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GAR 100 - 11th Edition

Uría Menéndez

04 April 2018

Acting in a US$3 billion shareholder dispute over an African telecoms company

People in Who’s Who Legal 2
People in Future Leaders 3
Pending cases as counsel 32
Value of pending counsel work US$5.95billion
Treaty cases 2
Current arbitrator appointments
18 (of which 6 are as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 7

Uría Menéndez is Spain’s largest corporate firm. Its arbitration practice is led by Jesús Remón and Miguel Virgós in Madrid, who both sit as arbitrators. Remón is an honorary president of the Spanish Arbitration Club and Spanish alternate member of the ICC Court, while Virgós was one of 16 experts selected by the European Commission for its special group on the status of arbitration within the scope of the Brussels I Regulation.

In 2016, the firm recruited Gabriel Bottini as a partner in Madrid, adding valuable investment arbitration expertise. He spent eight years at Argentina’s Treasury Attorney General’s Office, including as its first director of international disputes. In that role, he helped to defend the state against some 50 treaty cases.

The arbitration group includes four other partners in Madrid, two in Barcelona, five in Lisbon and one in Oporto.

Network

The firm’s network spans the Iberian peninsula thanks to a 2010 merger with a Portuguese firm. It has offices in several other European countries, including the UK, Belgium and Poland, as well as in China.

In Latin America, the network extends to Bogotá, Buenos Aires, Lima, Mexico City and São Paolo. It also has a stake in Philippi Prietocarrizosa Ferrero DU & Uría, a tie-up between firms in Chile, Colombia and Peru that also features in the GAR 100.

Uría Menéndez is also a member of a “best friends” network of six European firms, who all appear in the GAR 100: Slaughter and May in the UK, Bonelli Erede in Italy, Bredin Prat in France, Hengeler Mueller in Germany, and De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek in the Netherlands.

Who uses it?

Numerous banks and financial service providers, as well as energy companies. Clients include Banco Sabadell, Santander, Bankia, BBVA, Caja de Ahorros del Mediterráneo, CVC Capital Partners, Enel, Gas Natural, Ingeniería y Economía del Transporte, Iberdrola, Isolux Corsán, Repsol, Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional and Brazil’s TIM.

Track record

In 2014, the firm helped Spanish oil company Repsol settle its US$10 billion ICSID claim against Argentina over the expropriation of its stake in oil and gas operator YPF. The state agreed to pay US$5 billion in bonds. Uría paired with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Argentine firm Marval O’Farrell & Mairal as co-counsel to Repsol, and helped to coordinate Repsol’s strategy in related court proceedings across Argentina, the United States and Spain.

More recently, it successfully represented a Spanish oil and gas company in a US$200 million dispute with a foreign company over breach of a long-term agreement for supply of liquefied natural gas.

Another case was for Spanish construction group Isolux Corsán in an ICC arbitration over the upgrade of an Argentine power plant. The result was a mixed bag – Isolux won just US$1 million of the US$110 million it had sought from Argentina’s Pampa Energía, but it succeeded in reducing a US$200 million counterclaim from Pampa to a final pay-out of around US$15 million.

Recent events

The firm has been engaged in a US$3.3 billion dispute between shareholders of an important African telecoms company.

It has also been instructed by Spanish engineering group Sacyr and Spanish banks Abanca and Kutxa in a shareholder dispute relating to a motorway concession operator in northern Spain. The clients lodged a claim with the Madrid Court of Arbitration against New York private equity firm Corsair Capital after a touted US$1 billion sale of the operator was blocked.

The firm’s head of international arbitration in São Paulo, counsel Valeria Galíndez, left to open a new boutique.

Gillian Cahill, an Irish barrister and former legal secretary at the European Court of Justice, joined the firm as consultant in Madrid in July 2017.

Bottini is sitting as arbitrator at ICSID. As well as receiving two appointments by Venezuela, he has been appointed to an ad hoc committee reviewing an award that threw out a billion-dollar claim against Slovakia.

Client comment

José Miguel Alcolea, director of the business legal department at Iberdrola, calls the firm “excellent” and says that it comes “recommended in any circle”. In international disputes, Iberdrola always chooses a “trusted brand” with experience that can offer direct communication, he says, and Uría Menéndez is always excellent value.

Insight

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