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For 29 years, The Legal 500 has been analysing the capabilities of law firms across the world. The GC Powerlist is the latest publication from The Legal 500, turning its attention to the in-house function, and recognising those corporate counsel who are driving the legal business forward. The latest edition is the GC Powerlist: Mexico, which identifies an array of the most influential and innovative in-house counsel working in those two jurisdictions...read more
We have canvassed opinions from law firm partners and in-house counsel across Mexico, to identify corporate counsel that have been instrumental in changing or forming opinions within their company or industry; developing brilliant technical solutions to complex issues; creating innovative structures to ensure that the in-house function is driving the business forward; or providing a business working model that other corporate counsel should follow. Our team of experienced researchers assessed the nominations, speaking both to general counsel and nominating lawyers to finalise each list. GC Powerlist: Mexico features not just information on why that individual has made the list, but also comment from those in-house lawyers about how they have helped shape innovation in the legal industry.
If you have feedback on the GC Powerlist: Mexico, or wish to nominate other in-house individuals (either in Mexico or global), please do get in touch at email@example.com.
We hope that this listing will stimulate debate around the role of the in-house lawyer and help corporate counsel with possible improvements and efficiencies in running their departments.
GC Powerlist: Mexico
(listed in alphabetical order; click on an individual to view an expanded biography)
Alonso Acebes Sevilla
Legal Director, Advisory Counsel
AXA Seguros México
Pablo Aguilar Albo
Deputy general counsel
Latin America legal director and compliance officer
Andrés Alvarez Cordero
General counsel and compliance officer
Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento De Maíz y Trigo (CIMMYT)
Barclays Bank México
Roberto Andrade Martínez
Director of institutional relations and legal affairs
Farmacias del Ahorro
Armando Ascencio Pérez
General counsel for Mexico and southern cone
Bank of America México and Merrill Lynch México
Héctor Ávila Flores
General counsel, secretary of the board and managing director - legal affairs
Grupo Financiero Banorte
Vice president legal and general counsel
Alejandro Becker Ania
General counsel and secretary of the board
Grupo Gasoductos de Chihuahua
Director and associate general counsel
The Home Depot
Director, international compliance and business development Latin America
Alfredo Bonifaz Molina
General secretary and general counsel
José Luis Bracho Ortiz
Asociación de Bancos de México (ABM)
René Buentello Carbonell
Vice president and general counsel
Alejandro Cantú Jiménez
Vice president and general counsel, Latin America
Elizabeth Chicuellar Casillas
Legal manager Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America
Legal director and transactions corporate counsel
Kellogg Company Latin America
Chief operations officer
Daimler Financial Services México
Alejandro de Iturbide
Ángel de León Zamora
General counsel, Mexico and the Caribbean
Luis Enríquez de Rivera Morales
General counsel and compliance officer - Mexico and Latin America
General counsel and institutional affairs director
Carlos Facha Lara
General counsel and secretary of the board of directors
Impulsora del Desarrollo y el Empleo (IDEAL)
Erika Favela Mena
Un Kilo de Ayuda
Raul Felix Saul
Legal director, ethics officer and corporate secretary Mexico
General counsel and head of compliance
Laureate International Universities
Javier García García
Guillermo Garcia San Pedro
Regulatory executive director and senior compliance leader
Anabell González Nava
Legal area director, North Latin America division
General counsel (Latin America)
Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA)
Carlos Hassey Artigas
Vice president - legal, finance and fleet
George Troy Hatch
Vice president and general counsel
Gabriela Hernández Morgan
Head legal counsel and compliance officer
Raúl Hernández Ojeda
General counsel Mexico and Central America
Vice president and general counsel
Gerardo Iñigo Heras
Assistant general counsel
Kansas City Southern de México (KCSM)
President, general manager and legal director - Mexico, Central America and Caribbean
Pablo Jiménez Zorrilla
Vice president legal and corporate affairs
KUA MEX FOODS
Legal, governance, compliance and government affairs director
Leticia León Gonzalez
Regional legal and compliance head - Latin America and Canada
Deputy general counsel retail banking, wealth management and insurance, and legal regional head for global private banking - LATAM
Global business executive legal director
Grupo Financiero Santander México
Director, head of legal, Latin America and Brazil
Ligia González Lozano
General corporate counsel
General counsel, institutional relations manager and compliance officer
Toyota Motor Sales de México
Juan Carlos Maroto
Deputy general counsel
Head of legal and corporate affairs
Japan Tobacco International (JTI) México
General Motors de Mexico
Mexico managing regional counsel
Managing director, general counsel and compliance officer
Jacobo Martínez Flores
Legal corporate director and general counsel
Monex Grupo Financiero
Lourdes Ivonne Massimi Malo
Legal corporate manager and secretary of the board
Regional general counsel and institutional relations director Latin America
Hoteles City Express
Regional legal manager
Pernod Ricard Americas
Javier Oroz Coppel
General counsel and head of compliance
AXA Seguros México
Rebeca Orozco Garcia
Gerdau Corsa México
Marisol González Ortega Roque
General counsel - Hispano American zone
Carlos Ortiz Mena
Head of legal
Maurin Pérez de León
Legal affairs director
Rodrigo Pérez Elizundia
ThyssenKrupp Industrial Solutions (México)
Vice president - legal and compliance (Latin America)
Sura Asset Management
Head of legal and compliance
Deutsche Bank México
Mariana Páez Robles Martínez
Alma Maria Rodriguez Flores
Rafael Romo Aguiñaga
Director of legal - business division
Banco del Bajío
Claudia Rosso Rizo
Omar Ruiz Mena
General counsel Latin America and chief compliance officer
Gonzalo Ruiz San Sebastián
International trademark counsel
The Coca-Cola Company
Deputy general counsel
Adriana Servin Villada
Legal and government affairs director
Lexmark International de México
Jose Gabriel Sotelo Rios
General Counsel, México and Costa Rica
Monica Soto Perez
Chief counsel and compliance officer Mexico
Hernán Treviño de Vega
General counsel and operations head
Grupo Acosta Verde
General counsel and corporate affairs officer
Jugos del Valle
Legal affairs director and head of compliance - Mexico and South America
Ford de México
Jorge Vega Iracelay
Assistant general counsel and senior legal director (Mexico)
General counsel and government affairs director (Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean)
Vice president, general counsel Latin America
Prudential Real Estate Investors Latin America
Executive vice president legal and secretary of the board
Juan Pablo Visoso Lomelín
Managing director and general counsel
Alonso Acebes Sevilla began his legal career in 1994 as a law clerk working on litigations in mercantile law suits for law practice Asesoría Jurídica. After two years there and then a further seven years at law firms where he gained experience negotiating commercial contracts and working on telecommunications and satellite matters, Acebes Sevilla moved in-house in 2003 when he joined MVS Multivisión. Serving as the legal manager of the media communications company with more than 90 million listeners and 130 stations in seven countries, he supervised all kinds of contracts and agreements on telecommunications area. Acebes Sevilla was then appointed as legal director for Dell, one of the world’s leading information technology and services companies, providing legal support to all business areas. In the role he streamlined the operational processes and procedures in order for the company to fully comply with corporate obligations, governance, and FCPA rules. Responsible for local M&A work, Acebes Sevilla was integral to company strategy and structure design for highly complex deals and, overtime, became a specialist in public tenders. In 2014 he was selected to serve as general counsel for online retailer Linio México, in charge of all legal and ethical matters for Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Argentina, Chile and Panama with over 1,200 employees. Acebes Sevilla notes his key strengths in the role as using his vast experience of negotiating contractual agreements to ensure compliance with the company's risk and governance policies, simplifying problems, a strategic mind-set and the ability to demonstrate good judgment.
Karla Acosta has over 20 years of in-house experience in the financial services industry. She began her career at Casa de Bolsa Arka (now part of Grupo Financiero Ve por Más) in 1998 as a legal manager, taking charge of the corporate management for all subsidiary companies. When Acosta joined Seguros ING in 2007, initially as a contract manager, she was in charge of negotiating, drafting, reviewing and guarding all contracts of the insurance company and its subsidiaries. Quickly making an impression, Acosta was promoted to deputy legal corporate director in 2008 for AXA Seguros, (shortly after AXA acquired Seguros ING). Her rise through the company continued when she was appointed to her present role as legal director, advisory counsel in 2011 where she leads a team of 10 lawyers and is in charge of the legal advisory and collections area. She also currently serves as secretary of the board and of the audit committee and is a registered reviewing/ruling officer. During her time as legal advisory director she has developed in-house educational programs for staff and launched an internal monthly legal newsletter which contains articles related to relevant legal aspects of the insurance industry. Acosta also actively participates in the Legal Partner Program, a legal concierge service between internal clients and the legal department, ensuring immediate legal advice and strong and efficient communication. As a reflection of playing a key role in these innovative internal changes, Acosta says ‘our legal team worked strongly to discard that stereotype of being considered as just a service area, by embracing a business oriented vision and strategy in areas such as contract management, litigation, reinsurance, subrogations, recovery of insurance premium debts, etc., becoming key players in the financial results of the company’. Her career highlights include her successful leadership in the implementation of internal legal changes to adjust to Solvency II requirements in Mexico, providing outstanding and innovative legal support to strategic projects. Acosta also notes the implementation of a new contract area in Seguros ING, developing processes and contract models, as well as the integration of a unique contract inventory within the company as significant achievements.
After working at law firm Galicia y Robles (today Galicia Abogados) from 2004 to 2010, Pablo Aguilar Albo decided to move his career in-house and joined Cinépolis, the Mexican chain of movie theatres, as a legal manager. Aguilar Albo took to the role with ease, and in under two years was promoted to associate general counsel. After gaining experience as an international visiting attorney in the New York office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, Aguilar Albo returned to Cinépolis to take up the position of worldwide general counsel. As one source states, ‘under his watch as general counsel of Cinépolis, the company has grown to be the second largest cinema company in the world by number of screens’. Since taking on the global role, Aguilar Albo has led the successful closure of five acquisitions across the world, which were crucial to the company’s growth plans. A source describes Aguilar Albo’s ‘ability to implement large and complex transactions in countries as distinct as Spain, India and various central and south American countries have paved the way to this large and successful growth’. While these deals were happening, Aguilar Albo was also working on the execution of two syndicated credit agreements under New York law, a first for the company.
Having worked at prestigious law firms such as Mayer Brown, Jauregui, Navarrete y Nader, SC (now Nader, Hayaux & Goebel) and Baker & Mackenzie, Gustavo Alarcon took his expertise and extensive experience representing clients in a wide range of domestic and international transactions in-house. He was appointed as general counsel for Northern Mexico at Fortune 100 conglomerate, GE Capital in 2014, where he held responsibility for all business segments on legal issues related to commercial transactions and executed cross-border transactions involving GE’s businesses and related third parties. Following this successful period, Alarcon joined Peñoles, Mexico’s second largest mining company as deputy general counsel in November 2015. His role entails advising all business and operations teams on legal issues related to mining regulation, M&A, corporate finance, capital markets and thermoelectric energy project in addition to advising subsidiaries and affiliates of Grupo Bal, Peñoles’ holding company, such as PetroBal and Fresnillo. Much more than a legal adviser, Alarcon has been an adjunct professor of international business transactions at private university Tecnológico de Monterrey since 2013 and has had a number of published works on banking, finance and managing industry regulations.
An alumnus of Panamerican University, Victor Alcantar recently joined Philips Lighting in Mexico City to lead the legal department. Alcantar’s previous career spans 15 years and covers the consumer goods and telecommunications sectors, having held senior positions at Nextel, Colgate-Palmolive and Reckitt Benckiser. Alcantar served as head of legal for Mexico and Central America at Reckitt Benckiser for over five years, leaving the company in October 2015 to begin his current role at Philips Lighting. His time at RB is marked by his outstanding legal work to facilitate the acquisition of Sico trademarks for the Americas, as well as the negotiation and execution of significant contracts up to $10m in value. In addition, Alcantar handled all governance processes for the company and implemented legal strategy on key litigation issues for RB. Between 2003 and 2008, Alcantar worked as senior counsel at Nextel, where he participated in the acquisition of the second largest trunking operator, a transaction that allowed the company to provide coverage in north-central Mexico. Although it is still early on in his current role at Philips Lighting, Alcantar is already having a demonstrable impact on the legal team and wider business.
Andrés Alvarez Cordero gained solid experience of working in-house for public bodies when he joined the Mexican government as the Undersecretary for International Trade Negotiations in 1995. Working on negotiations related to North American Free Trade Agreements (NAFTA) he later joined the NAFTA Secretariat, the office in charge of administering the dispute settlement procedures under the agreements, and was promoted to chief of legal staff after just one year. Having gained significant experience in international trade, Alvarez Cordero then spent time at KPMG in the international trade and customs practice before joining law firm Gardere Wynne Sewell as an associate. Spending nearly 12 years at the firm, Alvarez Cordero continued to work on transactions as well as corporate work. He says this allowed him ‘to become familiar with various areas of law and to develop know-how on what to look for when reviewing or providing advice on companies’ operations’. His next step was to take this experience and apply it into an in-house role. Spending one year at PepsiCo, one of the largest multinationals in the snack and beverage industry, Alvarez Codero reviewed, drafted or negotiated over 3,000 agreements, before being headhunted to join Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento De Maiz y Trigo (CIMMYT), an international organisation created by the United Nations and the World Bank, which performs agricultural research on wheat and maize for developing countries. When Alvarez Codero joined CIMMYT, there was no legal department but he now leads a team of 11 to cover the 15 jurisdictions the organisation operates in across the globe. He began performing due diligences, assessments, comprehensive policy reviews and following discussion with the director general and board, streamlined a contract process for CIMMYT and updated HR policies. Following a merger of internal units, Alvarez Codero was appointed general counsel and compliance officer of the organisation in 2013, allowing him to initiate a compliance awareness plan which included anti-corruption and anti-bribery risk assessments. ‘The organisation has become more thoughtful about entering into new markets and the manner in which such entrance should be undertaken’ he says.
Mónica Andapia has had a highly successful career with a distinct focus on financial services, managing the legal processes of some of the largest international banks in Mexico. Her first role was with the Mexican law firm Ritch Mueller, where she was introduced to the world of transactional law, working on the full spectrum of deals from mergers of financial entities to due diligence and structured finance deals. A secondment at Bank of America, between 2003 and 2004, as well as a masters qualification in banking, corporate finance and securities law attained in 2005, propelled Andapia’s interest in financial services. She joined Bank of America on a permanent basis as a legal director in 2006 and became an integral element for several transactions in cross-border loans, syndicated loans, trust, corporate governance and derivatives. Andapia’s involvement in compliance issues has been particularly noteworthy and she has made an impression with her analysis of the impact of new laws and regulations to the products of the entities in Mexico. Andapia’s more recent roles include a two year tenure as deputy general counsel at HSBC and her current role of general counsel at Barclays in Mexico City. Apart from being in charge of Barclay’s Mexican legal department, she also serves as secretary of the board of directors and provides ongoing support to the investment banking and equities teams. During her time in the role, Andapia has been integral to their comprehensive dispute resolution strategy; successfully overseeing legal functions in the bank, broker dealer, financial group and financial services within the Barclays Group in Mexico.
Well recognised for his ‘ability to innovate in and adapt to different sectors’, Roberto Andrade Martínez has held top legal positions at ExxonMobil México, Panasonic de México and Telefonica Moviles México. During his career, professionals have noted his ‘outstanding achievements in legal M&A, corporate structures and litigation’ and for being ‘deal orientated’. After joining pharmaceutical chain Farmacias del Ahorro, Andrade Martínez has been commended for ‘creating a legal department of high performance in one of the main companies in the country in the consumer sector’. He is currently heavily involved in the company’s growth plans, which involves doubling the number of Farmacias del Ahorro stores in the next five years: with the company currently having 1,300 pharmacies, Andrade Martínez has said the aim is to reach 2,600 pharmacies by 2020. Achieving the company’s growth plans will therefore mean opening approximately 300 stores per year.
Armando Ascencio Pérez joined the shopping centre division team of FRISA, the family-owned real estate and construction company, as chief legal counsel in 1993. A year later, following the Mexican peso crisis he earned internal recognition for not only facilitating the division’s survival but also its post-crisis meteoric growth having already secured strategic joint ventures with third parties. Following this success, in 2007 he became chief legal counsel for all divisions, which in addition to shopping centres encompass real estate development, industrial parks and tourist developments. Having 32 direct reports Ascencio Pérez built legal teams for each project, coordinating resources to effectively achieve targets by implementing regular project and accounting reporting mechanisms. In January 2015, Ascencio Pérez became corporate CEO for FRISA, and currently has around 200 staff under his supervision with 72 of those reporting to him daily. In response to changes in anti-money laundering regulations, he developed a new area within the organisation to give an overall view of legal, accounting, tax and other considerations. Having already impacted FRISA’s operations when he generated a business intelligence tool for the whole company using Tableau software, Ascencio Pérez is currently working on a four year restructuring project set to last the company for decades.
Alejandro Athie developed a deep interest in banking and securities law when studying at law school, and after going on to work at a number of law firms joined the Securities Industry Association and the Mexican Stock Exchange (BMV) in 1995. Holding this position until 2002, Athie was in charge of regulation, supporting market surveillance areas, and also acting as head of legal for the derivatives exchange, which allowed him to interact with all Mexican financial regulators. Following this spell he joined Deutsche Bank to become head of legal and compliance working on global markets, equities and investment banking transactions, among other transactional and commercial trust activities. Keen to gain as much experience as possible, Athie then joined Bank of America México and Merrill Lynch México as general counsel in 2011. In 2014, his role was extended further: assuming responsibility over the southern cone of South America, Athie has responsibility for all legal matters, coordinating corporate legal activity and serving as secretary of the board. Athie recognises the biggest achievements of his career as developing the first OTC derivatives agreements in Mexico and creating a legal platform for exchange traded derivatives working closely with the regulatory authorities. In understanding the principles that have driven his successful career, Athie reinforces core values in his legal teams, placing the protection of the bank and its shareholders as the first goal. He also values the development of long term views on potential legal risk and approach to reputational matters. ‘At the end the contribution to the business is driven by experience and preparation resulting in good judgment and common sense to resolve the most important legal risks’ he says.
Héctor Ávila Flores had already worked in the financial sector for over 10 years before assuming his position as general counsel and secretary of the board at Grupo Financiero Banorte, the third largest bank in Mexico. Upon joining, Ávila Flores reorganised the structure of the legal department, which currently consists of 750 lawyers, to create specialisations in key areas such as litigation, credit and M&A. The changes have enabled business units to provide more accurate timelines for clients, directly impacting one of the group’s key strategies for growth. In 2010, Ávila Flores participated in the $1.3bn merger of Banorte and Grupo Ixe. Three years later he participated in the group’s global IPO that raised $2.5bn in share offering, a cash injection that was used to fund later acquisitions and strengthen capital ratios. In 2014 Ávila Flores was in charge of the bank’s quick adaptation to significant financial reform in Mexico that contained amendments to more than 30 statutes as well as the issuance of a new Financial Groups Law.
Joaquin Balcarcel joined Grupo Televisa, the largest media company in the Spanish-speaking world with a revenue of $5.3bn, in 1999 as a corporate legal director working predominantly on M&A negotiations. After five years in the corporate role at Televisa, Balcarcel was appointed general counsel of the group’s television division in 2004, but after only two years was promoted again to his current position as vice president legal and general counsel of the entire group. He has been able to utilise the team of 110 people, most of whom are lawyers, to support the company through a time of regulatory change. According to one source, ‘Joaquin successfully steered Televisa's migration into the new regulatory regime applicable to broadcaster and telecommunications carriers’. In the last 18 months, Balcarcel has overseen the successful sale of Televisa's 50% stake in wireless carrier Iusacell to Salinas for $717m, as well as making several acquisitions in the cable sector. With Televisa being a highly regulated company, Balcarcel is recognised for his achievements ‘while adjusting and complying with the asymmetric regulations applicable to Televisa as preponderant agent under the new rules’.
Alejandro Becker Ania has over 25 years’ experience in the Mexican legal industry. After a successful spell at law firm Guerra González y Asociados, he spent six years at entertainment company Ocesa Presents as legal director supporting the company's transactional issues, handling a broad range of legal matters in all areas of entertainment and corporate work. His role saw him representing the band U2 in Mexico and executing artist performance agreements for the likes of Madonna, The Rolling Stones, and Sir Paul McCartney. In 1999 Becker Ania moved to the energy sector joining Gas Natural Mexico, where his work as head of legal included obtaining geographical areas for the distribution of natural gas derived from an international bid and negotiating the acquisition of Lone Star International, a US company dedicated to the distribution of natural gas in Mexico City. After the turn of the century, Becker Ania founded Vilcehs & Becker, a law firm dedicated to the energy sector, and was commended for being a ‘pioneer’ in Mexican energy law as a result of his work. Whilst still running the law firm for 13 years, he spent his final three years serving as general counsel for Energy 7, a company that counsels and represents clients in identifying, managing and disposing of risks and liabilities arising from actual or suspected real-estate energy related liabilities. In 2014 however he moved to his current position as general counsel and secretary of the board of Gasoductos de Chihuahua, a company that transports and stores hydrocarbons. Becker Ania’s work in the energy sector has gained him plaudits with one source commenting ‘I can highly recommend him regarding his professionalism and knowledge as a specialised attorney in corporate and energy matters’.
Having held numerous in-house positions at companies such as Internacional de Inversiones, GRUMA, Virginia Tech and Global Payments, Mónica Bichara joined The Home Depot in 2002 shortly after it entered the Mexican market. Now she is recognised as ‘the leader, on the legal front, of The Home Depot's growth in Mexico, supporting the development of the world’s largest home improvement specialty retailer. By 2005 she was promoted to director and associate general counsel, legal and corporate security and has been controlling the regional legal matters of the company ever since. In the words of one source, ‘Bichara has successfully handled the company's organic growth as well as many acquisitions, which have been key to the company's growth in Mexico’. Bichara also actively contributes to the increase in the presence of women in the legal profession in Mexico, through Abogadas MX, a non-profit organisation. This involves mentoring young lawyers, setting up a network of women who exchange knowledge and seeking to generally establish the presence of women in the legal arena.
Since 1990 Jaime Blanco has held top legal positions at institutions including global imaging company Kodak and Fortune 250 chemical company Praxair, where he helped with a restructuring of the company that rewarded him with international exposure. Blanco was appointed general counsel Mexico for leading supplier of maintenance, repair and operating products, Grainger in 2008; in the same year having to navigate the fallout from the global financial crash. His approach to minimising expenses and negotiating with suppliers, customers and branches enabled the company to significantly reduce the impact of the crash. Following his initial success at Grainger, Blanco’s responsibility has extended to cover all Latin American operations in his current role of director, international compliance and business development Latin America. With most branches based in Mexico, he is still highly active in the jurisdiction, successfully handling compliance and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act matters. In the last few years, he has ensured the legal team support the business as a full team member. ‘The legal team is not isolated, we actively participate in company’s success and failure’ he says.
Nominated for his work as secretary general and general counsel of one the most important insurance companies in Mexico, MAPFRE, Alfredo Bonifaz Molina also gained a wealth of experience during his 10 years at Santander. After joining MAPFRE at a crucial time in 2003, he restructured the legal department to help the company adapt to political regulations following a stock control acquisition. His primary focus was to create a legal structure focused on prevention and managing of litigations. Now with 35 lawyers reporting into him, Bonifaz Molina has taken on additional responsibilities including membership of the board of directors and committee secretary of the regional management office (northern Latin America). Due to the integral nature of his role, Bonifaz Molina is responsible for much of the strategic planning and in particular generating a corporative prestige for the company. As a result MAPFRE has been acknowledged by the Business Monitor of Corporative Reputation (MERCO) as the insurance company with the best reputation in Mexico. The work he has overseen in the legal department has optimised tax benefits and reduced litigations for the company, making it a widely respected company.
The Asociación de Bancos de México (ABM) was founded in 1928 with the sole purpose of representing the general interests of banks and serving as the leadership body of the credit institutions in Mexico. José Luis Bracho Ortiz became general counsel of the association in 2005 after working for the Ministry of Finance. With 46 banks represented, including HSBC México, Banco Santander, JPMorgan, BBVA Bancomer, UBS and American Express Bank (México), one of the most significant improvements he has made since his arrival is the increased participation of members on proposals to government. As ABM staff participate directly with authorities on behalf of the banks, the association actively participates in financial reforms. Bracho Ortiz coordinates work with the authorities and has carried out some the most important reforms in the last 10 years, on things like consumer protection for instance. Bracho Ortiz is constantly faced with the challenge of reaching a consensus of views among members. ‘We always try to keep banks together as an industry, so we can achieve a single position’, he says. In a rare case where compromises are insufficient to gain consensus, both cases are presented before the authorities.
With an in-house career that began in 1989, René Buentello Carbonell is vastly experienced in the natural resources sector. His first 13 years were spent in the industrial division of global conglomerate Grupo Carso serving as legal manager to its subsidiaries, Grupo Nacobre and Grupo Aluminio, which specialise in the manufacture, commercialisation and distribution of metals. Buentello Carbonell then went on to work at the Mexican state oil company subsidiary Pemex-Gas between 2002 and 2007 and Pemex-Refinacion until 2008. After Sempra, a Fortune 500 company, bought the assets of Grupo el Paso in 2010, whilst he was serving there as commercial and business development director, Buentello Carbonell agreed to join the acquiring company as general counsel. In 2013 Sempra Mexico changed its corporate name to IEnova and one year later Buentello Carbonell was appointed vice president and general counsel reporting directly to the president and CEO. Since his move to Sempra, Buentello Carbonell created an independent legal department for the public company, having previously been totally reliant on outside counsel advice. Another career highlight was providing the legal solutions which made it possible for the company to be the owner of the first private ethane pipeline in Mexico, before the energy reform of 2014. On quantifying his work, Buentello Carbonell mentions the obtainment of excellent ratings from Mexico’s Security and Banking Commission adding ‘this is wonderful for a highly regulated company such as IEnova.’
Since 2001, Alejandro Cantú Jiménez has served as general counsel for America Movil, Latin America´s largest wireless company and, in terms of equity subscribers the third largest wireless provider in the world. In addition to his role, Cantú Jiménez serves America Movil’s subsidiaries in various capacities including assistant general counsel of Telcel. In 2014, Cantú Jiménez oversaw America Movil’s corporate and operating restructuring to comply with asymmetric regulations. After the telecommunications and broadcasting regulator determined that the company and its subsidiaries held too great a market share under the new rules, Cantú Jiménez oversaw the company’s restructure. This meant reducing America Movil’s market share to under 50%, no easy task for a company that started with roughly 80%.
Valeria Chapa is noted for being an ‘outstanding lawyer’ and a ‘true leader with impressive accomplishments’. Following her graduation, Chapa joined international law firm Baker & McKenzie, becoming a partner at the age of 29. She moved to Fortune 100 company Honeywell International in 2010 serving as general counsel for Latin America, adding the role of vice president for the region later. Since joining the multinational conglomerate, Chapa has built a legal department that has grown with the business, reorganised Honeywell’s entities in the Latin America and supported the business in anticipating regulatory changes. Chapa also plays a key role in closing deals and devising company strategy. As one source says ‘it is only natural that she is also engaged in a wide array of disciplines within Honeywell, many of which are not typical for lawyers’. Outside of Honeywell, Chapa is proactive in innovating and contributing to the legal profession and is considered an inspirational female figure in the industry, having received a number of awards in recognition of this. In 2015 she co-founded Abogadas MX, a female lawyers mentoring network, is a member of the Vance Center's Women in the Profession Steering Committee and a fellow on the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity.
Before joining worldwide telecommunications company Alcatel-Lucent, Elizabeth Chicuellar Casillas’ legal career was spent at other leading companies in the sector such as Motorola and Telefónica Moviles México, acquiring strong negotiation skills and business acumen in the process. In her first four years at Alcatel-Lucent México, Chicuellar Casillas was the legal manager in charge of the corporate department for Mexico, subsequently adding the Caribbean and Central America regions to her remit. After a brief spell in the US-arm of the business acting as a contract manager, she returned to her legal manager role in Mexico, where she also became responsible for the commercial matters of the region. Chicuellar Casillas has been instrumental in developing the legal department within the commercial team, saying ‘I made them see legal as part of their team. They now know we are there to support the team in the negotiation and are not just part of the process’. Chicuellar Casillas supported Alcatel in the $13.4bn merger with Lucent in 2006, as at the time she was in charge of mergers and the corporate restructure for the 19 countries in her region. Other big achievements for Chicuellar Casillas have been collaborating in recent negotiations of frame agreements with key Mexican customers, and the restructuring of the legal entities with a particular focus on efficiency and resource saving to facilitate company goals. Following the acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent by Nokia in January 2016 for $17bn, Chicuellar Casillas has maintained her role as legal manager and will focus on corporate and commercial aspects within the merged company.
After almost three years at Phillip Morris International, Cristian Colin joined world leading cereal producer Kellogg Company in 2005. Having held a number of positions, Colin has worked his way up in a short space of time and now holds the position of legal director. He has facilitated the growth and development the legal department from a very small and limited unit into a Latin American regional organisation reporting to the general counsel and to the regional business unit president. The structure he crafted which creates specialists in four areas (labour and employment; IP and commercial; transactions; and dispute resolution) has been exported and served as the template for the global legal restructure. Colin highlights transforming the legal function from a purely compliance or necessary checkpoint of business procedures, into a strategy-feeding and revenue-enhancing role as one of his most significant achievements. He has ensured the legal function has a seat at all leadership tables as the key advisor for high impact business decisions. In describing his philosophy, Colin says ‘the legal role goes beyond and surpasses the compliance arena. Attorneys in an organisation are there to perform as business men and women who leverage their legal background to drive sound decisions.’
After two years in Volvo Financial Services’ corporate and litigation department, Marcos Czacki joined Daimler Financial Services México in 2002. Czacki has risen through the ranks since joining the financial arm of one of the world’s biggest producers of premium cars and global leader in manufacturing commercial vehicles. In 2007 he was appointed as general counsel and took on the role of compliance manager shortly after. Having led on a number of successful litigations Czacki was appointed chief operations officer in 2014, with 90 direct reports. Czacki has made some essential changes to the department during his time at Daimler: managing litigation risks, implementing a compliance program, leading innovation and enhancing the working environment and developing social responsibility initiatives.
Having worked in top in-house positions since 1995, Alejandro de Iturbide was nominated for having ‘great experience in the financial sector and a long trajectory as in-house counsel’. Between 1995 and 2002 de Iturbide served as deputy general counsel Mexico for Citibank, with responsibility for legal operations in its consumer bank, corporate bank, private bank, treasury and asset management divisions. Between 2002 and 2011 he served as the general counsel and compliance leader for Latin America for GE Capital (three years), Barclays Capital (almost two years) and GE Money (four years) where he would oversee the company’s legal and compliance operations in the region. In 2011 however he moved to the US conglomerate and parent company of GE Capital and GE Money, General Electric. Joining as general counsel Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, de Iturbide demonstrated his diverse skill range in overseeing the company’s legal work in various sectors including oil and gas, aviation, healthcare and business solutions. Recognised for being ‘very knowledgeable and pragmatic’ in corporate and banking law, de Iturbide was hired by Banamex in 2014. Serving as general counsel he oversees all legal activity for the bank which has a revenue of over $18bn.
Ángel de León Zamora’s current role as general counsel for the Mexico and Caribbean region represents a culmination of over 20 years of hands-on professional experience of providing high quality legal advice on matters related to consumer products. Prior to joining Unilever in March 2015, de León Zamora spent most of his career in various roles across several countries at another multinational consumer goods giant, Procter & Gamble. In his most recent assignment there, which lasted six months, de León Zamora led a capability project on regional opportunities to maintain the efficiency and productivity of the Latin America legal department. While working as associate general counsel at P&G in Cincinnati, de León Zamora distinguished himself with his work on developing systems to enable the business with high quality legal counsel for global product initiatives, as well as leading an in-house counsel team working on monitoring and making improvements on advertising. Other notable achievements for de León Zamora at P&G include his leadership efforts to establish the Mexican self-regulatory organisation CONAR and his work on the divestiture of the Royale paper business.
‘Extraordinary with personal relations’, Luis Enríquez de Rivera Morales was nominated for ‘his ability to look at the big picture in very complex cases; the fact that he seeks different opinions before making a decision; and his openness to hear external counsel advice’. After five years as a law clerk in a top five law firm in Mexico City, de Rivera Morales moved in-house working for investment bank Banca Cremi in 1995. He then joined BBVA Bancomer in 1996 spending a total of three years at the multinational bank. Following this he moved into the automobile sector, serving as legal director and general counsel for Motor Coach Industries. In 2004 he eventually moved to Continental, one of the world’s leading automotive industry suppliers in tire and brake technology, with sales of $38bn. Since 2008 de Rivera Morales has served the company in his current position as general counsel and compliance officer for Mexico and Latin America (excluding Brazil). He has participated in a number of important M&A transactions for Continental, including Motorola’s automotive electronics business in 2006 ($1bn), Siemens VDO, Automotive Division in 2007 ($12.7bn), Parker Hannifin’s air conditioning business in 2012 and Veyance in 2014 ($1.9bn). Despite working on these high-profile deals, de Rivera Morales identifies the implementation of real estate guarantee trusts for distributor’s credit lines as the most significant impact he’s had on the strategic direction of Continental as it ‘allowed us to guarantee 90 % of the portfolio worth $350m for the tire division’.
A highly flexible general counsel, who recognises and cherishes change, Adrian Estrada has been leading the efforts of the legal and investor relations team of the largest steel conglomerate in Mexico for over two years. Most of Estrada’s career, however, has been dedicated to the household appliances sector, with nearly a decade spent at Whirlpool Corporation in roles across Mexico and the USA. At Whirlpool, Estrada gained recognition for his efforts to successfully navigate the Mexican legal and foreign trade groups during the global financial crisis of 2008 and advised the company in a number of important transactions. At the onset of his career, Estrada worked at Corporativo Grupo Imsa, where he distinguished himself with his work on several large international M&A transactions.
Since his final year at university, Carlos Facha Lara has worked within Grupo Carso, a global conglomerate based in Mexico with a revenue of over $5bn and companies in a variety of sectors. He initially started at Banco Inbursa, a financing subsidiary within the group, spending eight years looking at all legal issues concerning the bank’s interests outside of Mexico and covering all entities of the financial group. He was appointed general counsel and secretary of the board of Impulsora del Desarrollo y el Empleo (IDEAL), after the financial group was spun-off and IDEAL was incorporated. In 2011 Facha Lara was also appointed as general counsel and secretary of the board of Minera Frisco, a mining subsidiary of Grupo Carso, in addition to his role at IDEAL. He is in charge of the environmental areas and public bidding areas for both companies. Running all legal issues of the two large entities with very few personnel demonstrates Facha Lara’s efficiency and motivation. He also built up the skills of the legal department to reduce reliance on external law firms and therefore save significant costs.
Having gained significant experience in litigation and corporate law, at law firms between 1996 and 2003, Erika Favela Mena joined Fundacion Teleton México, the country’s most important civil organisation that serves children up to age 18 with neuromusculoskeletal disabilities as deputy general counsel. Holding this position for six years, her responsibility covered the corporate area of 13 organisations, including non-profit organisations, as well as the legal basis for setting up 12 additional children's rehabilitation centres. To continue her charitable work, in 2010 Favela Mena joined Un Kilo de Ayuda, a non-profit organisation determined to eradicate child undernutrition by 2024. Serving as general counsel for the charity, her responsibilities include monitoring compliance with legal obligations such as labour, tax and administrative matters as well as negotiating contracts and agreements in civil, commercial and administrative matters. She has formalised agreements with Un Kilo de Ayuda’s allied institutions, its donors and governments through contracts or corresponding agreements. Under her management the processes of legal issues have been institutionalised, in addition to giving more structure and providing legal certainty; Favela Mena says the work is important for ‘the interests of transparency and accountability for the donations we receive.’ In working closely with the board, Favela Mena is not only involved on consultation and gives advice on all projects but also ensures the legal department ‘is very important in the daily operation of the institution’s pillar’.
Raul Felix Saul worked at global law firm Baker & McKenzie for almost 10 years before moving in-house. His time at the firm included serving as a partner and climate change and renewable energy coordinator. Having gained extensive knowledge of the energy sector, supplemented with his expertise in corporate law and contract negotiation, Felix Saul joined GDF SUEZ Energy Resources NA (now known as Engie), one of the largest non-residential retail energy suppliers in the United States. In his role as legal director he was crucial to the strategy and preparation for recent litigation in the Mexican Supreme Court. The landmark infrastructure case paved the way for changes to legislation included in the 2014 Mexican energy reform. Recognised as a ‘visionary’ for his ability to predict and adapt, Felix Saul has pre-empted further regulations and legislation following the energy and encouraged his legal team to prepare for all eventualities that the company may face.
Fluent in Spanish, English and French, Gerardo Fonseca is recognised for his expertise in M&A, corporate law, negotiations and financial law. After three years at law firm Diez Gargari, Fonseca moved to the insurance sector in 2006 when he joined ING. After ING was bought by AXA Seguros México in 2008 for $1.5bn, Fonseca served as general counsel and head of compliance for the company for a period of seven years. Since 2015 he has headed the legal department for Laureate International Universities, a leading international network of higher education institutions, that covers over one million students in 28 countries around the world.
After a successful spell as legal manager Javier García García was promoted to the position of general counsel of Grupo Kaluz, a venture capital and private equity company, directly reporting to the CEO and company Chairman. Since the appointment, he has brought his expertise in financing and M&A work to facilitate the company’s and its subsidiaries’ very active transaction work. García García has participated in transactions that have transformed the companies of the group including a $1.5bn joint venture between Mexichem and Oxy for an ethylene cracker in Texas, in late 2013. More recently he participated in an IPO to allow Kaluz’s companies to increase their growing opportunities. As the companies are affected by global events such as the fall in oil prices and exchange rates, García García has implemented different financial structures such as derivatives in order to protect the company’s growth. García García says that by having access to the subsidiaries’ planned strategies, he is able, as a lawyer, to bring a different and valuable perspective to the company strategy.
Guillermo Garcia San Pedro initially joined Banamex, Mexico’s second largest domestic bank, in 2002. As head of the regulatory and government affairs area, he was the bank’s liaison to the Mexican regulatory authorities, had responsibility over corporate governance and served on the board of directors. After completing an LL.M in 2005, he had a brief spell at international law firm White & Case before re-joining Banamex in 2007. This time he gained more responsibilities working on debt capital markets, commercial banking, trusts, and custody admissions. In 2012 he was made legal head for corporate and investment banking, markets and capital markets which covers real estate, debt capital markets and project finance. Drawing on his experiences at White & Case, one of his goals has been to implement the best practices of a law firm into his in-house team of ten lawyers. Garcia San Pedro gained recognition in the company when working on the interpretation of articles in banking law that prevented the granting of certain loans. His method was to make a positive case to regulators claiming the transactions could be made without breaching the regulations. Following this successful work, the bank was able enter several important transactions that would have otherwise been impossible. Other major achievements in his career include the successful negotiation with the Ministry of Finance and Mexican government of ten year promissory notes, and the ‘ground breaking’ real estate transactions he facilitated that have since been replicated by competitors.
Before moving in-house, Antonio Garza worked in both law firms and the public sector. He began his career at the Internal Ministry of Foreign Affairs participating in negotiations including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a tri-lateral trading bloc of Canada, USA and Mexico. Having worked for law firms between 1994 and 1997, Garza joined the Federal Telecommunications Commission (COFETEL), gaining his first taste of the telecommunications industry. After a brief spell in-house at a hotel operating company, Garza moved back to the telecommunications industry in 1999 and has stayed in the sector since. Between 1999 and 2001, he was corporate counsel at Nortel Networks, before serving as vice president and general counsel at Nextel for 14 years. During this time dealt with a very public media campaign aimed at the company and over 120 litigation procedures concerning a spectrum auction. Despite opposition from other parties, Nextel was successful in gaining licensees crucial to its business plans. When Nextel was bought by global telecoms company, AT&T Digital Communications in 2015 for $1.9bn, Garza led the Mexican side of the deal. After the successful buyout, Garza was asked to stay on at AT&T and now holds a dual-role for the company. As regulatory executive director, he leads a team of 12 lawyers, economists and engineers and reports to the vice president and general counsel in the US. As senior compliance leader, Garza manages two engineers and an accountant reporting to the president of AT&T Mexico. Constantly seeking to innovate, Garza has brought tailored technology into the legal teams. The technology captures agreements and sends alerts for automatic renewals for instance. As a consequence he has created a service, results and business orientated culture in the team.
Prior to moving to Axtel, Federico Gil worked in-house at real estate company, Grupo Internacional de Inversiones. Gil also has public sector experience, having been a legal advisor for Nuevo Leon State Congress, and private practice experience, having reached associate partner level at a leading law firm. Since 2000 Gil has served as general counsel for Axtel, an innovative Mexican information technology and communication provider to residential and business markets. Gil successfully negotiated and coordinated the merger of Axtel with Grupo Alfa's Alestra. The deal, which was finalised in January 2016, will allow the new company to expand its telecommunications services and give it a portfolio of business customers able to generate an estimated $600m in additional revenue per year.
A globally educated lawyer with degrees from both Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico and Boston University, Alejandro Giordano has a natural talent for finding innovative solutions to complex and challenging problems. Giordano uses his strong legal knowledge to motivate the Mexican legal function at Nextel, a wireless service operator, and has made a distinctive mark on the company during his 14 year tenure. Notable improvements include the establishment and implementation of internal policies of best practice, the creation of an administration for personal data protection and the design and implementation of a management system for reference guide requests. On the transactional front, Giordano has had active participation in various large international deals in Argentina, Brazil, Peru and the USA. His previous in-house role was in the field of regulation at the Mexico City based telecommunications company Avantel, where he stood out with his conduct of analysis of both national and international research to reform the framework of the legal and regulatory sector.
After four and half years at global law firm Baker & McKenzie as an associate, Isabelle Girard moved in-house joining leading pharmaceutical company Pfizer in 2003. In her eight years at Pfizer, Girard served in a number of roles quickly gaining international experience in corporate and intellectual property law, and as a result being swiftly promoted from each position; she served as corporate counsel, the regional legal manager and then legal director. In her most senior role at Pfizer, as regional legal lead for Latin America between 2010 and 2014, Girard had responsibility for over 20 lawyers and legal specialists across 45 countries. She moved to multinational conglomerate 3M in 2014, serving as general counsel for its Mexican subsidiary. Drawing on her experience at Pfizer, Girard is also the designated subject matter expert in healthcare for the Latin American region. As testament to her in-depth knowledge of multiple and diverse areas, including intellectual property law and the biotechnology field, as well as her experience with global transactions and multi-faceted commercial agreements, Girard has spoken at an FCPA conference on anti-corruption and compliance benchmarking.
Anabell González Nava began working for fast food chain giant, McDonald’s Corporation, in 2005 as general counsel for central and Latin America. Whilst many directors were removed, González Nava retained her position in 2007 when McDonald’s Corporation’s regional operators formed Arcos Dorados and acquired the Latin American business from the multinational. Arcos Dorados serves 4.3 million customers per day in its 3,000 restaurants, and employs 90,000 staff. As part of her role she is responsible for the drafting, coordination, execution and negotiation of vendor agreements with all the McDonald´s Mexican and Central American providers. Also dealing with corporate, competition and compliance issues, González Nava leads a team of six and holds responsibility over seven jurisdictions including Mexico, Guatemala, Panama and Nicaragua. In order to manage the diverse workload, González Nava has structured the legal team as three broad departments: corporate, licensing and administration and agreements. Under her instruction, each sub-department works with law firms on a retainer only basis in order to save costs. She also personally trains the team regularly on FCPA compliance and PROFECO consumer training. As a result of her initiatives González Nava has reduced the consumer protection fines of the company as well as eliminated its legal contingency fees on financial statements, which stood at $8m when she joined. Navigating the company through the changes during its inception has been a challenge. For example, converting voting rights of franchisees in the company based on sales rather than number of restaurants, thus enhancing decision making powers on promotion and marketing. In 2007, González Nava drew particular recognition when lobbying to the government over a VAT exemption received by one the company’s competitors. The successful arguments she articulated earned her an internal President’s Award. Demonstrating her success, González Nava sits on the North Latin American management board and franchise committee delivering talks on various topics such as tax to help the business understand its impact on results and guide its strategy.
General counsel (Latin America) at Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA), David Handelsmann is branded an ‘experienced and extremely capable attorney.’ In an active past 18 months, Handelsmann has been involved in high value and innovative transactions including a $367m follow-on capital raising by Macquarie’s Mexican Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), FIBRA Macquarie. The deal faced significant regulatory scrutiny following the introduction of new REIT regulations in 2014 and required investor approval for changes to FIBRA Macquarie’s governing documents. Needing to act quickly ‘we ensured that we were across the detail of the new regulations as soon as they were published and worked hand-in-hand with external counsel to adapt our governing documents as required’. Handelsmann also played a leading role in $214.6m of real estate M&A transactions that consolidated FIBRA Macquarie’s position as one of the largest owners of industrial real estate in Mexico. One source says, ‘David has a unique endurance during the deals, he is always focused. He has the full picture throughout the entire deal; he understands everything that is going on in a transaction and has a clear mind when decisions are needed’. Handelsmann himself says ‘as a legal team that is embedded with the business, we influence the strategic direction of the company by being part of the deal teams that evaluate and prosecute investment opportunities’.
A specialist aviation lawyer, Carlos Hassey Artigas has accumulated experience which is multifaceted in nature as it includes regulatory, commercial, tax, and liability issues. His legal career began as an associate at Haynes & Boone between 2004 and 2005, where he experienced his first taste of aviation work when he participated in the acquisition of an international airline, and on a separate matter drafted and negotiated the codeshare agreement between two international airlines. Spending some time at law firm Jauregui, Navarrete y Nader as an associate, Hassey Artigas gained knowledge that would prove essential in his future in-house career: project finance, insolvency matters, real estate financing, aircraft financing and government procurement. He also participated in the acquisition and sale of companies in USA and Mexico, drafting and negotiating both domestic and international contracts in the process. Hassey Artigas eventually joined Aeroméxico, Mexico’s flag carrier airline, in 2011. With a team of 25 consisting of lawyers and other staff, he mainly works on restructurings, financing 787 jets and supporting the company’s entrance into the private US market. Hassey Artigas gained particular recognition internally when he and his team worked with the Mexican aviation authorities to expedite the time it takes to acquire permits for aircrafts and then for them to take flight after purchase date. With each day costing the company money, reducing the time period from 20 days to just five is marked as a significant achievement. Being in the airline industry, Hassey Artigas and his legal team have to be able to respond to unusual problems, while keeping the business running as close as possible to normal. An example of this was during the recent Paris attacks when one of Aeroméxico’s pilots was unable to report to his hotel. Hassey Artigas and his team contacted their local counsel and the embassy, in order to prepare for any possible situation with them should the need to close the borders and suspend flights arise. Another example is when hurricanes hit Mexico, ‘the government asked us to send rescue flights to such destinations so that people could come back from Acapulco and Los Cabos, we managed to reschedule a lot of flights in order to support our people’, Hassey Artigas says.
As vice president and general counsel of AT&T, a telecoms company with a global revenue of $146bn, George Troy Hatch has facilitated some of the industry’s biggest deals, making the company the second largest wireless carrier in Mexico. Based in Texas and leading a team of 40 lawyers and 30 other professionals, 2015 was a particularly active period for Hatch in Mexico. He coordinated the closing of AT&T’s acquisition of wireless operators Nextel México for $1.9bn and Iusacell for $2.5bn from Grupo Salinas. The latter deal was crucial to AT&T’s plans to create the first-ever North American Mobile Service area covering more than 400 million consumers and businesses in Mexico and the United States. On both deals Hatch’s work involved obtaining antitrust and regulatory clearances under newly enacted telecommunications laws in Mexico. In December 2015, Hatch coordinated the first spectrum swap transaction, with Telefónica, under the new regulatory regime in Mexico. The deal required approval from the Federal Telecommunications Institute, Mexico's telecoms regulator. To explain his working philosophy, Hatch says ‘I believe the key to successfully advising a business is for the lawyers to be "in the trenches" with their business clients, committed to being present and using their knowledge of, and experience with, the law to support the business with the tools to accomplish its purposes in accordance with the legal and ethical standards applicable to the company. Nothing has more impact on realising the strategic vision of a company than this commitment to client interaction and support’.
Gabriela Hernández Morgan has worked in Mexico’s banking sector for over 20 years. As one source says, ‘Gaby is a very thorough person and of very high integrity. In my opinion she is one of the best bank corporate lawyers’. Drawing on her experiences, in 2012 she built and devised Grupo Consupago’s legal team and its processes. The team is now comprised of nine legal staff and eight non-legal personnel. To develop the skills of the team and help them better understand their internal clients, Hernández Morgan has significantly reduced the use of outside counsel. The changes have led to the department earning its place in the group’s decision making bodies. Hernández Morgan herself is secretary of the board and all committees. She is also regularly asked for her opinion on legal and non-legal matters by the company’s president, having a close working relationship. The legal team’s early involvement in development and project teams has reduced monetary and time costs when developing new products and processes.
With a strong client and customer focus, Raúl Hernández Ojeda has worked on corporate financial matters for both law firms and in-house. In his current position as general counsel for Assurant Solutions, a leading provider of insurance services, Hernández Ojeda has worked with different areas of the company in order to design and implement its action plan, fully aligning the areas to new regulations and then following up regularly to meet the company goals. Hernández Ojeda anticipated important recent substantial regulatory changes, and responded quickly by coordinating the necessary areas and actions to comply with the law quickly and efficiently. As a mark of his abilities in dealing with regulations, Hernández Ojeda was appointed interim CEO in addition to his general counsel role of the company to oversee a period of very important and complex sector regulatory changes that took place in the insurance sector. His work can partly be measured by the lack of litigations and observations and fines from regulators.
Recognised by peers as ‘one of the most talented lawyers in Monterrey’, Hans Hutterer joined FINSA, the real estate developer, in 2002. He was promoted to general counsel in 2004 and since 2012 has served as vice president and general counsel of the corporate group and a member of the board of directors and investment committee. Since creating the legal department, Hutterer has positioned it as a key player in all transactions and in the overall strategy of FINSA, as well as designed and established responsive processes to meet business demands. Known as someone who ‘always gets the deals done’, Hutterer says the changes enable the team to better understand ‘the business and administrative sides of the transactions leading to smoother negotiations and timely contract executions’. Responsible for the company’s overall legal strategy and regulatory compliance, Hutterer has led the FINSA legal team in several real estate and financing transactions involving portfolios composed over 2.5 million square metres with an accumulated value of over $1bn. He also participated as head counsel in the incorporation of successful joint ventures with GE Real Estate, American International Group (AIG), Walton Street Capital and Casas GEO. Recognising his wide expertise, one source says ‘Hutterer has plenty of experience on financial matters and the structuring and operation of CKDs, matters that did not used to be typical for an in-house lawyer of a real estate development company’.
Before moving in-house, Mauricio Ibañez founded and served as managing partner for law firm Ibañez Schriever & Hoffmann after spending a decade in some of Mexico’s most renowned firms. Spending eight years at the law firm he founded, Ibañez acted for local and foreign clients who required advice related to developing business in the globalised world. ‘Well connected and respected in the business community’ according to one source, in 2012 he was appointed as general counsel for Grupo México, the largest mining company in Mexico and a leading conglomerate in other diversified assets. In 2014, Ibañez oversaw, successfully coordinated and settled the largest ever civil and criminal environmental investigation and remediation undertaken to date by Mexico’s Ministry of the Environment. His work on the lawsuit that resulted from a large scale oil spill and achieving a cash settlement is well-recognised in the industry. One source commented on Ibañez as ‘a very experienced lawyer, a hard worker that always comes up with very creative and intelligent solutions’, skills that have been essential in challenging times for the company.
Gerardo Iñigo Heras began his legal career at Mexico’s former Federal Competition Commission between 1998 and 2000. After this he spent four years at law firm Baker & McKenzie where he provided legal services to several Fortune 500 companies. Iñigo Heras joined Kansas City Southern de México (KCSM) in 2010, after a five year stint at the helm of the legal team at IT company KIO Networks. Now serving as assistant general counsel at KCSM, a transport railroad investments company, Iñigo Heras is in charge of all regulatory and compliance matters for the company. He has been involved in major governmental projects such as the development of the Celaya Bypass, the Matamoros Bypass and International Bridge. He was also involved in key strategic transactions such as the acquisition by subsidiary NAFTA Rail of the intermodal terminal located at San Luis Potosi.
Claudia Jañez’s legal career spans over 20 years, during which she has worked for the some of the region’s largest companies. After two and half years at law firm Bufete Cantu y Rangel, Jañez moved in-house by joining Ford Credit México in 1995. After holding a number of legal positions at Ford, she moved company to serve as legal affairs manager for Central America and the Caribbean at DuPont between 2004 and 2007. Jañez re-joined the science and engineering company in 2011 after serving as legal and corporate affairs director at PepsiCo and general counsel for Central America and the Caribbean at General Electric México in the interim years. Now, in addition to her role as legal and government affairs director for DuPont México, Jañez holds the position of president and general director for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. She has been responsible for the significant restructure of DuPont’s legal department in Mexico, with the goal of ensuring her team of 10 lawyers accommodate the strategic mind-set of the business. In addition to managing the legal budget, she is committed to making the function as responsive as possible and has initiated a team dedicated to implementing ethics and compliance matters, following new FCPA rules. In addition to changes in her own department, Jañez also plays a significant role in company strategy, demonstrating her position as a real strategic partner to business. She has led DuPont’s portfolio transformation for the region by leading all acquisitions and divestitures in Mexico since 2011. This has included large deals such as the divestiture of Performance Coatings worth $5.5bn and the Performance Chemicals spinoff worth $12bn. She has drawn recognition for not only the agreements themselves but also the lack of litigations and claims that followed. Further demonstrating the significant role she plays for DuPont strategically, Jañez is active in lobbying, by holding meetings with congressmen on law affecting the company and having important GMO discussions with regulatory officers. As president to the board, Jañez represents Latin America at the company’s global anti-corruption and anti-bribery global committees.
Antonio Jáuregui embodies over 30 years of working in top legal positions at large Mexican companies. Between 2000 and 2005 he served as general counsel and legal director for Aeroméxico, the airline company, where his primary roles involved managing litigation and developing legal strategies for the maintenance of the entire Aeroméxico fleet. After this successful period Jáuregui moved to car manufacturer Chrysler where he spent eight years as special legal projects director, gaining acknowledgement for being a ‘detail-oriented manager who watches the legal and strategic documents without losing sight of the strategic objective’. In the role his responsibility included the issuance of capital, nationally and internationally funded through public investment in foreign stock exchanges. After a brief spell as general counsel of CHG-Meridian, a non-captive provider of technology management Jáuregui moved to financial services company Sofoplus to take up his current role. Serving as general counsel since 2015 his work covers all corporate and commercial matters with particular focus on securing asset-based securities and overseeing the day-to-day operations related to operating leases, intercompany credit and third party lending agreements.
Having worked at law firms for almost 14 years, including nine years at Galicia Abogados, Pablo Jiménez Zorrilla built up a wealth of corporate and commercial law experience. He moved to leading cinema theatre chain Cinépolis in 2009, serving as general counsel and institutional relations for four and half years. In 2014 he was hired by Grupo Modelo, Mexico’s largest brewer and the maker of Corona, to serve as vice president legal and corporate affairs. Recognised for his expertise in M&A in particular, Jiménez Zorrilla oversaw Modelo’s integration into Anheuser-Busch InBev following a $20bn acquisition in 2013. He also co-ordinated the successful listing of Anheuser-Busch InBev shares on the Mexican stock exchange and handled several large divestiture projects including the sale of its retail store chain known as “Extra”.
Javier Labrador moved in-house after almost eight years working at a number of law firms. His career began as an associate in 1999 at law firm Ritch, Mueller, Heather y Nicolau. From 2003 to 2007 Labrador was at Kuri Breña, Sánchez Ugarte y Aznar where amongst other workloads, he represented the operating subsidiaries of glass container manufacturer Vitro Envases Norteamérica in its implementation and structuring of transactions for over $40m. Having gained significant expertise in M&A, securities offerings and corporate governance during private practice, Labrador moved in-house joining financial company AlphaCredit Capital (México) as general counsel in 2007. He advised the company on the incorporation of its debt fund subsidiary in the US state of Delaware, structured loans granted to pawn shops and its compliance to anti-money laundering loans and consumer protection laws. Since joining KUA MEX FOODS, a company that buys and invests in the food and beverage sector, in 2015 as general counsel Labrador has already counselled the company on M&A and financial transactions and with capitalisation rounds and corporate governance matters.
Jose Lechuga has held in-house legal positions in a number of companies since 2000. He began his in-house career as a contracts attorney at Carrier, the world leader in high-technology heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration solutions. He then became corporate and intellectual property attorney in 2002 at Industrias AlEn, a manufacturer of consumer cleaning products. Lechuga also spent almost three years at global food producer Mars México as legal manager before moving to his current role at Navistar in 2006. Navistar is a holding company whose subsidiaries and affiliates produce commercial and military trucks, diesel engines, school and commercial buses. During his time in the role Lechuga has directed and coordinated several major transactions, handling all legal aspects of M&A work including litigation, risk and governance management, governmental filings, due diligences, legal audits, and intellectual property matters. As part of his role Lechuga has served as a data privacy officer, secretary of the board of directors in several legal entities as well as the group’s compliance and governance officer, demonstrating his integral function to the company’s operations and strategy.
Leticia León Gonzalez began building the legal department of Sandoz de México in 1990 and soon became the legal head of the entire group containing 11 companies in diverse sectors. Following divestments and a merger with Ciba-Geigy, the Novartis Group was created in 1996 as a leading provider of healthcare solutions. León Gonzalez took regional responsibility for one its subsidiaries, Ciba Specialty Chemicals covering Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and northern Latin America until 2004. Following this she was appointed legal head for the operations in Mexico, but her responsibility expanded to Latin America and Canada when she became a member of the global pharma legal leadership team in 2012. Two years later León Gonzalez also became responsible for compliance matters and was appointed to her current position of regional legal and compliance head for Latin America and Canada. She is also a member of the regional senior management, where she actively participates in some of the global strategical objectives. Currently leading a team that includes 28 lawyers and 14 compliance officers, León Gonzalez is ‘proud of building a group that consider the global trends and capitalise on opportunities while preventing potential risks’. Under her current role, León Gonzalez has built an effective cross collaboration between different geographies, internal functions and external key stakeholders in different projects, including brand defence strategies that have lead the organisation to obtain unprecedented judicial resolutions shaping the legal environment. She notes strengthening patents and an exclusivity right protecting investments as her biggest achievements.
In 2010, Rafael Llamas moved in-house to HSBC México after having worked for almost seven years for law firms; four of which were for Jáuregui, Navarrete y Nader. Since joining the global bank, Llamas has progressed internally and is now the deputy general counsel for retail banking and wealth management and insurance, and also legal regional head for global private banking for LATAM. Llamas has developed the legal department to improve communication and give a holistic view of legal issues within the banking industry; something that is increasingly important for banks like HSBC considering the increase in global regulation in the sector. With a ‘business-oriented perspective’ and a ‘future-proofing attitude’, Llamas’ involvement with senior management allows the business to better assess current and prospective legal risks. He notes facilitating the implementation of private banking privacy policies in line with local laws and ‘making business more secure in current environment’ as some of biggest achievements.
Juan Llanos has gained significant experience in the financial sector having worked in various companies in the industry since 1991. Previously at Grupo Financiero Ve por Más and Grupo Financiero Arka, Llanos joined Grupo Financiero Santander México in 2006 and is currently acting as global business executive legal director. Since joining the company he has overseen the integration of a highly effective but small legal department, which focuses on securities issuances, structured loans to high-profile companies and delivery of information to the SEC and New York Stock Exchange regarding Santander México’s status as a public entity. In addition he has structured the appointment process of external law firms and produced standardised agreement templates. Llanos notes his participation in the IPO of the Santander shares in Mexico and the USA as his biggest career achievement. The New York Stock Exchange placement was the biggest in Latin America in 2012, and in the top three globally that year. He has also worked on the corporate restructure of major stock exchange listed companies such as Comercial Méxicana, Geo, and Su Casita.
Isolda Llorente’s legal career began in 2003 at top Mexican law firm Ritch Mueller, subsequently moving in-house to work at Nokia, Schering-Plough and Reckitt Benckiser between 2005 and 2010. After stints at each of the companies, Llorente then moved into the pharmaceutical sector by joining Nycomed in 2010 as regional legal manager for Latin America. In 2011 Llorente led on the fast-track merger of Nycomed with Takeda, another leading pharmaceutical company, for $10bn. She maintained her role following the change, but her responsibilities were swiftly extended and since 2015 has served as a director and head of legal for Latin America for Takeda. During her time in the pharmaceutical sector, Llorente worked on the acquisitions of companies important to the strategic goals of her employers such as Columbian pharmaceutical company Farmacol. She also managed the legal elements of the company’s expansion into Peru and Ecuador. Internally she created the legal department, employing all legal staff, devising contract templates, clinical trials, antitrust and privacy policies. She has assisted Takeda trough challenging market changes such as poor exchange rates in Venezuela and the bankruptcy of major Mexican wholesalers. In identifying planning and prevention as key to the success Llorente says, ‘a “plan B” is always present, and risk assessments always made’.
Ligia González Lozano spent almost nine years at law firms and one year as president at Academia Mexicana de Derecho Internacional Privado y Comparado, before joining global technology company IBM in 2000 as a manager of contracts and negotiations. In this role she negotiated one of IBM’s major outsourcing pioneer contracts in Mexico in addition to participating in the process of creating legislation related to technology and computer industry. Following this, Lozano served took up the role of general counsel for Grupo ADO one of the most important Mexican bus companies, running first-class and executive-class buses. In 2014, she was appointed general corporate counsel, taking on additional compliance responsibilities. Lozano focuses on developing the ADO legal team to act as business lawyers, ‘helping the business within the boundaries of the law and ethics but also with creativity’. She has also divided areas to ensure specialist knowledge is available on operations and litigation, as well as for consulting and legal maintenance. ‘This division makes us capable of resolving almost every issue in-house’ she says. Her operational expertise are further demonstrated through her direct participation in the strategy, execution and negotiation in a period which has seen the accelerated growth and international expansion of the company.
Before moving in-house, Luis Lozano worked at law firms for over 10 years, including six years at Baker & McKenzie. He was initially hired by automobile company Toyota Motor Sales de México as head of sales in 2005, but is now general counsel, institutional relations and compliance. Working on all aspects of the business, Lozano is in charge of legal, government affairs and compliance activities for Toyota in Mexico and is a member of the executive and audit committees, which gives him an integral view of the entire business. Having created the legal department, Lozano has made it an essential partner to the business that actively participates in it. Due to the company’s growth he designed the corporate and governance structure, allowing the business to isolate matters without affecting the rest of the company. As an example of the growth he helps facilitate, Lozano recently negotiated and secured a new manufacturing plant in central Mexico for $1bn.
Beginning his legal career in 1991, Juan Carlos Maroto is a ‘transnational lawyer with extensive international experience’. Having spent the majority of his legal career as an external lawyer, Maroto began his career at Baker & McKenzie and has worked at some of most prestigious domestic and international law firms such as Kirkland & Ellis, Jauregui, Navarrete, Nader y Rojas and González Calvillo. Before moving in-house in 2010, Maroto spent six years as a partner at Ibañez, Maroto, Schriever & Hoffmann, a law firm he co-founded with other top legal professionals. Over the course of his 19 years in private practice, he has gained recognition for his skills in a multiplicity of areas, making him a perfect candidate to run an in-house team. Since joining Siemens Mesoamérica, the Mexican arm of the global conglomerate, as general counsel, Maroto has led a team of 15 lawyers and 50 professionals in different divisions and jurisdictions. His mantra for his team is ‘to acknowledge the paramount importance of always delivering a top quality legal product in time, aligned with the business interests and in accordance to the highest internal and external ethical compliance standards’.
Joining Latin America’s largest mass multimedia company, Grupo Televisa, as general counsel for their newly launched internet company, Armando Martinez was asked to lead the group’s digital and internet legal strategy. Over the next two years, the scope of his role increased to cover M&A and publishing areas. Martinez has participated in several M&A transactions instrumental to the diversification of the group and is heavily involved in the development of internal policies and commercial strategies that permit the company to adapt to the changing regulatory environment in the telecommunications and broadcasting sectors. Between 2002 and 2006, Martinez became general counsel for the Central American and Dominican Republic platform of leading satellite pay television company Sky México, which Televisa is a majority shareholder of. After this stint Martinez returned to Grupo Televisa to adopt the role of deputy general counsel for the entire group. In this role since 2007, he initially led most of the corporate, M&A, finance and transactional legal work but his role has gradually included further responsibilities including oversight of the litigation, regulatory, compliance, intellectual property, labour/employment, tax and multinational commerce legal departments of the group. With over 80 direct and indirect reports, one of Martinez’s primary goals has been to foster leadership skills in the company’s personnel. He says ‘the creation of career development policies and committees have been instrumental in detecting internal talent and providing opportunities to grow within the organisation’. As an example of the development opportunities, Martinez has facilitated legal English lessons to all staff and has widely promoted educational programmes for the team. This has resulted in over 35 of Televisa’s in-house lawyers completing graduate degrees in 2015, from premier Mexican universities. Outside of his role at Televisa, Martinez actively participates in several multilateral organisations fostering both domestic and international regulations that impact intellectual property protection, free speech, broadcasting rights and telecommunications.
Before joining Japan Tobacco International (JTI), a Fortune 500 company and the world’s third largest tobacco company, Edgar Martinez served as an associate at Goodrich, Riquelme y Asociados for seven years, specialising in corporate law and alternative dispute resolutions. During his time in private practice he handled the account of JTI México, in fact signing its incorporation certificate in 2006. When JTI finally began operating in Mexico with the launch its Winton brand in 2012, Martinez was asked to the lead the legal department. By January 2014 he was appointed head of the legal department and corporate affairs, since then his role has been extended to the legal matters of Central America and the Caribbean. Martinez began structuring the legal and corporate affairs department from scratch with the assistance of the company’s regional and global legal department and is deeply immersed in all the areas of the company with strong communication channels with the regional and global headquarters. Working in a heavily regulated sector, Martinez’s role also allows him close interaction with the senior management where he assists on major litigations, deal negotiations and key strategies for the development of the company in the region. Demonstrating this, Martinez says ‘I obtained and defended the company’s sanitary license, which is the core authorisation to operate in Mexico’. He was also directly involved with the creation and structuring of JTI’s distribution network, essential for tobacco suppliers.
Joining General Motors de México in 1995, Iliana Martinez has occupied several positions within the legal department and was appointed general counsel in 2004, later assuming responsibility for Central America and the Caribbean. Having become the first female in company’s history to occupy a position on the board of directors, Martinez is an inspirational woman in business who routinely wins industry awards. In describing her responsibilities, Martinez says ‘My role as general counsel is perceived not only as a lawyer but as a director that also understands the business objectives and that counsels the board to achieve results in line with the law and ethics’. As part of this she had an important role in the opening of two new sites; one proving ground and one plant in San Luis Potosí, Mexico. Martinez has encouraged the whole legal team to think with the same mentality, with the effect that ‘the business has started looking at the internal lawyers more as business partners and advisors’. She also notes her implementation of a new compliance program and the “Winning The Integrity” internal culture initiative as having a significant positive impact on company strategy. In addition to her duties at General Motors, Martinez is an active member and certified lawyer of the National Association of Business Lawyers (ANADE) presently holding the position of first assistant secretary of the national executive committee for the 2015 - 2016 period. From 2012 to 2013 she headed the legal committee of the Mexican Association of Automobile Industry (AMIA) and chaired the legal affairs committee of the American Chamber of Commerce – Mexico (AMCHAM) until December 2014.
Jennifer Martinez worked for external legal providers including serving as manager of Deloitte’s legal corporate practice for five years, before joining Delphi, a global supplier of technology for automobiles with over $17bn in sales. In addition to her role as Mexico managing regional counsel, Martinez is leader of the compliance board and of planning, training and risk assessment as well as being Delphi's Mexico and Honduras director since April 2013. Controlling all legal and regulatory affairs, she is known for her wide range of knowledge, combining corporate law, labour, finance and banking, tax, M&A, foreign trade, real estate and foreign investment, with a developed business orientation and deep understanding of Mexican laws and Latin American legislation. With a small team that cover Mexico’s 46 plants and over 56,000 employees, it is evident that Martinez runs a highly efficient legal function. She adds ‘we completely changed dynamics, work ethics, efficiency, cost control and relationship with our customers. Now the area is not only working under lean and efficient principles, but has become a close ally of all senior management on decision making and risk assessment. We have also revamped and boosted the compliance efforts in the region and are tackling certain critical issues with a 100% success rate’. Regulatory and legislative change has been an important part of Martinez’s agenda, as she was part of the lobbying team that discussed the Mexican tax reforms with the Senate and the House of Representatives in 2014, which was critical to Delphi’s maquiladora industry. She says ‘we were able to, directly and through our participation in industry associations, have some of our suggested changes passed and minimise the negative impact of the reform’.
Before joining investment bank Evercore México, Sylvia Martínez worked at Grupo Iusacell and also served at JPMorgan as vice president of the trust division. Since 2005 she has served as general counsel for Evercore México and currently acts as managing director and compliance officer in addition. Martínez was initially hired to complete Evercore’s IPO placement on the New York Stock Exchange, and as a result she became involved in all things related to the investment banking company and the broker dealer. Following on from the success, her role was subsequently broadened to include finance, accounting, tax, risk, operations, compliance, human resources, public relations and legal. Since gaining this experience, Martínez has been active in several important projects for the company, including creating and heading the stock-broker’s fiduciary division where, at its height, it controlled $2.7bn in managed assets. The process included creating Mexico’s largest ever trust with assets of $2.1bn. Despite implementing the entire legal and compliance framework for Evercore in Mexico, she has had no major issues of non-compliance to date. As president of the compliance committee Martínez deals with all matters related to anti-money laundering, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in addition to internal policies and procedures.
Jacobo Martínez Flores has operated in financial institutions for 25 years, working for Finamex Casa de Bolsa between 1991 and 2003 and then joining his current employers, Monex Grupo Financiero immediately after. He has served as general counsel for the bank since 2013 and also holds the position of corporate legal director. Martínez Flores has created an environment of internal control and risk mitigation in the company, and has been integral to the buying and selling of companies in the US, Canada and UK that has allowed Monex to grow in foreign markets. Martínez Flores has systematised the legal department’s processes to allow timely reports in order to evaluate risks and take immediate actions to mitigate them. The team know has a firm grasp on the current and periodic status regarding internal control processes and the status of pending issues and trials in process. Martínez Flores says that to ‘provide legal certainty to all actions of Monex and its executives is the most important added value’ of the legal team.
Lourdes Ivonne Massimi Malo began working for Grupo Simec, considered the largest producer of specialty steel in North America, in 1994. She has served as legal corporate manager since 1999 and as company secretary of the board since 2006. One of the most important changes that Massimi Malo has made in that time is the implementation of a legal control system that has resulted in a more efficient performance of the department. In ensuring the legal department play an active role in the business she states ‘participation of the legal department in the daily operation of the company narrows risks and gives some security in its performance and in its decisions’. This has become even more important considering the expansion plans of Grupo Simec, having made a number of strategic acquisitions both in Mexico and abroad aimed mainly at the automotive and energy industries. In participating in almost all contract process for these projects that cover the acquisition or construction of mini-mill facilities, Massimi Malo has gained recognition for doing so without acquiring debt with third parties. She has also participated in the strategic sale of some the company’s assets as a response to the financial crisis.
Known as an expert in the banking sector, Gonzalo Mendez served as general counsel to financial services company ING from 1995 until 2009. During this period Mendez worked on the acquisition of Barings Bank following its collapse. After ING acquired its large insurance operation in the region, Mendez moved to the insurance operation where he was involved in the company’s key litigations and facilitated the sale of the division, Seguros ING, to AXA for $1.5bn in 2008. Since 2009, Mendez has been at HSBC México serving as general counsel, and now leads a team of over 80 lawyers with five directors reporting directly to him. Since joining the Mexican division of the international bank and financial services company, he has completely restructured the department to align with business unit operations, an essential step in the reorganisation process. Mendez secured increased investment for the legal department, is a member of various committees and reports directly to the CEO. He has also been successful in reducing litigation costs, a quantitative demonstration of the good work of the legal team. He attributes the significant reductions in the litigation portfolio to addressing the root causes and changing internal procedures. In 2012, he succeeded in negotiating an agreement with the US Government that resulted in a Deferred Prosecution Agreement protecting and preserving the company’s US banking license.
Rodrigo Montemayor is a general counsel with broad expertise in leading the legal function of global, Fortune 500 companies doing business in Latin America. Prior to moving in-house Montemayor worked at law firm Santos-Elizondo-Cantú-Rivera González-de la Garza-Mendoza between 1998 and 2005, during which period he was also a professor of private international law and foreign trade law for two years. After 11 months of working on international projects for Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, involving the firm's Latin American clients and securities offerings, Montemayor joined Johnson Controls in 2006 as general counsel. Whilst working for the global diversified technology and industrial leader, he gained recognition for how he ‘handled difficult issues, with the utmost diligence, professionalism, and transparency’. Montemayor joined Owens Corning, the global building materials company, in 2009. Serving as general counsel, he has gained recognition for the company’s resolution of the veto imposed by the Brazilian competition authority regarding its 2007 acquisition of a Brazilian reinforced glass-fibre plant, from French group Saint-Gobain, which led to the sale of that facility in 2011. As a mark of his credentials one source says, ‘his extensive knowledge and direct experience with American public companies enables him to serve as a "public company cultural translator", effectively interpreting the communications of senior American executives for colleagues in Latin America and providing legal advice in a succinct and readily comprehensible fashion. Rodrigo is the complete package’. Montemayor has acquired additional roles at Owens Corning, and is now a member of the board of directors on the company’s joint venture projects in Saudi Arabia and Chile.
Before starting her in-house career, Dina Moreno worked at law firm Creel, García-Cuéllar, Aiza y Enríquez between 2000 and 2010. In addition to building expertise in corporate law, joint ventures and cross-border transactions, during this period she also spent nine months at US law firm Sullivan & Cromwell as a foreign associate. In her final three years at Creel, Moreno worked on a project basis whilst serving as an external counsel for Grupo Sportium, a chain of sports clubs. She also served as legal counsel to Hoteles City Express from 2008 onwards and is now general counsel for the largest publicly-traded budget hotel chain. During this period Moreno successfully coordinated the ambitious growth and expansion strategy of Hoteles City Express, which grew in Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Central America. Demonstrating her skills, one source writes ‘the commitment, professionalism and knowledge with which Dina carries out her work is hard to find today, not to mention the excellent results!’
Beatriz Munozcano is Regional Legal Manager of one of Mexico’s most important beverages and spirits companies operating in North and South America, Pernod Ricard Americas. Munozcano spent five years at law firm Hogan Lovells in Mexico, advising multinational corporations and real estate projects including the structuring for the expansion plans of Walmart. Chosen for her experiences in Latin America, Munozcano moved to New York to join Pernod Ricard Americas in 2013. After just one year she was appointed to her current position of regional legal manager and compliance officer. In a highly regulated industry she deals with a number of local laws, leading the assessments on anti-money laundering, anti-trust, anti-bribery and data protection policies in Mexico and throughout the region. One of Munozcano’s biggest achievements has been the continual integration of the legal team into the business, actively engaging it with clear objectives.
According to one source, Javier Oroz Coppel is an ‘outstanding candidate for the GC Powerlist’. Before joining multinational insurance company, AXA, Oroz Coppel worked in the Mexican subsidiary of Dutch financial services provider, ING. At Seguros ING, his quality was instantly recognised as he rapidly progressed through the ranks between 2005 and 2007. When AXA bought out ING Seguros in 2008, in a transaction that was worth $1.5bn, Oroz Coppel was part of the team ensuring the sale’s success and subsequently joined the AXA team. His expedited rise through the ranks continued when he was made AXA’s youngest ever head of litigation at the age of 29, going on to become general counsel in 2012. Now leading a team of 55 people, including 38 lawyers, Oroz Coppel has responsibility for a full range of legal aspects including public bids, customer complaints, compliance, litigations and insolvency. By having a strong economic focus and prioritising the recovery and collection of debt, he has ensured the company recouped $50m between 2008 and 2015, exemplifying how GCs can make a real, positive quantitative impact on the company’s bottom line. The litigation work of the AXA legal team has also impacted overall insurance law following Supreme Court decisions they have pursued.
In 20 years, Rebeca Orozco Garcia has accumulated a wealth of experience after having worked in a number of top legal positions. Between 1996 and 1998 Orozco Garcia served as chief in legal affairs at domestic appliance and tools company, Black & Decker. Staying in the industry, she spent the next 11 years at electrical equipment manufacturer Schneider Electric México, working in various positions including corporate legal director for Mexico and Central America. In 2010 she was hired by the largest producer of long steel in the Americas, Gerdau Corsa México, serving as corporate legal manager for its joint ventures in Mexico. In her current role with the company she runs the legal affairs of seven steel companies and is part of the board of directors. Orozco Garcia has been instrumental in developing and executing the restructure of 16 companies with different shareholdings, several stockholders, and 1,200 employees in a narrow timeframe. In implementing one general administration for the companies, she has achieved a much better control for the company over its several operations. Another of her major contributions was taking care of the legal work between 2011 and 2015 in order to set up a new steel plant in Mexico with an investment of $600m, which involved obtaining a number of licences. The steel industry is largely affected by global markets and commodity prices; with stiff competition from China, Orozco Garcia has participated significantly in lobbying with several authorities in order to obtain more favourable conditions for the steel market. As a reflection of her proactive methods, Orozco Garcia says ‘legal always has to think and act in a preventing way when you know there are changes in law of any kind of regulatory theme may affect the industry you are in’.
With more than a decade of professional experience, Marisol Gonzalez Ortega Roque is an accomplished attorney with particular focus on corporate law. Ortega Roque, became the general counsel for the Hispano American zone at L’Oreal at the end of 2015, having previously worked as general counsel at the Ford Motor Company. Alongside her legal career, she has also served as a data privacy officer, group compliance officer, and contract management officer with specialisation in corporate compliance, arbitration, commercial law and more. Ortega Roque’s time at Ford is marked by her ability to solve many legal and administrative issues, while supervising a team of four. These achievements have been recognised in the form of a number of awards, including the “Woman of Outstanding Leadership” award, granted by the International Women's Leadership Association. Ortega Roque’s rich professional experience also includes roles at Bayer, Grupo Celanese, Magaña y Durán and Olea y Narro.
Since his career began in 1992, Carlos Ortiz Mena has worked in the legal teams of a number of top companies. He has been director of international legal affairs at Mexico’s largest bank BBVA Bancomer, senior counsel for Central America for global consumer goods company Procter & Gamble and legal counsel for international legal affairs at Peñoles, Mexico’s second largest mining company. Ortiz Mena joined Fresnillo, the world largest producer of primary silver and Mexico’s second largest gold miner, in 2001 and rose to head of legal in 2008. In his current role he coordinates a team of lawyers and has focused his efforts on collaboration and partnership with the business units. Ortiz Mena reports directly to the CEO and has worked with internal teams and external advisors in order to achieve an excellent level of corporate governance in the company. His biggest achievement was the Fresnillo IPO in 2008, which involved coordination between in-house, external advisors and senior management. When asked about adding value to the business, Ortiz Mena says ‘it is based upon providing legal assurance for our business processes on a company-wide basis’.
Maurin Pérez de León is an accomplished healthcare and pharmaceutical in-house lawyer having served in some of the largest companies in the industry. Between 2005 and 2011 she was legal manager at GSK, before becoming legal affairs director at Pfizer. Pérez de León has been deeply involved in Pfizer’s most important local and global diversification projects, including the diversification of the nutritional and animal health business, bringing the local in-house perspective to the global team. Her input has aided in the implementation as well as minimising the legal and operational risks associated. Pérez de León has also led on changing the company’s distribution model and adapting it to the requirements of new federal government laws. As a mark of her abilities and achievement Pérez de León was invited to speak at the Mexico Compliance Summit on Anti-corruption in 2015, organised by the American Chamber of Commerce Mexico and prestigious legal and finance firms.
During his seven year tenure as legal director at ThyssenKrupp Industrial Solutions (México) and senior legal counsel for the group’s global legal area, Rodrigo Pérez Elizundia has devised initiatives to optimise the legal department, both in terms of quality and cost, with the results permeating deeper into the business. A highly experienced lawyer, he has impressed peers and clients with his navigation of strategic projects, with the latest one involving the merger and corporate restructure of the group’s companies in Mexico during 2014 and their further integration in 2015. Before assuming his current role in 2008, he had worked as a corporate lawyer at the leading tube supplier Tenaris, while his experience also includes private practice roles in Mexico and Germany. Fluent in German, Pérez Elizundia has been awarded in the past with a Fulbright Scholarship, a program of merit-based grants for international educational exchange, and he is constantly building upon his interest on legal affairs, by attending legal courses and seminars.
Pedro Pesqueira is an established Mexican in-house lawyer, having served as general counsel at Sun Microsystems of Canada for six years before joining global financial services company ING in 2005 as general counsel for their insurance and mandatory pensions operations in Mexico. When ING sold part of its Latin American operations to Grupo Sura, Pesqueira maintained his position and now serves as vice president - legal and compliance (Latin America) for Sura Asset Management which has insurance, pensions and wealth management businesses in Colombia, Chile, El Salvador, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay. During his time at ING and Sura, Pesqueira has headed significant M&A transactions and corporate restructuring projects which have resulted in the company today being the number one pensions provider in the Latin American region, with over 17 million customers. These deals include the acquisition of Santander's pension businesses in Latin America in 2007 for $1.6bn, the sale of ING's general insurance in Mexico to AXA in 2008 for $1.5bn, the acquisition of BBVA Bancomer's pension business in Peru by Sura in 2013 and Sura’s issues of international bonds in 2014.
Since 1999 Paola Piotti has accumulated substantial in-house experience within the financial services sector, having worked in the legal departments of some the sector’s biggest players such as Citibank, BNY Mellon, HSBC México and Banamex. Piotti was appointed head of legal and compliance for Deutsche Bank México in 2014 and also serves as secretary of the board of directors. As part of her role, she provides advice to the business on markets and investment banking. In addition to her legal role she is responsible for maintaining relations with Mexican regulators, covering anti-money laundering matters as well as acting as compliance officer. Piotti is currently handling the global strategy for the de-risking process in Mexico derived from the decision of Deutsche Bank to not have local presence; the process has required prior corporate restructuring subject to authorisations from regulators and tax authorities.
Having spent most of her career in the telecommunications industry, including nearly 13 years as deputy legal director of Telefónica México, Mariana Páez Robles Martínez assumed the general counsel position of Eutelsat Americas, one of the world's leading satellite operators, in 2014. During her time at Eutelsat Americas, Robles Martínez has overseen the integration of the legal team with its European satellite controller and American affiliates, while also implementing company policies through innovative use of technology for better management and corporate information. Recently, she has overseen the consolidation of the legal area, ensuring it functions as a highly active unit. This is designed to facilitate efficient execution of new strategic opportunities for the business, through the transfer of assets for growing business in the Americas, a new market for the holding company. Robles Martínez relishes the opportunity ‘to work in companies that force you out of the lawyer's role, and to constantly innovate in a very agile sector that requires constant updating’.
Alma Maria Rodriguez Flores has gained comprehensive expertise in negotiations, compliance and commercial real estate during in a number of in-house roles since leaving Deloitte’s legal tax department in 2004. Rodriguez Flores served as group general counsel for over five years at 7-Eleven, an international chain of convenience stores, where she was responsible for the legal issues of its 27 companies in addition to serving as its government and corporate secretary. She then joined H-E-B Mexico, another convenience store operator with a revenue of $21bn. Serving as general counsel and legal representative, Rodriguez Flores led a team of seven lawyers at H-E-B on a range of issues such as real estate litigation, commercial agreements, intellectual property and tax. After spending two years as Nuevo Leon regional president of the National Association of Business Lawyers Bar Association, in 2013 Rodriguez Flores was appointed as general counsel and legal representative for real estate developer, Grupo Stiva. Now responsible for the legal affairs of its 60 companies, she is a key participant in the design of the overall business strategy of the company. In addition to giving legal advice and coordinating the corporate strategy, she leads the legal team that gives frameworks for its projects on industrial parks, shopping malls, warehouses and social housing.
Rafael Romo Aguiñaga’s first years in the legal profession were spent in the public sector, having worked as director of the legal municipality of Guanajuato between 1995 and 1997, and then legal assessor of Congress for the State of Guanajuato for the next two years. Since 1996 he has taught classes in the law department at the University of Guanajuato. In 1999 he moved to the banking sector to join his current employers, Banco del Bajío, which was recently regarded as one of Latin America’s best banks by magazine America Economia. Progressing from his role as manager of contracts, over the next 17 years he was able to gain recognition for his work and climbed up the internal ladder. Since 2007 he has held the position of director of the legal department business division and leads a team of 41 lawyers. He believes one of his biggest achievements is integrating his lawyers into the business saying ‘the confidence in our collaborators and the knowledge of the competence, both personal and professional, have guaranteed and complimented the objectives of the bank and the legal department in my charge’. Close collaboration with external providers has allowed him to precisely evaluate the legal aspects of the bank’s operations thereby making better overall decisions for the business. Romo Aguiñaga has also worked on standardising credit contracts, fixing legal criteria and establishing direct communication with all areas of the business and clients on occasion to facilitate the closing of operations and dealing with legal risks in bank transactions.
Claudia Rosso Rizo’s career has combined private practice with two in-house positions that has given her experience of the highest levels of the Mexican real estate sector. Rosso Rizo joined Garcia Barragan Abogados, S.C. (formerly Garcia Barragan y Villela Abogados, S.C.) in Mexico City on a full-time basis having trained with the firm during her degree. Then having completed two years as a senior legal manager at Deloitte & Touche México (Galaz, Yamazaki y Ruiz Urquiza, S.C.), Rosso Rizo moved to her first in-house role in September 2001, joining Reichmann International Mexico, the Mexican office of the Canadian real estate developer Paul Reichmann. Staying in the Reichmann legal team for over ten years, Rosso Rizo worked on real estate-based transactions, leading on significant joint ventures, financing and leasing transactions. These include construction financing with Scotiabank of the 55-storey Torre Mayor, a landmark building and Latin America’s tallest building at the time. The same building’s $150m refinancing in 2005 was one of the first cross-border securitised financings in Mexico. In February 2012, Rosso Rizo joined Abilia, the real estate division of Tresalia Capital, a private equity and venture capital firm, to serve as general counsel. She joined as part of its transition into a full service Mexican real estate development company engaged in significant projects, and contracting with international investors, consultants and tenants. She says ‘in less than four years, the company has made tremendous progress in this transition and, as part of the senior management team and as the lead person responsible for transaction implementation, I am pleased to have been part of this significant change to the strategic direction of the company’. Despite these successes, Rosso Rizo notes her first year at Abilia as one of her most challenging. She was tasked with reconfiguring and consolidating the legal team to suit the company's transition and reorganise the company's relationships with service providers such as trustees, law firms and banks. ‘With the support of my colleagues on the senior management team, and my support of them, we were able to lead the company through this challenging period and create an expert and highly focused team in all areas of the company's business’, she says.
Omar Ruiz Mena’s in-house career began in 1994 at global information technology company Unisys de México where in three years as legal affairs director he negotiated major agreements of outsourcing and integration of systems with banking customers and the federal government. He was also an integral consultant to the various sales managers, obtaining various awards in major public bids. After a brief spell at Informix Software Corporation as legal affairs director for Latin America, Ruiz Mena joined EMI Music in 1999 as legal affairs director where he negotiated and performed all exclusive agreements with artists, record and video producers and created strategic alliances with television companies, radio stations and other record companies. After five years there, Ruiz Mena joined law firm Ruiz Vela y Asociados as a partner before returning in-house in 2009 by joining Intellego, the leading Latin American company in the development of solutions and information management services. In his current role as general counsel for Latin America, Ruiz Mena manages the legal strategies of the 17 companies in the Intellego group, playing a key role in the acquisition of several companies, mergers and liquidations. He has also been instrumental in maintaining relations with labour unions. In addition to his general counsel role, as chief compliance officer he oversees the corporate compliance program, ensuring it functions as an independent and objective body that reviews and evaluates compliance issues within the organisation.
Gonzalo Ruiz San Sebastián has worked at the world’s largest beverage manufacturer, The Coca-Cola Company, for over 18 years in progressive roles of increasing responsibility. He has gained a vast international experience in various areas of the law, with knowledge of multiple jurisdictions and the ability to operate in them simultaneously. Through his work, San Sebastián can boast comprehensive business acumen and an outstanding cultural awareness, skills recognised by various industry awards. Despite being based in Atlanta, USA since 2015, as international trademark counsel for the company San Sebastián’s reputation in the Mexican legal market is still a formidable one. Between 2004 and 2013, San Sebastián was based in Mexico, initially as Coca-Cola’s Latin America trademark counsel but after two years was promoted and spent the remainder of his time there as legal vice president, division counsel and local ethics officer within the company’s global legal function. His objective involved supporting the operations of the Mexico strategic business unit and acting as part of its leadership team. In performing the role he provided direction to establish the company footprint in Mexico beyond carbonated soft drinks. His corporate law work includes the acquisitions of Jugos del Valle, Mexico’s largest juice producer, PetStar, the world's largest food-grade polyethylene terephthalate bottle-to-bottle recycling plant and Santa Clara, a Mexican dairy firm.
Héctor Serrano has over 30 years of in-house experience of working for Mexico’s largest multinational corporations. As Latin America and Caribbean general counsel for global information technology company Unisys, between 1992 and 2000, he was responsible for directing the legal function in the region and contributed to finalising multimillion-dollar outsourcing, telecommunications and systems integration agreements. Serrano then moved to Baxter International Inc., a producer of medical and hospital devices, to act as general counsel and government affairs director for Mexico. At Baxter, Serrano developed and implemented legal strategies for its healthcare business such as international public tenders, bundled services and domestic and international lobbying. Between 2004 and 2007 he performed similar duties this time for 3M as general counsel covering the multinational conglomerate’s operations in Mexico and Central America. Since taking up his current role as deputy general counsel of Innophos, a leading North American producer of specialty phosphate products, Serrano has been recognised for being a ‘highly committed individual’ and having ‘the ability to understand specific commercial needs’, with one source noting that he ‘consistently delivers support, providing useful guidance, enabling solutions and aiding on the conclusion of contracts for major commercial negotiations with customers’. In his current role, Serrano develops and implements legal strategies for all business units, reporting directly to the company’s global senior vice-president.
Since 1998 Adriana Servin Villada has built up expertise in company law, M&A and contract negotiations and litigation at some of the top technology firms operating in Mexico. After almost five years at Oracle, a provider of business hardware and software systems, as a contract administrator legal manager, she moved to Microsoft in 2003. As legal counsel at Microsoft, Servin Villada providing counselling on agreements with different business lines, the revision of public bids and anti-piracy matters, as well as lobbying government authorities on information technology and communications related matters. Between 2006 and 2011, Servin Villada experienced an increasing range of responsibilities as she continued to gain experience from companies in the technology and financial sectors. Since 2011 she has served as legal and government affairs director at Lexmark International de México, the Mexican subsidiary of the global technology leader creating enterprise software, hardware and services. She has been recognised by peers for her ‘mastery of the issues in the area, always showing a total commitment to her responsibilities and giving extra in everything she does’. She is now responsible for the end-to-end process of securing agreements, supervising litigation, managing relationships of Lexmark with various government agencies at the federal, state and municipal levels and managing relationships with judicial and legislative powers. As a mark of her management skills, Servin Villada has been described as a ‘very intelligent person, focused on results, aware of their field and able to motivate people who work with her’.
Jose Gabriel Sotelo Rios is in charge of Tyco’s Mexican and Costa Rican legal function. In this role, he holds responsibility for the legal work of all entities of the group in both countries, oversees the compliance function and undertakes negotiation and administration of all types of contracts. Particularly notable has been Sotelo Rios’ work to unify the handling of legal complaints, as well as to substantially reduce legal spend from $10.78m to $1.5m per year. His outstanding leadership has been visible during his work establishing a shared service centre for the entire region (with entities in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Panama). Prior to taking the helm of legal at Tyco, Sotelo Rios worked as legal manager at the security systems company, having previously gained experience as a corporate lawyer at the international IT provider NEC. In the latter role, Sotelo Rios impressed with his ability to review and approve contracts in a timely manner and conduct excellent risk-benefit analysis needed to solve variety of contractual problems.
A reliable professional with over two decades of professional in-house experience in the public and private sectors, Monica Soto Perez has consistently demonstrated knowledge of complex legal issues, as well as unrivalled attention to detail and accuracy of her legal work. Soto Perez has enjoyed a career across firms with several specialties, collaborating with the Urban Development and Ecology Ministry and the District Court of Administrative Matters and working as head of legal departments for 15 years. Having previously worked at Sony and Colgate-Palmolive, Soto Perez currently serves as chief counsel and compliance officer for Latin America at Mondelēz International, the international confectionery, food and beverage conglomerate formerly known as Kraft Foods. In this role Soto Perez aims to be a reliable partner to her business, as well as be an integral part of her company, with the ability to oversee and manage a broad range of legal matters. To achieve this goal, Soto Perez has consistently provided the business with legal counsel of the highest quality, whilst being involved with business and strategic planning and reinforcing the compliance culture at the company. As well as her role as chief counsel and compliance officer at the company, Soto Perez also oversees the gums and candies business for the entire Latin America region. Her wide-ranging experiences and her ability to disseminate knowledge has earned her a reputation as a mentor for some excellent lawyers over the years.
Hernán Treviño de Vega moved in-house following successful spells at law firms Jauregui Navarrete, Nader y Rojas and Quintanilla y Asociados. Following this he spent three years as general counsel and head of government relations for Latin America at building materials company, Owens Corning. Since 2009 Treviño de Vega has served as general counsel of Acosta Verde, a leading developer of shopping centres in Mexico, and has gradually been absorbing additional divisions of the company, such as collections, market intelligence, compliance and HR. His leadership and influence has positively impacted results throughout the company, including leveraging market and competitor intelligence, sustaining vital strategic relationships, structuring deals and joint ventures and spearheading complex corporate transactions. ‘My passion for transactions allowed me to take charge of all the transactions that the company has been involved in’, Treviño de Vega adds. When he joined Acosta Verde, Treviño de Vega changed the reporting organisation chart so that each member in the legal department was able to provide consistent, quality services while avoiding any conflict of interests in the strategy of business units. ‘The level of institutionalisation of the company has significantly progressed over the past years and the legal department has been the catalyst’, he says. Despite his successes and formidable CV, Treviño de Vega demonstrated genuine humility following a failed IPO: ‘I was so used to being successful at whatever I set my mind to and this was God´s way of reminding me to always be humble and never stray from the details’.
Diego Valdes moved in-house in 2012 after 11 years at some of Mexico’s top law firms including Galicia y Robles, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and Galicia Abogados. He gained international exposure whilst at the law firms, where his work involved advising issuers and stockholders in public offerings, cross border private equity, M&A and real estate transactions. In 2012 he joined Coca-Cola FEMSA, the largest independent Coca-Cola bottler in the world in terms of sales, as deputy general counsel. As well as drafting and negotiating stock purchase agreements, shareholders agreements and credit agreements, Valdes also advised the corporate finance department in complex M&A and financing transactions involving the company and its subsidiaries. Continuing to use his experience of the food and beverage sector, he was appointed as general counsel and corporate affairs officer for Jugos del Valle, a Coca-Cola FEMSA subsidiary and producer of fruit juices and beverages, in 2014. Adding to the responsibilities he held at Coca-Cola FEMSA, in his current role Valdes develops the Jugos del Valle’s relationship with its key stakeholders representing its interests in industry groups and trade associations. He also provides general legal and strategic advice to senior management, the board of directors, business teams and divisions. In addition Valdes has represented Jugos del Valle in a variety of community outreach activities, meetings, and public forums.
Diego Valdovinos moved in-house to join Ford de México in 2010 after working for one of Latin America’s largest law firms Basham, Ringe y Correa. Since joining the global automotive company, Valdovinos has excelled in his roles and progressed internally at a fast pace. At the age of 26 he led the legal department for seven months as part of a handover following the departure of his then manager. He says this period enabled him to acquire seniority and develop his knowledge of the business. In 2015 Valdovinos was appointed legal affairs director in addition to his role as head of compliance for Mexico and South America, which he took on a year earlier. When taking the role, he became Ford’s youngest ever director. In this position Valdovinos has enhanced the position of Ford in Mexico through a number of initiatives, including internal anti-bribery training. The company now has five facilities in Mexico, with 15,000 employees that produce 700,000 vehicles per year. One key feature of his tenure is adapting the legal department to ensure it networks with other departments, improving communications and interaction with the business; this has been especially important considering the rapid expansion of the company. His other career highlights include saving the company $50m in one year through rulings obtained on bonds and insurance and executing a deal for the purchase of one of Ford’s plants.
Jorge Vega Iracelay was an associate professor for 10 years specialising in commercial, corporate and contract law at the Pontificia Universidad Católica Argentina before moving in-house to GDF SUEZ - Aguas Argentinas (now Engie) in 1996. After a successful period as senior counsel for the energy company’s financial department and negotiating financing with international multilateral banks, Vega Iracelay spent two years as chief legal officer for over 30 subsidiaries of holding company Sideco Americana. Shortly after he joined telecommunications company Comsat International as vice president and general counsel. Overseeing all legal, regulatory and corporate affairs for its international operations including UK, US, Turkey, Latin America, and the Caribbean, Vega Iracelay was responsible for the divestiture and sale of Comsat International to World Data and the acquisition of GBNet. Finally, in 2006 he moved to multinational technology company Microsoft. Originally based in Argentina as associate general counsel and senior legal director of corporate affairs for the Southern Cone, Vega Iracelay, moved to Mexico City in 2010 to focus on Microsoft’s operations in Mexico as associate general counsel and senior legal director of corporate affairs. In his current role he oversees all legal issues related to the licensing of software, the sale, distribution and marketing of devices and services. In addition he covers government and community affairs, leads the corporate social responsibility program in Mexico, and sits on the executive committee as part of the senior leadership and local compliance committee. Vega Iracelay has represented the company on its alliance with football club Real Madrid and NGO Cesal in promoting the education of children and youths who are at risk of social exclusion in Latin America and the Caribbean. Outside of Microsoft, Vega Iracelay is a significant lobbyist serving in various positions for groups such as American Chamber of Commerce of Mexico, Asociación Mexicana de Internet, Mamá Digital and BSA.
Federico Vergara originally joined Alcatel-Lucent México, a global telecommunications company in 1996 as a deputy general counsel. Since being appointed as the company’s general counsel for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean in 1997, Vergara’s role has been extended to cover government affairs, serving as secretary of the board of directors of various companies in the Alcatel-Lucent Group. Aside from his role at Alcatel-Lucent, Vergara also held the position of chairman of board of the National Association of Telecommunications (ANATEL) between 1997 and 1999, having a substantial impact on the wider telecoms industry. In his role at Alcatel-Lucent México as general counsel, his corporate work has consisted of restructuring of company constitutions, M&A and liquidations. Vergara has also worked on contract negotiations in the region with various public and private operators, coordinating with various operators in the process. Following the acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent by Nokia in January 2016 for $17bn, Vergara is set to play a key role in the integration of the companies’ operations.
Alvaro Vertiz has demonstrated expert legal skill in corporate finance and real estate in a short space of time. His career began in 2002 at one of the largest professional services firm in the world, PwC as a corporate attorney structuring legal solutions for international companies, executing M&A transactions in the process. After three years he joined Banamex-Citibank as legal coordinator assisting the board of directors and supporting and managing bank relations with government authorities. His efforts while at Banamex-Citibank saw him have input into the passing of the unique banking regulation in Mexico. In 2006, Vertiz joined GE Capital as legal manager focused on matters relating to non-banking activities such as loans and leases. During his time at GE he studied the LL.M, becoming the company’s first Mexican employee to be permitted and sponsored to study full time abroad. Following the 2009 global financial crash, Vertiz joined to the real estate division of GE Capital and participated in huge restructurings including the closing of a $730m financing loan and $600m loan assumption. Moving to global real estate investment company Prudential Real Estate Investors in 2013, to become legal director and general counsel for Latin America, Vertiz was responsible for legal matters on real estate funds, real estate investment trusts and a real estate CKD. His work had a focus on new close-ended funds, Chilean investments, as well as support the businesses set up in Brazil. In 2015 Vertiz was promoted to the position of vice president. His proactive approach in delivering concise advice has earned him ‘huge credibility’ internally and now is a member of senior management providing opinions on both legal and business matters. The creativity and challenging mindset he has fostered in the department’s thinking process is essential, he says, for the company to close transactions despite the increasingly restrictive law and regulations.
Ramiro Villarreal has amassed a wealth of experience since graduating with honours in 1968. He joined Cemex in 1987 as general counsel and in 2012 was appointed as secretary to the board of directors and is on the board of various subsidiaries. During his time at the Mexican building materials company, with international revenues of over $15bn, Villarreal has been integral to its continued performance and growth. He has been instrumental to the acquisitions that have seen Cemex grow into a truly international company, which now manufactures and distributes cement, concrete and aggregates in over 50 countries. The transactions also helped Cemex move from a family-oriented business to a public entity that is registered on both the New York and Mexican stock exchanges. Internally, Villarreal has designed the corporate and capital structure of the company, instituting a strong corporate compliance area, implementing policies concerning anti-trust, securities, anti-bribery and conflict of interest. Describing the changes to legal department during his time at Cemex, Villarreal says ‘we divided the functions of the department such as to create a specialisation in areas that require certain expertise, we incorporated new technological systems to digitally control our files, the reporting, fees paid to outside counsel and the management of the shareholders meetings’. Following the death of Lorenzo Zambrano, Cemex’s chairman and CEO, in 2014, Villarreal actively participated in the succession which maintained stability in the company.
Having worked at law firm White & Case on finance, accounting and M&A for a total of eight years, Juan Pablo Visoso Lomelín, was invited to join Nexxus Capital, one of Mexico’s largest independent private equity firms. He initially joined the company as general counsel and member of the investment team in 2008. In 2010 he became a partner at the firm acting on investment opportunities, running portfolios whilst providing the legal assistance on all activities and in 2012 was appointed managing director, leading a team of 27 lawyers and 20 other professionals. Upon joining Nexxus, Visoso Lomelín created the legal department from scratch, establishing guidelines and methods for its portfolio companies, devising all its M&A transactions and implementing compliance and internal procedures. ‘The new processes on sourcing and structuring of transactions has sped up business’ he says. Recently they have closed 20 M&A deals for the company and Visoso Lomelín claims that no other private equity company has been as active as Nexxus. He’s also led on multiple IPOs: working closely with the stock market, Visoso Lomelín has built up significant experience in taking companies to market. His work has also impacted the wider private equity community, having initiated a lobbying group to the Mexican Treasury to change a law prohibiting local pension systems investing in private equity, establishing a framework for private equity to thrive from pension investment.
Creel, García-Cuéllar, Aiza y Enriquez is honored to sponsor The Legal 500 GC Powerlist: Mexico. Participating in a gathering of Mexico’s most important, influential and visionary general counsels, representing many and varied companies across multiple industries and sectors, is quite unique, and a great opportunity to exchange views about the challenges facing us, and prospects for the legal marketplace and Mexico at large.
We are meeting at a time when the world, and Mexico is certainly no exception, faces vast challenges and perils, but at the same time great prospects for development and a better future.
When compared to most countries, particularly emerging economies, relatively speaking Mexico presents itself as an open and stable economy with low inflation, sustained GDP growth (albeit modest), an expanding middle-class and internal consumer market, a growing manufacturing base and exports and relatively sound public sector finances. These fundamentals, coupled with the early stages of the implementation of a profound set of structural economic reforms focused on fostering competition, and reshaping key sectors such as energy and telecommunications, will in the long term assuredly transform the economy and yield prosperity. By most metrics, Mexico’s pro forma and prospects are quite encouraging.
With this backdrop, the legal community has confronted diverse challenges, and is itself undergoing a transformation towards modernization and globalization. With the advent of information and technology, the types of services demanded by consumers of legal services, and the high standard in which such services must be offered have significantly changed over the last several decades, and the trend is certain to continue in the future. The ever increasing complexity of legal frameworks governing various activities, and the sophistication of the capital markets and business transactions generally, as well as the emergence and development of new industries in Mexico, such as oil and gas, have forced the legal profession to steadfastly grow and learn new areas of the law, and changed the way lawyers and law firms relate to clients and counterparties. At Creel, García-Cuéllar, Aiza y Enriquez we find these times to be most energizing and transformational. We have been forced not only to adapt to increasing competition by local and international service providers, which we welcome, but to also look within in order to align our strategy and vision with that of our clients, and to focus on offering them a shared interest and a value and trust based relationship. Simply put, evolution.
Despite what we consider to be a positive moment in the legal marketplace, we are certain few participants in the GC Powerlist would disagree that one of the greatest challenges confronting the legal profession in Mexico has to do to with one of the most basic components of any society – the rule of law. For decades, deficient rule of law and corruption have plagued our country, severely burdening further development and shared prosperity for all in Mexico. Notwithstanding the many positive developments in Mexico’s substantive laws, as a country we continue to suffer from vast corruption and a deficient and ill-prepared justice system. On this issue, by definition no group has a greater responsibility to change the status quo and contribute to change than the legal profession.
With this in mind, we invite all of you to use this The Legal 500 GC Powerlist summit, as a venue to discuss how we can all focus and coordinate efforts in a quest towards the development of a better and more transparent and equitable justice system, and towards the eradication of corruption. By making the rule of law a shared and foremost goal of the legal profession, and a cornerstone of Mexico’s development, what is already a promising future for the country will improve exponentially.
GC Powerlist is a trading name of The Legal 500 Series and Legalease Ltd, and operates in multiple legal jurisdictions worldwide.