Firm Profile > Baker McKenzie S.A.S. > Bogota, Colombia

Baker McKenzie S.A.S.
AVENUE 82 NO. 10-62

Competition and antitrust Tier 1

Baker McKenzie S.A.S.’s seven-strong team ‘works diligently to understand businesses in order to propose a proper course of action’. A leading figure in the field and head of the firm’s regional competition and antitrust area, María Carolina Pardo is ‘honest, talented and knows the field in Colombia and in other countries very well’. The team acted for Brookfield - which already has a controlling stake in power generator Isagen - on obtaining approval for its acquisition of Gas Natural’s business in Colombia, and also advised Monsanto on the submission of an appeal regarding the approval of its takeover by Bayer, and the negotiation and explanation of the remedies to the authority in Colombia. Senior associates Angélica Navarro and Miguel de Quinto (an economist) and associate Luís Alberto Castell are also noted. Other clients include Andritz, Adobe, GE and Aviagen.

Labour and employment Tier 1

Baker McKenzie S.A.S.’ labour and employment practice receives excellent feedback: it ‘exceeds expectations’ and is ‘by far’ one of the best ‘in terms of knowledge, practical solutions and response time’. Tatiana Garcés and Evelyn Romero lead the 13-strong team, which represented Gas Natural del César during an administrative investigation by the Ministry of Labour to determine if the company had illegally outsourced activities to an independent contractor. The team also advised Spectrum Brands on its acquisition by Energizer; the legal advice included structuring and analysing the best transfer method for more than 50 employees. Other 2018 mandates included assisting a European financial services company with the closing of a collective bargaining agreement. Other key practice figures include senior associates María Cecilia Reyes, and the recently hired Leopoldo Ruiz del Valle, who has almost 20 years’ experience. Associates Alexandra Silveira and Gabriela Delgado are also noted. Former senior associates Veronica Pelaez and Sebastian Salazar left for in-house positions at Cenit and Grupo Vanti, respectively. Clients include Honeywell, Sanofi, McKinsey Cisco and Nalco de Colombia.

Litigation Tier 1

Led by Claudia Benavides, who was recently named chair of the firm’s global practice group, Baker McKenzie S.A.S.’s Bogotá-based team has a ‘strong reputation in the market’ and ‘shines thanks to its professionalism, expertise and responsiveness’. Cristina Mejía and associates Juan Guillermo Otero and Jorge Valencia are also key members of the 14-strong group, which successfully defended Parsons Group on both legal and technical grounds against alleged responsibility for damages at a power plant; a favourable first instance ruling was confirmed on appeal, with the plaintiffs held responsible for all the defendant's costs and legal expenses. The team is currently representing leading broadcaster Caracol in a $20m lawsuit filed by local retail company Madis de Colombia regarding the alleged publication of untrue facts about Madis. Other clients include Embraer, China United Engineering Corporation, Louis Berger Group and Shell.

Tax Tier 1

The practice group at Baker McKenzie S.A.S. is ‘very responsive’ and ‘provides an exceptional service’, principally to multinational companies in Colombia and - via the firm’s office network - elsewhere in Latin America; it is particularly known for the design of optimal transfer-pricing policies between related parties in different jurisdictions. The firm is also known for its involvement in the oil-and-gas industry, including tax advice on M&A transactions and tax structuring issues. Leading lawyer Ciro Meza, who is well regarded by peers and clients alike, heads the 13-strong practice group, with ‘top-notch, upcoming expertRodrigo Castillo leading the wealth management area. Recent headline mandates included acting as lead counsel to Brookfield Infrastructure Group on its $560m acquisition of a controlling stake in Gas Natural (a transaction that required three public auction phases and a tender offer), and successfully representing AES Chivor & Co in a suit against a DIAN resolution concerning the refund of stamp duty contributions. Other mandates included advising Altra Investments on the sale of plastic-packaging solutions provider Proenfar (and all its Latin-American subsidiaries in Mexico, Argentina and Peru) to Weener Plastics. Senior associates Carlos Gómez and Daniel Botero (whose practice is primarily finance focused) and associate Daniela Lievano-Uribe are also noted. Clients include ExxonMobil, Chevron, Airbnb, Amazon, Noble Energy, PepsiCo and Google.

Arbitration Tier 2

Strongly recommended’, Baker McKenzie S.A.S. has a broad sector offering including international arbitration and multi-jurisdictional claims. Recently appointed global practice group chair Claudia Benavides is ‘a strong litigator with a solid reputation who can design effective strategies to advance the interests of her clients’. She heads a 14-strong practice, which has been growing its participation in construction disputes relating to large infrastructure projects, such as the one it is undertaking for a state-owned utility facing a claim from the subcontracted consortium responsible for the construction of an infrastructure project that has suffered delays. Other mandates included representing a major US multinational in international arbitration seated in Bogotá; the dispute concerns a breach of a joint operating agreement. Cristina Mejía and disputes director Juan Guillermo Otero are also noted, but former senior associate Jorge Valencia moved in house as head of litigation at Cenit Transporte y Logística de Hidrocarburos.

Banking and finance Tier 2

The practice group at Baker McKenzie S.A.S. has ‘unrivalled knowledge’ of banking and securities law; 2018 highlight mandates saw a team led by ‘excellent’ practice co-head Ricardo Trejos advise Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP) on a $140m investment in real estate investment PE vehicle Fondo Inmobiliario Colombia, managed by its fiduciary subsidiary. In other work, the team continues to advise Brookfield Infrastructure Group on the financing of its acquisition of Gas Natural. The department, while small, has been strengthened notably: April 2018 saw the arrival as partner of Andrés Crump from Brookfield Asset Management; he now co-leads the practice in conjunction with Trejos and highly regarded acting global chair Jaime Trujillo. Subsequently, in October 2018, Sebastian Boada was hired from the Office of Financial Superintendence; both he and fellow senior associate Daniel Botero are noted members of the team. Other clients include Sacyr, JP Morgan, Banco Itaú and Scotiabank Colpatria.

Corporate and M&A Tier 2

Baker McKenzie S.A.S.’s long-established Bogotá office frequently acts as a regional hub for the rest of the firm’s offices across Latin America. The 15-strong department works ‘diligently to meet tight deadlines’, and demonstrates an ‘ability to grasp the most sensitive matters’ and to ‘oversee future scenarios and pros and cons’. Practice co-heads Jaime Trujillo (recently named regional chair for Latin America), Juan Felipe Vera and Andrés Crump (who joined in April 2018 and is ‘strongly recommended­’) led the advice to Brookfield Asset Management on its $560m acquisition of a 59% stake in Gas Natural, a transaction on which the team had worked since 2017. Other mandates included assisting Peabody Energy Corporation with the proposed acquisition of an 80% stake in Drummond International; Altra Investments on the sale of Proenfar to Weener Plastics; and Farma de Colombia on the acquisition of certain assets from Laboratorios Quipropharma. Well-regarded senior associate Natalia Villalba is ‘gaining profile’; fellow senior associate Natalia Gutierrez joined from Brigard Urrutia in October 2018. Clients include Altra Inversiones, Unilever, Summum Energy and Mercantil Colpatria.

Energy and natural resources Tier 2

With a tradition of involvement in all aspects of the oil and gas sector, Baker McKenzie S.A.S.’s experience in power generation projects has also been growing lately, with the team undertaking various wind, solar, biomass and electricity transmission projects. On the development front, the practice advised Oak Creek Energy, Voltalia, SC Solar and SPV Villanueva on new power generation projects. Alejandro Mesa heads the nine-strong team with partners Claudia Benavides, Ciro Meza and Andrés Crump attending to relevant contentious, transactional, and private equity activity and tax matters, respectively. Recent matters included advising MAC Johnson Controls on the negotiation, finalisation and execution of an amendment to its existing natural gas supply agreement with Gas Natural. In mining, the team assisted Texas Mining and Associates with the acquisition of one of the most important emerald projects in the country, comprising several mines in the municipalities of Quipama and Muzo. The practice also advised a number of well-known international extractive companies in environmental due diligence and compliance matters. Clients include Trafigura, Schlumberger, ONGC Videsh, Petrobras, Brookfield and Talis Capital.

Intellectual property Tier 2

Baker McKenzie S.A.S.’s 15-strong practice group handles the full spectrum of intellectual property matters and has considerable experience managing large portfolios of IP rights nationally and internationally, particularly in the pharmaceutical sector; it also has niche expertise in falsification. The 15-strong team has ‘extensive experience’, is ‘proactive’ and ‘provides alternatives’. Juan Pablo Concha heads the team, with Ricardo Metke also a key member. However, the practice saw the retirement of Álvaro Correa and Cristina Matiz left for the country’s Council of State. Recent mandates saw the team act on behalf of Abbott, filing an opposition against Nestlé’s application for the mark HM-O; the trade mark office declared Abbott’s opposition well founded and denied registration for the mark HM-O in classes 5 and 29. The practice also filed an opposition against MEXAN on behalf of Bayer in class 5 seeking to obtain the notoriety of the mark MEXSANA in Colombia. The Trade Mark Office did not only deny the registration of MEXAN, but also recognised the notoriety of MEXSANA. Other active clients iclude PepsiCo, Caracol Radio, GlaxoSmithKline and Kock Industries.

TMT Tier 2

The practice at Baker McKenzie S.A.S. is led by Carolina Pardo, a ‘top lawyer in the sector’ who is praised for her ‘deep knowledge’, ‘pragmatism’ and ‘for taking personal care of the clients'’ needs. The seven-strong team has, however, seen considerable movement of late: the December 2018 arrival of associates Laura Botero (who was previously in-house at Colombia Móvil for four years) and Juan José Reyes (who re-joined the firm after a year studying for an MBA) was followed by the departures of associates Sandra Castillo (a data protection specialist) and Rodrigo Millan (who moved to Cosargo), as well as that of senior associate Carlos Castellanos, who moved in house at Cullen International. Associate Mariana Camacho is also noted. Recent mandates saw the team advise AT&T Services on obtaining permits for the development of its telecoms activities in the country, including issues such as submarine cabling and voice over IP (VoIP), and Telcordia Technologies on its bid for number portability implementation in Colombia, a process that guarantees the right that users have regarding their mobile phone numbers. Other highlights included advising Abbott Laboratories regarding personal data issues and the company’s strategies for protecting the data of its clinical trial subjects, and assisting Boston Scientific with the legal implications of the differences between the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Colombia’s local data protection regulations. Clients include Fedex, Mazda, Accuro and Sprint.

Projects Tier 3

Baker McKenzie S.A.S.’ practice, led by Alejandro Mesa and Andrés Crump, undertakes all stages of the development of greenfield and brownfield projects, as well as handling infrastructure dispute resolution matters. The team is currently advising investment bank Bonus on the structuring of two PPP projects for the construction, refurbishment, operation and maintenance of roads in the department of Valle del Cauca. It is also advising Aena on the structuring of a PPP project for the expansion of Cartagena’s Rafael Nuñez International Airport, as well as on the structuring of four PPP projects for the construction, operation and maintenance of four other airports: Cali International Airport, Edén (in Armenia), Benito Salas (in Neiva), and Perales (in Ibague). Maria Montejo is also a key member of the team. Clients include Sistemas Operativos Móviles, Incuba Gestora de Negocios, Grupo ADO and Brookfield Infrastructure.

Real estate Tier 3

The strength of Baker McKenzie S.A.S.’ practice group lies primarily on the transactional side of real estate matters, with the team frequently working in combination with the tax and corporate/M&A departments. However, under the leadership of Alejandro Mesa, the department has steadily grown its capabilities, particularly in the urban law segment. Recent matters have seen the team assist Uber with the structuring, drafting, negotiation and closure of the lease and construction agreements for the company’s new offices in Bogotá. It also assisted Accuro with the drafting and negotiation of the agreements for the management and operation of the company’s clients’ real estate properties. Experienced associate Camila Jiménez, who has expertise in environmental law as applied to urban and rural projects, is also a key team member. Other clients include Biogen, Louis Vuitton, Fitness24Seven and Decameron Hotels.

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Photo Name Position Profile
Ms Claudia Benavides Galvís  photo Ms Claudia Benavides Galvís
Mr Rodrigo Castillo  photo Mr Rodrigo Castillo
Mr Juan Pablo Concha Delgado  photo Mr Juan Pablo Concha Delgado
Mr Andrés Crump  photo Mr Andrés Crump
Mr Carlos Espinoza  photo Mr Carlos Espinoza
Ms Tatiana Garcés-Carvajal  photo Ms Tatiana Garcés-Carvajal
Ms Cristina Mejia  photo Ms Cristina Mejia
Mr Alejandro Mesa  photo Mr Alejandro Mesa
Mr Ciro Meza Martínez  photo Mr Ciro Meza Martínez
Ms Clare Montgomery  photo Ms Clare Montgomery
Mr Juan Guillermo Otero  photo Mr Juan Guillermo Otero
Ms Carolina Pardo  photo Ms Carolina Pardo
Ms Maria Cecilia Reyes  photo Ms Maria Cecilia Reyes
Ms Evelyn Romero Ávila  photo Ms Evelyn Romero Ávila
Mr Ricardo Trejos Robledo  photo Mr Ricardo Trejos Robledo
Mr Jaime Trujillo  photo Mr Jaime Trujillo
Mr Juan Felipe Vera  photo Mr Juan Felipe Vera