Baker & McKenzie now boasts 72 partners in Mexico, thanks to the promotion of four lawyers specializing in mergers and acquisitions, banking and finance, tax, and labor issues.
M&A specialist Jonathan Adams, tax lawyer Roberto Cardona-Zapata, labor expect Raúl Lara-Maiz, and banking and finance attorney Carlos Sagaón-Garza entered the firm's partnership in Mexico City on January 1.
Adams focuses on corporate compliance matters. Having spent seven years practicing in the U.S., he said he expects to unite "the perspective of both my U.S. and Mexican legal training, as well as six years of experience in-house for the Mexican affiliate of a large multinational. I will also add a compliance perspective to the M&A work that we do, which will significantly reduce risks for foreign clients doing business in Mexico and the Latin American region.”
Currently, Adams is keeping busy working on strategic restructuring for early-stage (angel investor) and development-stage (venture capital) foreign investments as they change ownership or bring in foreign investors. He is counseling several multinationals in Latin America on global M&A as well as day-to-day legal matters. Adams devotes a smaller but still significant part of his time to advising clients on anti-corruption efforts and internal investigations in Mexico and the region.
In an interview with IFLR1000, Adams said he has observed “a strong tendency of buyers to focus on pre-acquisition Compliance Due Diligence because of its potentially large impact on an M&A deal far beyond the proportional size of the Mexican or regional market in the acquisition as a whole.”
He predicted that in 2015, U.S. is likely to continue to “consider Mexico as a natural extension of their home markets based on their analysis of the U.S.’s increasingly diverse population.”
“Despite language and legal system differences, Mexico and the other regional Latin American jurisdictions share many underlying cultural values with the U.S., and that makes business work,” he said. "Despite often significant lapses on both sides of the border, those cultural values clearly include a commitment to honesty and integrity in business.”
Sagaón-Garza, a 16-year veteran of the firm, focuses on real estate finance and general banking and commercial lending. At the moment, he is advising a Mexican bank on structuring financing to a real estate fund for the acquisition of an industrial portfolio in several Mexican states. He recently helped a client in financing for a retail space in Mexico City. In April 2014, he took part in the advising of Invex Grupo Financiero and Banco Nacional de Comercio Exterior on an $80 million financing package for the building and running of the first cross-border airport bridge between Mexico and the U.S., to link pedestrians from Tijuana and San Diego. Moreover, he was part of the team that advised DeepOcean Holding Group in 2012 on the borrowing of EUR140 million for the amendment of a vessel mortgage and other security interests granted in Mexico.
Sagaón-Garza said he has noticed a “particular increase in work in transactions on their due diligence aspect for both entities and the assets because of anti-money-laundering regulations and publicly discussed fraud cases.” He added that there is a “particular appetite of both lenders and borrowers to participate in the now opened energy sector."
In October 2014, the firm bolstered its corporate, M&A, infrastructure, and telecommunications practices with the hiring of seven former DLA Piper attorneys.