Winner: Ritch Mueller y Nicolau
New infrastructure investments have stalled in Mexico as uncertainties created by the federal government policies continue to spook investors. But companies are undeterred in tapping capital markets to obtain better terms for existing deals.
The winner of the Infrastructure Lawfirm of the Year in Mexico, Ritch Mueller y Nicolau, was a participant in some of the most important refinancings during the pandemic. One of them, the almost $1 billion refinancing of the Tierra Mojada combined cycle gas project, won LatinFinance’s Infrastructure Financing of the Year in Mexico award this year.
“Tierra Mojada originated in the previous administration, as well as other wind and solar projects that have been developed over the years,” says Thomas Mueller-Gastell, a partner at Ritch Mueller.
Despite the scarcity of new projects, lawyers have been busy in Mexico’s infrastructure sector due to the policy changes made by president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who, in contrast to his predecessors, holds a less favorable view of private capital’s role in the sector.
“We are in an environment that is different and somewhat more difficult than it used to be,” Mueller-Gastell says. “In the energy sector, there have been rule changes that have affected investor confidence. So the pipeline of new projects has slowed down.”
One interesting development, however, has been the arrival of Chinese capital into Mexico’s infrastructure sector, he says. It is happening via deals such as the acquisition of Zuma Energía, a renewable energy company, by China’s State Power Investment Corporation.
“Mexico used to receive little Chinese capital. But Chinese investors have a very long-term view, and asset prices here are low, so they are coming now. They have purchased Zuma and are looking at other projects as well,” Mueller-Gastell says.