Next Generation Partners

Firms To Watch: Banking and finance

Mario Antonio Ayala and Mario Ernesto Ayala head the team at Sfera Legal, which is experienced in advising banks and insurance companies on cross-border financings throughout the region.

Banking and finance in El Salvador

Arias

The market-leading banking and finance team at regional firm Arias is praised by clients for its 'first-class' advice to local and multinational banks and financial institutions involved in high-value, cross-border transactions. The sizeable team is led by finance authority Armando AriasRoberta Gallardo, who also heads the M&A practice; Ana Mercedes López, who is active in the energy and aviation finance spaces; public infrastructure project specialist Luisa Rivas; energy sector expert Carolina Lazo; and Mario Lozano, who brings expertise in the areas of fintech and cryptocurrency to the practice. They are supported by Ernesto Sánchez  and Adán Araujo (both of whom were promoted to senior counsel in November 2021) and Rafael Burgos (who also moved up the ranks to senior associate). The group’s full-service offering covers complex debt restructurings, loan agreements, equity investments, asset securitisation, project finance and due diligence processes. With a client base that includes financial industry pillars IDB Invest and Citibank, the team is active across the hospitality, construction, aviation and energy sectors.

Testimonials

‘The firm has a presence in Central America and Panama with good coordination between lawyers, which leads to comprehensive and coordinated solutions in the different countries.’

‘Arias has a very professional team with the necessary knowledge to respond to the needs of its clients.’

‘Very good service and, above all, quick responses.’

‘The plus that makes them stand out is their client service and attention to the quality and detail of their work. The lawyers ensure that the documents they review protect the client in the best possible way, they answer the client’s calls and emails when the client needs it, and are available to support the client in urgent moments and in normal times.’

‘Arias has much more experience in this field than most law firms in El Salvador, which allows the firm to provide solid and agile advice to achieve a good result for clients.’

‘What stands out is the team’s experience in international matters.’

‘The team has significant experience in the banking sector. When we have requested its support, the Arias banking and financing practice has proven to have all the skills and quality of work required, and the team has always being there when we need it, responding promptly and diligently and providing legal advice at the highest level. Not only are they very well organised as a team, but they also know how to work with other teams involved in the transaction to make it run successfully for the parties.’

‘The quality of the advice given is always first class.’

Key clients

Citibank

Banco Cuscatlan

La Hipotecaria

IDB Invest

CMI

PRB

Banco Agricola

Procaps

Del Sur

United States International Development Finance Corporation (DFC)

Work highlights

  • Acted as local counsel for DFC and Citibank in El Salvador, Costa Rica and Panama in connection with a $100m financing facility to CrediQ El Salvador and CrediQ Costa Rica.
  • Acted as local counsel to Bladex in El Salvador and Costa Rica in connection with a syndicated loan provided to CrediQ in an unsecured tranche for over $35m and a secured tranche for over $65m.
  • Assisted Procaps Group with the private placement of senior notes for an amount of $115m and for a term of ten years, intended for the repayment of existing debt of the group and for general corporate purposes.

BLP

The powerhouse banking and finance practice at BLP continues to be a force in the market, providing comprehensive advice to major regional and international commercial banks, financial institutions, multilateral agencies and private equity sponsors on a diverse spectrum of matters. Headed by respected finance authority Zygmunt Brett, the practice assists with loan agreements, securitisations, credit restructurings, bonds issuances, regulatory compliance, and banking litigation and arbitration proceedings. The team also includes Mariana Nóchez, who brings experience from her corporate law background to high-value, multi-jurisdictional transactions; directors Luis Vega, who is noted for handling financial disputes, and Antonella Imbers; and associate José Gochez, who handles complex project finance matters. Acting for such key market players as Bank of America, IDB Invest and the Bank of Nova Scotia, the team’s industry expertise extends to complex financings in the energy and real estate sectors.

Practice head(s):

Zygmunt Brett

Key clients

Bank of America

Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij voor Ontwik-Kelingslanden (FMO)

Inter-American Investment Corporation (IDB Invest)

Banco Azul (Inversiones Financieras Grupo Azul)

International Finance Corporation (IFC)

Work highlights

  • Advised FMO on its $60m funding alongside Banco La Hipotecaria (in Panama) and La Hipotecaria (in El Salvador) of affordable housing mortgages in the two countries.
  • Acted as local counsel to IDB Invest on the financing of a project to purchase and convert a floating storage and regasification unit to supply gas to a combined-cycle thermal power plant located in Acajutla, El Salvador.
  • Advised Inversiones Financieras Grupo Azul, a financial conglomerate made up of Banco Azul and several insurance companies, on Banco Azul’s acquisition of the shares of Banco G&T Continental El Salvador and its subsidiary brokerage house, G&T Continental.

Consortium Legal

Highlighted for its ‘vast knowledge in the banking and financial area’, Consortium Legal employs deep regional bench strength (with offices across Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua) to assist government agencies and major multinational banks and financial institutions, including Credit Suisse and the Bank of Nova Scotia, with high-value, cross-border transactions. Headed by financial sector authority Oscar Samour, the team advises on due diligence processes, asset securitisation, derivatives, leasing issues and loan agreements. Project finance expert Felipe Aragón, who was promoted to senior associate in April 2022, provides support, along with associates Daniel Leiva , a specialist in fintech, insurance and reinsurance matters, and Annette Herrera , who arrived from Holland & Knight LLP in August 2021, with a background in capital markets matters. The team’s active client base fuels transactions across the telecoms, automotive, infrastructure and real estate sectors.

Practice head(s):

Oscar Samour

Testimonials

‘Oscar Samour and Felipe Aragón are very good.’

‘Consortium Legal is distinguished by offering a very varied range of services to clients. They have vast knowledge in the banking and financial area and they provide foreign clients with a comprehensive service. Communication with clients is efficient and the attention to any query is immediate.’

‘The attention provided by the team is excellent. They have the best attitude, they are efficient, and their answers are immediate and always shows great knowledge of the subject matter.’

‘Outstanding professional performance. They have a high level of knowledge of the issues and are up to date with respect to the regulations.’

‘Oscar Samour’s level of expertise and specialty in the banking field allow him to provide timely advice to his clients.’

Key clients

Banco Latinoamericano de Comercio Exterior (Bladex)

Banco Promerica

Credit Suisse

Banco Cuscatlán

Banco Atlántida

Bank of Nova Scotia

DNB Sweden

Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries

Bitso

Central American Bank of Economic Integration (Cabei)

Work highlights

  • Provided legal advice to Citigroup Global Markets, Credit Suisse Securities (USA), JP Morgan Securities and Santander Investment Securities on a new bond issuance by San Miguel Industrias PET due August 2028.
  • Assisted the Bank of Nova Scotia with granting a loan to Automotive Finance, a holding entity for a vehicle dealership in Central America with operations throughout the region and the Caribbean, for the amount of $280m.
  • Assisted DNB Sweden with granting a loan to Telemovil (Tigo), a major regional telecoms company, as the borrower, and Millicom International, as the guarantor, for $100m.

ECIJA

With offices in 17 countries spanning Central America, Europe and Asia, the experienced team at ECIJA utilises its global reach to advise local and international clients. The full-service practice covers corporate financing, asset financing, debt restructuring, capital markets matters, bank contracting, due diligence and regulatory compliance. Office founder and managing partner Alfredo Navas Duarte and Carlos Gil, a specialist in energy and telecoms-related matters, are the key contacts.

LatamLex | Guandique Segovia Quintanilla (GSQ)

The team at LatamLex | Guandique Segovia Quintanilla (GSQ) advises local and international banks and financial institutions on a wide spectrum of matters. These included special bank contracting, leasing, syndicated loans, restructuring, securitisations, derivatives, project finance and bond issuances. Ana Patricia Portillo, Carlos Quintanilla and Oscar Hurtado are key contacts.

Practice head(s):

Ana Patricia Portillo; Carlos Quintanilla; Oscar Hurtado

LatinAlliance El Salvador

The banking and finance team at LatinAlliance El Salvador utilises its regional presence (thanks to partner offices in Nicaragua, Guatemala and Costa Rica) to assist insurance companies, local and regional banks, and other financial institutions with securitisations, syndicated loans and compliance issues, as well as providing representation before regulatory bodies. Founder and managing partner José Adolfo Torres is a key contact.

Practice head(s):

José Alfredo Torres

Lexincorp

With offices across Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, Lexincorp pairs deep regional bench strength with the experience of its Salvadoran team to provide a comprehensive service to local and international corporates and financial institutions (including banks and investment firms) on wide range of matters. Led by banking law expert Enrique Escobar, the group advises on guarantees, the structuring and negotiation of loan agreements, securitisations, due diligence issues, debt management and the constitution of trusts. The team is supported by Antonio Guirola, who is experienced in the coordination of international transactions, and Adriana Portillo, who was promoted to partner in January 2022.

Practice head(s):

Enrique Escobar

Key clients

Banco General (Panamá)

Productos Atlas

Work highlights

  • Handled the structuring, restructuring and materialisation of all loan agreements and associated guarantees for several clients of Banco General for a value of approximately $68.5m.
  • Assisted Grupo Atlas with obtaining a commercial loan for an amount of $5.5m.

Mayora & Mayora, S.C.

Coordinating with its offices in Honduras and Guatemala, the team at Mayora & Mayora, S.C. brings regional expertise to its advice to financial institutions, government bodies, individual investors, funds and multinational corporates on day-to-day matters and financings related to major projects and the entry of companies into the Salvadoran market. Senior partner Manuel Telles heads the practice, bringing decades of experience of assisting clients with structuring individual and syndicated loans, in addition to securitisations, guarantees, leasing, factoring and due diligence processes. Senior associate Jennifer Rodríguez, who has a background in both corporate and banking law, provides support when advising on banking products, contracts and corporate governance. The team’s client base spans sectors including IT and energy, with a roster that includes French power producer Neoen.

Practice head(s):

Manuel Telles

Key clients

Banco Internacional de Costa Rica

Grupo Emasal

Lafise

Neoen

Exor

The Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries (Norfund)

Banco Davivienda

Work highlights

  • Advised Neoen on the financing provided by IDB Invest for the  installation of batteries for its solar plants in El Salvador.
  • Assisted Norfund with a $10m loan to Banco Promerica.

Romero Pineda

The multi-disciplinary team at Romero Pineda combines the strength of its corporate, commercial, and banking and finance departments to advise national and regional insurance companies and financial institutions on matters ranging from project finance, securities and microfinance to due diligence processes, share transfers and loan agreements. Department head Francisco Martinez and senior associate Camila Villafuerte are the key contacts.

Practice head(s):

Francisco Martinez