11 Jan 2023

Cuatrecasas bolsters LatAm presence with Mexico City boutique bolt-on

Integration of four-partner Rico Robles y Libenson sees Spanish heavyweight’s Mexico team exceed 50

(l-r) Iván Libenson, Juan Pablo Rico, Gustavo Robles and Andrés Bonett, Image courtesy of Cuatrecasas

Top two Spanish law firm Cuatrecasas has absorbed Mexico City transactions and disputes boutique Rico Robley y Libenson (RRL), in a move that sees the firm’s headcount in Mexico top 50.

The move comes just a few months after Cuatrecasas signed an integration agreement with a Portuguese firm and bolstered its LatAm bench with partner hires in Mexico and Peru. The firm also has offices in South America, in Peru and Chile. 

RRL’s four partners – Juan Pablo Rico, Gustavo Robles, Iván Libenson and Andrés Bonett – joined Cuatrecasas as partners on 1 January alongside a team of more than 12 lawyers and support staff. They will work under the Cuatrecasas structure and brand name. 

The firm said that with the merger it expected to build a ‘benchmark’ practice in the Mexican market and boost its ability to serve US and European clients in need of regulatory and transactional advice in the country. 

Cuatrecasas senior partner Rafael Fontana described the merger as “good news for our clients, because we are adding a team of top-quality professionals, as well as for RRL clients because they will be able to receive a greater scope of services through our international network”.

Rico, Robles and Libenson were previously partners at White & Case and left the firm’s Mexico City office in 2012 along with a team of associates to found RRL. The trio bring a mixture of disputes, infrastructure, banking, regulatory and corporate law experience – including M&A transactions, securities issues, project finance and restructuring. Meantime Bonett, who was previously a senior associate at White & Case, focuses his practice on administrative regulation and litigation. 

“The Mexican market is going through a period of consolidation in which the major law firms have sought to increase their capabilities in an increasingly competitive environment,” said Rico. “For RRL it is an opportunity to jointly build a law firm that focuses on the quality of its work through customised attention and the partners’ direct involvement in their cases; that bolsters talent attraction and retention, with clear career paths in a strong international organisation.”

Cuatrecasas first launched in Mexico back in 2016 and has developed a solid reputation in the country for its corporate and M&A, arbitration and banking and finance offerings. Key clients for the firm in Mexico include Bain Capital, Platinum Equity and CaixaBank; recent work has included advising Aon on the acquisition of Mexican risk analysis firm ERN and SEC Newton on acquiring a controlling interest in Mexico City PR agency Another. 

Cuatrecasas boosted its tax offering in Mexico City late last year with the hire of former KPMG partner Juan David Mina, at the same time announcing the hire of M&A specialist Diego Carrión in Lima from Peruvian law firm Hernandez & Cia. 

The firm, which grew revenue by 11% in 2021 to hit €350m, also announced last November that it was absorbing Portuguese firm Serra Lopes, Cortes Martins & Associado into its Lisbon office, a move that handed it 250 profesisonals. 

Other international firms to bolster their Mexico City presence recently include Holland & Knight, which last year added a six-strong capital markets team from DLA Piper, shortly after DLA Piper hired a six-partner team from White & Case to boost its corporate, tax, finance and litigation team in the city. 

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