Fernando Carreño is held in high esteem by peers who refer to him as "a very sophisticated counsellor" and "the best in Mexico".
Fernando is a partner at Von Wobeser y Sierra. With more than fifteen years of experience, he heads the antitrust practice, is a key member of the corporate, mergers and acquisitions area, and is part of the firm’s executive committee. He is also a member of the ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) practice group. His track record includes advising top-tier companies, including leading Fortune 500 companies.
What inspired you to specialise in competition law?
Competition law is the field of law that allows companies to play fair by protecting the process of competition in a free market while maximising social welfare. Being able to help companies grow their business organically and in the most efficient way, while being in compliance with the competition rules and generating a benefit to society at the same time was what inspired me to become an antitrust lawyer.
What qualities make for an effective antitrust lawyer?
An effective antitrust lawyer must have sufficient technical knowledge to understand the needs of the client and the market in which the client is active, as well as the sensitivity and intelligence necessary to find practical solutions to complex problems.
Additionally, good communication skills, being pro-active, paying close attention to detail and staying knowledgeable are key elements to becoming an effective antitrust lawyer.
How has the market changed since you first started practising?
Certainly, the digitisation of markets has been the most significant change I have witnessed since I started practicing. The digitisation of markets has brought different challenges for everyone, including companies, authorities and antitrust lawyers.
What industries in your practice are particularly active at the moment, and why?
One of the most active industries at the moment is the aircraft industry, as it was one of the industries most affected by the covid-19 pandemic and is currently in the process of recovery. Also, as a result of the covid-19 pandemic, based on my experience, the number of transactions related to private equity firms has increased considerably. Currently, private equity firms are diversifying their portfolio and investing in different types of companies active in various industries and sectors.
When it comes to the merger control process, what are the greatest challenges faced by clients and lawyers alike?
In a merger control process, it is important to know how to manage clients’ expectations in terms of estimated time to obtain clearance. In addition, it is essential to maintain constant and clear communication with the authority, with the intention of limiting the information to be provided to what is strictly necessary for the competition assessment of the transaction.
To what extent has the shift to online technologies made it easier to reach and interact with competition authorities?
The shift to online technologies made communication and interaction with the competition authorities in Mexico easier, as it is now very simple and quick to schedule a call with the staff and discuss any doubts related to the transaction. Previously, discussions were face-to-face and scheduling a meeting with the staff was complicated.
Looking back over your career, what has been the most interesting antitrust case you have been part of?
The merger between AB InBev and SABMiller has been one of the most interesting transactions I have ever been part of. This transaction was notified in several jurisdictions. In Mexico, it was particularly complex due to AB InBev’s significant presence in the country through Grupo Modelo.
It is common for the Commission to focus its attention on high-profile transactions such as this one and conduct a more in-depth analysis of the competition risks. In this case, the authority’s requests for information were very extensive and it was necessary to submit complex economic arguments to address the commission’s concerns.
What is the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice I have received is to always be close to the client. In my experience, it is essential to convey a sense of tranquility and confidence to the client, and for that purpose it is indispensable to be close to the client at all times and to understand in detail their needs and concerns.