Panama, December 2, 2020. Morgan & Morgan is pleased to announce that our firm won the Talent Management award in the Women in Business Law Americas Awards 2020.
Morgan & Morgan received this recognition thanks to its Talent Management program that includes initiatives to keep female talent at the firm, promoting gender equity, recruitment, retention, mentoring, and leadership.
The Euromoney Americas Women in Business Law Awards recognize women in business law and those law firms that have designed initiatives and programs to support and encourage women and diversity within the industry.
More information about the awards is available here.
Following the introduction in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) of the Economic Substance (Companies and Limited Partnerships) Act, 2018 (ESA), which became effective on January 1st, 2019, some questioned the sustainability of BVI’s position as a leading international financial centre.
While we cannot underestimate those concerns, we believe that there is also evidence that ESA will not have a negative impact on the BVI. In fact, it will help to curb any irrational fears that may have been detrimental to businesses, families, investors, and professionals using BVI vehicles in the recent times.
Although the economic substance reporting period has not concluded, my recent research supports the premise that despite introduction of this new legislation, BVI’s legal system and corporate services platform will remain stronger than other jurisdictions for international business activity.
You may be asking how can we be so positive? It is because for years we have witnessed the BVI maintain the crucial “philosophy” of a financial centre that is necessary for its success.
This philosophy is composed of human capital, technology, and the ability of regulators to make effective new laws with the support of highly sophisticated service providers. This means that any issues arising from rapidly evolving financial markets or instructions given by the European Union and the OECD in their efforts to enhance tax transparency can be dealt more efficiently. Expertise, talent, and technology are the key driving forces for the world’s leading financial centres.
Over the last decade BVI has had various changes in its legislation that have impacted the financial industry positively such as:(1) maintaining beneficial owner’s due diligence in its territory, (2) the private registry of beneficial owners (BOSS), (3) mandatory filing of company’s register of directors (ROD), (4) maintaining accounting records and underlying documentation and, (5) reporting obligations on ESA just to name a few in no particular order. Some of these changes have been more challenging than others but they all have one thing in common: BVI´s successful “philosophy”.
By reading the ESA and the Rules issued by the International Tax Authority you can tell that the regulator consulted professionals from law firms, trust companies and corporate service providers of the highest caliber with presence in the BVI when drafting the legislation. Whereas, in other jurisdictions it seems that they just decided to play safe and please the requests of the European Union overlooking what their financial industry needs to, not only survive, but grow.
We have reviewed the law and guidance notes on the economic substance of various jurisdictions and concluded that the ESA has provisions that makes it practical and convenient. We will give you three important and clear examples. The first, is the treatment of the companies that serve as holding businesses under the ESA. BVI took a straightforward approach by only placing its interest on the pure equity holding companies which are subject to a reduced substance test that can be met through the company´s registered agent; instead of having different categories of holding businesses as it is in other jurisdictions. This has allowed us at Morgan & Morgan to develop suitable solutions for our clients.
The second example is the treatment of the financial periods. ESA has two financial periods depending if the company was incorporated before or after the implementation date of the ESA. Therefore, just by looking at the incorporation date of the company you can tell its financial period. This method is valuable for a corporate service provider because it may have positive impact in their workload when reporting and advising clients. Furthermore, this approach makes simpler the management of a portfolio of companies for a corporate service provider rather than having the financial period defined by the company´s fiscal year, as it is very likely that will be different for all the companies they represent.
The third example is the reporting period. In some jurisdictions the reporting period is 6 months and in others 9 months; but all jurisdictions have in common that the reporting period is counted from the end of the financial period or fiscal year. Unlike other jurisdictions, in the BVI all companies incorporated before the ESA effective date have the same financial period and therefore the same reporting period. This makes easy to manage the annual reporting obligations for a high volume of companies.
Now, let´s talk about the technical side of ESA. BVI tied the ESA with their Beneficial Ownership Secure Search System Act, 2017 (the “BOSS Act”). Same as in other jurisdictions, annual reporting is mandatory, but it is so easy to do that this should not scare clients away. The BVI government partnered with the same auditing firm that developed the BOSS system to create the system for ESA, called BOSSes. At Morgan & Morgan we developed a similar system that facilitates clients providing us with the information on their companies and also makes it easier for us to report to the competent authority because we both are up to the same level of technology. It is difficult for corporate services providers to convince clients to comply with economic substance legislation in jurisdictions where the reports are to be submitted manually. BVI knows that its stability and future prosperity is inextricably tied to the efficient and safe use of digital technologies.
In June 2020, the BVI Financial Services Commission published its Statistical Bulletin. We were pleased to read that at said date the Registry of Corporate Affairs has the impressive total of 375,832 companies that have placed their confidence in the BVI philosophy. This figure and the past decade show us BVI is very aware that it has a financial sector that is becoming increasingly complex. With a more discerning and savvier clientele, and the competition among financial centres is heating up, the BVI is ready to prevail as one of the world´s premier jurisdictions.
For more information on these topics, please contact:
Morgan & Morgan
Morgan & Morgan advised Continental Grain Company in an investment in Multifoods to support the company´s expansion plans
Panama, November 13, 2020. Morgan & Morgan advised Continental Grain Company (“CGC”) in an investment in Multifoods (“Multifoods” or the “Company”), a leading Peru-based contract-manufacturing firm engaged in the production of food and beverage products, working with both grocery retailers and CPG companies.
Morgan & Morgan advised CGC in all Panama law aspects of the transaction, based on the corporate structure of the Company. CGC is a privately-owned global investor, owner, and operator of companies with more than 200 years of history across the food and agribusiness spectrum. The US firm creates long-term value by applying deep industry knowledge, capital and talent to businesses ranging from established market leaders to promising innovators.
Partner Roberto Vidal represented Morgan & Morgan in this transaction.
Panama, November 6, 2020. Morgan & Morgan repeated as a leading Panamanian firm in The Legal 500 – Latin America Guide 2021. Banking and Finance, Capital Markets, Corporate/M&A, Dispute Resolution, Offshore, Projects and Energy, and Shipping earned the top-tier rankings.
In addition, fourteen lawyers of the firm received recommendations as follows:
Juan David Morgan Jr.
Next Generation Partner
Kharla Aizpurua Olmos
Panama, November 1, 2020. Recently, as a member of the International Maritime Law Seminar (“IMLS”), Morgan & Morgan collaborated with an article for the IMLS’ newsletter published due to the cancellation of the annual IMLS events in London and Singapore as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic. Our attorney Andrés V. Mejía, from the Shipping & Admiralty Department, wrote about an important ruling issued by our Maritime Appeals Tribunal. With this collaboration our firm ratifies its place in one of the most important forums where industry professionals discuss the latest views on international maritime law.
Click here to download the newsletter: IMLS Newsletter
28 de octubre de 2020
Mediante el Decreto Ejecutivo No. 722 de 15 de octubre de 2020, el Ministerio de Seguridad Pública de la República de Panamá creó dentro de la categoría de residente permanente por razones económicas, la subcategoría de Residente Permanente en calidad de Inversionista Calificado.
Esta nueva subcategoría entró en vigor a partir del 16 de octubre de 2020.
Opciones y requisitos
Con este nuevo decreto, se otorga residencia permanente en una sola etapa a aquellos extranjeros que inviertan un monto mínimo de $500,000.00 proveniente de fuente extranjera, a título personal o a través de una persona jurídica.
Para solicitar el Permiso de Residencia Permanente en calidad de Inversionista Calificado, existen cuatro opciones:
- Por razón de Inversión Inmobiliaria:
- Inversión mínima de $500,000.00 libre de gravámenes.
- Además de los requisitos estipulados en este Decreto Ejecutivo, se debe aportar la Certificación del Valor del Bien Inmueble emitida por la Autoridad Nacional de Titulación de Tierras.
- Por razón de Inversión Inmobiliaria mediante un contrato promesa de compraventa:
- Inversión mínima de $500,000.00.
- Se debe realizar por medio de un depósito de fideicomiso manejado por un banco o empresa fiduciaria del país.
- Además de los requisitos estipulados en este Decreto Ejecutivo, se debe aportar: (i) copia autenticada del contrato de compraventa, debidamente inscrito en el Registro Público de Panamá y, (ii) copia autenticada o el original del contrato de fideicomiso.
- Por razón de inversiones realizadas a través de una Casa de Valores con licencia aprobada por la Superintendencia del Mercado de Valores de Panamá:
- Inversión mínima de $500,000.00.
- Esta inversión debe ser en títulos valores de emisores, cuyos negocios incidan en el territorio nacional, a través de la Bolsa de Valores de Panamá.
- Además de los requisitos estipulados en este Decreto Ejecutivo, se debe aportar: (i) certificación emitida por la Casa de Valores, (ii) copia autenticada de la resolución mediante la cual se le concede la licencia a la casa de valores y, (iii) certificación emitida por la Superintendencia del Mercado de Valores de Panamá.
- Por razón de Inversión en Depósito a Plazo Fijo en el Sector Bancario:
- Inversión mínima de $750,000.00, libre de gravámenes.
- Además de los requisitos estipulados en este Decreto Ejecutivo, se debe aportar: (i) copia autenticada por el banco emisor del certificado de depósito a plazo fijo, indicando su titular, el valor y el plazo del documento y, (ii) certificación del banco que haga constar la existencia del depósito, su titular, el valor, el plazo, que el mismo se encuentre libre de gravámenes y que los fondos provienen del extranjero.
Para mantener la Residencia Permanente en calidad de Inversionista Calificado, es necesario que la inversión se mantenga por un periodo mínimo de cinco (5) años. Si la inversión cesara o deja de existir antes del cumplimiento de este término, dará lugar a la cancelación oficiosa de la residencia permanente.
Las solicitudes bajo esta nueva categoría migratoria se recibirán a través de la Ventanilla Única de Inversiones del Ministerio de Comercio e Industrias; y deberán ser resueltas en un periodo no mayor de treinta (30) días hábiles, contados a partir del momento de la recepción de la solicitud.
Se permite que, a través de apoderado especial, las solicitudes sean presentadas previo al ingreso al territorio nacional del solicitante y sus dependientes.
Durante los primeros 24 meses posteriores a la entrada en vigencia del presente Decreto Ejecutivo, la inversión por razones de inversión inmobiliaria, de forma directa o por medio de contratos de promesa de compraventa, podrá ser por la suma de $300,000.00 en la compra de un bien inmueble en Panamá, libre de gravámenes.
Podrán solicitar el cambio de estatus migratorio, aquellos extranjeros que, a la entrada en vigencia de este decreto, mantengan en trámite o hayan iniciado solicitudes de Permiso Provisional de Permanencia en calidad de Solvencia Económica Propia por Inversión en Bienes Inmuebles, en el año 2020.
Para más información en estos temas, por favor contactar a nuestro equipo de Derecho Migratorio al correo electrónico [email protected].
Morgan & Morgan advised Avianca Holdings, S.A. in connection to a over US$ 2 billion debtor-in-possession financing structure pursuant to its reorganization plan under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code.
Panama, October 26, 2020. Morgan & Morgan acted as Panamanian counsel to Avianca Holdings, S.A., as Debtor; and Latin Airways Corp., Taca, S.A., AV International Investments, S.A., AV International Holdings S.A., AV International Holdco S.A., AV International Ventures S.A., AV TACA International Holdco, S.A., International Trade Marks Agency Inc. and Aviacorp Enterprises, S.A., as Guarantors, in connection with the transactions contemplated by a debtor-in-possession financing consisting of US$ 1.27 billion Tranche A senior secured financing and US$ 722 million Tranche B secured subordinated loan. The financing will help Avianca improve its liquidity and provide support to its operations.
Partners Francisco Arias and Aristides Anguizola, Associate Allen Candanedo, and International Associate Miguel Arias participated in this transaction.
Morgan & Morgan advised First Quantum Minerals Ltd. in connection with a Senior Notes Offering for an amount of up to US$1.5 Billion
Panama, October 26, 2020. Morgan & Morgan acted as Panamanian counsel to First Quantum Minerals, Ltd. in its offering (under Rule 144A of the U.S. Securities Regulation) of US$1,500,000,000 in aggregate principal amount of 6.875% senior notes due 2027.
Partners Inocencio Galindo and Aristides Anguizola participated in this transaction.
Morgan & Morgan advised Banistmo, S.A., in an up to US$315.6 million loan agreement for the financing of the acquisitions of CDNOs related to Line 2 of Panama´s City’s metro system.
Panama, September 29, 2020. Morgan & Morgan provided legal counsel to Banistmo, S.A., as Administrative Agent and Collection Agent, in connection with a loan agreement for an amount of up to US$315,601,312.14 between CitiGroup Global Markets, Inc. and UBS Securities LLC, as Joint Lead Arrangers and Bookrunners, various local and international banks as lenders, Banistmo, S.A., as Administrative Agent and Collection Agent to finance the acquisition by the borrower of the CDNOs.
The transaction included an agreement with Metro de Panama, S.A. to exchange the CDNOs, acquired in order to differ payment date, for consolidated CDNOs (“Aglutinados”).
Partner Kharla Aizpurua Olmos represented Morgan & Morgan in this transaction.
You are undertaking a project for a new business, a startup. You already have the financial/commercial side well thought-out, and have commissioned a designer to sketch a logo and design a corporate identity under the brand you have decided to use. You buy stationery, signs, business cards, among others. You commence the required process to obtain a notice of operation (Aviso de Operación) at the Ministry of Commerce and Industries and, at that moment, you realize that there is not one, but several businesses whose names are identical or confusingly similar to yours.
How did this happen?
To answer this question, we must first understand what a trademark is and what is its purpose. A trademark is a distinctive sign or set of signs (below we will explain what signs can constitute trademarks) that allows us to differentiate the products, services and trade name of one company from those of another.
The main feature of a trademark is its distinctive character, that is, it must be capable of distinguishing a product and/or service from others that already exist, in order for a consumer to identify, distinguish and differentiate said product and/or service from an existing one that is identical or similar in nature.
What type of signs can constitute trademarks? The applicable Panamanian law, Law 61 of October 2012, dictates that trademarks may consist of: words or a combination of words; images, figures, symbols and graphics; letters, numbers and combinations; three-dimensional shapes; colors in their different combinations; sounds; smells or tastes; or any combination of any of the previously mentioned elements.
So, based on the above, what are the different types of trademarks?
- Fanciful Marks: Those that provide the greatest distinctive strength, since they are distinctive words or signs that did not previously exist and were conceived / created for the purpose of distinguishing a specific product or service, such as “Adidas” or “Starbucks”.
- Arbitrary Marks: Those that are nothing more than brands made up of words with a well-known meaning, but the key element is that said meaning has nothing to do with the nature of the product or service they seek to identify, such as “Dove” for soaps and shampoos or “Apple” for computers. These names have a common meaning that is different from the products they represent.
- Suggestive Marks: Those which, as its name indicates, suggest the nature of the product or service or some of its characteristics, without directly describing it. For example, “Netflix” qualifies as a suggestive mark, since the word “net” suggests the use of the internet and the word “flix” is a shortened version of “flicks”, which is a colloquial way of saying “movies”.
- Descriptive Marks: Refers to words or sets of words that identify the characteristics or elements that make up a product or service and serve to describe that product. Examples of descriptive marks are “General Electric” for an electricity company and “Telefónica” for a mobile communications company.
- Generic Marks: Those that, because of their constant use, are merely the common name used to identify a product or service, such as “Kleenex”.
Before investing in the corporate image of a business, an entrepreneur or startup founder must verify the existence of identical or similar marks, to the extent that those similar marks could cause confusion. This is accomplished by carrying out a search or verification of trademarks that are in the process of being registered or have been registered with the General Directorate for Registration of Industrial Property (DIGERPI, for its name in Spanish), and in the Panama Emprende system, since, with regards to intellectual property, Panama recognizes a right over a trademark to those persons who first used the trademark within Panama for commercial purposes. This verification can be carried out electronically, through queries in DIGERPI’s database, or in writing, by submitting a search request with said entity.
In any case, consulting with an intellectual property lawyer is advisable, so as to properly interpret the results of a trademark search and/or provide advice on the procedure to register a trademark.
With regard to ideas, we note that a single idea is not protected intellectual property. Under the prism of copyright, the formal expression of ideas is protected. This means that the ideas must have been affixed or embodied in some material mean, such as a book, a canvas, an audiovisual work, an architectural plan, a poem or a song, to enjoy copyright protection.
Finally, the main advice before investing in the name and image of a new business, is to consult the various sources available with respect to trademark and notice of operations (Aviso de Operación), and seek legal advice from an experienced attorney in the field to avoid losing what was invested in promotional materials, creating an image, time and, in the worst case, being involved in a trademark dispute. We are at your service for any queries you may have on these issues.
For more information on these topics, please contact:
MORGAN & MORGAN
Email: [email protected]