LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – New-York based finance partner, Melissa Raciti-Knapp, and Paris-based arbitration partner, Nigel Blackaby, have been appointed co-heads of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s Latin America group.
Fernando Bautista and Stephen Revell, who have led the Latin America group since its formation, will continue to be active in the region and in the group.
The new appointments coincide with two awards for work undertaken by the firm in the region. The first accolade, for Latin American Dispute of the Year, was awarded by Latin Lawyer magazine to the case of CMS Gas Transmission v. Republic of Argentina in which Freshfields represented CMS in its US$130 million victory. This case marked the first of over thirty arising out of changes to public utility regimes following the economic crisis in 2002 and was described as ‘highly significant’.
The group also advised the lead arrangers of Energía Concón S.A’s financing, construction and operation of a delayed coker complex in Chile, which was awarded Latin American Deal of the Year by Project Finance International.
Nigel Blackaby comments, ‘The firm’s practice in Latin America has grown fourfold over the last four years so Melissa and I are delighted to be taking over leadership of the group from Fernando and Stephen at such a challenging time. Political changes in the region have added new challenges and opportunities for foreign investors and financiers and we have been delighted to help our clients through this transition.’
Melissa Raciti-Knapp, based in the New York office, is a member of the finance practice group. She has considerable experience in transactions in Latin America, having worked on projects in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Venezuela. Her sector experience includes power, mining, oil and gas, wastewater and telecoms.
Before joining the firm, Melissa was an associate at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy. She received her BA, magna cum laude, from Columbia College. She received her JD from The Columbia University School of Law, where she was a Harlan Fiske Stone scholar and a senior editor of the Columbia Law Review. Melissa is bilingual in English and Spanish.
Nigel Blackaby is a partner in the international arbitration group, based in Paris. Nigel has worked almost exclusively with Latin America for over seven years and has represented foreign investors in Latin America and Latin American corporations in over forty arbitration proceedings in the English and Spanish languages including currently for Suez, BG Group plc, National Grid Transco, Total and Aguas de Barcelona. The disputes have arisen in sectors as diverse as financial services, telecommunications, alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, metal refraction, tobacco, oil and gas and water concessions. His caseload is equally balanced between commercial cases under the rules of the ICC, AAA and LCIA and arbitrations under investment treaties under the ICSID and UNCITRAL Rules.
Nigel is co-author of “International Arbitration in Latin America” (Kluwer, 2002) and “Law and Practice of International Commercial Arbitration” (4th edition, Thomson Sweet & Maxwell, 2004), editor since 1995 of Arbitration International and a member of the executive of the LCIA Latin America Users’ Committee. Nigel is bilingual in English and Spanish and also speaks Portuguese.