With over 30 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, 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:
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.
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.
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.
The success of foreign and international trade depend on proper structuring, implementation and use of suitable vehicles. After carefully considering the business interests of a client's organization, our team efficiently designs and implements foreign trade operations (imports and exports) and access to other markets in compliance with customs rules, instruments of foreign trade promotion and free trade agreements.
Our services include:
- definition of interest and impact on international trade negotiations for specific transactions and for international trade agreements
- identification of possibilities of real access to global markets
- development of matrices opportunities
- logistics-tariff planning
- advice on aspects of foreign trade, customs and foreign exchange
- use of instruments for promoting foreign trade, which include Plan Vallejo, free zones, international distributors and authorized OAS, among other economic operators
- support and legal and technical assistance to those involved in foreign trade operations, as well as logistics in consulting international distribution networks
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:
- advised Empresa de Energia de Bogotá (EEB) on its US$880 million purchase of 31.92% of stock in Transportadora de Gas Internacional (TGI) from The Rohatyn Group and a US$645.5 million syndicated loan to finance the acquisition
- led negotiation process between the USO and CB&I in Cartagena, Colombia, as part of expansion of one of the biggest Colombian infrastructure projects
- representation of a U.S. general contractor in several arbitration proceedings against subcontractors for a project to expand and revamp the Cartagena Refinery before different arbitration tribunals in the Chamber of Commerce of Bogotá
- provided counsel in the complex international merger of the commercial group GeoPark in Colombia, Panama and Delaware (U.S.) as all of its entities, capital and assets were absorbed by a Colombian company
- served as New York and Colombia counsel for Bladex and lenders in US$90 million syndicated loan to Colombia’s Centelsa; lead arranger and administrative agent in US$80 million syndicated loan to Banco Aliado; and sole lead arranger, administrative agent and bookrunner of a nine-bank syndicate on a US$125 million syndicated loan to Banco de Costa Rica
- led InterContinental Hotels Group's multiple hotel projects Argentina, Chile, Colombia and throughout Central America
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 2016 editions of LatinLawyer250, Chambers Global, Chambers Latin America and IFLR1000, as well as the 2015 edition of The Legal 500 Latin America.