Questions & Answers
Hans’ main areas of practice include banking and finance; mergers and acquisitions; private equity; project finance; capital markets; and real estate. He graduated as an attorney-at-law from the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México in 1995 and has a Master of Laws with honours (1999) from Northwestern University of Chicago. He was a foreign associate at Mayer Brown in Chicago (1999–2000). Hans is the author of several publications on banking and finance, capital markets and private equity.
What motivated you to pursue a career in project finance?
Project finance provides lawyers with the opportunity for a mixture of technical abilities in different fields, such as law, finance and government procurement. Moreover, what made me work in project finance was the challenging need for innovation, and the promise of complex projects.
What do clients look for when selecting a project finance lawyer?
Clients want to have solution-finders in their corner. Project finance deals are often challengeable, given that interests among the parties are not always necessarily aligned. Project finance clients assume that their lawyers are competent enough to deal with merely legal tasks; the added value that they look for is the ability to come up with alternatives to overcome the problems that arise in the deals.
Project finance lawyers should not only be knowledgeable, experienced and talented lawyers, but also extremely effective negotiators. The ability to be flexible enough to pursue and meet clients’ needs is probably what clients mostly appreciate.
Which have been the most active types of projects in your jurisdiction over the past year?
Last year’s project finance market in Mexico was significantly influenced by the new government’s plans; 2019 was the first year of the new federal administration, and this accounted for a significant change in the new types of projects that will be starting.
The areas that have experienced the highest growth this year have been the restoration and construction of railway roads and highways.
How do you see covid-19 impacting the project finance sector as a whole, and how will this affect you and your clients?
The covid-19 situation is likely to affect the Mexican project finance industry in different ways. On the one hand, projects might be slowing down due to the worldwide uncertainty that the situation is creating; on the other hand, there is a need for alternative projects (ie, those in the power, and oil and gas industries), and the Mexican Central Bank is trying to create a boost via larger cuts to interest rates, to promote low-cost borrowing and consequently incentivise further investments as a whole. Lenders are responding to these incentives and trying to compete for lending with more favourable conditions. There is an encouragement for investors to participate in the Mexican market on highly leveraged project finance transactions.
Where, in your opinion, does the future of the practice area lie?
The pandemic and the current administration’s plans will provide a number of new opportunities in areas that were traditionally undeveloped.
For example, on the federal side, the government has major infrastructure projects including the south-eastern train, Tabasco’s oil refinery, an airport in the surroundings of Mexico City and the trans-Isthmus train.
What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished?
We had advised governmental entities, developers, contractors, lenders and syndicates on different projects; however, I would like to advise any of these types of clients on future infrastructure projects that might help the wider community – for instance, preventing or reversing the effects of climate change.
What advice would you give to younger practitioners hoping to one day be in your position?
My advice is to keep reading about the latest local and international tendencies and practices of project finance deals. The project finance industry is always innovating; therefore being updated is certainly a good way to be ready to step in whenever a client needs advice on these matters.