Experience and talent allow Beristain & Asociados to offer a personalized service to its customers, which have led to ongoing long-term relationships. The prestige that the firm has acquired over time has enabled it to this date, to put up new representations in several states in Mexico. KITE Invest met with Mr Sergio Beristain in order to discuss the firm’s development over the years and in particular to get the legal perspective on the energy reform and Mexico’s potential business relationship with the United Kingdom in this sector.
KITE Invest: As a Mexican businessman, what is your opinion of the reform process and what benefits will they bring to the country in terms of international projection?
Mr. Sergio Beristain: Given the fact that the expectations we had were very low due to past energy reforms, once again we thought this reform was going to be no better than a 10% of what it really was. Surprisingly, this reform was wonderful from all perspectives, especially for the opening to foreign investment.
KITE Invest: Taking into consideration that the energy reform was stalled by lack of investment; what is your analysis of the current market situation and the consequences of the profound changes involving the reform of the energy sector?
Mr. Sergio Beristain: The analysis looked very promising once we saw the extent of what the energy reform was going to be; however, when it comes to topics related to business and investment in the energy sector, we must keep our feet on the ground. This involves the challenge of harmonizing all the factors that influence the development of the energy market. The main challenge is having an effective openness and willingness of the government and the political class to welcome foreign investment in this field. Overall, it’s a matter of developing the energy market and the opportunities that exist according to geographic location and natural resources, with the necessary harmony between the private sector and the government.
KITE Invest: What is your assessment of the legal framework surrounding the energy sector once the reform will be complete?
Mr. Sergio Beristain: I have been in various forums with senior officials and I’ve noticed that the authorities involved in the energy reform are harmonizing themselves almost in a magical way. This is very positive, because unfortunately in Mexico as in other countries, bureaucracy and corruption often complicate processes and business. When we see proactive people in the government and the new agencies that will regulate the energy sector, I believe that we are on the right track.
Of course there are going to be several difficulties and spaces that will have to be filled with favourable solutions. On one hand, we have the regulatory part of public law, which is itself a section that has historically slowed down the development of energy in Mexico and today it exists in a smaller proportion. On the other hand, we have a new regulation of the Private Law (Civil and Commercial), with international treaties on trade and protection of foreign investments. This part of the Common Law is extremely rich in Mexico and it makes rules very clear for any player in the industry (investors and companies), who wishes to have commercial relations with Mexico.
KITE Invest: Further to this point, the practical application of these new laws and the allocation of concessions pose several challenges; what is the challenge in legal terms?
Mr. Sergio Beristain: Law firms in Mexico have pros and cons. The con part is that we have failed to create efficient organizations as offices where logical factors are well harmonized. Those offices, where disparity exists amongst its members, will tend to disappear; consequently, only the law firms that take steps towards a modern efficiency of inclusion, zero discrimination, with equitable distribution of benefits, with reliable service, transparency, high training and equal rights amongst its members and customers, will revolutionize the legal market in our country. For sure there will be lawyers who will remain stranded and there will be others who will take a step forward with modern times.
KITE Invest: Beristain is a firm with extensive experience in providing legal advice, specializing in the energy field, giving advice to leading companies in the Mexican market. How did Beristain emerge and what have been the most defining moments for the firm?
Mr. Sergio Beristain: It is a very common story of hard work, discipline and effort. In short, we are passionate about our legal duty. Initially we started as an office of civil, commercial and criminal litigation. Currently, thanks to the collaborative work of our members and high focus on training and development, we are a firm offering comprehensive services under the concept of legal shielding. We create spaces to help and contribute to society with a positive approach, simplicity and without egos or arrogance. We know that oil, electricity, and mining move the world, and that is the world we live in. For this reason, we focus our growth process specialization in this sector, providing openness and legal certainty in the market such as we are experiencing at this time.
KITE Invest: Who are the firm’s clients and what volume of transactions does Beristain currently advise?
Mr. Sergio Beristain: We have clients of all sizes, and all carry the same importance. In our portfolio we have a client who will be creating the largest petrochemical plant worldwide, to be located in the north-western part of the country. This client plans to generate 98% of the ammonia that is consumed in Mexico. We also have other clients with pipeline projects. An area where we have vast experience in everything related to natural gas, which is extremely attractive for foreign investors because its operation is very limited in Mexico. Finally, we have other clients involved in projects of methanol, renewable energies, and other non-energy sector areas.
KITE Invest: In the firms long history certainly it has faced many challenges. What has been your biggest challenge and greatest accomplishment?
Mr. Sergio Beristain: Challenges come to us at different ages and with different experiences and capabilities. There are very few challenges that can surprise us in difficult times. I think at this moment, the biggest challenge is to live in a country where you have to strive every day for a positive sense of zero corruption and positive social impact.
KITE Invest: This year the number of British companies will double in Mexico and as the UK is certainly the most important market in Europe what do you think of this new approach and what opportunities do you see in this new era between the two countries?
Mr. Sergio Beristain: Historically, the UK and Mexico have always been close and far apart. It is a paradoxical relationship. Currently, I believe that British companies should break certain paradigms for doing business in Mexico. The opportunity to do business here is immense and there are different ways to do it. I am sure that by coming to Mexico, there are various schemes that are profitable, sustainable and even ‘fun to do’ businesses. It’s just a matter of trusting a law firm that can guide them through this path, and help find an interesting balance for investors. Providing legal solutions to encourage investment requires a firm with ethics and values who knows how to litigate, guarantee rights and understand the philosophy of investors. This is exactly what this law firm offers.
KITE Invest: What can British firms contribute to Mexican firms through collaborations and partnerships? In what areas is there a greater need for knowledge and awareness?
Mr. Sergio Beristain: First of all, I recognize that the English people, like all human beings, have huge skills that they can integrate into Mexico that will be great for everyone. I believe that the British firms are highly specialized in deep and shallow water, and everything related to the transportation of oil, drilling and exploration. It would be great to have these investments with positive social impact. I am convinced that cooperation with British companies will allow for a breakthrough for both countries.
KITE Invest: Finally, what message would you give to the British audience and the 1.7 million readers about Mexico and about your company?
Mr. Sergio Beristain: Mexico is a country of opportunities with its doors wide open to anyone who is interested in positively joining a process of evolution and growth. We are a talented country with the capability and willingness to do business thanks to the reforms. The law now allows us to do business with foreign investors in partnership with national firms as service providers or as investors, including law firms that provide legal certainty and security in achieving these objectives. Today, the rules are clear within the energy reform, and even with certain obstacles such as international financial and economic matters regarding oil prices and the fluctuation of currencies, we can ensure that projects carried out in Mexico are done safely and with the appropriate experts and partners. If we join the positive aspects of the two countries’ energy businesses, there will be very solid projects.