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									1/190   Venezuela

        Chamber of commerce:                        Professional body:
        Federación de Cámaras y Asociaciones de     Federación de Colegios de Abogados de
        Comercio y Producción de Venezuela          Venezuela
        Avda El Empalme                             Av La Salle
        Casilla 2568 Urbanización El Bosque         Torre Inpreabogado, Piso 11
        1050 Caracas                                Caracas
        Venezuela                                   Venezuela
        Tel:      +58 212 731 1711                  Tel:      +58 212 991 98 45
        Fax:      +58 212 731 0246                            +58 212 991 87 42
        Email:            Website:

        Banking and capital markets                 Project finance                              that facilitated the trickle of foreign-denomi-
                                                                                                nated currency entering the local market.
        Recommended firms                            Recommended firms                                Last May the Venezuelan government shut
        Tier 1                                      Tier 1                                      down the Permuta parallel foreign exchange
        D’Empaire Reyna                             Baker & McKenzie                            market and raided brokerage houses it accused
        Rodner Martínez & Asociados                 Mendoza Palacios Acedo Borjas Páez          of illegally trading stocks for dollars at an
        Rodríguez & Mendoza                           Pumar & Cía Rodner Martínez & Asociados   alternate rate than officially accepted. The
                                                    Rodríguez & Mendoza                         moves effectively bar foreign investors from
        Tier 2                                                                                  changing their bolivar-denominated assets
        Baker & McKenzie                            Tier 2                                      within Venezuela, where the bolivar’s artifi-
        Bermúdez Nevett Mezquita López              D’Empaire Reyna                             cially inflated value makes it the only prof-
        Mendoza Palacios Acedo Borjas Páez          Despacho de Abogados miembros de            itable place to exchange the currency.
          Pumar & Cía                                 Macleod Dixon                                 Within this climate of uncertainty foreign
        Travieso Evans Arria Rengel & Paz           Squire Sanders & Dempsey                    investors are somehow finding room to oper-
                                                    Tinoco Travieso Planchart & Núñez           ate, helped by Venezuela’s legal community. A
        Tier 3                                      Torres Plaz & Araujo                        few lucky companies find protection behind
        Aarons & Asociados                          Travieso Evans Arria Rengel & Paz           trade treaties between the country and their
        Hoet Pelaez Castillo & Duque                                                            parent governments, which most recently
        Squire Sanders & Dempsey                    Haunted by his country’s economic woes,     include Russia, Syria and Trinidad and
        Tinoco Travieso Planchart & Núñez           Hugo Chávez last July looked to a familiar  Tobago. Others have structured joint ventures
                                                    ghost: Latin American freedom fighter       with the government that offer less protection
        Tier 4                                      Simone Bolivar. In a televised, middle-of-the-
                                                                                                but acknowledge the government’s dependen-
        Despacho de Abogados miembros de            night operation the Venezuelan President hadcy on specific areas of private foreign invest-
          Macleod Dixon                             his deceased predecessor of almost 200 yearsment.
        Torres Plaz & Araujo                        exhumed to settle the age-old rumour that       And for Venezuelan nationals feeling the
                                                    Bolivar died of poisoning rather than tubercu-
                                                                                                increasing pressure of a deteriorating situation
        Mergers and acquisitions                    losis. The country’s lawyers interpret this lat-
                                                                                                at home there is an ultimate plan B: Panama.
                                                    est macabre twist as just another sign that the
                                                                                                Or Colombia, or the Dominican Republic,
        Recommended firms                            socialist leader’s misguided policies spell ruin
                                                                                                where one respondent notes: “You can live
        Tier 1                                      for Venezuela - politically, culturally and eco-
                                                                                                very comfortably with a private plane.” But
        Baker & McKenzie                            nomically.                                  Panama’s immigration-friendly residency
        D’Empaire Reyna                                 “Here we are used to talking about plan A
                                                                                                requirements and offshore banking industry
        Mendoza Palacios Acedo Borjas Páez          and plan B,” says one Venezuelan attorney,  make it the latest fashionable place for
          Pumar & Cía                               and increasingly the country’s remaining pri-
                                                                                                Venezuela’s business leaders to take their
                                                    vate enterprises are taking measures to protect
        Tier 2                                      themselves should plan ‘A’ fail. These include  But the exodus of capital has not gone
        Hoet Pelaez Castillo & Duque                transferring assets out of country when applic-
                                                                                                unnoticed by the Venezuelan government,
        Rodríguez & Mendoza                         able and isolating units the government may and legal sources contend the flow of capital
        Squire Sanders & Dempsey                    find attractive for expatriation.            into Colombia is largely driving the growing
        Tinoco Travieso Planchart & Núñez               While corporate restructurings have keptdispute between the neighbouring countries.
                                                    Venezuela’s lawyers busy over the past few
        Tier 3                                      months, the process is attritive; one leading
        Raffalli de Lemos Halvorssen Ortega Ortiz   lawyer laments: “I’m losing all my clients ... to Baker & McKenzie
        Torres Plaz & Araujo                        the government!” With the nation running “Sometimes a foreigner likes to go to a famil-
                                                    out of industries to expropriate, Chávez’s iar name,” says one rival of Baker &
                                                    administration is closing the few loopholes McKenzie’s success in the local market. But                                                                                                       2011 EDITION
                                                                                                                                   Venezuela             1/191

commentators contend a talented team of              have been shrinking over the decades.” Still,      who works very hard and has attorneys that go
100% Venezuelan attorneys stand behind the           market feedback says the firm sees “encoun-         into detail,” says the competitor.
international brand. “They have always had           ters in business transactions” with interna-
some good lawyers,” says one peer.                   tional clientele.                                  Leading lawyers
   Sources within the legal community say                The firm received an important recent           Reinaldo Hellmund
Baker & McKenzie represents “more industri-          mandate representing one of the few foreign
al multinationals than anyone else in the            players currently entering the hydrocarbons
country,” and excels in the critical area of asset   market, thanks to recent economic agree-           Other ranked firms
protection planning. Competitors say partner         ments between Venezuela and Russia. At the         The Venezuelan partnership of Squire
Eugenio is “historically the star” of the firm,       end of 2009 the firm advised Prominvest in a        Sanders & Dempsey took a recent hit at the
and earns praise as a respected arbitrator and       joint venture agreement with state oil compa-      beginning of last year when Juan José Delgado
scholar.                                             ny PDVSA, establishing a new local sub-            left to form a competing practice. But com-
   While commentators say Baker &                    sidiary to exploit underutilised oil fields.        petitors say the firm continues to hold a
McKenzie’s large American banking clients                Peers single out brothers Carlos Eduardo       strong presence in energy and industrial mat-
have been inactive in the market of late, the        and Manuel Acedo as the most active partners       ters with partner Hernando Diaz-Candida.
firm’s financial practice recently provided reg-       of Menpa in corporate transactions. Last year      “He’s smart, bright and quite practical in all
ulatory and transactional advice to both             the firm covered Metlife locally in its takeover    parts of the law,” says one peer.
Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank on struc-           of AIG’s American life insurance unit Alico,           Diaz-Candida represented LaFarge last
turing securities loans and derivatives for var-     completing a plan set in place before AIG’s        year in the transfer of its local cement-pro-
ious Venezuelan counterparties.                      near-meltdown in 2008.                             ducing assets to the Venezuelan government,
                                                                                                        helping to negotiate the more than $250 mil-
Leading lawyers                                      Leading lawyers                                    lion to the French company. Additionally,
Jesús A Dávila                                       Carlos Eduardo Acedo Sucre                         Diaz-Candida advised Cadbury Adams local-
Eugenio Hernández-Bretón                             Luisa Acedo de Lepervanche                         ly in its global acquisition by Kraft.
Alvaro J Posada                                      Manuel Acedo Sucre                                 Leading lawyers: Hernando Diaz-Candida

D’Empaire Reyna                                      Rodner Martínez & Asociados
Competitors call D’Empaire Reyna a big firm,          As a traditional player focused on Venezuela’s
but for its large-scale reputation in the            financial market, Rodner Martínez owns a
Venezuelan market rather than the size of its        reputation peers say rests squarely on the
team. Approaching 40 years in practice, the          shoulders of partner James-Otis Rodner. “He’s
firm is considered young by peers owing to            very personalistic and always travelling to
the fact that founding member Gustavo                meet with clients,” says one rival, adding, “Its
Reyna remains active in transactions.                really a one-man show.”
    The firm has earned the most recognition              The firm’s most recent work involves asset
lately in “processes of asset sales and expropri-    protection actions, including the implementa-
ations” of several key private players in the        tion of employee stock options for five multi-
market by the Venezuelan government.                 national corporations. The actions were
“Those transactions have given them some             instrumental to the companies’ strategic
additional exposure,” says one rival, “and they      restructurings and capital repatriation require-
have used it as a marketing point.”                  ments from the Venezuelan government.
    While the firm has no department heads,
partner Fulvio Italiani is described as very effi-    Leading lawyers
cient by competitors and “remains a key play-        Jaime Martínez Estévez
er” in the market for his participation in gov-      James-Otis Rodner
ernment takeovers. “He is in all of those,”
observes one peer, adding “he’s the one selling
the product.”                                        Rodríguez & Mendoza
                                                     Commentators count Romen among
Leading lawyers                                      Venezuela’s oldest and most prestigious law
Geraldine D’Empaire                                  firms in the country. “When you read an
Fulvio Italiani                                      opinion from those firms you trust it a bit
Gustavo Reyna                                        more than the others,” notes one peer. The
                                                     firm earns marks for remaining strong
                                                     through the global downturn and economic
Mendoza Palacios Acedo Borjas                        crisis back home.
Páez Pumar & Cía                                         Considered an “able attorney in corporate
Noted as a historic player in legal market with      matters” by rivals, partner Reinaldo
lineage dating to over 100 years ago,                Hellmund receives high praise from one com-
Competitors note the firm has suffered with           mentator in particular for his own talents and
its core client base competitors describe as         those of his legal team. “He’s a practical guy
“national investors with larger groups that

2011 EDITION                                                                                                           

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