and nearly 60 years of experience in emerging and developed markets, has acquired a 50% equity stake in Romatem, the leading physical therapy and rehabilitation services chain in Turkey.
    - Paksoy
  • Isbank Issued USD 750 Million Notes

    Isbank issued 750 million USD notes under its GMTN programme established in 2013. The notes are listed on the Irish Stock Exchange and bear interest at the rate of 5 % with a maturity date 2021. Mr. Omer Collak (partner) and Mr. Baris Kencebay (head of tax practice) have acted for the joint lead managers Barclays, Citigroup, HSBC, National Bank of Abu Dhabi and The Royal Bank of Scotland.
    - Paksoy
  • Halkbank Issued USD 500 Million Notes

    Halkbank issued five-year term fixed interest rate US currency notes, with a total amount of USD 500 million  with an interest rate of 4.765 %  and an annual coupon rate of 4.750 %. The notes offered the lowest borrowing rate in the first five-month period of 2014, and total demand rose nearly nine-fold due to high investor interest. The note issuance drew great interest from international investors settled in the Middle East and Asia, as well as those investors based in the US and Europe. Mr Omer Collak (partner) and Mr Baris Kencebay (head of tax practice) have advised the joint lead managers.
    - Paksoy
  • Turkiye Finans to Issue Ringgit Sukuk to Raise Up to MYR 3 Billion In Malaysia

    Turkiye Finans issued the first ringgit sukuk originating from Turkey. The bank initially raised MYR 1 billion with a five-year commodity sukuk on June 30, with an annual return of 6 %. The sukuk under the programme will have tenure of one to 20 years. Funds raised will go towards general corporate purposes. The sukuk will be issued through TF Varlik Kiralama A.S., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Turkiye Finans. Malaysia's RAM Ratings has accorded the programme an indicative long-term rating of AA3. HSBC Amanah Malaysia and Standard Chartered Saadiq were the joint advisers. Mr Omer Collak (partner) and Mr Baris Kencebay (head of tax practice) have advised Turkiye Finans and the issuer TF Varlik Kiralama A.S.
    - Paksoy
  • Ziraat Bank Established GMTN Programme to Issue Bonds Worth USD 2 Billion

    Ziraat Bank, the largest state owned bank of Turkey, established GMTN programme on 21 May 2014, for the notes to be issued up to  USD 2 billion listed on Irish Stock Exchange. The notes are unconditional, unsubordinated and unsecured obligations, and rank  pari-passu with Ziraat Bank's other senior unsecured obligations.
    - Paksoy
  • Vakifbank Sells EUR 500 Million Notes Under USD 5 Billion GMTN Programme

    Vakifbank issued EUR 500 million 5-year unsecured and unsubordinated notes under the first GMTN programme of Turkey established in 2013. The notes are listed on Irish Stock Exchange and bear interest at the rate of 3.5 % p.a. with a maturity date 17 June 2019. This is the very first EUR denominated RegS offering of a Turkish entity.
    - Paksoy