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Central America 2016: Corporate

As the Central American region begins to open up more and more to international investments, its corporate legal market must too expand to meet demand. With 103 lawyers recommended in the field, it is the largest single practice area in our research, highlighting the need, both my local and foreign clients, for high-quality legal counsel.

The Dominican Republic-Central America FTA, the US-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement and the region’s partnership agreement with the European Union have meant that it is now easier than ever for international companies to enter the region’s markets. According to our research, the two largest markets in this sector are Panama, Costa Rica and Guatemala. This supports the World Bank’s figures for foreign investment in the region, with all three countries receiving over $1 billion in 2014, and Panama netting over $5 billion.

Two regional firms stand above the rest in the research. Arias & Muñoz and Consortium Legal receive 11 and 10 recommendations respectively, both from a spread of countries across the region. Arias & Muñoz has practitioners named from six of the seven jurisdictions covered in the chapter, proving it to be a truly leading firm in the region. Consortium Legal receives recommendations across four countries, proving its strong position in the market. Meanwhile, in Panama it is the long-established national full-service law firms that stand out, namely Aleman Cordero Galindo & Lee, Morgan y Morgan and Arias Fábrega & Fábrega. 

Costa Rica

BLP tops our listings in Costa Rica with four practitioners. The “excellent” David Gutiérrez represents multinational companies in both day-to-day governance matters and M&A transactions; he is said to be a “great operator”. Luis Castro impresses with his “no-nonsense approach” and is particularly involved with corporate and M&A matters relating to clients in the energy and real estate sectors. Carolina Trejos specialises in cross-border M&A transactions, and is lauded for her “dealmaking qualities”. Ronald Lachner is an “incredibly talented” practitioner who advises banking and aviation clients on their corporate and commercial dealings.

Arias & Muñoz are well known for their “outstanding” corporate department and three lawyers stand out at the firm’s Costa Rican office. José Antonio Muñoz specialises in corporate and commercial matters and governmental relations. He advises both international and domestic clients, with peers commenting on his “strong decision-making and foresight”. Vicente Lines advises technology, media and telecoms clients on corporate and commercial matters, and is recommended as a “top name” in the sector.  The “excellent” Pedro Muñoz is a corporate disputes practitioner with particular experience in matters relating to international investment.

Zurcher Odio & Raven has three leading practitioners featured. Harry Zurcher specialises in the funding of M&A, particularly from foreign sources, and is “highly sought after” by clients. Ignacio Gallegos has an “international outlook” and is praised for his “straightforward and practice advice”. Alberto Raven-Ramírez focuses his practice on corporate matters relating to clients in medical industries, and is noted for his “technical expertise”.

Pacheco Coto has a strong regional presence with its headquarters in Costa Rica. Hernán Pacheco is chairman of the board at the firm; praised for his “high-quality advice”, Pacheco specialises in asset planning and corporate matters domestically and internationally. Fernando Vargas is director of telecommunications within the firm’s corporate law division and is in charge of the Free Zone areas. He has participated as counsel of transnational and local companies in complex business transactions. He is considered a “go-to lawyer” for respondents.

Consortium Legal’s Costa Rica office has two inclusions. Rolando Laclé Castro focuses his practice on corporate and commercial matters and international commerce, and is a “grandfather of the bar” in Costa Rica. Mario Quesada Bianchini specialises in the acquisition of banking and other financial institutions and is a “true star” in the field.

Aguilar Castillo Love is another regional player with a strong focus on the Costa Rican corporate market. Marco Solano Gómez is a “fantastic” M&A specialist, whose “commercially orientated advice” is commended by clients. John Aguilar-Quesada is “in high demand” and offers a “calm demeanour” to clients.

Victor Garita and Sergio Solera represent Facio & Cañas in Costa Rica. Both are lauded for their work in the corporate sector, with Garita noted for his “astute legal mind”, while Solera is praised for his “informed knowledge of both the local and wider business market”.

Dominican Republic

OMG sees four names recommended. Esperanza Ivette Cabral Rubiera is an M&A financing specialist and is recommended for her “finely tuned skills”. Leonel Melo Guerrero focuses his practice on energy M&A transactions and clients praise his “solutions-oriented approach”. Claudia Serra-Nova is an M&A financing specialist who clients “wouldn’t hesitate to recommend”, while Mónika Melo Guerrero is highlighted for her “hands-on approach” in corporate transactions.

Pellerano & Herrera’s Luís Pellerano is a “dean of the Dominican Republican bar” with over 35 years of experience. He is “distinguished” in the region, according to peers. Mariangela Pellerano is “a rising star”, who is active in some of the firm’s biggest corporate mandates.

Headrick Rizik Alvarez & Fernandez senior partner Sarah De León Perelló advises national and international clients on M&A, joint ventures and foreign investment deals. Also at the firm, Marisol Vicens Bello is a “well-known player” who specialises in a range of corporate matters.

Russin & Vecchi’s Luis Heredia Valenzuela is recommended for his “extensive experience” and “strong negotiation skills”.

Jaime Angeles of Angeles & Lugo Lovatón specialises in corporate and IP law, with a focus on the IT sector. “He’s an astute and well informed lawyer,” notes one source.

Awilda Alcantara-Bourdier from Squire Patton Boggs is “insightful and responsive” when representing multinational clients regarding the structuring of their business interests and investments.

El Salvador

Consortium receives three recommendations in El Salvador. Oscar Samour is highlighted for his expertise in corporate disputes and is a “valuable asset” to clients. Maria Alejandra Tulipano Illuega specialises in assisting domestic and foreign investors in corporate matters and regulatory issues, with “great flair”. Diego Martin Menjivar advises foreign investors in corporate matters in El Salvador and is noted for his “sharp mind”.

At Arias & Muñoz another three practitioners are highlighted. Zygmunt Brett is “a leading light”, advising high-profile clients across the aviation and transport, banking, energy and technology sectors on M&A deals. Lilian Arias is a “great tactician” who impresses with her “business-oriented advice”. Armando Arias is recognised as a “bona fide expert” in M&A and corporate matters in El Salvador, with his “vast experience” lauded in our research.

At Romero Pineda & Asociados has a strong corporate practice with an impressive portfolio of multinational clients. Roberto Romero Pineda is the president and founding partner of the firm is a “font of knowledge”. Freddy Zometa is “popular with clients” thanks to his willingness to “go the extra mile to secure a settlement”.

At BLP, Ricardo Cevallos is a widely known name in the region, having acted in some of the country’s biggest corporate transactions. According to peers, “He is a sophisticated practitioner, who can handle complex cross-border deals.”

From Central Law, Luis Alonso Medina (corporate department head) is “a prominent player” with leading mandates in high-value transactions.

Mario Enrique Sáenz at Sáenz & Asociados is “highly esteemed” by peers, and boasts a “first-rate” M&A practice.

Carlos Quintanilla Schmidt of Guandique Segovia Quintanilla - LatamLex is “an established player with strong dealmaking qualities”.

Guatemala

Arenales & Skinner-Klée receives three recommendations. Luis Ruiz specialises in IP and M&A transactions, and is “extremely well thought of” throughout the region. Maria Ines Arenales Brodtmann boasts “excellent attention to detail” and is “very popular with clients”. Alfredo Skinner- Klée specialises in disputes arising from M&A transactions, and impresses with his “careful and capable handling of complex matters”.

From Consortium Legal, the “astute and responsive” Alfredo Rodriguez Mahuad assists clients in the banking sector with corporate matters and the tax implications of M&A deals. Alvaro Rodrigo Castellanos Howell is a “brilliant corporate lawyer”, who often advises international clients on their transactions in Guatemala.

Jorge Luis Arenales de la Roca at Arias & Muñoz is a projects and energy M&A specialist, who is regarded as “intelligent and discerning in his approach”. Also at the firm, Luis Pedro del Valle impresses clients with his “attention to detail” and “proactive responses”.

Marcos Ibargüen Segovia from QIL+4 Abogados is a “problem-solver” with impressive M&A experience that includes joint ventures, shareholder agreements, and due diligence matters. José Quiñones is a specialist in cross-border M&A and a “trusted adviser” to many in the market.

At Mayora & Mayora, lead counsel Eduardo Mayora receives a plethora of endorsements from market commentators, who value his “experience and composure in difficult transactions and negotiations”. Claudia Pereira is a specialist in civil and commercial agreements and corporate matters. Respondents note that she is “one of the top individuals” in Guatemala.

At Pacheco Coto’s Guatemala office, Ruby Asturias is regarded “a very fine M&A practitioner” and “a definite inclusion”.

Rodolfo Alegria of Carrillo y Asociados is often involved in complex M&A matters and is regarded a “seasoned expert with extensive experience representing multinational clients in high value deals”.

Enrique Möller from his own firm is a “shining star” in the market who is “extremely able”.

Bonilla Montano Toriello & Barrios is represented by Lorena Barrios who is “a strong name” in both domestic and international corporate transactions.

Honduras

Bufete Melara & Asociados’ Oscar Armando Melara Facussé is the founding partner of the firm and recognised for his “excellent knowledge and commercial ability”. Jaime Turcios specialises in the corporate aspects of project finance, energy and banking, and has provided “brilliant” assistance to various national and international clients.

Juan José Alcerro-Milla at Aguilar Castillo Love has one of the strongest reputations in the country with several respondents highlighting him as their “number-one corporate lawyer in Honduras”.

Vanessa Oqueli De Riera is the managing partner of Garcia & Bodan in Honduras and represents prominent international companies in cross-border transactions.  “The team is strong with a good work rate”, say respondents.

Dennis Matamoros Batson, founder of Matamoros Batson & Asociados, is “extensively experienced” in handling medium-to-high-value transactions and is “supported by a good team”, according to sources.

From Arias & Muñoz, Mario Agüero is an up-and-coming partner at the firm with a good reputation among peers and clients for his “responsiveness and keen eye for detail”.

Nicaragua

Three names feature from Consortium Legal; its president, José Evenor Taboada, boasts a “legendary practice” with over 40 years of legal experience in the country. He has led many of the most notable transactions in the country for clients such as Wal-Mart, General Electric, Sony, Caterpillar, Citi and GE Finance. Olga Maria Barreto Gutiérrez has impresses market commentators with her standout work on M&A transactions.

Two names are highlighted from Garcia & Bodan for their corporate expertise. Terencio Garcia Montenegro is the regional director of the firm and has been involved in a number of major M&A transactions in the region, garnering him “an impressive standing in the market”. Federico Gurdián has experience working in multiple jurisdictions across the region and is highlighted for his “natural commercial ability”.

At Central Law, Yalí Molina counsels both local and international companies in a range of corporate matters and is regarded as a “consummate professional”. Álvaro Molina Vaca specialises in advising clients in the energy, mining and telecoms sectors on corporate matters and foreign investment.

From Alvarado y Asociados, founding partner José Antonio Alvarado is a standout corporate lawyer with “excellent connections and knowledge of the local business sectors”. Gloria Maria de Alvarado is the firm’s managing partner and is recognised for her “prestigious experience” and her “pragmatic approach”.

Ana Teresa Rizo, corporate department head Arias & Muñoz, is an M&A specialist, advising clients across the banking, projects and technology sectors and recognised for her “commercial, user-friendly approach”. Bertha Argüello is also noted as “a key player” in the department.

Ernesto Rizo from BLP advises local and foreign companies in M&A and governance matters. “He is a smart and highly capable lawyer”, say respondents.

Minerva Bellorin, practice head of Pacheco Coto, ranks as “a well-respected practitioner with a number of multinational clients”.

Juan Álvaro Munguía Álvarez at Munguia Vidaurre Zuniga is also a noted player with a “market-leading M&A practice”.

Panama

Alemán Cordero Galindo & Lee receives five recommendations, highlighting the impressive strength and depth of its team. Carlos Cordero, a founding partner of the firm, focuses his practice on the energy and natural resources and telecoms markets, assisting clients with M&A and other corporate matters including disputes. According to peers, “He is an incredibly well-respected and vastly experienced operator”. Jaime Alemán is famed domestically and internationally for his “impressive status in the market”, having led the team on some of the Panama’s biggest ticket transactions. Anibal Galindo is a regaled corporate lawyer with “excellent connections, strategic foresight and commercial knowledge”. Alejandro Ferrer is “a very visible player at the top end of the market”, according to respondents. Eloy Alfaro is an up-and-coming star at the firm, who sources have praised for his “excellent performances” on complex transactions.

Four lawyers are featured from Morgan y Morgan’s “outstanding practice”. The “fantastic” Inocencio Galindo regularly advises multinationals on large scale M&A transactions as well as joint ventures. Francisco Arias is a leading player, noted for his “smart and pragmatic” counsel. The “excellent” Carlos Ernesto González Ramírez specialises in M&A in the insurance and energy sectors. Juan David Morgan Jr is highly recommended for his “dedicated and well-informed advice” in corporate governance matters.

Arias Fábrega & Fábrega also garners four inclusions. LeRoy Watson has expertise in the negotiation and drafting of contracts, including corporate governance and joint venture agreements. Peers remark that “his presence always inspires confidence on transactions”. Roy Durling Jr is head of the firm’s business and corporate law group and is a “definite inclusion”. Ricardo Arango heads the M&A, capital markets and banking practice groups. He regularly leads on the firm’s biggest mandates. Fernando Cardoze’s practice focuses on M&A, joint ventures and other aspects of corporate law; he regarded as a “point of reference” in the market.

Panamanian national outfit Galindo Arias y Lopez sees three practitioners highlighted in the research. Head of department Diego Herrera Dutari ranks highly, advising local and multinational companies on M&A and deal structuring. According to one peer, “He is the star of the show and one of the best around for his intelligence and operational skills”. Ramon Ricardo Arias Porras assists local and foreign banks and corporations in M&A deals, and is regarded as a “leading light”. Alfonso Arias Loredo is a vastly experienced and “highly esteemed” lawyer, who is “more than capable of handling large and complex transactions”.

Icaza González-Ruiz Alemán has three practitioners recommended in this chapter. Joaquín Díaz is a company formation and corporate lawyer, highlighted for his “quick thinking” and “sharp intellect”. Alexis Herrera Jr is a “well-reputed name” who is “very active” in the corporate sector in Panama. Gabriel González-Ruiz is a “well-established name” and is prominently involved in both domestic and international transactions.

Luis López Alfaro is in charge of the corporate department at Alfaro Ferrer & Ramírez. Sources say he is “a hardworking and dedicated practitioner”. Alongside him, Alfredo Ramírez Jr is regarded a “key and experienced player” in the market, according to peers.

At Patton Moreno & Asvat, María de Lourdes Marengo is an “intelligent and judicious lawyer, who I would entrust in crucial matters”. Ivette Martinez specialises in M&A across a range of sectors and is described as “an active and notable counsel”.

At Arias & Muñoz, Gisela Porras advises foreign investors on corporate matters, M&A financing and tax implications, and is a “firm favourite” with clients.

Alida Benedetti from Central Law is very active in the M&A and joint venture market. Clients report that both “her written and oral advice are excellent and well prepared”.

Fábrega Molino & Mulino’s Juan Pablo Fabrega leads the team in cross-border and domestic M&A. According to one source, “He is extremely knowledgeable about the business market and is an excellent adviser”.

Ernesto Arias is the managing partner of Sucre Arias & Reyes, where he “superbly” represents clients in a host of corporate matters.

From Tapia Linares & Alfaro, Eloy Alfredo de Alba is noted for his M&A practice, where he is praised as “a strong deal lawyer”.

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