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Shearman & Sterling LLP

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Cynthia Urda Kassis

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Shearman & Sterling LLP

Work Department

Project Development & Finance


Cynthia Urda Kassis is a senior partner in the Project, Development & Finance group and Head of the Mining & Metals group, of the international law firm Shearman & Sterling. She represents sponsors/borrowers and lenders in project, finance and joint venture transactions worldwide. She consistently ranks as a leading project finance lawyers by Chambers & Partners, IFLR 1000 and Legal 500 and has been named “Dealmaker of the Year” by The American Lawyer, “Projects/Energy Lawyer of the Year” by Chambers USA (Women in Law), “MVP in Project Finance” by Law360, “Latin America Legal Star” by Latin Business Chronicle and “Project Finance Lawyer of the Year” by Who’s Who Legal, which also named her among the “most highly regarded individuals in the world” in the field of project finance”


The American University, Washington College of Law, 1984; University of Notre Dame, M.A., 1981; University of Virginia, B.A., 1980

Latin America: International firms

Banking and finance

Within: Banking and finance

Shearman & Sterling LLP remains a big player in bilateral and syndicated financings, acquisition finance and project finance, and has a large number of finance partners focused on Latin America. The team is active throughout the region, notably in new money financings in Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Argentina and Central America and in major restructurings and refinancings in Brazil. With the firm’s long record in Latin America and its frequent roles on sovereign deals, it is widely recognised for its local and regional knowledge. The firm is also at the forefront of energy, mining and infrastructure financings across the region. Clients include Banco BTG Pactual, Banco Santander Brasil, COFIDE, Citigroup, Ecopetrol, ENAP and Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex). Recent highlight transactions include advising the joint lead arrangers and bookrunners on a $750m senior secured facility for Mexican telecoms company Axtel, the proceeds being used to redeem the company’s outstanding international bonds, part of its merger process with Alestra. The firm also advised UBS on a $125m bridge financing for Pagano Group and Carval Investors to finance their acquisition of two electricity distribution companies in Argentina, Empresa Distribuidora de Energia Norte and Empresa Distribuidora de Energia Sur. Denise Grant is recommended for financings in Mexico, Chile and Peru and is universally recognised for her strength in acquisition finance in Latin America, coupled with extensive experience in corporate loans and project finance. Global head of the firm’s project development and finance group Gregory Tan is a big name and has an impressive record in the region; and Cynthia Urda Kassis is a market leader in the mining sector, has a strong record in energy and infrastructure financings, is ‘very pragmatic, practical and business oriented’ and ‘tries to corral the client towards the right approach’. Robert Freedman is recommended for energy sector deals, especially in the renewables segment; and Alexandro Padrés, a Mexican national, is making an impression on deals involving Mexico and Central America. Seasoned professional Jeanne Olivier has retired from the partnership, but remains of counsel.

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Projects and energy

Within: Leading lawyers

Cynthia Urda Kassis - Shearman & Sterling LLP

Within: Projects and energy

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

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United States: Finance

Project finance

Within: Leading lawyers

Cynthia Urda Kassis Shearman & Sterling LLP

Within: Project finance

Shearman & Sterling LLP’s ‘excellent’ practice is headed by Gregory Tan in New York and is balanced on the lender and sponsor sides, with the former being a key driver of activity in 2016. Cynthia Urda Kassis and counsel Paul Epstein, both of whom are based in New York, advised the US Department of Transportation on its $875m loan to Purple Line Transit Partners to finance the Purple Line light rail transit project. Patricia Hammes advised lenders such as Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs and Royal Bank of Canada on Helix Generation’s $2.2bn purchase of 3,950MW-worth of power assets from TransCanada Corporation. On the cross-border front, Urda Kassis and Denise Grant advised a syndicate of 19 banks on the $4.1bn financing of the 1,000km Gasoducto Sur Peruano project. The department is also noted for its sponsor-side capabilities: Urda Kassis acted for Transmisora Eléctrica del Norte on the $822m construction financing of its 600km transmission line in Chile, and Tan and Alexandro Padrés assisted Carso Energy with its $240m bridge financing of the development of a 610km pipeline in Mexico. Other sponsor clients include ENGIE, AES Corporation and Castle Energy. New York-based counsels Donna Bobbish and Christian Rudloff are also recommended.

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United States: Industry focus

Energy transactions: oil and gas

Within: Energy transactions: oil and gas

Project finance and capital markets are the key pillars of Shearman & Sterling LLP’s practice. Cynthia Urda Kassis acted for a 19-bank syndicate in the $4.1bn financing of the Gasoducto Sur Peruano project; sponsor-side clients include Empresa Nacional del Petroléo. The department also handles M&A: it advised General Electric on the $32bn merger of its oil and gas business with Baker Hughes. Robert Freedman, Waajid Siddiqui, Gregory Tan and Alexandro Padrés are other names to note. Named attorneys are based in New York. Since publication, Robert Nelson has moved to Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.

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