Complex M&A, particularly in the banking and energy sectors, is a key area of expertise for the ‘very strong‘ team at Alemán, Cordero, Galindo & Lee, which regularly advises on major domestic transactions as well as cross-border matters. The practice counts both purchasers and sellers, including Panamanian corporations, financial institutions, and regional and international investors with a presence in Panama, among its clients. Arturo Gerbaud, who has significant strength in transactions in the banking sector, and Eloy Alfaro, who is highlighted for his ‘intellect and knowledge‘, lead the practice, while Raúl Borrell and Jaime Castillo bring additional expertise in the gas and energy sectors, respectively, to the team. At senior associate level, Rita de la Guardia stands out for her experience in large M&A deals, and Rafael Marquínez and Patricia Cordero are also noted. Since publication, all three seniors - de la Guardia, Marquínez and Cordero - have been raised to the partnership - effective January 2o22.
Corporate and M&A in Panama
Arturo Gerbaud; Eloy Alfaro
‘A well-organised firm with a very strong team of lawyers. The personal touch and time dedicated to each task makes them special.’
‘The team stands out for its client service and availability.’
‘The firm offers a comprehensive range of services. They are very reliable, and the advice they have given us has been very effective and efficient. If they don’t know the answer, they investigate it. They are a bilingual team and we are an international firm, so there is no language barrier.’
‘Eloy Alfaro has a great approach to clients, intellect and knowledge of his field. He also has a lot of tact when dealing with delicate subjects.’
‘The Alcogal team sets itself apart from the competition through the efficiency of its service and the depth and quality of the knowledge of its lawyers. When working with Alcogal, clients have the peace of mind of knowing that they are in good hands and that their needs will be attended to as a priority and by a first-rate team.’
‘The accessibility of the lawyers is the main differentiating factor. They are always available, 24/7. The personal approach and negotiating skills of Eloy Alfaro, Rita de la Guardia and Patricia Cordero, together with the experience of Arturo Gerbaud, make the team a strong adviser to our company.’
PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP)
Leasing Bogota (Grupo Aval)
Itau Comisionista de Bolsa (Itau Group)
Phoenix Tower International
The Bank of Nova Scotia
Cable & Wireless Panama
- Advised Latin American financial group Grupo Aval, through its subsidiary Leasing Bogota, in connection with the acquisition of 96.6% of the shares of Multibank Financial, a shareholder of Multibank and affiliates.
- Acted as local counsel to PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP), a Thailand-based petroleum exploration and production company, in relation to a $622m share purchase agreement to acquire oil and gas company Partex Holding.
- Advised Banco Panamá in connection with its acquisition by Banco Aliado by way of a merger between Grupo Centenario de Inversiones, the owner of 100% of the shares of Banco Panamá, with Allied Pacific, a subsidiary of Banco Aliado.
Arias, Fábrega & Fábrega is highly experienced in both domestic and cross-border transactions, with several of its lawyers also admitted to practise in New York and Florida. Recently, the team has been particularly active in high-value M&A involving Latin America companies consolidating their positions in the region, in addition to transactions in the banking sector and restructurings resulting from the pandemic. It acts for public and private companies, local corporations and the Panamanian subsidiaries of foreign businesses. Ricardo Arango leads the firm's M&A practice, while Roy Durling heads the business and corporate law group. Among the other key contacts in the team, Estif Aparicio, Andrés Rubinoff and Rodrigo Cardoze all have extensive experience in local and international M&A. Senior associates Fernando Arias F and Javier Yap Endera are also names to note.
Ricardo Arango; Roy Durling
Caribbean Property Group
- Acted as Panamanian counsel to Simon Property Group in the sale of the Panamanian and Latin American operations of Forever 21 to AR Holdings, a member of the Promerica Group.
- Advised McDermott International on its restructuring under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code.
- Separated by an ethical wall, acted as Panamanian counsel to Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank on the exit financing for McDermott International.
The 'very solid' team at Galindo, Arias & López has wide-ranging experience in corporate matters, advising on major domestic M&A, corporate finance, restructurings - where it has been particularly active recently - joint ventures, and corporate governance and compliance. It has notable strength in advising clients in highly regulated sectors, including telecoms, energy and financial services, as well as the technology, food and logistics industries. In addition, the firm has a strong pro bono offering for non-profit organisations as a signatory of the Pro Bono Declaration of the Americas. At the head of the practice, Diego Herrera focuses on advising large multinational clients on M&A and corporate finance, and Ramón Ricardo Arias has significant strength in M&A and restructurings. They are supported by strong up-and-coming partners Jose Luis Sosa and Beatriz Cabal.
Diego Herrera; Ramón Ricardo Arias
‘The team is very solid, both in terms of legal knowledge and practical experience, which allows it to develop matters very easily when consulting with the client. The team is very structured, they react very quickly and are always ready to attend to the client’s needs. They stand out from their Panamanian peers.’
‘José Luis Sosa is always available to solve clients’ issues and his solutions are always innovative, cutting-edge and practical. The team is very quick to respond with quality answers and their experience, local and international, means their advice is comprehensive.’
‘The firm has a solid tradition and reputation. It has a professional team, with experience and knowledge in the corporate field.’
‘Diego Herrera has great leadership and negotiation skills.’
‘It is a team with a lot of knowledge and it is very skilled in handling legal issues.’
‘Jose Luis Sosa is extremely professional and strategic when carrying out any type of transaction.’
Millicom International Cellular
One Equity Partners
- Acted as local counsel to Coca-Cola FEMSA regarding the sale of two of its Panamanian subsidiaries engaged in the dairy business – Inversiones Lacteas and Inversiones Elisia – to Panama Dairy Ventures, and the restructuring of its Panamanian operative entities.
Morgan & Morgan has a broad corporate practice, spanning both domestic and cross-border M&A, joint ventures, restructuring and corporate governance, and is particularly noted for its advice to multinationals on the establishment of headquarters in Panama. Its diverse client base includes banks and financial institutions and companies from the real estate, transport, energy, and food and beverages sectors, among others. In addition, the firm has launched a new practice focused on advising start-ups on developing their businesses, led by Kharla Aizpurúa, senior associate Pablo Epifano and international associate Miguel Arias, and offers pro bono services as a member of the Pro Bono Declaration of the Americas. The experienced Francisco Arias leads the team, which also includes Inocencio Galindo, who brings additional banking, mining and tax expertise to the team, Roberto Vidal and Ramón Varela.
Constructora Urbana (Cusa)
The International Business Machines Corporation (IBM)
Continental Grain Company
Corporacion Interamericana para el Financiamiento de Infraestructura (CIFI)
Panama Ports Company (Hutchinson Ports Holding)
Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)
Gaming & Services de Panama
The AES Corporation
AON Benfied Mexico Intermediario de Seguros
Cirsa Gaming Corporation
China Telecom Americas
- Advised health technology platform Farmalisto on the $18m equity investment made by HBM Healthcare Investments (Cayman), Inter-American Investment Corporation, Morgan Rio Capital Management, and other minority investors.
- Advised Continental Grain Company on an investment in Multifoods, a leading Peru-based contract-manufacturing firm.
- Advised the shareholders of Unity Group, a holding company with subsidiaries engaged in insurance brokerage in Central America, on its corporate restructuring and the subsequent sale of its business to Willis Europe, a subsidiary of Willis Towers Watson.
Alfaro, Ferrer & Ramírez
Experienced senior partners Luis López Alfaro and Alfredo Ramírez Jr lead the practice at Alfaro, Ferrer & Ramírez, which has considerable expertise in M&A, including cross-border transactions, acting for major domestic and international clients. The team is particularly active in advising companies in highly regulated industries, including finance, insurance, telecoms and energy. Among the team's strong junior partners, Ricardo Moreno stands out for his expertise in M&A deals, particularly in the financial sector, Alejandro Alemán brings complementary tax expertise to the team, in addition to his experience in corporate and M&A matters, and Juan Antonio Alfaro is particularly experienced in M&A in the maritime and ports and oil and gas sectors.
Luis López Alfaro; Alfredo Ramírez Jr.
‘All the lawyers are excellent, but I would like to highlight one of them, Alejandro Alemán, in particular. I have worked closely with Alejandro and his knowledge of the subject and his business acumen are excellent. The firm is made up of lawyers with a great deal of experience and knowledge, but none with the commercial vision of Alejandro Alemán.’
Stanley Black & Decker
The Western Union Company
Hilti Latin America
Global Bank Corporation
Ford Motor Company
Southern Cross Group
Petrolera Nacional / Organización Terpel
- Advised Mizratex Group, a wholesale company based in the Colon Free Zone, on the spinoff and sale of its Christmas division to May’s Zona Libre, one of the biggest wholesalers in the Colon Free Zone.
- Advised VT Group on corporate, commercial and maritime matters relating to its acquisition of Boluda Corporación Marítima’s assets and tanker activities in mainland Spain, Morocco, the Canary Islands, Trinidad & Tobago and Panama.
- Advised Polaris on its acquisition of a 100% equity stake in the Chuspas 100MW run-of-river hydro project in Boquerón, Chiriquí.
Icaza, González-Ruiz & Alemán‘s ‘extremely strong‘ team is skilled in advising multinational clients, particularly on their entry into the Panamanian market and on cross-border M&A transactions. Restructurings, due diligence and compliance advice are other key areas of work. At the head of the practice, Joaquín Díaz focuses on the firm’s international practice, advising clients based outside Panama, while Alexis Herrera Jr advises multinationals investing in Panama or with operations in the country on domestic M&A and corporate matters. Senior partner Gabriel González-Ruiz, Luis Chalhoub, who has expertise in finance and M&A deals, and Mariela de la Guardia, the director of the firm’s Fundación IGRA pro bono programme, which focuses on social development issues, are also key contacts. The practice group was further strengthened with the raising of Mariano Oteiza Díaz to the partnership in September 2021.
Joaquin Diaz; Alexis Herrera Jr.
‘An extremely strong team.’
‘They particularly stand out for their dynamic approach to resolving clients’ matters.’
‘They clearly understand the client’s requirement and, on that basis, they try to define the route that best meets those requirements, with detailed knowledge of the relevant issues to take into account.’
Inversiones Panamericanas de Café de Panamá
HPH joint venture consortium
- Advised Canadian multinational Dollarama on the acquisition of 50.1% of the shares in Dollarcity, a Latin American value retailer.
- Acted as local counsel to AES Panama and AES Changuinola on the acquisition of UEP Penonome I.
- Advised the HPH joint venture consortium on the negotiation of the Panama Metro Line 3 project contract.
Fabrega Molino advises local and multinational companies on corporate structuring and M&A transactions, with notable expertise in the banking, energy, health, and hospitality and leisure sectors, among others. José Augustín Preciado and Juan Pablo Fábrega are the key contacts for M&A work, while Fábrega and Gretel Ciniglio also advise on day-to-day corporate issues.
Juan Pablo Fábrega; José Agustin Preciado; Gretel Ciniglio
The ‘diligent and client-focused‘ team at Lovill is experienced in both local international corporate transactions, acting for multinational companies, family offices and foreign investors. The team advises on M&A, corporate restructurings, joint ventures and compliance, and in 2020 launched a related TMT practice to assist clients launching e-commerce businesses during the pandemic. Practice head Elizabeth Heurtematte leads the team, all of whom are founding members or directors of Axxion, a group which connects and promotes women professionals. Other key contacts include the ‘excellent‘ Isabel Cristina López, senior associate Jeannette Bravo, who has additional labour law expertise, and associates Ana Carolina Ureña and Alejandro Fung.
‘The team have a good sense of the client’s needs and they try to do everything that is asked of them in the shortest possible time. They are diligent and client-focused.’
‘Ana Carolina Ureña and Alejandro Fung are both very special lawyers, who pay attention to the client’s needs and are willing to seek creative and quick solutions.’
‘What makes the team stand out is its great communication with clients, rapid responses, a personalised service, problem-solving abilities and great efficiency.’
‘Everyone I have worked with at Lovill has been great to work with. They stand out for their honesty and their communication skills.’
‘They provide support and commitment to clients, are always available and are very empathetic.’
‘Cristina Lopez is an excellent lawyer, who is truly dedicated to getting to know the client and committed to our needs.’
Banco Lafise Panamá
Isthmian Investment Corporation
Hacienda San José
- Advised Visa on its acquisition of fintech company YellowPepper Group.
- Advised Sofistic, the Panamanian subsidiary of cybersecurity services company Soluciones Cuatroochenta, on its intent to enter into the European stock market.
- Advised Ceva Logistics on the reorganisation of its subsidiary Ceva Freight Management Panama.
Patton, Moreno & Asvat
Advising on M&A and corporate restructurings, the 'strong' team at Patton, Moreno & Asvat counts numerous large Panamanian and multinational companies among its clients. 'Knowledgeable and experienced' founding partner Ebrahim Asvat leads the practice with María de Lourdes Marengo, who is noted for her expertise in the aviation sector, and Khatiya Asvat, a key contact for multinationals establishing operations in Panama. Other notable members of the team are Belisario Porras, who focuses on advising high-net-worth individuals and international companies on corporate and commercial matters, and Nadya Price, who is experienced in M&A and joint ventures.
Ebrahim Asvat; María de Lourdes Marengo; Khatiya Asvat
‘Ebrahim Asvat is knowledgable, experienced and results-focused, with good leadership of his team.’
‘A very good team, strong and consolidated. They maintain very good communication with other parties for the good and success of the case.’
‘Ebrahim Asvat and Khatiya Asvat are standout individuals.’
‘They are our go-to firm in Panama for any Panamanian law issues – and have been so since the 1980s!’
‘Ebrahim Asvat provides very mature oversight, Belisario Porras is very proactive and responsive, and Nadya Price is also very responsive and commercial.’
Central American firm Arias frequently works alongside its other offices to handle complex regional M&A transactions, and has been particularly active recently in advising on the restructuring of corporate groups, often involving corporations in different jurisdictions. Multinationals operating in Central America make up a large part of the firm's client base, which is particularly strong in the pharmaceutical, energy, technology and logistics sectors. Senior partner Yuri Moreno leads the team and Siaska SSS Lorenzo brings additional expertise in compliance and labour law to the table.
Premium Restaurant Brands
Giant Bridge Company
General Electric International
Johnson & Johnson Panama
Ortho Clinical Diagnostics Panama
Gilead Sciences Americas
Brother International Corporation
Associated Press de Panama
Fedex Trade Networks Services and Logistics
Expeditors Panama Logistics
SAP International Panama
TBI Outsourcing Panama
Hencorp Loan Fund
Laboratorios Kin de Centroamérica
- Advised Giant Bridge Company on its corporate restructuring.
- Advised PRB on the $8m sale of its business in Panama to a Jamaican company.
Renowned for its expertise in IP matters, Estudio Benedetti has also built up an active corporate and commercial practice, with a focus on advising start-up Panamanian franchises and distribution companies, as well as multinationals with a presence in Panama. The team regularly advises on service, distribution and agency contracts (including cross-border agreements) and corporate structuring, with a niche in acting for restaurant and food industry clients. Senior partner Ramón Benedetti Velázquez leads the team with Ramón Benedetti Alemán and 'extremely responsive' senior associate Chris Effio.
Ramón Benedetti Velázquez; Chris Effio; Ramón Benedetti Alemán
‘Estudio Benedetti provides a very personalised service, with a lot of involvement from the main partners. We like working with Benedetti because of their response times, and ability to solve problems in an analytical and organised way.’
‘They are always available for a call without also counting every billable second.’
‘The team has an extensive knowledge of the market, a unique vision of how to work with, thinking of out-of-the-box solutions, which helps to always achieve the required results.’
‘Ramon Benedetti Jr. is a lawyer with a unique capacity for analysis. He has the ability to listen to his client and seek solutions to problems in a positive way. His approach of always looking for a win-win solution puts any negotiation flow on the right path to reach good results.’
‘Chris Effio and her team are extremely responsive, not only providing prompt answers but also giving clear, complete information, anticipating scenarios and providing solutions that allow an effective resolution of the issues.’
‘What makes them stand out is their extraordinary focus on clients’ cases and follow-up, as well as their way of finding solutions in tough times.’
‘A well-established team with a great understanding of our needs as a client. Always ready to provide an excellent and personalised service.’
‘Ramón Benedetti Alemán, Raúl Amado and Chris Effio stand out for the quality of their client service, the speed of their responses, and above all for their understanding of business.’
Vida Produce Company
Constructora Grupo Mas
Comidas Especializadas Panama
Cinq Holding International
Omega BB Investment
Coffee Roasters Unido
Colegio Bilingüe de Panamá
Best Intuitive Software
Tysers Insurance Brokers
- Advised the owners of several successful restaurants and food-related businesses in Panama on joining to form a sole holding company, Grupo Maito.
- Advised Constructora Grupo Mas on the development of its community lifestyle concept in Colombia, drawing up a combined franchising, services, commercial and project development agreement.
- Advised Panama-based company Coffee Roasters Unido on franchising its business and transferring shares to investors in order to expand its operations in the US.
The 'reliable, results-focused' team at Delvalle, Escalona, Levy & Corró has a wide-ranging client roster of regional and international companies, with notable strength in the aviation, technology, energy, and real estate sectors. The team advises on M&A and day-to-day corporate and commercial issues. Alberto Levy has significant strength in M&A deals, with particular expertise in the real estate sector, Diego Corró is experienced in corporate restructuring and financial matters, Felipe Escalona stands out for his strength in advising major airline clients and Ricardo Delvalle is particularly active in highly regulated industries.
Alberto Levy; Diego Corró; Felipe Escalona; Ricardo Delvalle
‘Personalised client service, good results, and a young and enthusiastic team which is well connected in different spheres, both private and public.’
‘Reliable, results-focused, deliver work on time.’
‘Excellent value for money, excellent customer service, and attentive and in-depth follow-up.’
‘Felipe Escalona and Alberto Levy have an excellent drive, combined with years of experience in large firms, advising on very important transactions.’
‘They are agile lawyers with previous experience working in large and prestigious firms, therefore, as a client, I feel total confidence in their work, which is of the best quality and without the bureaucracy of the bigger firms. Clients can expect definitive answers, in a timely manner, that take into account the type of business the client operates. They understand the client’s language, because the vast majority of the lawyers have studied business and are knowledgeable about it. You can expect them to take full responsibility – many law firms generate legal documents, but Delco provides you with a complete advisory service.’
‘The lawyers stand out for their business knowledge and comprehensive advice. They evaluate the issue and give me a clear answer, which allows me to make a decision. They don’t ramble unnecessarily, as many law firms tend to do. They are honest, and they promote long-term client relationship through their service and of course their fees. Ricardo Delvalle and Anna Patricia Fonseca provided us with an excellent service.’
‘What sets this firm apart is the team’s knowledge and understanding of technology and technology companies. Many firms tend not to know anything specific about the subject and the needs of the clients.’
‘Alberto Levy is knowledgeable in his field, accessible at all times, responds quickly and has a genuine interest in understanding my business.’
Islas Secas Reserve & Lodge
The Oxford Schools
La Union Publicitaria
Pangea Research Group
- Advised Amador Holdings on the structuring of a Panama-based venture capital fund focused on the Latin American region.
- Advising Petróleos Delta on the opening of new gas stations in Panama City.
- Assisting Turkish Airlines with corporate, regulatory and labour matters relating to its operations in Panama City.
M&A involving foreign investors is a key area of strength for Dentons Muñoz, which handles both domestic and regional transactions, drawing on the support of its other offices in Central America. The team also advises on the incorporation of companies in Panama, shareholders' agreements and corporate governance, and compliance issues, and has particular expertise in the energy, pharmaceuticals and logistics sectors. Panama managing partner Gisela Porras leads the team, and focuses on advising clients on multi-jurisdictional transactions. Fernando Aued is also a key contact.
Ibero-American firm ECIJA established its presence in Panama in November 2019 through a merger with local practice Shamah, Vargas and Cordoba. Providing 'practical solutions with impeccable results', the team has significant experience in advising companies on reorganisations, relocations in to Panama and investments in the country, with specialist expertise in the retail, pharmaceutical, logistics and agrochemicals sectors. Daniel Shamah leads the practice, and is skilled in incorporations and corporate governance issues. Armando Cordoba brings additional strength in commercial, tax and IP issues to the team.
‘They provide a personalised service. Daniel Shamah advised us in a very professional and timely manner.’
‘Daniel Shamah is always available for whatever the client needs. If he can’t answer right away, he calls back ASAP. He is tremendously enthusiastic and a great lawyer.’
‘Daniel Shamah handled our work in a very agile and efficient way.’
‘Whenever I deal with lawyers, I feel that they see me as an ATM more than a client, and that has always bothered me a lot. I also feel that the partners of the firm greet me the first time, but then the new interns end up managing my affairs. With Daniel Shamah and Armando Cordoba, this has never been the case. They are young but surprisingly they handle corporate issues both locally and internationally as well as if they had decades of experience, and they have always advised me while keeping my best interests in mind, and not thinking about how much money they can get from me, but about how they can help me.’
‘The ECIJA team have close relationships with their clients. The lawyers are always up-to-date, which means that their client stay ahead of all the legal requirements.’
‘ECIJA stand out for the personal and empathetic approach they have to clients, providing support at all times.’
‘The availability, client service and speed of response from the Panama team is exceptional. They provide practical solutions with impeccable results and subject to what the client needs. All these qualities were demonstrated at an even higher level during the pandemic, when total and partial closures made things very difficult. Even so, the firm’s teamwork, its tireless staff and its professional attitude, always at the service of the client, made it possible to overcome all obstacles for the delivery of very satisfactory results.’
‘The team stand out for their commitment to providing good client service and their ability to respond quickly and efficiently to all clients’ concerns and proposals. Armando Cordoba is not only knowledgeable in the field of corporate law, but also provides impeccable client service, with attention to detail and quick responses and results, even in the most challenging scenarios. Daniel Shamah, for his part, in addition to his extensive knowledge of the fundamental legal issues, always shows a particular sensitivity to the most important aspects of the client’s business, which makes him an important ally in decision-making.’
- Advised clothing importer and distributor Jeancenter Corp on the restructuring of its group.
- Advised Grupo Shalom, the owner of one of Panama’s largest department stores, on a capital raising.
- Advised Agricenter, a distributor of crop protection products in Central America and the Caribbean, on the reorganisation of its corporate structure.
Quijano & Associates counts large domestic companies and corporations with operations throughout Latin America among its clients. The team regularly advises on M&A (including handling cross-border transactions), with considerable experience in the retail, education, real estate and financial services sectors. In addition, the firm offers clients access to QA Hub, an online platform which gives companies access to their accounts and portfolios. Oliver Muñoz, who is experienced in commercial and M&A matters, heads the practice, while Jaime Sánchez is also a key contact.
Fernando Sucre is the key contact at SB&Co. Legal (previously Sucre, Briceno & Co), which has experience in a range of corporate matters, including M&A, joint ventures and company reorganisations, as well as assisting with company incorporations, commercial contracts and corporate governance.