‘We Want Firms That Specialise In Us'

Author:Iberian Lawyer
Profession:Iberian Lawyer

ANA uses two of three trusted firms to avoid having to repeatedly explain its business to new external lawyers, says the company's head of legal Francisco Sebastian

Given that it serves around 60 airlines and handles approximately 40 million passengers a year, airport operator ANA-Aeroportos de Portugal has to be prepared to face an extremely diverse range of legal challenges, according to Francisco Sebastian, head of legal and litigation affairs at the company's headquarters in Lisbon. He adds that, as a result, the company has "developed a very professional in-house legal department to face such issues - day-to-day cases range from financial and technical matters, and relations with communities, to corporate and compliance cases." Tourism growth ANA operates ten airports - in mainland Portugal, the Azores and Madeira - employs more than 3,000 people and has an annual turnover of more than500 million. As part of the country's sale of state-owned assets to cut debt and raise funds within a bailout deal with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, the French construction company and airport operator Vinci bought a 95 per cent stake in ANA in 2012 for3 billion. ANA is experiencing continual growth as Portugal's popularity as a destination for air travellers increases. For example, annual passenger arrivals at Porto airport reached a total of nine million for the first time in 2016. ANA was previously a public company, so its relationship with public authorities has changed, Sebastian says. At the same time, the integration of Vinci means that both companies have benefitted from each other's experience as large operators, and this has been one of the positive aspects of the relationship, according to Sebastian. 'Trusted firms' "Our main focus is corporate affairs and, for this, we engage the services of external law firms," says Sebastain. "We use two of three trusted firms to avoid explaining everything to a new firm each time, so in a way they are specialised in us and our legal framework." He adds that the company greatly values its law firms' knowledge of the company and their ability to deliver promptly. Among the firms ANA works with on a regular basis are Vieira de Almeida and CMS. An in-depth and long-standing relationship with its legal advisers is important to ANA. "Some law firms have been working with us since the very...

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