Competition and antitrust in Mexico
Creel, García-Cuéllar, Aiza y Enríquez, S.C. has a team of 'true experts' who provide 'pragmatic, business-oriented' advice and are praised for their 'very good antitrust clearance timing'. As befits a firm with a top-tier corporate practice, high-quality guidance on pre-merger filings is a given. Equally, clients can expect 'outstanding' support and advice on contentious dealings with the Mexican Federal Competition Commission (COFECE), including investigations, amparo proceedings, and dawn raids (both mock and actual). The team is led by the highly respected Luis Gerardo García and includes the 'very well organised' Mauricio Serralde, the 'outstanding business lawyer' Iker Arriola, and the 'extremely comprehensive' Carlos Mena-Labarthe, the former Chief Prosecutor at COFECE. The practie has recently represented clients in the energy, internet, pharmaceutical and manufacturing sectors on major investigations. Highlights on the transactional-side include advising AT&T on issues related to its acquisition of Time Warner's Mexican business. Other clients include Linde, KKR and Takeda.
Galicia Abogados S.C. offers 'total knowledge' that extends beyond corporate support to cartel and antitrust investigations, leniency applications, and complaints before the competition authorities. The 'exceptional' Christian Lippert leads the 'impeccable working' eight-lawyer team, which includes fellow partner Carlos Chávez, who has plenty of experience advising clients across a range of heavily regulated industries including energy, rail and telecoms. On the merger control-side the firm advised Citibanamex, on clearance for the sale of its entire portofolio of management assets to BlackRock. The team has also been active advising clients on significant investigations into the barley market and the rail-freight market. Other recent clients include Leagold Mining Corporation, Actis, and The Carlyle Group.
Hogan Lovells BSTL has a top quality team that offers a strong balance of contentious and non-contentious advice, thanks to the expertise of its team leaders Ricardo Pons, who handles merger clearance work, and Omar Guerrero, who is recommended for litigation and investigations. On the transactional front, the team recently advised 21st Century Fox on the merger-control process regarding Disney's takeover of its assets. On the contentious side, the group acted for Eli Lilly in the first civil damages procedure in Mexico, filed by the Mexican Institute for Social Health, resulting from a cartel investigation. Other recent clients include General Electric, Grupo Bachoco and Philip Morris.
The highly-rated boutique SAI Derecho & Economía S.C offers its clients a strong mix of technical and legal expertise, thanks to the presence of several highly experienced lawyers and economists. Practice head Lucía Ojeda has over 20 years of experience, while the extremely well-regarded José Ángel Santiago heads the antitrust and regulatory litigation side of the team. The 'very active' group is regularly referred merger-clearance matters by international companies and law firms who don't have the capacity to do the work themselves. It is also often involved in major cartel and abuse of dominance investigations. Recently the firm has been advising Walt Disney on the local clearance for its takeover of 21st Century Fox. The firm also successfully defended the egg producer Proteina Animal throughout a cartel investigation into the production and distribution of eggs.
The team at Von Wobeser y Sierra, SC is 'one of the best groups available', praised for its 'excellent service' and 'familiarity with the most important antitrust cases in Mexico'. Clients rate its 'simply exceptional' practice head Fernando Carreño, who is 'a seasoned lawyer with deep knowledge of antitrust legislation'. The highly-specialised team represents clients from across a range of industries. Recently the team advised Scotiabank in an administrative trial concerning a COFECE investigation into Mexican credit bureaus for alleged refusal-to-deal and price discrimination. On the transactional front the firm advised Blackstone Group in obtaining clearance for its acquisition of the Spanish gambling operator Cirsa.
Basham, Ringe y Correa, S.C.'s 'very responsive' two-partner team is praised for its 'great knowledge of merger control'. Practice head Amilcar Peredo has plenty of experience advising on merger clearance and investigations. Fellow partner Rodolfo Barreda is also recommended for his extensive expertise in administrative litigation, including antitrust matters. Recently the team advised BASF on the pre-merger filing for its acquisition of assets from Bayer, as part of Bayer's takeover of Monsanto. The team also advised Coca-Cola on the pre-merger filing for its acquisition of the Ades drinks business from Unilever. The group has also been advising clients on significant investigations in the aviation, telecoms and pharmaceuticals sectors.
González Calvillo, SC has a high-quality standalone practice with a strong pedigree in advising clients on merger-control proceedings, as well as investigations into cartel behaviour and abuse of dominance. Key partners include the 'very good' Cristina Massa, a former commissioner at the Mexican Antitrust Commission, and Luis Mancera de Arrigunaga, who is especially experienced in representing telecoms and broadcasting clients before the Federal Telecommunications Institute. On the transactional side the team advised Prysmian in obtaining clearance for its acquisition of General Cable Corporation. The team also advised clients on major investigations and abuse-of-dominance claims in the port services, healthcare and telecoms sectors.
Greenberg Traurig, S.C. provides strong transactional, and regulatory and contentious support, along with training to its domestic and international clients. The team is jointly led by Victor Manuel Frías and Miguel Flores Bernés, both of whom are equally adept at handling merger filings and investigations. Clients also benefit from the expertise of administrative litigator Joselino Morales. Recently the firm successfully defended Mexico City Airport against an abuse of dominance investigation over alleged discrimination against taxi operator, which could have resulted in a $52.5m fine. The team also represented Nadro in an investigation into the pharma distribution industry.
Jones Day's Mexico City team is commended for its 'efficient response and availability and high knowledge of antitrust', including support for cross-border and domestic transactions, as well as advice on high profile market investigations. The team is jointly led by the 'highly involved' Gabriel Altamirano, who advises on merger control and investigations, and Bertha Ordaz, who has strong expertise in the energy, infrastructure, aviation and telecoms sectors. The firm recently advised USG Corporation on the clearance of its global US$7bn takeover by the German building materials manufacturer Gebr. Knauf. The team also advised a railroad-sector client on a major COFECE investigation into alleged abuse of dominant position. Other clients include Procter & Gamble, Iberdrola Renovables, and UPL.
Mijares, Angoitia, Cortés y Fuentes S.C.'s clients benefit from a 'responsive and to the point' team of specialised litigators and advisors who provide 'clear communication and a dose of good humour'. The group's co-heads, Francisco Fuentes and Pilar Mata, are 'experts in antitrust' - both equally well versed in contentious and non-contentious matters. Recently the team advised Union Pacific Railroad in a landmark investigation by COFECE into competition in the rail freight industry. On the transactional front it represented Fintech Advisory on the clearance require for its acquisition of Empresas ICA, following the latter's restructuring. Other clients include Seadrill, ABB, and Transportes Aeromar.
Santamarina y Steta has a solid practice that regularly represents clients in confrontations with the regulators, including claims of anti-competitive behaviour, cartel investigations and dawn raids (for which the firm provides regular training). The practice also provides strong support to the corporate team, by helping clients obtain clearance for mergers and acquisitions. Key partners include Ernesto Duhne, Jorge Barrero, and Vicente Grau, as well as litigation expert Mariano Calderón.
Valdés Abascal Abogados, S.C.
Boutique firm Valdés Abascal Abogados, S.C. has been operating in the market for many years and its founding partner Rafael Valdés Abascal is one of the best-known names in the market. The firm is highly experienced in non-contentious matters, but it is in litigation where it stands apart, regularly handling cases before COFECE and the Federal Telecommunications Institute, as well as before the Supreme Court. A recent highlight involved representing chicken producer Grupo Pecuario San Antonio in a case before the federal courts which overturned a COFECE claim of cartel conduct. The firm boasts a strong team of experienced associates including Enrique De La Peña and Agustin Aguilar López.
White & Case S.C. has a strong track record in contentious and non-contentious antitrust matters. The team is led by the highly versatile Vicente Corta, and also includes Henri Capin Gally, and experienced administrative litigator Antonio Cárdenas. A major highlight was successfully guiding Kansas City Southern de Mexico towards a precedent-setting victory against COFECE concerning a disputed investigation into Mexico's railway industry. On the transactional front it advised Grupo Financiero Banorte on the clearance for its $1.4bn acquisition of Grupo Financiero Interacciones, making it the second-largest financial services group in Mexico.
Baker McKenzie Abogados, S.C.'s three-lawyer team covers all aspects of the market, including merger control and investigations. Raymundo Enriquez leads the practice which also includes the highly experienced associates Gerardo Calderon, who is noted for his healthcare and energy sector expertise, and Luis Amado, who has a strong focus on telecoms and financial services-related competition issues. The team recently represented Ergon in a merger control process linked to its acquisition of SemGroup's Mexican liquid asphalt cement business. Other clients include Unilever, Air Liquide, and Marriott International.
Castañeda y Asociados
Castañeda y Asociados is a well-regarded boutique with a strong reputation for advising on antitrust investigations and pre-merger filings. The practice is led by founding partner Gabriel Castañeda, who was formerly the executive secretary to COFECE's predecessor body, the Federal Competition Commission. Partner Ricardo Hernandez is also noted for his expertise in this area.
Creel Abogados, SC fields a 'technically strong, responsive, and practical' team with 'deep knowledge of the Mexican agency and case developments', as well as a 'pragmatic approach to complex strategic questions'. The team is jointly led by Jose Ruiz López , who has 'an exceptional knowledge of Mexican competition law' and the 'incredibly bright and hardworking'Patricio Martinez Osorio. Recent highlights include advising Whirlpool on the clearance of the sale of its compressor branch, Embraco, to Nidec Corporation.
Jáuregui y Del Valle, S.C.'s active practice is led by David Hurtado who has very good expertise in antitrust, litigation, and clearance work. The team also provides regular day-to-day advice and training to its clients, which include Philips Mexicana, Colgate Palmolive, Saint Gobain, and General Motors. On the investigations front, the team recently handled several major investigations into the transport sector, as well as representing clients on similar issues in the medical equipment and financial services markets. Other key individuals include Citlali Perez.
López Melih y Estrada S.C.
López Melih y Estrada S.C. has one of the top administrative litigation practices in the market, and this naturally lends itself to related antitrust claims. The team is especially active in heavily-regulated industries such as telecoms and aviation, where it has been involved in several major claims and investigations. The firm's name partners Alfonso M. Lopez Melih and Juan Pablo Estrada Michel are both extremely experienced in this area.
Ritch, Mueller, Heather y Nicolau, S.C. is commended for its '24/7 availability'; when it comes to the clients interests, the 'ownership mentality they have is unparalleled'. Senior counsel James Ritch and partner Octavio Olivo Villa ('always there to help') lead a practice group which handles a healthy mix of merger-clearance work as well as cases before COFECE and the Federal Institute of Telecommunications. The team has recently been representing a major client in the regulator's investigation into alleged monopolistic practices in the trading of government debt.