A new Argentine firm set up by Pérez Alati’s former arbitration team
|People in Who's Who Legal||1|
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|Value of pending counsel work||US$230 million|
|Current arbitrator appointments||6 (1 as chair or sole)|
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Founded in February 2018, Martínez de Hoz & Rueda is made up of a breakaway group of eight partners from Argentina’s Pérez Alati Grondona Benites Arntsen & Martínez de Hoz – including head of international arbitration José Martínez de Hoz and his disputes team.
At their previous firm, the team represented investors in a number of treaty claims against Argentina resulting from the country’s 2001-2002 financial crisis. They also defended Argentina in an ICSID case predating the crisis – the first Vivendi water concession case.
The team has experience of commercial arbitration too, having acted in complex multi-party and multi-contract disputes seated throughout the Americas and Europe, particularly in the energy sector.
Martínez de Hoz has led the work on many of these cases. He is a member of the ICC Court and regularly sits as an arbitrator.
Another name to note is Francisco Amallo, a former counsel at Pérez Alati who became a founding partner of the new firm, and who has represented clients in international commercial and treaty cases and related litigation. He has also sat as arbitrator and is a member of the executive board of the ICDR’s “Young and International” group.
The firm’s head office is in Buenos Aires and it has a further base in Neuquén in the east of the country.
Who uses it?
Energy and natural resources companies that have sought counsel from Martínez de Hoz and his team include Chevron, Sinopec, Occidental Petroleum, President Energy, Capex and Hidroeléctrica Piedra del Águila.
The team says it also has extensive experience of acting for insurance and reinsurance companies in arbitration, among them Germany’s Deutsche Rückversicherung and the Reinsurance Group of America.
It’s early days in terms of results for the new firm, but the team had plenty of successes while at Pérez Alati.
With White & Case, they represented 60,000 Italian investors in defaulted sovereign bonds in a groundbreaking US$2.5 billion treaty claim against Argentina – described as ICSID’s first “mass claim”. Argentina ultimately settled the case before it reached a final award, making a cash payment of US$1.35 billion to the claimants in 2016.
Working alongside King & Spalding, the former Pérez Alati team obtained a US$73 million award against Argentina for US energy company El Paso in 2011, which survived an annulment proceeding three years later. In 2016, the government settled the award at a 25% discount with a payout of bonds to a Delaware entity that had acquired the rights to the award.
Martínez de Hoz and his team also guided Argentine state oil and gas operator YPF to a settlement of a long-running ICC dispute relating to the curtailment of gas exports to Brazil during the Argentine energy crisis of 2004. The state-owned entity paid US$114 million to local pipeline operator TGM to satisfy an ICC award worth nearly three times that much, having achieved a similar discount in a related settlement with US energy group AES.
They also helped Chevron to prevent the enforcement of a US$9 billion Ecuadorean court judgment in the Argentine courts.
Shortly after Martínez de Hoz & Rueda opened its doors, its lawyers took part in the final hearing in annulment proceedings brought by Argentina at ICSID against a US$220 million award that the team had secured for Exxon Mobil while at Pérez Alati in 2016.
Among several other appointments as arbitrator, Martínez de Hoz is currently hearing an ICSID case brought by Mexican telecoms company América Móvil against Colombia that alleges the state expropriated its assets following legislative changes in 2013.