Nader Hayaux & Goebel has gained a pair of partners through a lateral hire and an internal promotion.
Adalberto Valadez will lead the firm’s tax practice. He was a partner at Chévez Ruiz Zamarripa & Cía and has worked on the tax aspects of investment, M&A, and fund formation. A member of the International Fiscal Association, Valadez earned his law degree at Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México.
Alejandro Rojas specializes in infrastructure, public-private partnerships, energy, financing of governmental agencies, and real estate M&A. Rojas helped advise the Federal Ministry of Communications and Transport on several recent deals, including a $170 million public bid for a 30-year, 61.8-kilometer toll concession in the state of Morelos in April 2013. He counts among his clients Axis/Oro Negro, Evercore Partners, Trafigura Beheer, Grupo Concord, Ensco, Kot, BANOBRAS, FONADIN, and the Ministry of Transport and Communications.
With the advent of Mexico’s open energy market, Rojas observed, the market has concentrated on the upstream and midstream sectors, expressing scant interest in downstream refining and processing.
Rojas added that downstream will be attractive to the market once the gasoline and diesel markets are fully open in 2017 and 2018. Moreover, 2015 will mark the first full year since Mexico reopened its energy markets, and Rojas said people are eager to get involved.
“The market is waiting for clear, transparent, flexible, and efficient rules under the secondary regulation to implement the energy reform and regulations issued by the boards of directors of PEMEX and CFE,” he said. “This is an electoral year in Mexico, so the market expects no interference or political barriers for the implementation of the energy reform. Mexico needs to address different security issues affecting important states to secure the participation of the main players to Round One and other projects.”
Round One refers to the first round of bidding to extract and explore nearly 200 of the country’s oil fields.
Rojas added that the hardest challenge relates to the international trend of a decrease in oil prices. The prices continue to plummet, and are at a five-year low. According to a January 15 Bloomberg article by Adam Williams, Mexico’s “energy ministry may postpone private auctions scheduled for this year because of the slump in crude, which fell almost 50 percent last year, Mexico Energy Minister Pedro Joaquin Coldwell said Dec. 4. The ministry is ‘evaluating the restructuring of the round one auctions in the areas of unconventional oil, shale gas and shale oil,’ he said.”
“Since Mexico has been impacted by this trend, the market is expecting that the Mexican Authorities lower their requirements included in the bid documents for Round One,” Rojas said. “Potential players of Round One are concerned and have expressed negative comments to the model contract. Therefore, some of these players are expecting that Mexican Authorities lower the requirements for participants and reflect their concerns to the model contract. Another major challenge is the tight timeframes provided for Round One; Mexico may need to slow down the process and deadlines for Round One to get things right.”
Rojas said clients are ready to participate in new projects facilitated by the reform but are “concerned with so many requirements, participation restrictions and the model contract that includes too many termination provisions, little or none flexibility, heavy oversight, reporting and auditing.”
On the infrastructure side, Rojas noted the government has taken steps to boost development in Mexico, but several obstacles remain.
“Since the creation of “Pacto por Mexico” (Pact for Mexico), this government along with the main opposition parties have developed a series of important legal reforms that will boost the infrastructure development in Mexico,” he said. “However, recent events like the cancellation of the Queretaro/Mexico Railroad Project have affected the perception of a transparent and competitive Mexico, therefore, Mexico has to reduce widespread corruption by strengthening of the transparency of public procurement and the application of rule of law.”
Rojas said when it comes to financing projects in Mexico, the main challenge is to procure the bankability and financability of infrastructure projects, so investors will be attracted to Mexico.
“Mexico has adapted and reformed its public procurement regulation during the past 15 years in order to incentive potential investments in infrastructure projects through the new PPP Law and its regulation, important amendments to state and federal financial laws in order to allow the implementation of a greater variety of financial instruments for project finance,” he said. “Based on the new public procurement and financial regulation, Mexico’s government has always the challenge to procure for each project a proper distribution of risks among investors and itself so that the most important international players participate in the development of Mexico’s infrastructure.”
Rojas obtained his law degree at Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México with honors and his LLM at Columbia University School of Law in New York. Rojas is also licensed to practice law in New York.