Infrastructure Law Firm of the Year-Mexico: Ritch Mueller

LATAM OFFICES: Mexico City
HEAD PARTNER: Pablo Perezalonso

Though the presidential elections loomed large in Mexico last year, Ritch Mueller found itself at the center of some of the biggest infrastructure deals in Latin America.

One of the biggest was a $600 million loan for Enel Green Power’s Villanueva I, Villanueva III and Don José solar projects. Together, they have a capacity of almost 1GW.

“It’s really a landmark transaction,” says partner Thomas Mueller, whose law firm represented the lenders, BBVA Bancomer, Caixabank, Natixis, MUFG, Bancomext , IDB Invest and the European Investment Bank. “Mexico has tremendous solar resources.”

One of the more complex deals involving the firm was the EVM II financing, which brought together a dozen institutional investors and a syndicate of commercial banks, including Citi, BNP, SMBC and Bancomext.

Ritch, Mueller represented EVM Energia in the $740 million financing of the greenfield 850MW combined cycle gas-fired power plant through two private placements and a term loan. “I was personally skeptical about private placements,” says Mueller. “But there turned out to be a lot of interest.”

Lower interest rates helped. Mueller admits he was concerned that interest rates would rise after the presidential election. “But it turned out to the contrary,” he says.

As for future energy projects, Mueller sees some uncertainty about the government’s policy concerning private-sector energy investments. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has rolled back some of the 2013 energy reforms that were friendly to the private sector. “The public sector doesn’t have the resources to do it all alone,” he says.