Rich pickings in Colombia and Mexico – Uría Menéndez

What is the best strategy for law firms looking to capitalise on the massive opportunities presented by infrastructure and energy projects in Latin America?

Infrastructure projects in Colombia as well as energy projects in Mexico present significant opportunities for law firms, but strategies for capitalising on them differ greatly, according to Uría Menéndez partner Eduardo Rodríguez-Rovira, who heads the firm´s Latin America practice group.
The Colombian government intends to invest around three per cent of GDP in 2014 in improvements to its road infrastructure, but there will also be significant energy projects taking place, such as the construction of gas pipelines, according to Rodríguez-Rovira. He adds that, in Mexico, the opening up of the country´s state-controlled energy sector will present “huge opportunities”. Rodríguez-Rovira says: “Spanish and Portuguese companies will be involved and there will be a lot of work.”
What strategy will Uría Menéndez be adopting in order to capitalise on these opportunities? Rodríguez-Rovira says it will be a continuation of the firm´s long-standing “best friends” strategy, which the firm has used to expand awareness of its brand in Latin America. “We have lawyers seconded permanently to firms and we have good market share.”
However, Rodríguez-Rovira acknowledges that rival law firms are adopting a range of different strategies in order to capitalise on opportunities in the Latin American market. “We have competitors that are looking to establish offices in Latin America and there are some firms that are mirroring our strategy,” he says. “It depends on your strategy, if you want a presence in Latin America, Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile are the places to be because those countries have open markets, but if you want a network, Brazil and Mexico have the most opportunities.”
The Spanish market plays an important role in providing access to Latin American markets, according to Rodríguez-Rovira. “Spain is a bridge to Latin America from Europe, there is a lot of investment in Spain from Latin America – more M&A work now has a cross-border nature although the number of domestic deals is recovering.”