- From Holland & Knight's Bogotá office, our Colombian Practice Team represents Colombian companies with international legal needs and non-Colombian companies that wish to enter the Colombian market.
- All resident lawyers in Bogotá and most other members of our team are fluent in Spanish and provide bilingual, bicultural representation to clients in Colombia and throughout Latin America, as well as the United States and other countries around the world.
- We counsel clients in all aspects of their business operations with an emphasis on cross-border transactions and international disputes
- The Colombia Practice Team is available to help address business, regulatory and legal issues companies may face related to COVID-19, including memos and analysis as it specifically relates to Colombia.
With over 35 years of experience representing clients in Latin America, Holland & Knight expanded in the region by opening an office in Bogotá in 2012. Ours is one of the few U.S.-based firms with a full-service office in Colombia, which allows us to play a key role in helping clients achieve their short and long-term goals. Our Colombian Practice Team includes Colombian-licensed practitioners based in Bogotá, in addition to lawyers who maintain dual practices with offices in both the United States and Colombia. With more than 120 attorneys and professionals across the firm who are fluent in Spanish, we provide bilingual and bicultural representation to companies in Colombia and across Latin America, as well as the United States and other countries around the world. Our physical presence in Colombia – combined with the depth and scale of our practices, regional relationships and international reach – enables Holland & Knight to provide comprehensive and seamless legal services to our clients regardless of where they are located.
Our Colombian Practice Team offers solutions to Colombian companies with local and international legal needs as well as non-Colombian companies that wish to enter the Colombian market. Members of our team assist clients in all aspects of their business operations, with an emphasis on transactional matters and international disputes. We regularly counsel clients in cross-border transactions, international trade, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, capital markets, venture capital and private equity investments, international licensing and franchising, intellectual property, competition, media and entertainment, public policy and regulation, and international litigation and arbitration. In addition, we provide regulatory advice to foreign companies doing business in Colombia, as well as Colombian companies doing business abroad.
Additionally, the Colombia Practice Team has a strong energy and environmental law practice focused on the oil and gas, energy and natural resources sectors. The firm has extensive experience in Colombian and Latin American environmental compliance and regulatory litigation, oil and gas projects, mining projects, project finance, foreign investment projects, mergers and acquisitions, complex corporate reorganizations and financial restructurings.
Our Dynamic Interdisciplinary Team and Global Understanding
Our Energy Team has great synergy with our Corporate and Financial Services practices, which has enabled us to participate in important energy and energy finance projects. We serve the needs of our clients in several projects announced by the Colombian government. In addition, our Colombia Practice has a Labor, Employment and Benefits Group that complements and supports our corporate transactions.
Our understanding of cultural differences and our multilingual capabilities (fluency in English, Spanish and Portuguese) enables us to play a key role in moving a case through the international process. All of our attorneys are familiar with the civil and common law systems. They frequently speak at conferences, lecture at distinguished universities, and write articles about corporate, finance and energy-related topics. We are committed to providing superior client service and employ a practical real-world approach to all matters in order achieve our clients' short and long-term goals.
We have extensive experience in the following areas:
Corporate Services and Mergers & Acquisitions
The team represents clients in a wide range of transactions, including M&A, formation of new companies, corporate reorganizations, spinoffs and capitalization structures, real estate and contracts. We have provided corporate counsel in complex international mergers of large commercial groups in Colombia, and have served as counsel, lead arranger and administrative agent on several multimillion dollar syndicated loans and multi-bank syndicates in Colombia.
Energy and Natural Resources
Our Energy Team in Colombia is focused on the oil and gas, energy and natural resources industries, with more than 20 years of experience in environmental compliance and regulatory litigation, oil and gas projects, mining projects, project finance, foreign investment projects, mergers and acquisitions, and complex corporate reorganizations and financial restructurings.
Among these transactions, the team currently advises and represents multiple upstream and downstream oil and gas and mining multinational and local industry participants in complex and sensitive contract negotiations, environmental site assessments and compliance audits, and evaluation and resolution of environmental liability concerns, among other issues. We have the knowledge and experience to assist our energy clients in preparing for, and participating in, the rapidly changing electric and natural gas sectors.
Our substantive background includes key legal services such as:
- advanced planning and definition of operational strategy to ensure timely project development and regulatory compliance
- due diligence process
- M&A implementation through strategic analysis of client interests and asset verification
- environmental review within and during environmental licensing and permitting procedures
- proactive and reactive public consultation with diverse communities, including representation of interests where acquired rights and environmental modifications and claims can affect operational conditions
- legal defense in environmental investigations and claims that result in administrative fines
- defense in class actions and constitutional proceedings
The team's experience includes issues pertaining to climate change, compliance auditing and corporate governance, energy efficiency, environmental health and safety, environmental issues, environmental permit approvals, green building, litigation (including toxic torts), natural resources and sustainability issues.
Our office regularly works with the firm's Intellectual Property Group to provide a full range of legal services designed to help protect our clients' innovations and stand out in a competitive global market. With extensive experience in all intellectual property issues faced by our clients, we are well positioned to develop, manage and protect their interests in an efficient and effective manner. Whether it is a Colombian company operating in worldwide markets, an international organization or an entrepreneur with an innovative idea, we provide the guidance necessary to ensure long-term success.
The legal services we offer our clients in regards to intellectual property include:
- Competition law
- Consumer law
- Data protection
- Patent litigation
- Regulatory issues
- Trademarks and patents
- Unfair competition and trade secrets
Our team seeks to replicate the structure of the Superintendency of Industry and Commerce (SIC), to offer personalized and comprehensive legal services in all areas and issues that concern our clients, including intellectual property, data protection, competition law and consumer protection. With more than 20 years of experience and legal know-how in the intellectual property arena, our attorneys have established themselves as leaders in managing and counseling IP-related issues faced by a variety of companies on a daily basis.
Our office provides international taxation services that are both preventative and remedial. The team helps clients avoid tax pitfalls and assists in the efficient structuring of transactions to avoid overpayment of tax obligations. Our tax attorneys have experience successfully litigating complex tax cases before the highest courts.
Labor and Employment
The team advises Colombian-based companies as well as foreign companies establishing or conducting business activities in Colombia and provides day-to-day labor law advice, including litigation. The team also offers corporate diversity and equal employment opportunity counseling, as well as advice on union-management relations – including negotiating with unions if needed – and assistance in all corporate immigration matters. Our attorneys have extensive experience in drafting employment agreements, preparing labor policies, executive compensation and employee benefits, labor management relations and non-compete agreements, among many other areas.
Banking and Finance
The office advises domestic and foreign financial institutions in bank regulatory and financing matters, financial services and credit transactions, cross-border financial transactions, project finance transactions and syndicated loan facilities in different markets.
Arbitration and Litigation
The team assists clients to resolve conflicts through coordinating, managing and supervising multijurisdictional litigation, local and international investment arbitration and commercial disputes. Our litigators have extensive experience as international arbitrators in ICC, ICSID and CIETAC matters and representing parties in commercial arbitrations before tribunals administered by the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce.
The office provides advice during the bid preparation, negotiation of the engagements terms, and the drafting and negotiation of all type of contracts in different industries – including the negotiation for expansions involving one of the biggest infrastructure projects in Colombia. Our team also has strong experience in PPP projects in Colombia and abroad.
Recent notable transactions include:
- Representing a leading provider of construction, technology and infrastructure for the energy industry, regarding Colombian law issues in an International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) arbitration brought by the state-owned refinery
- Represented Operadora de Comercio S.A.S., owner of Centros Comerciales Unico, a chain of outlet shopping malls in Colombia, in the structuration of the sale of five shopping malls during the negotiation and sale of 80 percent of their assets to Patrimonio Estrategias Inmobiliarias (one of the major real estate investment vehicles in Colombia); the deal included a complex fiduciary structure, trademark license agreement, and property and facility management agreement
- Represented a Chinese major mining company in a top-level due diligence process, including mining, environmental, antitrust, corporate, real estate, litigation, contractual and social issues with respect to one of the biggest gold mining projects in Colombia and potential advice for the acquisition of the target company in Colombia
- Legal adviser under Colombian law for MUFG Bank Ltd. on its US$163.5 million financing for the La Virginia-Nueva Esperanza transmission line project; MUFG acted as coordinating lead arranger, administrative agent, offshore collateral agent and hedge provider on the transaction
- Legal adviser to Financiera de Desarrollo Nacional (FDN) as lender in several project finance transactions; all part of Colombia's fourth generation (4G) infrastructure plan as well as the first project finance structure implemented in Colombia for a non-conventional renewable energy project
- Advice to a major oil and gas company in more than 200 judicial proceedings related to the discussion of an environmental tax (1 percent obligation) derived from the environmental license granted for oil projects, structuring of the legal strategy necessary for the negotiation with the environmental authority at the mediation discussions with the National Agency for Environmental Licenses (ANLA) led by the National Agency for the Judicial Defense of the State (ANDJE)
- Advice to a company that operates one of the major emerald mines in Colombia, in the extension proceeding of its concession agreement before the National Mining Agency (ANM)
International Private Wealth Services
The international private wealth services practice in Colombia is able to provide the following services:
- Establish trusts for Colombians with assets in the United States
- Regularize tax non-compliance of a Colombian with tax residence in the United States
- Plan the current or eventual transfer of assets to a spouse or descendant who is a tax resident in the United States
- Tax and estate planning in view of becoming a US tax resident.
- Structure real estate investment in the United States for greater tax efficiency and legal advantage.
- Inheritance in the United States and declarations of succession
Leading Lawyers on Your Side
Members of Holland & Knight's Colombian Practice Team have been selected for inclusion in leading industry publications based on their work in the region. A number of our attorneys are ranked in the 2021 edition of Chambers Latin America, and the 2018 editions of Chambers Global, Latin Lawyer 250, IFLR1000 and The Legal 500 Latin America.