How did you come to be in the energy industry?
During the first stage of my career, I was a corporate-M&A-finance-capital markets lawyer. In 1994 I was invited to advise a group of commercial banks in the first project finance for a CFE power plant. It was a “lease” agreement under a BLT (Built Base Transfer) scheme whereby the construction company would build and “lease” the plant to CFE for 20 years. Its name was “Samalayuca II” and took so long to close that it was renamed “SamalaNUNCA”. (FYI: “Nunca” in Spanish means “never”). Although it was not a “power” deal (a construction financing), it was the first project finance transaction in the energy sector. A few months later, CFE launched the IPP program to outsource the building and operation of gas-fired power plants. It also launched bids to build pipelines to contract gas transportation services to provide the gas required for the IPP projects. At the same time, Pemex started developing the Cantarell oil field.
Because we had been involved in the first “sort-of-power” project, newcomers saw our firm Galicia, as the one with “experience” in the sector, and soon we were hired to work on the first IPPs, pipelines and Cantarell related projects.
In one year we were almost 100% devoted to these projects. Since then, we have been involved in the development and evolution of the energy sector in Mexico and have represented developers, lenders, construction companies, operators, equipment manufacturers, government entities, regulators, and every other participant in the energy industry.
What is your proudest work-related achievement to date?
I can mention two, if I may. First, is the energy practice team we have built in Galicia. We are very proud to be the only Mexican firm that has a fully integrated team of lawyers advising in all the areas needed in the industry: project development and financing, regulatory, corporate, M&A, real estate, environmental, permitting, antitrust and litigation. We are convinced that our integrated practice, which differentiates us from most of our competitors, is what has placed our team at the top of the national rankings.
Second, even though I am neither a criminal lawyer, nor a U-S- lawyer, I was able to get a friend’s brother out of jail and his charges dismissed in a criminal legal procedure in the United States. I contacted the DA and provided sufficient evidence to show him that what my friend’s brother had done was not a crime, but an innocent imprudent action. After following his own research, the DA concluded that the case was merely a “mishap” and should not be prosecuted.
Where do you see the greatest opportunity in the energy market?
The Mexican energy market has great needs in every area: E&P, liquid fuels, pipelines infrastructure, power generation, transmission, development of professionals, advisors, engineers, etc. It is a new area that can detonate a powerful change in the whole chain of activities.
Where do you see the greatest challenges?
In two areas: (i) the transition process: will take time. Government officials, regulators, developers, lenders, advisors and other market participants need to adapt to the new system and the new rules. This process will imply a change in the business culture. And (ii) the volume and complexity of the regulatory framework will take time to be digested, tested and fine-tuned. There will be a trial-error process with problems for different participants, but necessary to create a reliable system. It is like learning to swim: you need to jump into the water. At the beginning you will swim slowly, maybe you will swallow a lot of water, but eventually you will develop speed and swim in different styles.
Who had inspired you to join or develop within the industry?
It has been more of a coincidence that things fell from the sky: I happened to be in the right place at the right time. I started working in the industry because someone thought I had the necessary capabilities. I have great gratitude to a former client, Carlos Barajas, an engineer with experience in commercial and operational matters, who spent long hours to help me understand the technical secrets of the industry.
What was the wisest advice you received from a mentor?
An old teacher and admired friend once told me that the greatest virtue you need to excel as a lawyer, more than talent or intelligence, was patience.
What advice would you pass onto a recent graduate wishing to work in your line of business?
The same. Hard work, study and patience will take you to the next levels.
If you could wave a magic wand over the global industry, what would you change and why?
I would travel back in time and have our energy reform approved 50 years ago.
What’s the one interesting fact about you that no one would suspect?
I am a frustrated singer. Everybody knows that I am a frustrated football player!!
How do you prefer to spend your spare time?
Exercising, preferably playing soccer; my children and my partner; and sleeping!!!
What is your hobby or an achievement outside of career?
Sports, mainly soccer, golf and outdoors (hiking, cycling). I have played several soccer world cups for lawyers in different countries and won 2 world cups and 2 America cups with the Mexico lawyers’ team.
What’s your favourite holiday destination?
I love the sea, in all its expressions and presentations.
All-time favourite book?
I have a few: The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet, La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, La Catedral del Mar by Ildefonso Falcones. I also love the Emilio Salgari and Agatha Christie tales. The narrative style and the human approach are extraordinary.
All-time favourite film?
I will mention a film, a TV series and a musical: Film: Forrest Gump; TV series: Game of Thrones, by far!! Musical: nothing, nothing, compares to “Les Miserables”.
What three items would you take with you to a desert island?
Easy: a soccer ball, a guitar (I would have to learn to play it), and a camera.