Marta Almeida Afonso – GC Powerlist
Iberia 2022

Energy and utilities

Marta Almeida Afonso

Head of legal and company secretary | Redes Energéticas Nacionais

    Team size: Ten

    Which recent political, economic, or regulatory changes have impacted the company and the team the most?

    REN has a very experienced and dynamic team which advises on all legal matters and that has a close relationship with both the top management and the operational departments. The legal team assists with all significant transactions in Portugal and Chile, in the electricity and gas sectors. Two major events – the pandemic and the Ukranian war, have brought significant changes in our industry. REN provides an essential service to the population; our legal department had a key role in supporting internal clients and preventing legal risks throughout the pandemic, guaranteeing the quality of our services. REN manages the gas transmission system and operates the only GNL terminal in Portugal – our activity is critical, and the legal department had the role to analyse scenario created by the Ukranian war. Additionally, the political instability in Chile has also brought challenges to our in-house team, requiring adaptation capabilities.

    What are the biggest risks facing your industry and how are you preparing your team and company for this?

    The energy sector is evolving extremely fast – change of electricity and gas market, introduction of renewable and increased focus on green hydrogen. The legal team needs to be on the front line of innovation, continuously updating its legal skills and developing knowledge on the technical aspects that govern the activity. The team is challenged to continuously investigate legal topics but also to attend the technical (non-legal) training that our colleagues provide. Training is then shared among team members, spreading knowledge on the day-to-day work.

    How has the increasing consciousness of climate change and sustainability affected the company and the team’s priorities?

    Climate change and sustainability impacted our activities last year. The legal team supported REN on its first issue of green bonds in Portugal for €300m, bringing the sustainability topic to the capital markets promoting innovation. Being a company that operates in the electricity market whose main scope concerns the transmission of energy, the legal advice provided by our department has significantly shifted over the years – increasing reliance on renewables and a revised regulatory model brought new ways of dealing with stakeholders and changed the contractual framework that governs our activities. The increasing focus on sustainability gave rise to new challenges in terms of corporate governance matters. We provided close support to the newly created sustainability departments and proceeded into a review of all our governance regulations and policies in order to place sustainability (particularly transparency, corruption, and whistleblowing mechanisms) at the centre of our concerns.

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