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Irrefutably one of the best law firms in Panama for banking-related matters, Alemán, Cordero, Galindo & Lee’s banking and finance practice has ‘deep assertive knowledge of the industry and its regulations’. The team provides advice on regulatory matters, credit agreements, syndicated loans and project finance and is frequently involved in the most complex key mandates in Panama, such as the recent transfer of all assets held by Grupo Waked into trusts; in connection with the Soho Mall Trust and the Felix B Maduro Trust, Anibal Galindo and Eloy Alfaro led advice to the lender banks, including Banistmo, Banesco and Bladex, which acted as beneficiaries to the settlors. Borrower-side work saw Arturo Gerbaud act as local counsel to Gas Natural Atlántico and Costa Norte LNG Terminal in connection with the $600m financing of the construction and development of a LNG power block and terminal. In addition to banking advice in the energy sector, the group also demonstrates industry expertise in the construction, real estate, telecommunication and transportation sectors. Notable clients include Citibank, Banco General, Banistmo and more recently, Global Bank Corporation. Practice head Gerbaud ‘excels in banking-related matters’ and has a ‘deep understanding of the industry’; senior associate Patricia Cordero is another name to note.

With its core team consisting of ‘partners with broad experience in the sectorArias, Fábrega & Fábregastands out as a professional, meticulous and practical firm’; it is predominantly active in project finance (energy, aviation and construction), credit facilities and regulatory matters. In a recent highlight the team, led by Estif Aparicio, acted as counsel to several lender banks, including IFC, Bancolombia and Banco General, in connection with a $291.5m credit facility to Gas Natural Atlántico and Costa Norte LNG Terminal, a pioneer natural gas project. Another significant case saw Aparicio and associate Javier Endara represent Citigroup Global Markets as sole initial purchaser of the $575m secured bond offering by Tocumen International Airport. The team is led by the highly talented Ricardo Arango and Aparicio is ‘an expert in the banking area, with an eye to detail’; moreover, practice capacity has grown with the promotions of Federico Alfaro and Andrés Rubinoff to partner. María Arroyo, Rodrigo Cardoze and Roy Durling are also key figures in the practice. Representative clients include Goldman Sachs, Banco General and Credit Suisse.

Co-led by the ‘very responsive and practical’ name partners Luis López Alfaro and Alfredo Ramírez, the banking and finance department at Alfaro, Ferrer & Ramírez is very well established in Panama. In addition to day-to-day banking services, the team is also involved in complex multi-jurisdictional transactions and is particularly experienced in project finance. Recent work saw Roberto Harrington lead advice to Kanan Overseas I on regulatory and transactional aspects of a $61m secured loan for the financing of power plant barges. Associate María Cargiulo acted as lead advisor in various multimillion-dollar public offerings and securities matters and Alejandro Alemán, who ‘consistently delivers comprehensive, innovative and technically solid responses’ is also active in the sector. Other clients include Banesco, Global Bank Corporation and Corporación Andina de Fomento (CAF).

The 13-strong department at Galindo, Arias & López is jointly led by Roberto De Araujo and of counsel Salomón Behar and is particularly experienced in regulatory and administrative work, project finance, syndicated loans and credit facilities. Recent work saw aviation expert Cristina Lewis lead advice to longstanding client Copa Holdings in connection with the financing, lease and registration of three Boeing aircrafts, part of a $2.6bn 32-plane project. In another highlight, De Araujo assisted BAC International with document and negotiation review of a $150m syndicated credit facility. Diego Herrera and Ramón Arias are also active in the sector. The firm’s representative clients include Banco General, Banco Santander and Bi-Bank, the Panamanian subsidiary of Banco Industrial.

Icaza, González-Ruiz & Alemán represents predominantly local and regional clients in administrative and regulatory matters, such as obtaining banking licenses, compliance-related work, issuance, structuring and restructuring of securities, public offerings and trusts. The team regularly acts for commercial and investment banks, multilateral organisations, government agencies and investors; and its expertise covers contentious as well as non-contentious banking and finance-related work. Prominent clients include Banistmo, Citibank and Credit Suisse. Michelle De La Guardia, Luis Chalhoub and Domingo Díaz are all active in the sector.

Inocencio Galindo heads the banking and finance department at Morgan & Morgan, which has a strong track record assisting well-known financial institutions with credit facilities, project finance matters and obtaining banking licenses. Recent work saw Galindo act as Panamanian counsel to multiple banks, including CAF, International Finance Bank, BAC Florida Bank and Multibank, regarding a $71.5m credit facility granted to Corporación Interamericana para el Financiamiento de Infraestructura (CIFI). In another highlight, Ramón Varela represented Wells Fargo Bank and The Prudential Insurance Company of America as lenders and investors of $250m loans and notes. Francisco Arias also participates in banking and finance matters. Other clients include Banistmo, Citibank Panamá and BAC Panamá.

The ‘highly recommended’ team at Arosemena Noriega & Contreras is led by the ‘very responsive and proactiveJulio Contreras, who is also experienced in corporate, communications and energy law. The firm offers advice to international lenders and borrowers on loan agreements, pledge agreements, share sales, bond issuances, project finance and trust-related matters. José Miguel Navarrete is another name to note, and associate Mario Rognoni is ‘very responsive to client questions’.

Following the departure of Ana Tovar de Zarak to Dentons Muñoz in March 2017, Fabrega Molino’s banking and securities department is led by Tatiana Abadía, who was recently promoted to partnership and handles administrative and security-related matters. Juan Pablo Fabrega advises banks on the corporate aspects of financing matters and Jorge Molina, who joined the firm from Arias & Muñoz in 2016, is expert on the regulatory side. Recent work saw the team represent Metrobank in a significant financial transaction with Credit Suisse. Other notable clients include Banco General, General Electric and Credicorp Bank.

Co-directed by Ebrahim Asvat, María De Lourdes Marengo and Ivette Martínez, the practice at Patton, Moreno & Asvat distinguishes itself through its expertise in aviation and shipping finance. The team also offers advice on all aspects of project finance, syndicated loans, share sales and acquisitions. On the borrower side, Martinez recently assisted PSA Panama International Terminal with a $150m credit facility for the expansion of its container port terminal. Other significant clients include International Finance Corporation and Deutsche Bank.

Sucre, Briceño & Co. offers advice on regulatory, due diligence and administrative matters, and assists financial institutions with obtaining banking licenses. Recent highlights include managing partner Fernando Sucre Miguez leading advice to Hipotecaria Metrocredit on the structuring of a $27m bond issuance on the Panama Stock Exchange. Franklin Briceño Salazar and Ingrid Alicia Lee are also involved in banking and finance matters. The team’s client roster includes Global Bank Corporation, Canal Bank and Banco Universal.

Arias’ department is led by Lisa Domínguez, who joined the firm in November 2016 and also leads the M&A practice. The team stands out for its regional reach and handles regulatory work, project finance, and credit and loan agreements. Highlights include advising IFC on a $45m loan agreement for the expansion and refurbishment of shopping centres. The firm’s client-base includes Davivienda and Mondelēz. Yuri Moreno and associate Maria Fábrega are also active in the sector.

Elizabeth Heurtematte heads the practice at Latamlex / Lopez, Villanueva & Heurtematte, which mainly focuses on the establishment and restructuring of debt facilities and syndicated loans and is predominantly active on the lender-side. The team regularly leads advice to high-profile multi-national financial institutions. Associates Ana Carolina Ureña and Jeannette Bravo are also involved in sector-related matters.

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