Corporate and finance in Central America

Aguilar Castillo Love

Aguilar Castillo Love has continued to expand its footprint in Latin America, opening two offices in Bolivia in January 2022; corporate, banking and arbitration specialist José Carlos Bernal is the key contact in the Santa Cruz office, while Ismael Franco González, who focuses on regulatory, tax and corporate governance issues, is based in La Paz. The firm nevertheless retains its strong presence in Central America, with offices throughout the region (in addition to branches in Ecuador and Paraguay), and is highly regarded for its strength in complex, cross-border transactions, including M&A, project finance and bond issuances. In Guatemala, Juan Carlos Castillo-Chacón, who has longstanding expertise in the energy sector, is the name to note, while Juan José Alcerro Milla and Enrique Rodríguez Burchard lead the corporate and finance practices in Honduras, with an emphasis on project finance. In Costa Rica (where the firm has offices in San José and Escazú), Marco Solano Gómez leads the banking team and John Aguilar-Quesada the corporate and M&A practice, bringing additional expertise in compliance and competition issues to the table. Carlos Alfaro, Flor De María Cortez and Esteban Agüero Guier (who was recently appointed office managing partner) handle corporate matters in El Salvador, and M&A and private equity specialist Thelma Carrión Blandón and banking regulation expert Violeta Núñez lead the corporate and finance practice in Nicaragua.

Arias

One arm of the pioneering Central American firm Arias & Muñoz, which split in 2016, Arias remains a market leader in the region, with offices in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras (in both Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula), Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. The firm is well placed to advise international banks and financial institutions on both local and cross-border transactions, with notable expertise in terms of advising and representing multilateral development agencies. Multi-jurisdictional M&A is also a significant area of strength. In Costa Rica, Vicente Lines is the key contact for finance matters, particularly in the regulated industries, and Melania Dittel has expertise in corporate transactions. Jorge Luis Arenales, who has extensive experience in project finance, heads the corporate and finance practices in Guatemala, alongside Luis Pedro Del Valle. Office managing partner Evangelina Lardizábal and Mario Agüero handle corporate and finance matters in Honduras, with particular strength in the energy, mining and telecoms sectors. In El Salvador, names to note in the corporate and finance practice include office co-managing partner and M&A expert Roberta Gallardo. Office managing partner Ana Teresa Rizo, who is an authority on foreign investment matters, and Bertha Argüello and Gustavo-Adolfo Vargas co-head the corporate and finance practice in Nicaragua; while in Panama Yuri Moreno and María Cristina Fábrega lead the corporate and finance teams, respectively.

BLP

With offices in Costa Rica (in the key locations of San José, Los Sueños and Las Catalinas), El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras (in both Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula) and Nicaragua (as well as a rep office in Spain), and over 150 lawyers specialising in some 28 practice areas, BLP has a considerable presence across Central America. Counting numerous Fortune 100 companies among its clients, the firm frequently handles high-value, multi-jurisdictional M&A and financial transactions, and demonstrates particular expertise in the energy and infrastructure sectors. David Gutiérrez (who also heads the Madrid office) and Adriana Castro co-lead the corporate team in Costa Rica; while Vivian Liberman, an authority on capital markets matters, and Andrés López, helm the finance practice. In El Salvador, Zygmunt Brett is highly regarded for M&A and banking transactions, along with Mariana Nóchez; and in Honduras José Miguel Álvarez and Karla Aguilar are the key contacts, particularly for financing and regulatory matters in the energy sector. In Guatemala, María Inés Arenales and Luis Ruiz (who brings additional expertise in IP to the team) lead the banking and corporate practices, respectively. Ernesto Rizo handles corporate and finance matters in Nicaragua. The firm is also the Central American member of the global Employment Law Alliance (ELA).

Consortium Legal

Consortium Legal further expanded its presence in Central America in December 2021 with the opening of a third Costa Rican office in the northeastern region of Guanacaste, seeking to take advantage of the development of tourist and residential projects in the area; real estate partners Juan Manuel Cordero and David Reuben are the key contacts. The firm also has branches in Guatemala, Honduras (in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula), El Salvador and Nicaragua, allowing it to advise major multinationals on a wide range of international transactions, including M&A, syndicated loans and bond issuances. It also has a region-wide fintech practice. In Costa Rica (where the firm also has offices in Escazú and San José), Rolando Laclé Zúñiga, who has extensive experience in cross-border M&A and foreign investment, project finance expert Randall Barquero and Mario Quesada-Bianchini are among the names to note. Firm president Álvaro Castellanos handles finance matters in Guatemala, while Alfredo Rodríguez and Rafael Alvarado Riedel focus on corporate transactions. In El Salvador, Óscar Samour (who also leads the finance practice), Diego Martín and Maria Alejandra Tulipano jointly lead the corporate team; while Rodrigo Taboada, an authority in foreign investment matters, and Olga Barreto, are the key names in Nicaragua. In Honduras, office managing partner José Ramón Paz Padilla, along with José Ramón Paz Morales, Gustavo León-Gómez and José Rafael Rivera, handle the full spectrum of corporate and finance matters.

Alta QIL+4 Abogados

Formed by a merger of strong domestic practices in Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras and El Salvador in May 2021, Alta is the newest regional firm in Central America. The firm advises local and international financial institutions and corporations on M&A, bond issuances, project finance, and private equity and venture capital transactions, including complex, cross-border deals. In Guatemala, office managing partner Marcos Ibargüen and Maria Isabel Luján have extensive expertise in corporate and M&A transactions, while Alejandro Cofiño specialises in financial matters, and José Quiñones provides additional strength in tax. Venture capital specialist Rodrigo Zelaya leads the corporate team in Costa Rica, which recently brought in Mariana Castro (the former president of the Costa Rican competition authority) as senior counsel, boosting its competition law expertise. Julio Valdés, who has longstanding experience in international M&A and banking transactions, leads the practice in El Salvador, while Oscar Melara is the name to note in Honduras.

García & Bodán

Originally based in Nicaragua, with offices in Managua, San Juan del Sur and Tola, García & Bodán now has a strong presence in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras (in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula) and Costa Rica. The firm has considerable experience in corporate matters, with a workload that spans cross-border M&A, and commercial and regulatory issues, as well as significant financial transactions, including project finance and bond issuances. Regional managing partner Terencio García and office managing partner Federico Gurdián (who directs the regional corporate and transactional practice), handle corporate and financial matters in Nicaragua. Oscar Torres, who has additional labour law expertise, is the key contact in El Salvador, and in Honduras office managing partner Vanessa Oquelí stands out for corporate, tax and aviation matters.

Latamlex / Gómez y Galindo Abogados, S.A

A region-wide network of firms, Latamlex has offices in Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Nicaragua. The firm particularly stands out for its strength in banking and finance matters, handling cross-border loans, project finance and bond issuances. On the corporate side, the firm is also active in M&A and corporate restructurings. The experienced trio of Adriana Ramos, Daniel Guillén and José Antonio Hidalgo leads the finance practice in Costa Rica. Alfredo Skinner-Klée, who is noted for his advice on M&A in the financial sector, is the standout figure in Guatemala; while in Honduras, Dennis Matamoros Batson -who has additional expertise in tax issues- is the key name. Ana Patricia Portillo, Carlos Quintanilla and Oscar Hurtado handle finance matters in El Salvador.

Lexincorp

Lexincorp has a footprint across Central America, with offices in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras (in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula), Nicaragua and Costa Rica. On the corporate side, the firm advises leading local and international clients on the establishment of businesses in the region, and with M&A and restructurings, while other areas of strength include project and real estate finance. In Guatemala, Julio Aparicio and Gonzalo Menéndez González head the finance and corporate teams, respectively, with particular expertise in transactions in the real estate sector. Engels Zelaya is the key contact in Honduras and is well known for his advice on the financing of energy and transport infrastructure projects. Enrique Escobar leads the corporate and banking practices in El Salvador, while Claudia Vivas is the name to note in Nicaragua.

Mayora & Mayora, S.C.

Mayora & Mayora, S.C. first opened its doors in Guatemala, but has since expanded into the ‘Northern Triangle’ region of Central America with offices in Honduras and El Salvador. Sister firms Mayora IP, S.A. and Mayora Domains provide IP and domain name registration and management services in all three countries. With a client base that includes many major multinationals and financial institutions, the firm advises on cross-border M&A, restructurings and corporate governance issues, as well as syndicated loans and project finance. Manuel Telles heads the corporate and finance teams in El Salvador, and in Honduras Odín Guillén Leiva manages the San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa offices. Claudia Pereira, Sandra Castillo and the highly regarded Eduardo Mayora are the key names in the Guatemalan office, which is noted for its strength in the energy sector.

CENTRAL LAW

With offices throughout Central America, Panama and the Dominican Republic, Central Law  advises leading multinationals on M&A and corporate restructurings, and also has region-wide practices dedicated to advising start-ups and assisting clients with data privacy and protection. Rafael Quiros Bustamante, Tomas Quiros Jimenez and Mauricio Quirós González lead the corporate practice in Costa Rica, where the firm has four offices; and Piero Rusconi Bolaños heads the corporate team in El Salvador. Juan Pablo Carrasco De Groote, in turn, leads the team in Guatemala. In Honduras, Jesús Humberto Medina-Alva manages the firm’s three offices in San Pedro Sula, while Claribel Medina De León leads the Tegucigalpa practice.

Dentons Muñoz

The Central American arm of global firm Dentons, Dentons Muñoz continued its expansion in the region with its March 2022 merger with El Salvadoran firm MCM Legal, bringing on board experienced corporate partners Daniel Martínez and Ricardo Milla. With additional offices in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama, the firm is highly active in complex, multi-jurisdictional transactions. In Costa Rica, Tatiana Reuben, Jennifer González and Eduardo Zúñiga lead the corporate team, while Luis Abundio Maldonado is the key contact for advising international clients in Guatemala. Arturo Zacapa, Gustavo Zacapa and Humberto Salgado lead the corporate practice in Honduras. Edgard Torres is the name to note in Nicaragua.

ECIJA

Leading Spanish firm ECIJA has established a presence across Central America, Panama and the Dominican Republic, and is particularly active in corporate matters. In June 2022, the firm also launched its international tax practice for Central America, led by Costa Rica-based José García-Romeu. Guillermo Zúñiga is the key contact for corporate matters in Costa Rica, while Rosalinda Cruz Sequeira is the name to note in Honduras (where the firm has two offices). Daniel Shamah leads the corporate team in Panama, Edmundo Castillo and María Antonieta Fiallos handle corporate and finance matters in Nicaragua, and Alfredo Navas Duarte and Carlos Gil head the finance team in El Salvador. Marcos Palma leads the practice in Guatemala.

EY Law

The legal arm of the global consultancy, EY Law Central America brings its considerable tax expertise to bear on corporate and finance matters. The firm has offices throughout Central America, the Dominican Republic and Panama, allowing it to advise frequently on regional transactions. In Costa Rica, Arturo Apestegui and Carlos Ayón lead the banking and finance practice – and have notable strength in cross-border matters; while Hernán Pacheco, who serves as managing partner for EY Law Latam North, and Fernando Vargas, head the corporate team. Pacheco and Vargas also co-ordinate corporate matters across the other Central American offices.

Sfera Legal

With offices throughout Central America, and a rep office in New York, Sfera Legal stands out for its expertise in corporate and real estate law, advising a range of multinational clients on cross-border M&A, company incorporations and compliance issues. Eric Scharf leads the corporate practice in Costa Rica (where the firm has a significant presence, with five offices), while Mario Antonio Ayala and Mario Ernesto Ayala handle banking and finance matters in El Salvador. In Guatemala, Ignacio Andrade Aycinena, who stands out for his expertise in the telecoms sector, is the key contact.

LatinAlliance El Salvador

Based in El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala, LatinAlliance stands out for its experience in advising international clients, with a particular emphasis on the life sciences industry. Areas of expertise include M&A, compliance issues and syndicated loans. José Adolfo Torres leads on corporate and finance matters in El Salvador, along with regional corporate director Michelle Sutter. Ana Carolina Barquero is head of legal in Nicaragua, while regional director of life sciences, Olga Torres de Góchez, is also noted. Labour and IP specialist Ruth Olivares is the key contact in Guatemala.

Alegalis

An alliance made up of Alegalis in Guatemala, CALA Attorneys & Counselors at Law in Nicaragua, Ulloa & Asociados in Honduras and Bufete Valdivieso Berdugo Valdivieso y Asociados in El Salvador, LEGIC advises clients ranging from multinationals to small and medium-sized companies on corporate and financial matters across Central America. The firm also has operations in Hong Kong, enabling it to advise Asian investors in the region. The key names to note include Guatemala-based Juan Antonio Mazariegos, who is an experienced litigator in addition to having expertise in cross-border M&A transactions, Luis Manuel Canales Perez in Nicaragua, Marielena Ulloa in Honduras and José María Valdivieso in El Salvador.

Nassar Abogados

Originally founded in Costa Rica, today Nassar Abogados has additional offices in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. The firm has significant strength in multi-jurisdictional M&A, commercial contracts and competition matters, and stands out for its expertise in the aviation, maritime and tourism sectors. Tomás Nassar J and Henry Rodríguez lead the corporate practice in Costa Rica, where senior partner Tomás Nassar P is also a key contact.