Firms To Watch: Banking and finance

Founded by Giovanna Melo, who previously acted as vice president of legal matters for a banking institution, César Martínez Melo and Néstor Contín, Melo, Martínez & Contín Abogados advises banks and other financial services sector clients, such as Banco Popular Dominicano, on the holding of their AGMs, involving due diligence and Covid-19 protocols.

Banking and finance in Dominican Republic

Castillo y Castillo

Headed by Práxedes J. Castillo Báez and Sebastián Jiménez, Castillo y Castillo often acts for banks in setting up multi-million-dollar funding for energy and hotel projects. Banco Popular Dominicano is a regular client, with the firm advising the bank on its role as Dominican security agent in multi-bank credit facilities, as well as the Bank of Nova Scotia and Popular Bank Ltd in their roles as creditors for natural gas and electricity developments. Castillo Báez covers cross-border matters, such as advising US-registered securities broker-dealers on the sale and marketing of their services to Dominican investors. Funding for real estate is another area of note, with the team acting for department store Almacenes Unidos in a property purchase. Senior associate Vera Martínez and associate Jacqueline Fernández provide frequent support.

Practice head(s):

Praxedes J. Castillo Baez; Sebastian Jimenez

Testimonials

‘It is an excellent office from the point of view of the knowledge of its professionals, as well as the logistics process, at the billing level and others. We have been working with Castillo y Castillo for many years and have had positive experiences with all members of the firm.’

‘They are lawyers who have knowledge of the law and technical aspects, but who also have a business vision and are open to exploring new structures. The partners with whom we work are Dr Sebastian Jimenez, Amalia Pérez Santos, Jacqueline Fernández and Max Mel.’

‘For me, the diligence and good work of the Office of Dr Práxedes J. Castillo Báez has overcome the obstacles and the complexity of the issues with a high degree of success. His advice allows us to support the investments and business development of my clients in the Dominican Republic with a 100% guarantee and quality of service.’

‘The trust provided and the ability to resolve complex issues in the Dominican Republic.’

Key clients

Banco Popular Dominicano, S. A.

Asociación Popular de Ahorros y Préstamos (APAP)

Altice Group

GB Group (Texaco)

Banco Multiple Ademi, S.A.

Grupo Ramos, S. A. S.

Grupo Rizek

Scotiabank (Dominican Republic)

Riu Hotels

Credit Suisse

Bepensa (local Coca Cola bottler)

Banco Caribe Internacional, S. A.

Banco de Reservas de la República Dominicana

Central American Bank for Economic Integration

Agence Française de Développement

Vishay Hirel Systems

Gam Capital

Work highlights

  • Acted for Banco Popular Dominicano, Popular Bank LTD and The Bank Of Nova Scotia in a credit facility granted to Energia Natural Dominicanoa, S.R.L. for the development, construction, ownership and start-up of (a) a natural gas pipeline (of approximately 50km) and (b) a liquefied natural gas  receiving and storage tank.
  • Acted as Dominican counsel to Altice Financing, S.A in connection with a preliminary offering memorandum and a final offering memorandum, and as Dominican counsel to Altice Dominicana (AD), in regards to security granted in the Dominican Republic by AD over all their material assets.
  • Acted as legal counsel for Almacenes Unidos in relation to the purchase of a real estate property located in a main commercial area.

Headrick Rizik Alvarez & Fernández

Headrick Rizik Alvarez & Fernández‘s practice often involves acting as local counsel for international clients, with Eileen Jiménez securing credit facilities for multinational manufacturer Grupo Diesco worth $275m, and practice co-head Jaime Senior advising Panamanian financial institution CIFI on a Dominican investment fund and French energy client Stoa on its investment in a renewables project. A highlight for the firm is its work on the first issuance of green bonds in the Dominican Republic securities market, led by Senior and assisted by newly promoted partner Fernando Marranzini. Aided by practice co-head Sarah De León and founding partner Roberto Rizik, the team additionally focuses on the payments industry, counting CardNet as a client in this space.

Practice head(s):

Sarah De León; Jaime Senior

Key clients

Banco BHD León

The Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank)

CIFI

Citibank

JP Morgan Securities

Wells Fargo Bank

Bank of America

Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) / Banco Centroamericano de Integración Económica (BCIE)

Fitch Ratings

Banco Santa Cruz

Work highlights

  • Acted as Dominican Republic counsel to Grupo Diesco, a multinational conglomerate with investments in the plastic and beverage (water and soft drinks) industries and operations in the Dominican Republic, Bermuda, Puerto Rico and Colombia, in connection with the credit facilities granted to Grupo Diesco by Goldman Sachs Specialty Lending Group, L.P. and other lenders.
  • Retained by CIFI to act as local counsel of Fondo de Inversión Cerrado Libre para el Desarolllo de Infraestructuras Dominicanas I (a Dominican investment fund) as lenders in relation to a credit facility ascending to RD$3,731,700,000 (approximately $56m) in favour of Allard Industries Ltd., owner of Blue Mall Center, and Orion Industries, Ltd., owner of JW Marriott Hotel Santo Domingo.
  • Advised the settlor and trustee of the Fideicomiso de Oferta Publica de Valores Larimar I No. 04 – FP trust in connection with the structuring and organisation of the trust itself, as well in obtaining the approval for the issuance of green bonds for up to $100m.

Jiménez Peña

Jiménez Peña acts for local and international banks and other financial entities, often serving as local counsel on cross-border matters, including working with international and Puerto Rican firms to advise CIFI on project financing. A key focus is advising clients on lending, with practice heads Marcos Peña Rodríguez and Katherine Rosa leading advice on senior loans for education and telecoms projects and negotiating financial agreements. The firm recently assisted Banco Activo with a transaction in which an investor acquired a majority stake in the client. Senior associate Jennifer Beauchamps is a key name for project finance and corporate matters.

Practice head(s):

Marcos Pena Rodriguez; Katherine Rosa

Key clients

Banco BHD Leon

Banco Centroamericano de Integración Económica

Citibank

Asociación Popular de Ahorros y Préstamos

Interamerican Development Bank (IDB) (and later IDB Invest)

International Finance Corporation (IFC)

Banco Activo

Advanced Asset Management

Corporación Interamericana para el Financiamiento de Infraestructura (CIFI)

Work highlights

  • Advised Corporación Interamericana para el Financiamiento de Infraestructura on a proposed long-term senior loan of up to $15m to be provided to RDTD I, LLC, sponsored by Innovattel, LLC and guaranteed by Fideicomiso Torres Dominicanas.
  • Advised Inter-American Investment Corporation (IDB Invest) on a proposed senior secured loan for an amount up to $10m, to an educational foundation in the Dominican Republic.
  • Advised Banco Activo on a capitalisation process through which a new investor acquired a 70% stake in the bank, increasing the presence of the financial institution in the Dominican Republic.

ECIJA DVMS

Taking on a plethora of recent work involving international clients and cross-border matters, ECIJA DVMS counts the structuring of trusts, negotiating of IPOs and advice on loan agreements among its strengths. Polibio Valenzuela co-heads the practice, advising financial institutions on loan agreements and financing for hospitality clients. Fellow co-head Christian Molina focuses on creating trusts for project financing, working on modifications to trust regulations as well as negotiating a public trust for the Ministry of Housing and Construction. The team frequently handles IPOs, structuring these for retail and real estate clients as well as for securities broker CCI Puesto de Bolsa, which the firm also advises on agreements with US and European brokerage firms. Gabriel Dejarden co-leads on cross-border matters for international financial institutions, with clients including the Central American Bank for Economic Integration, and associate Nicole Rodríguez aids the team with a focus on due diligence.

Practice head(s):

Polibio Valenzuela Scheker; Christian Molina

Testimonials

‘ECIJA DVMS correctly integrate their teams and collaborate to offer the best care.’

‘Polibio Valenzuela and Erika Gómez have the virtue of offering creative and simple alternatives to complex problems.’

Excellent team, capable and efficient. Level of knowledge, efficiency and network of contacts have made it possible to move forward with our business agenda in the country.

Has the capacity and is efficient.’

Key clients

Grupo Ramos, S.A.

Panac Hotels Dominicana, S.A.

Fiduciaria Reservas, S.A.

Asset Wealth Management, S.A.

CCI Puesto de Bolsa, S.A.

Asociacion de Fiduciarias Dominicanas, Inc

Inter-American Investment Bank

Italbank International

Oikocredit Ecumenical Development Cooperative Society

Work highlights

  • Assisted in the structuring of a public trust incorporated by the Ministry of Housing and Construction for the contracting, development and financing of over 7,500 low-income homes with an investment of over $350m, and the financing strategies to future purchasers.
  • Representing the issuer in a public offering valued at over $110m, with underlying assets consisting of commercial real estate properties.

OMG

OMG‘s Manuel Troncoso leads or co-leads on all of the firm’s banking work, often working in tandem with corporate partner Esperanza Cabral and aided by senior manager Aldana Fernández and consultant Diego García. The team takes on a range of work, including structuring and registering a $880m public issuance for Fiduciaria Reservas and negotiating a project financing package for an energy client. A highlight for the firm is its work on crypto assets; since 2019 it has analysed Dominican regulations on licensing and registration for Latham & Watkins LLP. The firm also advises banks on both commercial lending and loans to the Dominican state, recently acting for Banco de Reservas de la República Dominicana in its collection of public debt. Firm president Leonel Melo provides further oversight. Associate Lyna Desangles left in 2021 to join consultancy OV.

Practice head(s):

Manuel Troncoso; Leonel Melo

Key clients

Banreservas

CIFI

BPR Bank, S.A.

The Bank of Nova Scotia

Akuo Energy

San Pedro Bio-Energy, S.R.L

Primma Valores, S.A. Puesto de Bolsa

Alpha Finanzas

Bolsa y Mercado de Valores de la Republica Dominicana, S.A.

Haina Investment Co., Ltd

Fiduciaria Reservas

Work highlights

  • Assisted Fiduciaria Reservas, S.A, as its leading counsel, in the structuring and registration of a new public issuance of the Red Vial Trust before the Superintendence of Capital Markets.
  • Acted as Dominican counsel of Haina Investment Co., Ltd. on a bank lending transaction for the purposes of a subsidiary to acquire 100% of the beneficiary rights in a trust incorporated under Colombian laws, holding assets from several entities and with secured creditors involved.
  • Assisted Akuo Energy in a complex project financing package, granted by a local energy-focused hedge fund and one of the largest privately held commercial banks in the Dominican Republic to the client, an international energy venture that is developing a solar energy project in the Dominican Republic.

Squire Patton Boggs

Private placement bond issues are an area of specialty for Squire Patton Boggs, which recently acted for two energy companies, AES Andres BV and EGE Haina, on private placement offerings of senior notes. Alejandro Peña-Prieto oversees the Dominican office, regularly co-leading with Rhina Martínez Brea on matters including assisting Goldman Sachs with the execution of a financing arrangement. The team also advised the same client on renegotiations of a loan facility, another area of experience for the team, which worked on a niche loan agreement and repurchase transaction for a financial markets development company. Pedro O Gamundi handles negotiations of private offerings and international transactions. Associate Miguel Cano is an integral part of the team, with experience of drafting and negotiating financing agreements, loan facilities and offerings of senior notes, and assisted Peña-Prieto in an asset-backed financing for construction company Caterpillar.

DMK Abogados

DMK Abogados is experienced in negotiations of loan deals and securities matters, particularly those with international elements, with the firm advising Spanish clients on their loans in the Dominican Republic and domestic client Banesco on its role as securities agent for foreign creditors. Practice head Patricia Read acted for Spanish bank Abanca on the restructuring of a $150m loan to a Dominican hotel, including the issuance and registration of securities and due diligence. The team also advised Spanish hotel chain Senator Hotels and Resorts on the restructuring of its $80m debt and renegotiations of loans. Andrés Ceara left the team to set up new firm CHJ Legal.

Practice head(s):

Patricia Read

Key clients

ABANCA

Senator Hotels and Resorts

Banesco

Guzmán Ariza

Guzmán Ariza focuses on restructuring and bankruptcy matters, such as handling airline PAWA Dominicana’s bankruptcy and the restructuring of debt for construction client Arconim Constructora. The firm also advises on loan agreements, such as acting for microfinance manager Blue Orchard on its loans to a Central American bank, and project financing, including working on a $37m financing for a photovoltaic power plant project. Fabio Guzmán Saladín and Alberto Reyes Báez oversee the majority of the firm’s finance work, with close involvement by senior counsel Pamela Benzán Arbaje. Work also includes acting for international financial institutions; the team advised a German asset manager on greenfield and brownfield investments in the Dominican cacao-coconut industry, as well as counting Swiss multinational bank UBS Group as a client. Alfredo Guzmán Saladín, who assists in liquidation proceedings and restructurings, and managing partner Fabio Guzmán Ariza are other names to note.

Practice head(s):

Fabio Guzmán Saladín; Alberto Reyes; Alfredo Guzmán Saladín; Fabio J Guzmán Ariza

Testimonials

‘Fabio Guzman is very responsive and helpful on matters. He is a solid partner.’

Key clients

Blue Orchard

PAWA Dominicana (Pan Am World Airways Dominicana)

POSCO Engineering

12Tree Finance

UBS Group Investment Bank

General Cocoa Company – Coffee America

Distinct Investment Holdings LLC – Renova Expert SRL

Arconim Constructora

Potentia Renewables (Emerald Solar Energy)

Trevi-Galante, S. A.

Tecnove Group

Schrader Camargo

JTI – Japan Tobacco International

Work highlights

  • Advised 12Tree Finance Investment on the development of greenfield and brownfield investments in the Dominican cacao-coconut industry, assisting with regulations, permits and acquisitions.
  • Advised Emerald Solar Energy, a subsidiary of the Canadian group Potentia Renewables, on a US$37m financing through the Free Closed Investment Fund for the Development of Dominican Infrastructure, managed by Administradora de Fondos de Inversión Universal, S. A. (Investment Fund Universal), with the loan proceeds used primarily to refinance existing debt and finance the operation of a 25MW photovoltaic power plant located in Barahona, Dominican Republic.
  • Performed legal due diligence and advised on collateral and local restructuring and liquidation regulations for Blue Orchard, regarding two loan agreements for US$40m each given to Banco Lafise, a Central American bank with operations in the Dominican Republic.

Pellerano & Herrera

Pellerano & Herrera stands out for its cross-border work for multinational clients, including investment banks and asset management groups, and at times works together with global law firms to provide local counsel. It has a niche in advising Chinese investors, often on energy and natural resources projects, an area that is overseen by practice co-head and managing partner Ricardo Pellerano. The firm focuses on advice to lenders, frequently on financing infrastructure and real estate projects. Practice co-head Alessandra Di Carlo leads on work advising Citigroup, JP Morgan and Scotia Capital as underwriters of a $300m bond offering by an energy corporation. Members of the corporate team are closely involved in the practice, with corporate partner Carolina Leon overseeing investment, secured financing and trust indenture matters and senior associate Maria Montero acting as a key support in much of the firm’s work.

Practice head(s):

Ricardo Pellerano, Alessandra Di Carlo

Testimonials

‘The team is very responsive and provides good training.’

Key clients

JP Morgan Securities

Banco Popular Dominicano

Banesco Banco Multiple

Belfond Enterprise

Bloomberg

Bank of America

Goldman Sachs

Citigroup Global Markets Inc.

Banco Santander

Scotia Capital Inc.

Work highlights

  • Advised the underwriters Citigroup Global Markets Inc, JP Morgan Securities LLC and Scotia Capital (USA) Inc on the $300m bond offering of 5.70% notes due 2028, issued by energy corporation AES Andres B.V.

Pellerano Nadal

Pellerano Nadal‘s Luis Rafael Pellerano advised J.P. Morgan Securities and Citigroup Global Markets on liability management for the Dominican Republic’s issuances of sovereign bonds worth $2bn, $118m and $1.6bn, assisted by senior counsel Urania Paulino and associate Eduardo Pellerano. With particular experience in securities law, the firm also assists with acquisition and project financing. The team often handles work for clients based in the US, with Pellerano, Paulino and associate Daniella Pellerano providing local counsel to foreign law firms. Tax practice head Caroline Bonó joined from Pellerano & Herrera and co-leads on investment matters.

Practice head(s):

Luis Rafael Pellerano; Caroline Bono

Key clients

J.P. Morgan Securities LLC and Citigroup Global Markets Inc

Work highlights

  • Advised J.P. Morgan Securities LLC and Citigroup Global Markets Inc, on the creation of the tender offer of local notes in the form of global deposit notes that will be used for future local liability management for US$2,023,506,100.00 (Issuance); US$118,400,350.00 (Issuance in GDNs); US$1,601,854,420.00 (Local LM).

Pereyra & Asociados

Pereyra & Asociados is known for its work on banking deals, providing regular assistance to longstanding client the Bank of Nova Scotia. The firm advised on the client’s $330m majority acquisition of Banco del Progreso, recently handling post-closing matters including compliance, tax, integration of entities and transfer of assets. M&A of financial institutions is a particular speciality, with the firm advising government authorities on M&A associated with banks. Founding partner Luis Miguel Pereyra leads all of the firm’s matters, aided by fellow practice co-head Emma Mejía Batlle.

Practice head(s):

Luis Miguel Pereyra; Emma Mejía Batlle

Key clients

The Bank of Nova Scotia

AFP Crecer – Scotia Seguros

Work highlights

  • Assisted The Bank of Nova Scotia in its acquisition of 97.3% of the equity of Banco del Progreso (one of the biggest in the country), advising on its legal strategy regarding the transaction – from negotiations to closing – and the post-closings and transfer of assets of the bank.

Russin, Vecchi & Heredia Bonetti

José Maldonado Stark at Russin, Vecchi & Heredia Bonetti handles financing for project development, notably energy and real estate developments, which has involved assisting with the structuring of credit facilities and securities. The firm acts for both domestic and international companies. The team’s cross-border work also includes overseeing the formalities for loans by foreign investors, an area that Georges Santoni Recio leads on. Luis Heredia Valenzuela is also noted.

Practice head(s):

Georges Santoni Recio; Luis Heredia Valenzuela; José Maldonado Stark

Testimonials

‘They have very complete knowledge of the topics that are consulted.’

‘They are knowledgeable about the issues and advise and guide in an easy and understandable way.’