Banking and finance in Guatemala

Alta QIL+4 Abogados

Now a regional outfit, following its merger with firms in El Salvador, Honduras and Costa Rica, Alta QIL+4 Abogados has a wide-ranging banking and finance practice, spanning debt restructurings, corporate finance, securities issuances and project finance. The team regularly leads on multi-jurisdictional financial transactions, as well as acting as local counsel to international firms, particularly based in New York, where many of the firm’s lawyers are dual-qualified. Major local and international banks and financial institutions – in addition to corporate borrowers from sectors including manufacturing, food and beverages, energy and utilities – make up the diverse client base. The practice is led by the experienced quartet of Marcos Ibargüen, Alejandro Cofiño, José Quiñones, who brings additional expertise in tax matters to the team, and Andrés Lowenthal, a key name for project finance and international capital markets matters. Santiago Granados is a standout at associate level.

Practice head(s):

Alejandro Cofiño; Marcos Ibarguen; José Quiñones; Andrés Lowenthal

Testimonials

‘It’s the most efficient team I’ve ever worked with, without sacrificing the quality of the advice. They meet transaction deadlines perfectly.’

‘José Quiñones, Andrés Lowenthal and Santiago Granados, in addition to being excellent professionals, provide unconditional support in transactions in the region. They understand from the first moment the needs of the client and defend them throughout the transition.’

Key clients

Citibank

JP Morgan Chase

The Royal Bank of Nova Scotia

Banco General

Banistmo

Norfund

Macquarie Bank

Transmisión de Electricidad (Grupo Terra)

Banco Panamá

Banco Industrial

Banco G&T Continental

Global Bank

IDB Invest

Inter American Development Bank

Banco BAC Credomatic

Cable Vïa-Aerometro

CMI Alimentos

CMI Energía

Rainforest Alliance

Work highlights

  • Advising Caterpillar Crédito on the $9.5m financing of heavy machinery.
  • Advised Citigroup Global Markets, JP Morgan Securities and Scotia Capital (USA) as purchasers on a $200m Rule 144A/Reg S international capital markets debt issuance by the Central America Bottling Corporation.
  • Advising Cotecna on its bid to supply non-intrusive X-ray inspections of merchandise entering Puerto Quetzal, one of Guatemala’s largest ports, including negotiating and obtaining financing from a regional lender.

Arias

Highlighted for its ‘very quick response times and pragmatic solutions‘, the experienced team at Arias handles a wide range of financial transactions, spanning real estate finance, corporate finance and the financing of large-scale energy and infrastructure projects. It has recently been particularly active advising global development institutions on loans to local banks intended to support the SME sector in Guatemala during the pandemic. Cross-border financing is a key area of expertise, with the team regularly drawing on the support of the regional firm’s other offices in Central America, as is financial regulation, particularly fintech matters. Senior partner Jorge Luis Arenales, who has extensive experience in trade finance, project finance and corporate lending, leads the team with the ‘attentive and promptLuis Pedro Del Valle. The strong cohort of associates includes Cindy Arrivillaga, who has particular strength in international transactions. Since publication, Arrivillaga has been raised to senior associate - effective as of March 2022.

Practice head(s):

Jorge Luis Arenales; Luis Pedro del Valle

Testimonials

‘They are aware of the technicalities of local financial law and have an accurate understanding of Central Bank and stock exchange regulations.’

‘The global structure of the firm means it can provide thorough advice in cross-border transactions, with an understanding of all the risks and the impact on other countries in the region.’

‘Very quick response times and pragmatic solutions.

‘Luis Pedro Del Valle is extremely capable of working with both internal and external counsels from New York, and finding solutions to complement NY law documents with Guatemala law ancillary documents. Client service is superb.’

‘Solid and reliable.’

‘Luis Pedro del Valle is attentive and prompt.’

Key clients

Banco de Desarrollo Rural

The OPEC Fund for International Development

Inter-American Investment Corporation (IDB Invest)

Oikocredit Ecumenical Development Co-operative Society

BlueOrchard Finance

Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden (FMO)

Cargill Financial Services

Foreign Trade Bank of Latin America (Bladex)

United States International Development Finance Corporation (DFC)

International Finance Corporation (IFC)

Catholic Relief Services

The Bank of Nova Scotia

Work highlights

  • Advised IDB Invest on a $100m loan to Banco de América Central, intended to increase access to financing for SMEs in Guatemala and contribute to the recovery of sectors most affected by Covid-19.
  • Advised the IFC on a $20m loan to Banco Agromercantil de Guatemala (BAM), as part of the IFC’s global Covid-19 response to support the SME sector.
  • Assisted Banco de Desarrollo Rural with the selection of host of systems and platforms from technology vendor Oracle.

Consortium Legal

Bond issuances are a significant area of expertise for Consortium LegalComparative Guides promotional icon‘s ‘highly competent and knowledgeable‘ team, which recently acted for BofA Securities as the global coordinator of the Republic of Guatemala’s sovereign bond issuance, which raised $1.2bn for the country’s Covid response. As part of a major regional firm, the team is active in cross-border financial transactions across Central America, working alongside its other offices in the area, and counts banks, financial institutions and multilateral organisations among its clients. The team primarily acts for clients on the lender side but also assists borrowers with corporate lending and debt restructurings. The ‘very efficientÁlvaro Castellanos, whose broad experience includes the fintech, insurance and aviation sectors, heads the practice. Since publication, Melissa Morán has joined the practice as a senior associate from Sfera Legal.

Practice head(s):

Álvaro Castellanos

Testimonials

‘The Consortium Legal team is made up of highly competent and knowledgeable lawyers, who have a lot of experience advising different national and international entities on various legal issues. These qualities make Consortium stand out from the rest of the local law firms.’

‘The firm stands out for its client service and the direct involvement of the partners in the case, whatever the time, to provide an answer to my concerns. I have known Álvaro Castellanos for several years and the service he provides me with is very efficient.’

‘As a big Guatemalan firm, Consortium provides good client service, collaboration at all times between the partners, associates and the wider team, and a wide portfolio of legal services.’

‘The team at Consortium always keep in touch with clients, study transactions closely and propose solutions and efficiencies.’

‘The lawyers put themselves in the client’s shoes, treating every deal as if it were their own, and they stand out for their level of knowledge and experience.’

‘The follow-up on the matters that are entrusted to them is excellent!’

Key clients

Citibank

Bank of America

JP Morgan & Chase

IDB and IDB Invest

Deutsche Bank

Banco Azteca

Banco de América Central

Credit Suisse

Bupa Global and Bupa Guatemala

Bancolombia / Banco Agromercantil de Guatemala

Banco de los Trabajadores

Banco Centroamericano de Integración Económica (CABEI)

The Bank of Nova Scotia (Panamá)

Work highlights

  • Advised BofA Securities on the Republic of Guatemala’s $1.2bn sovereign dual-tranche bond issuance, which included significant participation from accounts with dedicated environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria and social bonds portfolios.
  • Advised Citigroup Global Markets and BofA Securities on the underwriting of the $300m 4.875% subordinated fixed-to-fixed rate notes due 2031 (callable 2026) issued by Banco Industrial.
  • Acted as local counsel to IDB Invest with regards to $50m financing provided to Banco Promerica to support the growth of the borrower’s SME portfolio and environmentally friendly projects.

Mayora & Mayora, S.C.

Claudia Pereira and Sandra Castillo head the strong four-partner team at Mayora & Mayora, S.C., which has extensive experience in foreign investments, notes issuances, banking and finance regulation, and project finance, particularly in the real estate, energy, natural resources and infrastructure sectors. The Central American firm, which has additional offices in El Salvador and Honduras, is also active in multi-jurisdictional transactions, acting for major local and international banks and financial institutions. Pereira has wide-ranging expertise in project finance, secured lending and trusts, among other matters, while Castillo is noted for her strength in project and infrastructure finance in particular. Other key members of the team are senior partner Eduardo Mayora, whose extensive client base includes the Guatemalan Stock Exchange, and banking regulation expert María Fernanda Morales Pellecer.

Practice head(s):

Sandra Castillo; Claudia Pereira

Key clients

Banco Industrial

Banco Azteca

Banco Internacional de Costa Rica (Bicsa)

Banco Compartamos

Bolsa de Valores Nacional

Citibank

Banco Davivienda

Banco G&T Continental

Banco de Occidente Panama

Sucden Americas Corp / Sucden Geneva

Work highlights

  • Advised Industrial DPR Funding (Banco Industrial) on its $200m issuance of series 2020-1 fixed rate notes to the US International Development Finance Corporation to support women-operated enterprises in Guatemala during the pandemic.
  • Advised Sucden Americas Corporation on the drafting and issuance of promissory notes and the constitution of guarantees.
  • Providing ongoing advice to a number of financial institutions, including Banco Azteca, Banco Industrial, Citibank and Banco Compartamos.

Aguilar Castillo Love

Aguilar Castillo Love has a strong track record of advising major international banks on complex financial transactions and capital markets matters, with significant expertise in bond issuances, project finance and financial regulatory issues. The regional firm is also active in cross-border transactions in Central America, working alongside its other offices. Senior partner Juan Carlos Castillo-Chacón is well known for his strength in project finance, particularly in the electricity sector, as well as in IPOs, bond issuances, swaps and derivatives. Another notable member of the team is Natalia Callejas Aquino, who attracts praise for her expertise in financial regulatory matters and fintech, particularly in relation to cryptocurrencies.

Practice head(s):

Natalia Callejas Aquino; Juan Carlos Castillo Chacón

Key clients

Banco Santander

Bank of America

Citibank

Credit Suisse

Deutsche Bank

G-Coin

Scotiabank

TMF Group

White & Case

BLP

The ‘practical‘ and ‘first-rate‘ team at regional firm BLP advises on financial transactions across Central America, assisting with cross-border loan facilities, debt restructurings, project finance, bond issuances, and regulatory and compliance issues. The team, which acts for local and international banks, corporate borrowers and a growing number of fin-tech companies, has recently been particularly active advising on financings in the energy and mining sectors, as well as on private equity investments in real estate projects. ‘Excellent‘ practice head María Inés Arenales has notable experience in syndicated loans and project finance, in additional to her expertise in tax matters. Experienced special counsel Alejandro Arenales, who is particularly well known for advising foreign banks on investments in Guatemala, and senior associate Alcy Martínez are also noted.

Practice head(s):

María Inés Arenales

Testimonials

‘What makes BLP different is that the teams work well together in all areas of law, they are practical and first-rate, and above all it is a regional firm. It is superior to other firms by far.’

‘They stand out for their knowledge, experience, attitude and the quality of their work. María Inés Arenales is excellent – she has all of these qualities. She gives clients a lot of confidence and is completely discreet.’

Key clients

Avianca Holdings

Inter-American Investment Corporation

Unity Willis Towers Watson

Aseguradora General

Banco Promérica

IFC

The Bank of Nova Scotia

Bac Florida Bank

Banesco

Cinven Management/Ufinet Group

PayPal

Stripe

Itaú Corp. Bank

AP Structured Finance

Apollo Global Management

Colchester Global Investors Limited

DWM Securitizations; DWM Asset Management

Toyota Financial Services Corporation

Siemens

LDC – Louis Dreyfus Company

Epiroc

Mastercard

AM Best

Thomas Miller

KPMG

Work highlights

  • Advised Avianca Holdings, as a debtor, on senior secured convertible term loan agreements with Aerovías del Continente Americano and several subsidiaries of Avianca Holdings, as guarantors.
  • Advised Avianca Holdings, incorporated under the laws of Panama, and Aviateca, incorporated under the laws of Guatemala, on a senior secured convertible securities purchase agreement.
  • Acting as Guatemalan counsel to Avianca Holdings on its voluntary petition for relief under chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code.

Carrillo & Asociados

Full-service domestic firm Carrillo & Asociados particularly stands out for its strength in insolvency matters and asset recovery actions for international banks and financial institutions, as well as in advising foreign investors on regulatory compliance. However, the team has experience in a wide range of banking and finance matters, including commercial lending, debt restructuring, and aviation and project finance. At the head of the practice, Rodolfo Alegria focuses on commercial lending and project finance, particularly in the energy sector, Rodrigo Callejas specialises in cross-border insolvencies and banking regulation, and the experienced Alfonso Carrillo has expertise in multi-jurisdictional transactions. Senior associates Emanuel Callejas and Mélida Pineda are noted for their strength in asset recovery and project finance, respectively. Since publication, Alegría has left the firm after more than 30 years, moving to Estudio Chávez Bosque as of March 2022.

Practice head(s):

Rodrigo Callejas; Alfonso Carrillo

Key clients

Pricewaterhouse Coopers (as a custodian of Bancafe International Bank)

Work highlights

  • Acting for Pricewaterhouse Coopers, as a custodian of Bancafe International Bank, to trace and recover the assets of more than 3,000 creditors in Guatemala.

LatamLex | Skinner-Klée & Asociados

The Guatemalan member of the Central American LatamLex alliance, LatamLex | Skinner-Klée & Asociados is highly experienced in advising on cross-border financial matters, particularly in Central America, including due diligence, credit facilities and debt restructurings. The team has a strong client base of regional banks, most prominently the Panama-headquartered Banco Aliado, and also advises foreign banks on local banking regulations. The experienced Alfredo Skinner-Klée leads the practice.

Practice head(s):

Alfredo Skinner-Klée

Key clients

Banco Aliado

Commerzbank

Work highlights

  • Advised Panama-based Banco Aliado on the process of lending to four related entities, one incorporated in Guatemala, one in the British Virgin Islands, and two in Mexico.
  • Advised Banco Aliado on restructuring the credit offered to five related entities, incorporated in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.
  • Advised Commerzbank on its operations in Guatemala.

Legalsa

Advising foreign investors on establishing financial services businesses in Guatemala is a key area of expertise for full-service domestic firm Legalsa, which also assists Guatemalan financial services companies with expanding their operations abroad. Other strengths include real estate and aviation finance and debt restructurings. The team also has experience in fintech matters, and a key part of its client base is made up of emerging technology platforms for the processing of payments and money transfers. David Font and Johann Hartleben jointly lead the team.

Practice head(s):

David Font; Johann Hartleben

Work highlights

  • Advising a client in the agricultural sector on a $135m syndicated loan from four major Guatemalan banks for the purpose of financing its operations.
  • Advising a foreign payment services company on the expansion of its business into Guatemala.
  • Assisted a Central American money transfer company with the $3.5m acquisition of a 20% share in Spanish payments company as part of its international expansion plans.

Lexincorp

Regional firm Lexincorp advises a wide-ranging client base, including major international and local banks, financial services providers and private lenders. The team has significant strength in the financing of real estate and energy projects (including advising on the construction of a major free trade zone industrial park), but also assists with syndicated loans, factoring transactions and loan restructurings. Julio Aparicio heads the four-partner-strong team, which also includes Gonzalo Menéndez González, Edvin Montoya and Luis Pedro Fuxet, who acts as head counsel of Banco Industrial and focuses on corporate and M&A matters for banking clients.

Practice head(s):

Julio Aparicio

Key clients

Thor Capital

Prolease

Solucredit

Eolico San Antonio  El Sitio

Repimex

Ingenio La Union

Banco Ficohsa

Bienno

Work highlights

  • Advising Centro Logístico Quetzal (Zona Libre Quetzal) on the financial, corporate, tax and real estate issues relating to a major free trade zone industrial park located in Puerto Quetzal.
  • Advising Milesimo on all of its credit contracts.
  • Advising hotel and convention centre conglomerate Corporación Camino Real on various financial issues.

Sfera Legal

Sfera Legal‘s ‘high-performing and accessible‘ team is highly active in advising banks and large corporate clients on the restructuring of debt, as well as handling significant regulatory matters. The Central American firm advises borrower and lender-side clients, several local banks, and can draw on its region-wide experience in tax, corporate and real estate matters. The ‘experiencedIgnacio Andrade Aycinena leads the team.

Practice head(s):

Ignacio Andrade Aycinena

Testimonials

‘It is a high-performing and accessible team with the capacity to handle complex operations.’

‘Ignacio Andrade is an experienced professional with a remarkable ability for critical thinking.’

Key clients

Comunicaciones Celulares – Tigo

Work highlights

  • Acting as local counsel to Comunicaciones Celulares – Tigo on the prepayment of a bond issue.