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GAR 100 - 9th Edition

Uría Menéndez

18 February 2016

The Iberian firm acted in an Argentine power plant dispute

People in Who’s Who Legal: 2
Pending cases as counsel: 33
Value of pending counsel work: US$2.5 billion
Treaty cases: 1
Current arbitrator appointments: 19 (of which 8 are as sole or chair)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator: 8

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 a former co-president of the Spanish Arbitration Club, 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.

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

Network

As well as its two Spanish offices in Madrid and Barcelona, the firm’s network spans the Iberian peninsula thanks to a 2010 merger with a Portuguese firm. It also has offices in several other European countries, including Belgium and Poland, as well as in China.

In Latin America, the firm has its own office in Brazil and access to a network of affiliates. In 2014, it took a 30 per cent stake in a Chilean–Colombian law firm merger (the first of its kind in the region). The new firm, Philippi Prietocarrizosa & Uría, also features in the GAR 100.

Uría Menéndez is also a member of a “best friends” network of six European firms, who all feature 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 Santander, Bankia, Caja de Ahorros del Mediterráneo, CVC Capital Partners, Enel, Gas Natural, Ingeniería y Economía del Transporte, Iberdrola, Isolux Corsán, Repsol and Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional.

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 had also been coordinating Repsol’s strategy in related court proceedings across Argentina, the United States and Spain.

Recent events

The firm recently acted for Spanish construction group Isolux Corsán in an ICC case 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 payout of around US$15 million.

In January 2015, Lisbon-based banking and insolvency specialist Nuno Salazar Casanova was promoted to the partnership.

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.

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