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Colombia > Projects > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

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Undoubtedly a leading boutique’, Arrieta Mantilla & Asociados is experienced in the structuring and development of projects, infrastructure, public contracts and public procurement law, as well as ‘skillfully undertaking’ dispute resolution matters derived from projects activity. Led by Carlos Gustavo Arrieta, Álvaro Mantilla and Adriana Espinosa, the seven-strong team provides permanent legal assistance to various concessionaires – such as to Scania Latin America regarding the performance of its concession contract with Bogota’s public transport system, Transmilenio, and to Aerocali in relation to its concession contract with Agencia Nacional de Infraestructura for the structuring of a PPP initiative for the upgrading and administration of five airports. The team is also representing Concesionaria Panamericana in a punitive administrative procedure initiated by the Instituto de Infraestructura y Concesiones of Cundinamarca for an alleged breach of contract. Other 2018 mandates include advising Concesionaria Vial de los Andes on the execution and performance of at least six engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contracts for the construction of a four-lane highway. Clients include MGM Innova Capital, Concesionaria Vial del Pacífico, Grupo Aeroportuario del Caribe.

Leading full-service firm Brigard Urrutia is particularly recognised for acting on behalf of local and international financial institutions on the development of complex infrastructure projects. The practice - which benefits from having its finance, environmental and corporate lawyers working hand-in-hand - also represents project companies, sponsors and construction companies. Senior partners Carlos Umaña, Manuel Quinche, Carlos Urrutia and Carlos Fradique-Méndez, along with Claudia Navarro, who made partner in January 2019, co-lead the 25-strong practice. Recent mandates include the representation of conglomerates Fanalca and Transdev Group in two public bidding processes conducted by Transmilenio, which operates the world’s largest bus-rapid-transport system; the first involved the award of up to six concession contracts for the supply of over 1,000 buses, while the second concerned six concession contracts for the operation of those fleets for a ten-year term. Other notable matters included advising Vía 40 Express on the renovation of the existing 142km Bogotá–Girardot toll road as part of the fourth-generation (4G) infrastructure plan implemented by the Colombian government. Additional 2018 highlights saw the team assist national development agency Financiera de Desarrollo Nacional with the drafting, negotiation and closing of the first bridge-loan agreement granted by the agency to a special purpose vehicle, Devimar, for the completion of a 4G toll road project. Clients include Ashmore Group, Bancolombia, BBVA, KM Construcciones and Inter-American Investment Corporation.

Durán & Osorio Abogados Asociados is particularly recommended for its handling of public-private partnership (PPP) projects. Álvaro Durán and Jorge Gabriel Taboada, both ‘always willing to collaborate’, head the team, with Álvaro Gasca (‘very specific in his concepts’) and Carlos Andrés Sánchez also key members. Since 2017, the practice has been part of a consortium advising the Government on the construction, operation and maintenance of Bogota’s first metro line, a flagship $4.3bn project, handling the drafting of the preliminary documentation for the transaction, as well as the international bidding process which attracted seven interested parties. In other work the team is advising Empresa Férrea Regional on the structuring of Regiotram, an $800m suburban train project in Cundinamarca. Other mandates included acting as legal advisers on the structuring of the Hospital Infrastructure Programme -involving the construction, provision and maintenance of six public hospitals in Bogotá - via a PPP mechanism.

Gómez-Pinzón Abogados (GPA) is strongly recommended for its integral analysis of complex infrastructure projects, such as Bogota’s first metro line, in relation to which the team is advising Empresa Metro de Bogotá on day-to-day matters, in particular the revision of loan and concession agreements, licensing matters, procurement and operations. Jose Luis Suárez and senior associate Paola Larrahondo (director of projects), co-lead an 11-strong team, with senior associates Diana Bogotá and Juan Ucrós  also noted. Firm senior partners Ricardo Fandiño, Germán Villamil, Paula Samper and Patricia Arrázola all participate extensively in the sector, giving additional bench-depth. The practice was selected by the National Department of Planning, as part of a consortium with EY, to study the feasibility of a PPP project for the implementation of a 100% electric bus transportation system on the islands of San Andrés and Providencia in the Caribbean. Other clients include Ashmore Management, Covipacífico, Autopista Río Magdalena and Hydroglobal.

Advising throughout all stages of project work, Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría’s practice ‘responds to every need and requirement with no mistakes.’ Juan Fernando Gaviria and Jorge Di Terlizzi (‘both outstanding’) co-lead the 13-strong team, which is praised for its ‘response times, quality and deep knowledge of the industry and the transactional side’. Projects and infrastructure team coordinator Carlos Padilla is also a key practice contact; however, former senior associate Carolina Duque  left in February 2019 to establish Duque Velazquez Abogados. Recent mandates saw the team advice Cintra, Mercantil Colpatria and Confederación Andina de Fomento (CAF), and Ashmore Group Infrastructure Fund, as sponsors and concessionaire on the long-term financing of the PPP project for the construction, rehabilitation, improvement, operation and maintenance of the Bucaramanga-Barrancabermeja-Yondó toll road concession. It is also advising BlackRock in connection with the financing of the $600m Autopista al Mar 1 4G road project. Other clients include Goldman Sachs, Abertis, Transdev and Vinci Concessions.

Posse Herrera Ruiz’s team is ‘committed and has the knowledge to deliver projects’ at all stages. Alessia Abello, who is recommended for both her expertise and her management of clients in difficult situations, and José Alejandro Torres co-lead the 15-strong department. Recent mandates include representing Financiera de Desarrollo Nacional regarding contractual matters with Bogotá’s public-transport system, Transmilenio, concerning restructuring of the local bus feeder system. The team is also advising Construcciones El Cóndor on the legal, commercial and financing aspects of a 490km 4G toll road project valued at $355m. Other highlights include advising Banco de Bogotá, Banco Davivienda and Banco de Occidente, as lenders, on the structuring and negotiation of a COP300bn loan facility for the Girardot-Ibagué-Cajamarca 4G toll road concession project. Jaime Herrera and associates Paola Aldana, Sebastián Lora and Natalia Uribe are all noted. Other clients include POMA, Banco Santander and Solarpack.

Boutique firm Castro Leiva Rendón Abogados offers ‘proactive’ integral advice throughout the entire project lifecycle, including all financing aspects, as well as handling contentious matters and contractual disputes. Recommended founding partners Marcela Castro and José Ignacio Leiva lead the seven-strong practice group, which is currently acting as legal adviser to over 30% of the road concessionaires in Colombia, including the Costa Cartagena-Barranquilla, Alto Magdalena, Pacifico 3, Autopistas de Urabá and Mar 2 concessions. In other matters, the team is advising ODINSA on the sale of its participation in the Santa Marta Paraguachón road concession to Ashmore Andean Fund, and assisting Grupo Sacyr–Valoriza with the financing process of its Área Limpia concession. Other clients include Shikun & Binui, Mota-Engil, Grupo Grodco and Fondo de Capital Privado Inverlink Estructuras.

Advising throughout the entire lifecycle of projects, Dentons Cardenas & Cardenas primarily acts on behalf of major international clients, assisting them particularly with governmental procurement matters. With over 25 years’ experience in the area, Ximena Zuleta heads a 12-strong team, in which senior partner Bernardo Cárdenas and energy experts Jorge Neher, Hernán Rodríguez and Santiago González are all active. The practice is currently advising a multinational motor company in a public tender process in Bogotá, as well as representing two construction companies in a dispute with a state entity regarding an infrastructure development project. Other 2018 mandates included advising an investment group interested in the acquisition of the shares of a 4G road project concessionaire.

Garrigues’ practice is particularly recommended for ‘resolving all difficulties arising from project financing’. Francisco Noguera (‘understands the needs of complex projects’) and senior associate Iván Fierro, who joined the firm in 2018 from national infrastructure agency ANI, co-lead the ten-strong team. The practice group is currently advising BlackRock on the $570m project financing of the Ruta Del Cacao 4G toll road project. The team is also one of those selected to advise Financiera de Desarrollo Nacional and Empresa Metro de Bogotá on the structuring of the project for Bogotá’s first metro line. Other 2018 mandates included advising Bancolombia, as sole lender, on the $44m PPP toll road project Accesos Norte de Bogotá. The departure of former senior associate Natalia Auli was offset with the July 2018 arrival of senior associate Alejandro García from Gómez-Pinzón Abogados (GPA). Associates Paola Valderrama and Nicolás Angulo are also noted. Clients include San Francisco Investments, Valorem, Banco Davivienda and Corficolombiana.

Baker McKenzie S.A.S.’ practice, led by Alejandro Mesa and Andrés Crump, undertakes all stages of the development of greenfield and brownfield projects, as well as handling infrastructure dispute resolution matters. The team is currently advising investment bank Bonus on the structuring of two PPP projects for the construction, refurbishment, operation and maintenance of roads in the department of Valle del Cauca. It is also advising Aena on the structuring of a PPP project for the expansion of Cartagena’s Rafael Nuñez International Airport, as well as on the structuring of four PPP projects for the construction, operation and maintenance of four other airports: Cali International Airport, Edén (in Armenia), Benito Salas (in Neiva), and Perales (in Ibague). Maria Montejo is also a key member of the team. Clients include Sistemas Operativos Móviles, Incuba Gestora de Negocios, Grupo ADO and Brookfield Infrastructure.

Infrastructure boutique Coral Delgado & Asociados has ‘a demonstrated capability for solving legal difficulties within the project execution process’, as well as for resolving ‘contractual needs’. Founding partners Javier Delgado and Alfredo Coral, who both have over 20 years’ experience in the sector, co-lead an 11-strong team that recently assisted Colombia’s Ministry of Education with the review of PPP-structured projects for the building, operation and maintenance of 21 schools. The team also advised national infrastructure agency ANI, and Cano Jiménez Estudios, on the termination of a concession contract for the design and construction of the road system connecting the departments of Cesar and Guajira. Experienced projects group director Diana María Bonilla is also noted.

Boutique firm Infraestructura Legal SAS makes an entry to the rankings on the back of positive market feedback. Founded in 2014, the team has ‘strong knowledge’ in regard to the legal structuring of PPP projects for transport operational concessions in particular. Founding partners Francisco Suárez (who has over 24 years’ experience in the sector) and Francisco Real co-head the practice, which recently advised Ingetec Ingeniería & Diseño on the legal structuring of the Calle 13 PPP-project, an 11.4km urban highway connecting the central and western areas of Bogotá. Similarly, the practice is advising Bonus Banca de Inversion on the legal structuring of the Avenida San José (Calle 170) PPP project, a 12km road project. Other mandates included assisting Bonus with the structuring of the PPP project for the recovery of the degraded ecosystems of the Canal del Dique on the Magdalena River, which includes the construction of two floodgates and other associated infrastructure. Clients include Odinsa, Cal y Mayor and Instituto de Desarrollo Urbano.

CMS Rodríguez-Azuero advises public and private entities on the structuring, design and implementation of infrastructure projects. The practice advised the Inter-American Development Bank, and affiliate Inter-American Investment Corporation (IDB Invest), regarding a credit facility granted by Financiera de Desarrollo Nacional for the purpose of financing - primarily - 4G road-infrastructure projects. The team continues to advise Conecta Caribe –as sponsor of a PPP project to build a new airport in Cartagena de Indias – on the design of the contracts regarding the feasibility stage of the PPP and the design of the required trust structures, and on other, associated projects to be developed around the airport, as well as the land acquisition process. Practice head Daniel Rodríguez is the name to note.

DLA Piper Martinez Beltrán’s practice group is particularly experienced in the project finance of both 3G and 4G projects, a segment where it has advised national and international lenders and sponsors. Additionally, the dispute resolution capabilities of the team are widely recognised in the sector, with managing partner Camilo Martínez – who ‘knows how to deal with opposing counsels and to reach creative solutions in a commercial way’ – co-leading the department. On the transactional side, the group benefits from the experience of leading on infrastructure projects amassed by practice co-head Felipe Quintero (a ‘dedicated partner with excellent skills’). Recent work saw the team advise Sociedad Concesionaria Vial Andina regarding the financial closing of the Chirajará-Fundadores PPP-project, a 134km highway requiring 16 bridges and seven tunnels which is due for completion by 2021. It also advised Inter-American Development Bank on the approximately $500m project financing of Concesionaria Ruta del Cacao’s Bucaramanga-Barrancabermeja-Yondó toll road concession.

Particularly experienced in the structuring and the execution of transport-infrastructure projects, as well as handling associated contractual disputes, Esguerra Asesores Jurídicos’ projects practice is led by transport regulation specialist José Vicente Guzmán, who ‘knows the market and the key players very well’. Recent matters saw him act as arbitrator on a contractual dispute filed by Tranzit against Bogotá’s public transport system, Transmilenio. In other work, the team is representing Drummond in lawsuit arising from a train accident. Associate Luís Miguel Benítez moved to Guzman Escobar & Asociados S.A.S.

Recommended boutique Gamboa Abogados is best known for its strong experience in Colombia’s ports segment and for advising both local and multinational companies on the structuring and execution of major port infrastructure-projects. ‘Knowledgeable, creative and organised’, Ernesto Gamboa and Eduardo Gamboa co-lead a seven-strong practice, which recently advised Compañía de Puertos Asociados (Compas) on negotiations with APM Terminals for the expansion of client’s terminal in Cartagena and the acquisition of new ports in the Caribbean. 2018 highlights also included acting as legal advisers to Central Charter in negotiations and disputes with Opain regarding infrastructure at Bogotá’s El Dorado airport. Associate Felipe Alarcón is also noted.

Godoy & Hoyos Abogados SAS’ projects experience includes public and private contracting; public and private partnerships; project-finance agreements; engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) agreements; and environmental matters. Recent mandates saw the team advising on the Plan Desarrollo Vial al Mar 4G PPP-project. Jaime Moya is the key contact.

Holland & Knight is primarily active on the project-finance side of 4G road-infrastructure projects. Norberto Quintana and Enrique Gómez-Pinzón are the key practice contacts, with Colombian infrastructure-promotion agency Financiera de Desarrollo Nacional (FDN) a major client.

The projects group at Lloreda Camacho & Co. is noted for assisting international and domestic clients with participating in bidding processes for public procurement matters and infrastructure projects. The team successfully advised joint venture Fanalca Transdev Chile in a bidding process held by the capital’s public system transport, Transmilenio, for the operation of a cable car system in the southern part of the capital. Other 2018 mandates included advising European Dredging Company on a bidding process held by the Instituto Nacional de Vías for the dredging and maintenance of the channel of access to the port of Tumaco. Andrés Hidalgo heads the group with senior associate Carlos Carvajal also a key figure.

Particularly active in the aviation sector, the practice group at Muñoz Tamayo & Asociados is co-led by founding partner Diego Muñoz Tamayo and Felipe Trías; both also have experience in the highly regulated energy and telecoms sectors. Recent mandates include advising Express del Futuro on the structuring of its participation the public bidding process conducted by Transmilenio for the acquisition of 1,400 replacement buses for the city’s bus-rapid-transit system. The team also successfully assisted Airavata with the bidding process held by aeronautical authority Aerocivil for the upgrading of the lighting system of the north runway of Bogotá’s El Dorado international airport. Senior associate María Guzman is also a key member of the ten-strong team.

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