Bankruptcy and restructuring in Mexico
Long a mainstay of the market, Cervantes Sainz, S.C. handles in- and out-of-court restructuring matters and has participated in many of the most high profile cases of the last years, including representing the ad-hoc committees of unsecured noteholders in the MXN$5bn cross-border restructuring, insolvency and liquidation of Hipotecaria Su Casita; acting for the ad-hoc committee of secured noteholders in the $900m concurso proceeding of Oro Negro; and representing major construction group Empresas ICA in its $3.2bn restructuring through a concurso proceeding. Alejandro Sainz, Luis A Cervantes Muñiz, and Manuel Ruíz-De-Chávez co-head the practice; all are well known in the sector. Other key practitioners include Octavio Hernández Negretti, Santiago Alessio (who was raised to the partnership in January 2020), and experienced associate Gabriela Avendaño.
The bankruptcy and restructuring boutique Guerra González y Asociados, S.C. is especially well-known for its litigation work; the team has represented important stakeholder groups in a good number of the country's most high-profile recent cases, including acting for: the sponsor in Empresas ICA's MXN$130bn restructuring; Altos Hornos (AHMSA) in its $1bn restructuring; and Oro Negro in its $1bn insolvency, among others. All fourteen partners at the firm cover bankruptcy matters, but standout names are Jaime R Guerra González, Jesús Ángel Guerra Méndez, Patricio Hidalgo Estrada and Elías Mendoza Murguía, who made partner in 2019. The firm has offices in Mexico City, Monterrey, Matamoros, Monclova, and San Diego (California).
The 10-strong team at Nader, Hayaux y Goebel, SC offers ‘great communication and commitment’. The lawyers ‘are very knowledgeable and have the ability to take that knowledge and apply it and offer practical and constructive advice’. The group works on the side of creditors and debtors, handling restructurings and workouts and related litigation, also working internationally. In highlight work, practice co-heads Michell Nader (‘knowledgeable, pleasant to work with, insightful and constructive’) and Javier Arreola continued to represent the largest group of creditors in the $1.7bn insolvency and workout of Altos Hornos de México (AHMSA), the country’s largest steel manufacturer that was in suspension of payments for 17 years; and PGIM Real Estate (formerly Prudential Real Estate Investors - PREI) in the $3.7m restructuring of a real estate portfolio developed with ViveICA, which was in payment default under its joint venture with the client, with the payment obligations guaranteed by Empresas ICA. In other work PGIM Real Estate was assisted by Nader and Julián Garza in the restructuring of another real estate portfolio, valued at $700m and developed in conjunction with Mexican housing developer Urbi, and in executing amendments to agreements relating to the restructuring of another portfolio, valued at $250m and developed with GEO. Hans Goebel continued to assist Oro Negro, a Pemex oil rig contractor, in its multi-jurisdictional $1bn insolvency. Other key practitioners include Yves Hayaux-du-Tilly L. and senior associate Lucía Laganá. Other clients include Bank of America, Barclays Bank, Rabobank, Danske Bank, and Sumitomo Mitsui Bank.
Ritch, Mueller, Heather y Nicolau, S.C. acts on national and cross-border restructurings and insolvencies and has been active in the aviation, satellite communications, housing and real estate development, and telecoms sectors, recently. The team’s lawyers have acted as insolvency administrators, foreign representatives and liquidators in recent bankruptcy proceedings, with practice head Thomas Heather being one of two Mexican lawyers (along with SOLCARGO’s Fernando Pérez-Correa Camarena) who acts as comptroller, receiver or conciliator (insolvency trustee) in mandates. Indeed, recent highlights saw Heather take on the role of conciliator in the $3.5bn restructuring of Empresas ICA and its subsidiaries, the largest insolvency proceeding in Mexico and Latin America. In other work, the group is assisting Corporación Geo in the additional restructuring of Geo Hogares Ideales, involving indebtedness of over $400m; represented JP Morgan, as a creditor, in the final restructuring of Altos Hornos and subsidiaries, valued at over $1bn; and Scotiabank Inverlat, also as creditor, in the commercial bankruptcy proceeding of Isolux Mexico. Heather, who was appointed a fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy in 2019, heads1 the 22-strong practice group; associate Adriana Padilla is also very active in this area. Other clients include MG Polimeros, International Finance Corporation, Sears and Gerald Metals Mexico.
SOLCARGO stands out for ‘steady hand’ Fernando Pérez Correa’s role as comptroller, receiver or conciliator (insolvency trustee); he and Ritch, Mueller, Heather y Nicolau, S.C.’s Thomas Heather are the only lawyers in the Mexican market to have undertaken such a role. Clients describe the team as ‘balanced, creative, and talented at building consensus'; moreover, its 'lawyers are also detail-oriented, which can be critical, very competitive and specialised, and very focused on solving problems quickly’. Pérez Correa co-heads the practice with ‘passionate and committed’ Abimael Hernández who is admired for ‘his ability to deal with complex and abstract matters, even from different areas of the law, and for his high tolerance to long working-hours, excellent concentration and high dedication’. The team is acting as counsel to Turbo Limited in all the civil and commercial lawsuits related to its insolvency proceeding and associated negotiations with creditors, succesfully obtaining a a debt restructure and reorganisation agreement that achieved an 86% debt reduction. The team is also representing TGC Ingeniería in its insolvency proceeding, and Pérez Correa and his team have been appointed as receivers or conciliators in several insolvency cases, including in those involving ARC Internacional México, Presta-Melo, Stesso, Perforadora Oro Negro, and Integradora de Servicios Petroleros Oro Negro. In September 2019 the firm also hired experienced finance specialist Jorge Labastida from Thompson & Knight LLP, thereby adding further bench depth. The 15-strong practice group includes notable associates Zulima González and Patricia Cervantes.
White & Case S.C.’s large team of 20 lawyers acts primarily on the side of banks and other financial institutions, and has a fine track record of participating in many of the largest bankruptcies and restructurings of the last decade in Mexico. For example, the team acted for state development bank, Banobras, in the bankruptcy proceedings for Abengoa México - one of the first court-assisted restructurings of an energy services company in Mexico; banks and export credit agency, Bancomext, in connection with all matters concernsing the bankruptcy proceeding of Desarrolladora Homex, one of the three largest developmers in Mexico; and it acted as receiver for Mexico’s Federal Deposit Insurance Agency (IPAB), in the first court-assisted liquidation of a bank –Banco Bicentenario– in Mexico. Vicente Corta leads the practie group, which also includes bankruptcy litigation specialist Enrique Espejel; Álvaro Garza-Galván, who brings expertise in transactional, finance and regulatory work; and Maria Teresa Fernández-Labardini, who covers compliance; Manuel Groenewold and Juan Antonio Martin are other names to note. Clients include Barclays Bank, BBVA Bancomer, Capital I Reserva, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Morgan Stanley, SAE, Santander and York Credit Opportunities Fund.
In line with its work in other finance-related practices, Creel, García-Cuéllar, Aiza y Enríquez, S.C. primarily advises clients on high-end matters, specifically, on all non-litigious aspects of corporate recovery, insolvency, restructurings and workouts, including those involving complex financial situations and banking and finance structures; and creditors and debtors on complex bankruptcy and out-of-bankruptcy restructuring transactions and regulatory issues in non-judicial aspects of restructurings and workouts. The ‘superb and consistent’ eight-lawyer team is ‘efficient, practical and very focused on execution’, offering ‘the closest parallel in Mexico to a US-style representation’ and ‘the highest standard in quality and ethics’; ‘the key practitioners are in the minutiae of the deal but have a good sense of the big picture’. Banking and finance and capital markets expert Carlos Aiza leads the team; Pedro Velasco (also a specialist in banking, finance and capital markets), is ‘punctual, professional and constructive’; and Rodrigo Castelazo is valued for his ‘intelligence and eye for detail’, but also knowing what is important and what is merely legal trivia’, as well as for ‘making sure that clients are well protected'. Emilio Aarun, who made partner in January 2019, is also recommended. The group was active on some of the more relevant cases of the recent years, including the restructuring of Banorte’s debt with GEO; representing a Brazilian group of bondholders in all matters relating to the concurso mercantil of Desarrolladora Homex; and Credit Suisse as creditor in the restructuring and reorganisation of Urbi Desarrollos Urbanos. In more recent work, it acted as leading Mexican counsel to Hemen as part of the creditors’ group in the negotiation and implementation of Seadrill’s chapter 11 reorganisation plan (considered the largest in the offshore drilling sector); as Mexican counsel to the holders of Abengoa's corporate bonds, in the negotiation and restructuring of Abengoa’s obligations; and as Mexican special counsel to Coastal Energy Solutions in connection with the insovency of Tecnologías Relacionadas con Energía y Servicios Espcializados (TRESE).
Del Castillo y Castro Abogados was established in December 2018 following the departure of Fernando del Castillo and Alfonso Castro from Santamarina y Steta. The pair have more than 40 years' experience between them, and their newly estalished firm with 18 lawyers who operate from offices in Mexico City and Monterrey; it is focused on restructuring, workouts, insolvency, general civil litigation and arbitration, and associated matters. Recognised by clients and peers, the group is ‘experienced, diligent, and customer-oriented’, while ‘the strategies it proposes are innovative and always meet the clients’ objectives’. Recent highlight work included advising creditor Banorte and Grupo Alfa subsidiary Alpek on the insolvency proceeding of M&G Polímeros México (and certain companies in the same corporate group); and representing Corporación Geo during its liquidation procedure; involving approximately $4.5bn of bank and bond debt, it was the first restructuring to be filed in Mexico through a pre-packaged bankruptcy proceeding since the amendment to the Ley de Concursos Mercantiles in January 2014. Practice heads Del Castillo and Castro are both highly regarded; associate Karla Gabriela Silva Rodríguez provides key support. Other clients include Abengoa Mexico, Banco Invex, Comercial Mexicana, Deutsche Bank, and Hipotecaria Su Casita.
The 14-strong team at Hogan Lovells BSTL combines finance and litigation expertise to advise creditors and debtors on restructuring transactions, voluntary and involuntary bankruptcy proceedings, and on judicial and out-of-court reorganisation plans and separation of assets claims. In highlight work the team represented: Banco Bradesco in Desarrolladora Homex's bankruptcy proceeding, successfully overturning the initial refusal to grant the client creditor status; Banco Votorantim, also as a creditor in the Desarrolladora Homex matter and again involving an appeal against the judgment on recognition of credits, and obtaining recognition of the full $12.9m amount; and Banco de Chile in Corporación Geo's bankruptcy proceeding, involving a successful $12.5m credit recognition request and the liquidation of the bondholders' shares. Transactional lawyers Federico de Noriega Olea and René Arce Lozano co-head the practice in conjunction with with litigator Omar Guerrero Rodríguez; Jorge Francisco Valdés King and counsel Luis Ernesto Peón, who also handle the disputes side of matters, are other names to note. Additional clients include Sony Corporation of America. Since publication, Peón has been appointed partner, effective January 2020.
Martínez, Algaba, de Haro, Curiel y Galván-Duque, S.C.
Active and respected by the market, the 17 lawyers at Martínez, Algaba, de Haro, Curiel y Galván-Duque, S.C. are 'true specialists' in bankruptcy-related disputes. Recent work highlights have seen the team represent Banco Santander Mexico, HSBC and Banamex, as creditors, in the bankruptcy proceedings of Corporación Geo, Desarrolladora Homex and URBI Desarrollos Urbanos, and associated restructuring negotiations; assist Citibank and Banco Santander with the bankruptcy proceeding of Oceanografia, specifically on obtaining recognition for credits and in defending a guarantee constituted in the clients’ favour concerning a ship belonging to Oceanografia; and represent the interests of two shareholders of Oro Negro in the latter’s bankruptcy proceedings and liquidation process. Jorge De Haro and Javier Curiel Obscura are all 'recognised market figures' who 'have deep experience'; they co-lead the practice with Alejandro Legaspi Lanz who made partner in January 2019.
Quijano, Cortina y de la Torre Abogados
Seven lawyers make up the Von Wobeser y Sierra, SC bankruptcy and restructuring team, which advises borrowers and lenders on domestic, cross-border and both in- and out-of-court matters, where it bringing litigation, anti-corruption, compliance, and finance expertise to the table. The firm as a wole works for companies operating across the automotive, finance, services, manufacturing, education, energy, food, healthcare, insurance and technology sectors and has a notable German clientele. In recent work, the team assisted Navistar Financial and Daimler Financial Services, as stakeholders, in the insolvency proceeding of Grupo Senda (a conglomerate of transportation services in the north of Mexico and the US) and associated entities ; and BAC Florida Bank, as one of the three largest creditors of Proveedora la Perla in a successful restructuring of the debtor’s company while guaranteeing the creditors’ interests. The group also continues to assist three of Oceanografía's creditors obtain recognition for unsecured credits in the company's bankruptcy proceedings; namely DF Deutsche Forfait ($59m), Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen Girozentrale ($19m), and Bayerische Landesbank ($6m). Qualified in New York and Mexico, the 'outstanding' Diego Sierra is practice head and key contact.. Other clients include BMW Group, Burger King Corporation, Corporativo Procter & Gamble, TK Holdings, and Zebra Technologies.
Bufete Davalos y Asociados
Bufete Davalos y Asociados is a small litigation boutique housing four lawyers who also have experience in handling restructurings and insolvency proceedings for creditors and debtors, both domestic and international. Name partner Carlos Felipe Davalos is the key contact for contentious bankruptcy matters.
López Melih y Estrada S.C.
Boutique firm López Melih y Estrada S.C. is well known for its bankruptcy litigation work. Previous highlights have included representing secured creditors GE Capital, CEF México and GE Servicios Financieros in the bankruptcy of Turbo, as well as participating in the Urbi Desarrollos insolvency case. Other clients have included Corporación Geo, Controladora Comercial Mexicana, Desarrolladora Homex, Metrofinanciera, Perforadora Oro Negro, and Transportación Marítima Mexicana. Name partner Alfonso López Melih is the key contact.
Ramirez Ornelas Abogados has gained a hard-earned place in bankruptcy and restructuring activity in Mexico, with name partner Gerardo Ramírez Ornelas accruing over four decades of experience in the market; he was one of the team which drafted the "Ley de Concursos Mercantiles” that currently regulates insolvency proceedings in the country. The small team of four concentrates primarily on commercial litigation, with a special focus on bankruptcy and insolvency where it represents creditors and insolvent companies in both in- and out-of-court cases. Recent work incudes its continued representation of Banorte, as creditor, in a case filed against Corporación GEO arguing that the latter has to be declared bankrupt as part of the liquidation process, in opposition to a previous restructuring agreement reached with the majority of its creditors. The team also represented a group of banks involved in Empresas ICA’s insolvency procedure as creditors of the latter’s subsidiaries and concerning the protective measures obtained by ICA and affecting the debts of the said subsidiaries - the case was ultimately settled for the benefit of all parties; and PGIM as one of the main creditors in the Urbi Desarrollos Urbanos insovency procedure and creditors’ agreement, which is currently under appeal. Ramírez Ornelas leads the team with Luis Robles Santamarina also akey contact; support comes from associates Ángel Fabricio Escalante Sánchez and Julián San Martín Díaz.
Rivera Gaxiola, Carrasco y Kálloi, S.C.
Highly rated by peers, litigation boutique Rivera Gaxiola, Carrasco y Kálloi, S.C. represented the bondholders' counsel in the debt restructuring of Abengoa Mexico, and acted as Mexican counsel to Oro Negro in its cross-border insolvency. The firm has offices in Mexico City and Monterrey and focuses primarily on cases in the finance sector where it represents both creditors and government entities on the litigious side of bankruptcy and restructuring. The ‘fierce’ Alonso Rivera Gaxiola is a marekt reference; José Luis Carrasco, Pedro Iván Quevedo, Alejandro Del Castillo, and Ramón Fernández Vigil are all other names to note.