Banking and finance in Panama

Alemán, Cordero, Galindo & Lee

The well-respected team at Alemán, Cordero, Galindo & Lee is experienced in high-profile domestic and cross-border banking transactions for local banks and international financial institutions that have a presence in Panama. While it is most active on the lender side, the team also acts for borrowers, particularly local corporations. The team has expertise in regulatory issues, syndicated loans, and real estate and project finance, as well as M&A and litigation in the financial sector. Arturo Gerbaud leads the 'attentive and available' team, which also includes Eloy Alfaro, who frequently handles large-scale financial transactions, and experienced senior associates Patricia Cordero and Rita de la Guardia.

Practice head(s):

Arturo Gerbaud

Testimonials

‘The team at Alcogal follows the model of a boutique firm that guarantees 24/7 client service. All of the lawyers are very attentive and accessible. They are all highly regarded for their extensive experience in banking and finance matters.’

‘The team is extremely attentive and available 24/7. In addition to the excellent support that they provide, their work is of a high technical standard and we really feel their input in our matters.’

Key clients

Citibank, N.A.

Banco General, S.A.

The Bank of Nova Scotia

Banistmo S.A.

Julius Baer

BAC International Bank Inc.

Banco Santander Central Hispano

St. Georges Bank

Caja de Ahorros

PKB Banca Privada (Panama), S.A.

Work highlights

  • Advised Credit Suisse and various other lenders on the provision of a credit facility of up to $100m to AGP America.
  • Advised Gas Natural Atlántico and Costa Norte LNG Terminal on a bridge loan of $610m to refinance a project construction facility.
  • Advised Prival and Banistmo on the syndicated financing granted to Grupo EXSUSA (Universidad Latina) for the sale of Universidad Interamericana de Panamá.
  • Acted for Banco General on the $48m financing of the construction of the Upper East Tower in Costa del Este, Panama City.

Arias, Fábrega & Fábrega

Arias, Fábrega & Fábrega has a strong client base of leading local and international financial institutions, which benefit from the firm's vast experience in lender-side work. Of particular note is the firm's expertise in cross-border loans to Panamanian borrowers and in the financing of M&A transactions in Panama and the rest of Central America. The team also frequently advises on the financing of infrastructure and energy projects, and has additional expertise in the aviation and telecoms sectors. Estif Aparicio, who was promoted to practice head in January 2020, is noted for his strength in complex project financings and cross-border transactions. Ricardo Arango and senior associates Cedric Kinschots and Fernando Arias are also key contacts.

Practice head(s):

Estif Aparicio

Key clients

Banco Latinoamericano de Comercio Exterior, S.A. (Bladex)

Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI)

UBS

Bank of Nova Scotia, Scotiabank

Citibank / Citigroup Global Markets

Banco General

Global Bank

Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

Bank of America Merrill Lynch

JPMorgan Chase

Work highlights

  • Advised JPMorgan Chase and Banco Latinoamericano de Comercio Exterior (Bladex) on a $100m credit and guarantee agreement in favour of Imperia Intercontinental and related parties.
  • Advised JPMorgan Chase, Bladex and Banistmo on a secured syndicated loan in favour of Banco Aliado for $130m.
  • Advised a new group of local and international syndicated lenders – including Citibank, JP Morgan Securities and Banco General – on a bridge loan to AES Costa Norte, as well as advising the outgoing lenders on the termination of the transaction.
  • Advised Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and Standard Chartered Bank, as joint lead arrangers and book runners, on an unsecured syndicated loan made by 12 international financial institutions in favour of Multibank for $138m.

Alfaro, Ferrer & Ramírez

Alfaro, Ferrer & Ramírez is particularly active on the lender side of banking transactions, although it also has experience acting for borrowers. The team focuses on advising multinational companies and financial institutions with operations in Panama, and also acts for local clients; domestic and cross-border financial transactions and banking-sector M&A are areas of strength. Experienced partners Luis López Alfaro and Alfredo Ramírez Jr lead the practice, while Roberto Harrington, who has expertise in public and private borrowing and project finance, and María Cargiulo, whose clients include domestic and international banks, are also noted.

Galindo, Arias & López

The 'always available' team at Galindo, Arias & López advises on syndicated loans, M&A financing, asset and project finance, and financial regulation, with a niche expertise in highly regulated industries, including aviation, telecoms and energy. Its client base includes domestic and international financial institutions and corporations. The practice is led by Roberto de Araujo López, who is known for his expertise in regulatory law, and head of project and asset financing Salomón Behar. Other names to note include aviation finance specialist Cristina Lewis de la Guardia and Diego Herrera, who is experienced in complex project finance.

Testimonials

‘Always available.’

Key clients

Copa Holdings, S.A.

Ocean Reef Islands Inc.

Atlantic Security Bank

Compañía Panameña de Aviación, S.A.

BTMU (Europe) Limited

BIBANK (Bicapital Corporation)

BCT Bank International

Altra Investments

Mercantil Colpatria

Work highlights

  • Advised Copa Holdings and its subsidiaries on the financing of three Boeing aircraft.
  • Advised Copa Holdings on all Panamanian legal matters involved in the sale of five aircraft to Azorra Aviation.
  • Advised Ocean Reef Islands, the developer of the first residential complex on man-made islands in Panama, on the financing of the project.

Morgan & Morgan

Morgan & Morgan acts for many of the leading domestic and international banks operating in Panama, advising on corporate loans, project finance, regulatory matters and M&A transactions in the financial services sector. In the project finance sphere, the team also acts for borrowers, including developers and government bodies, on the financing of major public infrastructure projects. The firm also has an active insolvency practice, advising both creditors and debtors. Inocencio Galindo, who has extensive experience in banking and project finance, leads the team, which also includes Kharla Aizpurúa, who has experience in domestic and cross-border financing, and Ramón Varela, who specialises in finance matters in the infrastructure and energy sectors.

Practice head(s):

Inocencio Galindo

Key clients

Banistmo

Banco General

Banistmo Investment Corporation

BBVA

Caterpillar Financial Services Corporation

Citibank

Corporación Andina de Fomento (CAF)

Corporacion Interamericana para el Financiamiento de Infraestructura

Credit Suisse

MMG Bank Corporation

Global Bank Corporation

Global Financial Funds

HSBC Bank USA

Empresa Nacional de Autopistas (ENA)

Bank of China

International Finance Corporation (IFC)

BBP Bank

Work highlights

  • Advised Minera Cerro Quema as guarantor of a credit facility for up to $125m granted to its holding company, Orla Mining, by Trinity Capital Partners.
  • Advised Banistmo Investment Corporation on the refinancing of the first LNG terminal in Panama.
  • Advised IDB Invest on a loan facility granted to Global Bank Corporation for up to $60m.

Arias

The Panama office of Central American firm Arias handles regional financial transactions, often working alongside the firm's other offices. It also advises on general banking matters, financial regulation and project finance. The team is known for its borrower-side experience, but has been increasingly active advising international financial institutions on the lender side of transactions. The practice is led by Maria Cristina Fábrega, who was promoted to partner in January 2019. Yuri Moreno, who has strength in the real estate and shipping sectors, is also noted.

Practice head(s):

Maria Cristina Fábrega

Fabrega Molino

Fabrega Molino advises Panamanian and international banks, trusts and financial institutions on banking transactions, establishing operations in Panama, and regulatory and licensing issues. The team also acts for corporate borrowers and assists with the financing of M&A and other transactions. Senior partners Juan Pablo Fabrega and Jorge Molina, who is experienced in banking litigation, are the key team members.

Icaza, González-Ruiz & Alemán

Icaza, González-Ruiz & Alemán advises local and international banks, corporations, trusts and investment houses on the structuring of financial entities, regulatory and compliance issues, and general banking matters, as well as disputes in the financial sector. The key contacts are Michelle Oteiza de la Guardia, Luis Chalhoub and Domingo Díaz Strunz.

Patton, Moreno & Asvat

Patton, Moreno & Asvat is noted for its expertise in the aviation and shipping sectors, where it maintains a focus on aircraft and vessel financing. It also has experience advising national and international banks and financial institutions on regulatory compliance. The team includes managing partner Ebrahim Asvat, María de Lourdes Marengo, who has particular strength in aviation finance, and Nadya Price.

Sucre, Briceño & Co.

A broad range of national and international clients, including both borrowers and lenders, turn to Sucre, Briceño & Co. for advice on financial transactions, including real estate, operational, construction and acquisition finance. The team is also equipped to assist with the sale, purchase and restructuring of banks and other financial institutions. Senior associate Jhoanna Fong, who has particular expertise in financial structuring, leads the team; founding partner Fernando Sucre, who is highly experienced in regulatory issues, is also a key contact.

Practice head(s):

Jhoanna Fong

Arosemena Noriega & Contreras

Arosemena Noriega & Contreras advises on bank registration and licensing, credit transactions, debt recovery and refinancings. The firm also has expertise in the maritime sector and often advises on ship financing. Clients include financial institutions and investment funds. Julio Cesar Contreras and associate Mario Rognoni are the key contacts.

Dentons Muñoz

As part of an international firm network, Dentons Muñoz's Panama practice has experience in domestic and multi-jurisdictional banking transactions. The team handles a broad range of banking and finance matters, including debt financing, the structuring of complex financial transactions, syndicated loans, project finance and asset finance. Financial regulation is another area of knowledge. The practice is led by managing partner Gisela Porras, who has notable expertise in international finance.

Practice head(s):

Gisela Porras

LOVILL

LOVILL's banking practice covers a broad range of financing deals, including loan agreements, securities, guarantees, the restructuring of credit facilities and syndicated loans, as well as regulatory issues. The firm's client base includes banks, financial institutions and companies from the services, commerce, real estate and hospitality sectors. Practice head Elizabeth Heutermatte has experience advising national and international clients on financial agreements and regulation. She is supported by associate Ana Carolina Ureña, who has expertise in cross-border financial transactions.

Practice head(s):

Elizabeth Heurtematte

Key clients

Visa

Locfund II Limited Partnership

Microfinanzas Latinoamerica IV, L.P. (Milac IV)

Microfinanzas Latinoamerica III, L.P. (Milac III)

Pacifica Petroleum, S.A.

Scotiabank El Salvador

The Norwegian Investment Fund For Developing Countries (Norfund)

Financiera Autocash, S.A.

Grupo Q

Banco Agrícola

Work highlights

  • Advised Locfund II on granting a credit facility to Procaja as working capital for microloans in rural areas of Panama.

Virtù Atelier Legal

Founded in 2019 by Ana Lucrecia Tovar and Maricarmen Plata, former partners at Dentons Muñoz and Anzola Robles & Associates Abogados, respectively, finance-focused firm Virtù Atelier Legal has already established a strong domestic client base, including family offices, large financial groups, investment funds and the Panama Stock Exchange. The banking practice, headed by Tovar, advises on local and cross-border financing, project finance, financial regulation, debt financing and syndicated loans, as well as capital markets matters.

Practice head(s):

Ana Lucrecia Tovar

Key clients

Banco General

Global Bank

BHD International Bank

Prival Bank

Unibank

Panama Stock Exchange

Mem Capital

Grupo VerdeAzul