Firms To Watch: Corporate and finance

Eduardo Gutiérrez and Andrés Cuadron lead the corporate and finance team at regional firm Sfera Legal, which launched in Nicaragua in 2018 and has built up particular expertise in carrying out due diligence in relation to complex transactions.

Corporate and finance in Nicaragua

Arias

The powerhouse team at Arias remains a market force, combining expertise in corporate, commercial, M&A, energy, banking and finance matters to meet the needs of its local and international clients. The group’s full service includes advice on due diligence, tax issues, project finance, joint ventures, concessions and credit agreements. The team is spearheaded by managing partner and foreign investment authority Ana Teresa Rizo and regulatory compliance expert Bertha Argüello, and backed by deal structuring specialist Gustavo-Adolfo VargasRodrigo Ibarra, who was promoted to partner in August 2021 and is experienced in M&A, and associate Maryeling Guevara. The group’s client roster covers the telecoms, energy, financial services and food sectors, and includes SBA Torres Nicaragua, IDB Invest and New Fortress Energy.

Practice head(s):

Bertha Argüello; Ana Teresa Rizo

Testimonials

‘Extensive knowledge of corporate mergers.’

‘Ana Teresa Rizo and Maryeling Guevara stand out for their good approach, availability and quality of service.’

‘Gustavo Vargas is always available to assist clients.’

Key clients

SBA Torres Nicaragua

Equinor Nicaragua

Oikocredit, Ecumenical Development Cooperative Society (Oikocredit)

IDB Invest

New Fortress Energy

NFE

Café Soluble

Work highlights

  • Assisted SBA Torres Nicaragua with the regulatory, corporate and tax issues related to the merger of the company and subsequent dissolution of the absorbed entity.
  • Assisted Equinor Nicaragua with the negotiation, drafting and signing of amendments to four concession contracts signed with the State of Nicaragua for the exploration and exploitation of an area offshore of Nicaragua’s Pacific coast.
  • Advising New Fortress Energy on all aspects related to the development of a 300MW gas-based power generation plant in Nagarote, León.

Consortium Legal

The team at Consortium Legal remains a leader in the corporate and finance practice areas, offering 'efficiency, immediate responses and a personalised service' to its national and multinational clients. The group provides advice on due diligence, the negotiation and preparation of commercial contracts, franchising, the incorporation of companies, M&A, global asset transfers and the structuring of corporate agreements. The team is headed by securities markets authority Rodrigo Taboada and financial and corporate restructuring expert Olga Barreto, and backed by microfinance specialist Carlos Taboada, former General Secretary of the Ministry of Justice of Nicaragua Martha Lorena Icaza and senior associate Meyling Sampson. The group’s client roster features Suzlon Wind Energy, Nestlé de Nicaragua and Canadian Bank Note Company Limited, and covers the building materials, energy, food, beverages, mining, financial services, tech and infrastructure sectors.

Practice head(s):

Rodrigo Taboada; Olga Barreto

Testimonials

‘It is a complete practice, with many years of experience and an excellent team that enjoys a lot of national and international prestige, with qualified professionals.’

‘Their experience, knowledge and time in the market is what makes their service so high quality. The lawyers are available seven days a week. They are creative, studious and capable of working under pressure and providing solutions.’

‘We appreciate the constant follow-up and the attention paid, over the years, to our legal matters, which has resulted in a quick understanding of the issues raised, including support in properly approaching the problem and suitable possible solutions that are time and cost efficient.’

‘Olga Barreto and Martha Lorena Icaza stand out for their intellectual capabilities, legal knowledge, interest in our matters, and honesty and professional integrity.’

‘Efficiency, immediate responses and a personalised service.’

Key clients

Banco de la Producción

Uno Nicaragua

Blueprint

Suzlon Wind Energy Portugal

Nestlé de Nicaragua

Caterpillar Crédito

Industrial Comercial San Martín

San Jose

Distribuidora Internacional Medwell

Canadian Bank Note Company

Cemex

Aalfs Uno

Promujer Nicaragua

White Shark Media

GMG Servicios Nicaragua

Productive Business Solutions

Galaxy Nicaragua

Arabela

Laboratorios Lancasco

Work highlights

  • Assisted with the issuance and sale by the Central America Bottling Corporation (CBC) of an additional principal amount of 5.750% senior guaranteed notes due 2027 for an amount of $200m.
  • Assisting Willis Towers Watson with the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of the Unity Groups for $65m.
  • Advised Cerberus on the local law relating to the amendment of a financing agreement granted to Tegra (previously known as Lowell Acquisition), raising the amount of the loan from $90m to $100m.

García & Bodán

The team at García & Bodán continues to be a market leader, acting for local and international clients engaged in high-value, cross-border transactions. The group advises on regulatory compliance, the incorporation of companies, shareholders’ agreements, consumer rights, M&A, government negotiations regarding concessions, licences and privatisations, and due diligence. The team is led by regional managing partner and founder Terencio García and Nicaragua managing partner and M&A expert Federico Gurdián. They are supported by corporate law specialist Carlos Téllez and tax practice head Melvin Estrada Canizales. Recently, the firm has also announced the launch of a dedicated capital markets practice, to take advantage of the increased interest of international investors in public and private placements in Central America. The group’s client portfolio includes household names - among them, United Airlines, Cargill and Stanley Black and Decker - across such sectors as telecoms, apparel, aviation, food, tobacco, infrastructure, investment, education, retail and energy.

Practice head(s):

Terencio García; Federico Gurdián

Key clients

Grupo Lala

Payless ShoeSource

Millicom

United Airlines

Cargill

Grupo Invercasa

Tola Development Group

IBT Group

INCAE Business School

Stanley Black and Decker

Work highlights

  • Advised Cairn Energy on the process of formal registration and qualification as a non-operator contractor for oil and gas operations in Nicaragua.
  • Advised Ciri Honduras on its constitution, registration and obtaining permits for a local company, Ciri Nicaragua, through which the international franchise Miniso will operate in Nicaragua.

Alvarado y Asociados

The corporate and finance team at Alvarado y Asociados advises national and multinational corporations and financial institutions engaged in high-value, cross-border matters. The team advises on competition law issues, due diligence, financial restructurings, M&A, franchises, joint ventures, concessions, regulatory compliance, and complex corporate transactions and agreements. The group is headed by founding and managing partner and legal authority Gloria María de Alvarado and Luz Marina Espinoza, an expert in corporate structuring, and supported by senior associates Yuri Cerrato, who specialises in labour law, and Fabiola Urbina, who previously held an in-house role at the Nicaraguan Customs Headquarters. The team’s client portfolio features Grupo Bimbo, Cemex and Delta Airlines, and spans such sectors as aviation, food, logistics, tobacco, tourism, financial services, mining and health.

Practice head(s):

Gloria María de Alvarado; Luz Marina Espinoza

Key clients

Grupo Almo

Cemex

Grupo Bimbo

Convergys

AeroMexico

Delta Airlines

Transunion

Pro Harina

BLP

The business law team at BLP provides key support to local and international corporations and financial institutions involved in high-value, cross-border transactions. Utilising innovative AI tech which allows for contract automation, the group provides a more targeted service on a diverse spectrum of issues, including administrative procedures, due diligence, corporate restructuring, contract negotiation, credit structuring, consumer rights, asset purchases, risk assessments and retail banking. The team is headed by foreign investment expert Ernesto Rizo. Other key contacts include director Federico Barrios, a compliance specialist; senior associate Favio Batres, who advises on due diligence and M&A; and associate Michelle Avilés, who assists with tax matters. The group’s client roster features international clients including American Airlines, and spans the aviation, tobacco, mining, food, financial services, investment, insurance, energy and telecoms sectors.

Practice head(s):

Ernesto Rizo

Key clients

Agro Nica Cacao Holding

Royal Road Minerals

CyB Productos Agrícolas

American Airlines

Unity

Green Max

Comité Internacional de la Cruz Roja

Calibre Mining

Plasencia Cigars

Chubb

Disagro

Work highlights

  • Advising Cacao Oro de Nicaragua Group on the process of closing a structured financing agreement for over $15m.
  • Assisted Royal Road Minerals with seeking finance from investors for its operations.
  • Advised CyB Productos Agrícolas on the negotiation of a credit facility of up to $5m with a local bank.

Lexincorp

The corporate and finance team at Lexincorp advises a wide range of local and international businesses and financial institutions engaged in high-value, cross-border transactions. The group’s advice extends to securitisations, debt restructurings, refinancings, M&A, franchising, company incorporation, corporate governance and tax planning. The team is led by Nicaragua managing partner Claudia Vivas, who previously served as a senior legal adviser to the United States Embassy in Nicaragua, and is backed by banking and finance expert Roberto Rodríguez. The group’s client portfolio includes household names such as Sony, and covers sectors including tobacco, financial services, health, food, energy, logistics, investment, apparel and electronics.

Practice head(s):

Claudia Vivas

Testimonials

‘I consider it to be a very good team which adapts and responds quickly to clients’ needs, with good leadership.’

‘What stands out is the ethical client service and the speed of their responses to any enquiries.’

Key clients

Blueorchard Microfinance Fund

Scandinavian Tobacco Group

GOPA

IMG Servicios Financieros

Amad Logistics

Bay Island Sportswear

Mercadeo y Comunicacion

Sony

Abastecedora El Maximo

Grupo Atlas

Work highlights

  • Advised BlueOrchard Microfinance Fund on the in-depth due diligence of two financial companies in order to guarantee lending agreements.
  • Advising global consulting group GOPA, which is currently working with the Swiss Agency for Cooperation and Development on a project in northern Nicaragua, on various legal issues.
  • Acted as local attorneys for Sony in Nicaragua, including advising on consumer rights, antitrust laws and customs regulation.

Aguilar Castillo Love

Praised for its 'personal service and agility in dealing with matters', the team at Aguilar Castillo Love advises national and multinational clients on project finance, banking, capital markets, M&A, business start-ups, franchising, distribution, private equity and due diligence. The team is led by corporate transaction authority Thelma Carrión Blandón and 'creative and studious' banking and finance expert Violeta Núñez. Associate Claudia Guevara, who is experienced in acquisitions and the incorporation and registration of companies, is also a name to note. The group’s client portfolio includes household names such as Coca-Cola, Fiat and Dell, and spans the investment, financial services, automotive, beverages, pharmaceuticals, tech and food sectors.

Practice head(s):

Thelma Carrión Blandón; Violeta Núñez

Testimonials

‘The firm has a young, highly qualified team focused on client service. We work with Violeta Núñez, who is capable of working under pressure, creative and studious. She is able to find solutions to all the different legal matters that arise.’

‘The team stands out for its personal service and agility in dealing with matters, which means they can be dealt with quickly.’

Key clients

Grupo OEG

Tenneco

Biogénesis Bagó

Jan De Nul

Dell World Trade

Coca-Cola

Bolsa de Valores de Nicaragua

Central Nicaraguense de Valores

Impact Finance Fund

Grupo Fiat

Work highlights

  • Representing Dell in complex commercial litigation before the Supreme Court of Justice of Nicaragua linked to a commercial dispute with a former local distributor.
  • Advising Jan De Nul on works being carried out for a commercial port in Nicaragua.
  • Advised Cupid Foundations on the due diligence process regarding the potential acquisition of a Nicaraguan free trade zone company.

ECIJA Castillo & Fiallos

Connected to an extensive global network, the 'highly qualified' corporate and finance department at ECIJA Castillo & Fiallos provides a full service to regional and international corporations and financial institutions, which includes advising on project finance, debt restructuring, due diligence, M&A, corporate governance, commercial contracting and regulatory compliance. The team is led by banking law authority Edmundo Castillo and corporate law and commercial arbitration expert María Antonieta Fiallos, who is also a founding member of Grupo Pro Reformas Electorales, which seeks to strengthen Nicaragua’s electoral system. The group’s client roster contains household names, among them DHL Express and Pfizer, and spans the finance, courier services, banking, nutrition and pharmaceuticals sectors.

Practice head(s):

Edmundo Castillo; María Antonieta Fiallos

Testimonials

‘Highly qualified lawyers with a focus on client service.’

‘We have worked with Edmundo Castillo and María Antonieta Fiallos. They have a lot of knowledge and experience and provide advice that is very precise and backed up by the law.’

‘First, they are attorneys with unquestionable integrity. Second, Edmundo Castillo offers great support to us in terms of knowing the fundamental issues and principles behind specific laws. Third, they have a great commitment to the interests of the country in general, as they have shown in their commitment to working with non-governmental organisations.’

‘The team’s strengths include broad expertise and knowledge of local regulations for the industry in which we operate, and fluid communication and good case management.’

‘They are highly qualified professionals with extensive experience. They stand out for their good communication, availability and efficiency in advising us.’

‘ECIJA’s ability to follow up on cases and act with a sense of urgency, and the quality of its legal work, is impressive and unmatched. So far it has been the best law firm I have worked with, both in terms of legal output and customer service.’

‘The advice is clear and assertive. They meet our deadlines and are transparent in their dealings. In addition, the regional reach of their services is very convenient for multinationals and their scheme of having a single point of contact is a big plus, giving in-house lawyers peace of mind.’

‘María Antonieta Fiallos has provided us with an excellent service over many years. She handles corporate matters very well and always provides us with fast and clear advice. We have a relationship of trust and our communication is very effective.’

Key clients

CMA CGM

DHL Express

DHL Global Forwarding

Inter-American Development Bank

Central American Bank of the Economic Integration

UPL

Sistemas Aplicativos de Nicaragua (SISAP)

Herbalife

Pfizer

Sanofi

Banco Ficohsa

Banco de Finanzas

Bavaria Delikatessen

CENTRAL LAW Nicaragua

The corporate and finance group at Central Law Nicaragua advises national and multinational clients on a broad range of matters. These include franchising, due diligence, sales and distribution contracts, tax incentives, joint ventures, M&A, loans and foreign investment structures. The team is led by managing partner Yalí MolinaÁlvaro Molina, who is experienced in corporate matters, and banking and corporate law specialist Maricarmen Espinosa Segura. The group has experience advising clients in the energy, logistics, construction and apparel industries.

Practice head(s):

Yalí Molina; Alvaro Molina; Maricarmen Espinosa Segura

Key clients

Eolo de Nicaragua

Crowley

Hill Phoenix

Avícola Nicaragüense (Avinicsa)

Promotora y Desarrolladora Mexicana (Promedex)

Kentex

YS

Puente Plomo

NOMSA

Work highlights

  • Advised YS on the acquisition of a local textile company operating under a free trade zone regime.

Dentons Muñoz

The corporate and finance group at Dentons Muñoz combines the experience of its team with its Dentons Direct online platform (which allows for the secure uploading and exchange of documents) to advise national and multinational clients. The practice advises on project finance, debt restructuring, asset securitisation, M&A, corporate governance, shareholders’ agreements, due diligence and tax planning. The team is spearheaded by Nicaragua managing partner and experienced board adviser Edgard Torres, of counsel Bernard Pallais, who is a banking and finance specialist, and associate Mario Novoa, who regularly advises on company incorporations. Focusing on advising on investment, of counsel Denise Opazo is also a name to note. The group’s broad client portfolio spans the agro-industrial, entertainment, microfinance, tourism, agriculture, apparel and energy sectors.

Practice head(s):

Edgard Torres; Mario Novoa; Bernard Pallais

Testimonials

‘Bernard Pallais and Mario Novoa have provided excellent client service, making themselves available at the height of the pandemic.’

Key clients

Dick Clark Productions

Financiera Fundeser

Eza Capital

Ben Wachter Associates

Signature Apparel Group

Agencia Alemana

Work highlights

  • Advised Dick Clark Productions on the execution of the event “Volcano Live! with Nik Wallenda” at the Volcan Masaya in Nicaragua.
  • Advised Financiera Fundeser on its transformation from a financial institution to a microfinance institution in Nicaragua.

LatinAlliance Nicaragua

The 'attentive' corporate practice at LatinAlliance Nicaragua advises local and international companies and financial institutions on foreign investments, shareholders’ agreements, M&A, securitisations, syndicated loans, due diligence and regulatory compliance. The team is headed by founding partner José Adolfo Torres and regional corporate director Michelle Sutter, both of whom are based in El Salvador, and head of legal in Nicaragua Ana Carolina Barquero. The group’s client portfolio covers industries including food, hospitality, investment, banking, agriculture, dairy, textiles and construction.

Practice head(s):

José Adolfo Torres; Michelle Sutter; Ana Carolina Barquero

Testimonials

‘They inform us immediately about any change that may affect us. In addition, they are attentive to our requirements, giving us an answer in the shortest possible time. We work hand in hand with Ana Barquero, who advises us efficiently.’

Key clients

Grupo Prival

La Casa de las Baterías

Banco G&T Continental

Grupo Coinpro

Cargill

Selina Hotels Corporation

Work highlights

  • Assisted Selina Hotels Corporation with the modification of various lease and sales contracts.
  • Advising La Casa de las Baterías on the process of closing in Nicaragua due to the socio-political situation.
  • Advising Crowd Credit Estonia, a global provider of debt capital, on various transactions with local clients.

Navarro Amador & Asociados

Highlighted for its 'diligence and experience', the corporate department at Navarro Amador & Asociados regularly advises local and international clients involved in cross-border transactions. The group’s full service extends beyond day-to-day corporate matters to advising on joint ventures, M&A, share purchase and sales agreements, investment project structuring, due diligence, antitrust issues and regulatory compliance. The team is led by founding partner Amilcar Navarro and international business expert Luis Ramírez Aragón, and is backed by senior partner and tax adviser Carlos Navarro. The group’s client roster spans such sectors as energy, investment, tobacco, agriculture and pharmaceuticals.

Practice head(s):

Amílcar Navarro; Luis Ramírez Aragón

Testimonials

‘They stand out for their diligence and experience in managing matters related to free trade zones.’

‘Amílcar Navarro, Luis Ramírez and Carlos Fernando Navarro are meticulous, available and always attentive to clients.’