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Launching in Mexico City: Mayer Brown plans new oil and gas outpost

Mayer Brown is looking to become the latest law firm to try and capitalise on Mexico’s liberalising economy, chasing oil and gas work with a new office in Mexico City and the hire of ExxonMobil’s in-house counsel for Latin America.

The representative office, which will launch subject to Mexican legal and regulatory requirements, will focus on serving clients operating and investing in the oil, gas and power industries in the country. The decision to launch follows Mexico’s energy reforms, which include opening up the sector to foreign companies, as Mayer Brown looks to develop its energy capabilities across the region. The new base will complement the firm’s oil and gas practice group and work closely with its existing practice in Houston.

The firm has hired Francisco Mendez as a partner in its global energy practice in Houston to help lead the push into Mexico. Mendez was most recently in-house counsel for Latin America at ExxonMobil Corporation where he worked for the last 20 years and most recently advised the US oil and gas giant on the opening of the Mexican oil and gas sector to the private sector. He has also been involved in the formation of the Mexican Hydrocarbons Association, the first association for the industry in Mexico, and has provided counsel on upstream and downstream projects in Latin America.

‘For the first time in 75 years, Mexico’s oil and gas sector is open to private investment. Francisco will bolster Mayer Brown’s ability to advise oil and gas and energy services companies from around the world who are seeking guidance on how to invest in this new market,’ said Houston partner Dallas Parker, leader of Mayer Brown’s Mexico energy reform initiative. ‘If we are successful in securing regulatory approval to open a new office in Mexico City, we will look to Francisco to play a key role in our continued focus on Mexico as part of our established team of international energy lawyers who are knowledge leaders in Mexico oil, gas and power matters.’

Mexico has seen growing interest from Global 100 firms after President Nieto’s push to deregulate many of the countries industries and open up to greater foreign investment. Hogan Lovells tied up with leading Mexican firm Barrera, Siqueiros y Torres Landa in July last year while DLA Piper announced a combination with local firm Gallástegui y Lozano in October.