Ferrere

Legal 500 Ecuador, 2016

COMPETITION AND ANTITRUST

Ferrere Ecuador is fast becoming one of the market-leading firms in the Ecuadorian competition and antitrust field. The team of four is led by Javier Robalino (who also leads the corporate department), with key support from senior associate Daniel Robalino, who is particularly experienced in competition and antitrust-related litigation. The team advises on the full spectrum of issues including the negotiation of cease and leniency agreements, litigious cases, transaction-related matters including notifications and authorizations, compliance, and preventative and regulatory counselling. Recent mandates include handling the first contentious competition matter heard before the Andean Community’s General Secretariat in more than ten years, with Javier Robalino leading the representation of internet provider Internexa (and Internexa Perú) in proceedings against Corporación Nacional de Telecomunicaciones for abuse of dominant position in the Ecuadorian telecom market. Other matters include compensation claims for unfounded allegations anti-competitive behaviour, defence in competition and antitrust investigations; compliance audits, pre-merger control, appellate processes and preventative advice. Other key team members include senior associates Alberto Brown and José Urizar, who was formerly at the Undersecretary of Competition and Consumer Defence. The firm’s international client roster includes La Fabril, Francelana, Metrocar, Cementos Yura and 3M del Ecuador.

CORPORATE AND FINANCE

Eighteen months on from its opening in the country, Ferrere Ecuador has announced its arrival in the corporate and finance arena in the strongest manner: advising Schlumberger subsidiary Shaya del Ecuador on a $5bn integrated service-provision contract with Petroamazonas EP that constitutes the largest deal in Ecuadorian history; the team also undertook an associated $950m syndicated financing facility to provide working capital. The office’s 24-strong, four-partner corporate finance team is led by Javier Robalino and Jesús Beltrán on the corporate and finance sides, respectively, and specialises in large cross-border transactions, particularly those involving public law aspects, such as assisting Credit Suisse in relation to the possible privatization of Corporación Nacional de Telecomunicaciones. Robalino and Beltrán also led advice to Danaher Corporation regarding its $47m acquisition of Lipesa Enterprises (including its Latin American subsidiaries). Public law and government-negotiations specialist Paola Gachet is also an integral member of the team; in addition to her involvement in the CNT case, above, she also led advice to Autolider with regard to the negotiation of a trolley-bus supply contract with the municipality of Quito, as well as with the restructuring of its local distribution arrangements, and with compliance and regulatory issues. The team’s caseload also included project implementation, the acquisition of a majority holding, and assisting Cargill with a $30m joint venture with Naturisa to build a shrimp-feed facility near Guayaquil, among numerous other matters. A strong second tier of senior associates includes Martín Pallares (cross-border M&A and public procurement), Daniel Robalino (corporate and M&A), and Pedro Jose Hajj (banking and finance, and M&A).

DISPUTE RESOLUTION

When Ferrere Ecuador launched some 18 months ago, it had incorporated the entire disputes resolution team of what had previously been Paz Horowitz Robalino Garcés; unsurprisingly, it has hit the ground running. The three-partner, 11-strong team is led by Javier Robalino (who is ‘recognised for his arbitration prowess’) and handles the full range of disputes work, from international arbitration to construction disputes, and administrative litigation to contentious tax matters. Recent headline matters saw Robalino lead the representation of Internexa (and Internexa Perú) against Ecuador’s state-owned telco Corporación Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (CNT) in both arbitration for breach of contract, and –in a separate case under Andean Community competition rules– a claim of abuse of dominant market position. Elsewhere the team has been active in an array of disputes relating to the oil-and-gas sector, where it can call on the expertise of Andrés Donoso, a former national Secretary of Hydrocarbons and Chief Counsel for NOC Petroamazonas; matters include cases involving possible expropriation (& denial of justice); windfall profits and government-mandated renegotiation of production sharing contracts and environmental matters involving community negotiations. Other work includes insurance and reinsurance disputes, arbitration regarding utilities provision, breach of contract, and violation of property rights. Noted for his profound knowledge of procedural matters, counsel Luis Carlos Fernández has over 20 years’ experience of civil and commercial cases, administrative proceedings and contentious labour issues. Government relations specialist Paola Gachet is also a key team member. In addition the firm has a strong second tier: senior associates Daniel Robalino (who is also very experienced in litigating antitrust cases) and Leyre Suarez, both have arbitral expertise; and associate María Teresa Borja has procedural and arbitral expertise – her former experience includes acting as a member of the defence team of Ecuador’s Office of the Attorney General, and acting as an external arbitration consultant for Dechert LLP.

ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES

Only 18 months after opening its doors, Ferrere Ecuador can rightly claim to be at the forefront of the energy & natural resources sector with an impressive team recently bolstered by the addition of mining specialist Alvaro Ordoñez, a former National Under Secretary for Mining Contracting, who joined the firm as of counsel in February 2016. The now 10-strong practice group is directed by Andrés Donoso a former National Secretary for Hydrocarbons who, as a former legal manager of state oil-and-gas exploration/exploitation company Petroamazonas EP, also has in-house experience. He is flanked by ‘legal dynamo’ Javier Robalino, who is particularly involved on the investment side of the sector, and when necessary in energy-related arbitration; and government contracts and negotiation specialist Paola Gachet. In what was undoubtedly the sector’s headline mandate, the team advised Schlumberger subsidiary Shaya del Ecuador on the establishment of a $5bn integrated service provision contract with Ecuadorian State oil company Petroamazonas. However, what is increasingly differentiating the team’s service offering is its day-to-day service provision to major players in the industry such as Schlumberger, Repsol and OCP; and here senior associate Rafael Valdivieso’s genuine expertise in oil and gas serves as an indication of the team’s strength in depth. Other key mandates include advising Schlumberger/Tecpetrol joint venture Kamana Services on mature-fields contract negotiations; community negotiations with the Huaorani community on behalf of Repsol that resulted in a one-of-a-kind private agreement; and advising key contractor SK Construction and Engineering on the $800m refurbishment of the Esmeraldas Refinery. Other clients include OCP, PDVSA, CPVen Oil Services and Amerisur.

LABOUR AND EMPLOYMENT

Fielding a six-strong team, Ferrere Ecuador offers a full array of corporate labour services. The practice group is co-led by senior associate Paulina Regalado Yépez and counsel Luis Carlos Fernández, who is primarily focused on procedural and contentious matters and has more than 20 years’ experience. Recent mandates include undertaking all labour aspects (including employment benefits, profit sharing and labour regulations) of Shaya de Ecuador’s integrated service provision contract; defending PDVSA in multiple contentious matters; and successfully handling the first case in Ecuador of ‘ineffective dismissal’ (despido ineficaz) on behalf of Atunes del Pacifico. Other matters include ongoing labour advice to COINTEC (and its joint ventures), Explocem, Transnexa, British School of Quito (Orbital Education) and Energy & Palma, for which the team also undertook a full labour audit.

REAL ESTATE

Ferrere Ecuador fields a seven-strong team led by ‘formidable negotiator’ Paola Gachet, and which advises construction companies, investors and buyers on the development, sale and acquisition of real estate projects, including associated matters from the structuring of real estate guarantees to permitting. The practice has a certain focus on larger projects and both Gachet and Javier Robalino have broad experience of real estate and construction matters, and particularly transactions in the sector. Senior counsel Francisco Naranjo and senior associate María Gabriela Cando also have particular expertise in real estate matters and are noted. Recent matters include land acquisitions for beachside resort developments; advising a construction company with regard to the development of an overseas bid; advising a regional real estate company on all commercial and legal aspects of private community developments; the sale and acquisition of terrain and commercial lots; and permitting and licensing matters related to commercial inscription with local municipalities. Clients include Niravelsa, Las Tanusas, Grow Flowers, Inmo Las Olas, Transmarina, Energy Palma and Alkavat.

TAX

Ferrere Ecuador ‘has definitely shaken up the market’ since opening its doors 18 months ago and in the tax sector, where it fields an eight-strong team, it offers full-service capability, including transactional tax matters, consultancy, planning and reorganizations, as well as day-to-day advice. The team also offer transfer pricing (in conjunction with a consulting firm) and customs regulatory consulting. Current head of the International Fiscal Association’s Ecuadorian chapter, practice-group head Paola Gachet, has strong expertise in transactional tax matters, reorganisations and infrastructure project-related tax matters in particular, and is also knowledgeable about international taxation and transfer pricing. Office manging partner and ‘multifaceted practitioner’ Javier Robalino is also a key contact for transactional tax advice. Further strength comes from senior associate Bolívar Figueroa, a former regional legal head at the SRI, he specialises in tax structuring and planning. Recent mandates include advising French state-owned entity In Continu et Services on all tax implications of establishing a local branch. Other matters include tax analysis, administrative oppositions and tax litigation in the hydrocarbons sector, tax planning (and associated double-taxation matters), tax-efficient financial structures; tax strategy in regard to corporate investments; and on the customs side, import duty analysis and tax litigation against the customs authority. Clients include Cargill, Schlumberger, Colgate-Palmolive, 3M, Amerisur, Cementera Petrolera de Venezuela CPVEN and Banco Internacional.

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