Thursday, December 28, 2006

Spanish law firm GARRIGUES-AFFINITAS prices for good corporate governance in Latin America

Net Serviços de Comunicação of Brazil and Desarrolladora Homex of Mexico are the winners of the first edition of the “Garrigues-Affinitas Prizes for Good Corporate Governance in Latin America.” The prizes were delivered this afternoon at the Intercontinental Hotel in Madrid during the 8th Latibex Forum, which has brought together more than 70 Latin American companies.

Net Serviços de Comunicação was the winner in the category “Latibex Company with the best corporate governance practices” and Desarrolladora Homex won in the category “Registered Latin American company (non-Latibex) with the best corporate governance practices”

Antonio Zoido, Chairman of the Madrid Stock Exchange, and Trinidad Jiménez, Secretary of State for Ibero-America, delivered the prizes. Trinidad Jiménez congratulated both prize-winners, “which succeeded in applying good rules of corporate governance, sometimes going beyond their own standards and those of their countries, which has even more merit.”

The purpose of the Garrigues-Affinitas Prizes for Good Corporate Governance in Latin America is to recognize the efforts made by Latin American companies in implementing good corporate governance and transparency policies.

The prizes will be awarded annually, and the winners will be announced during the Latibex Forum, an event organized by Latibex for Latin-American companies which trade in Euros on the Madrid Stock Exchange.

The jury for the first edition of the prizes was chaired by Antonio Garrigues, president of Garrigues law firm and Affinitas. In selecting the prize-winners, the jury considered shareholders’ rights, fair treatment, the role of interest groups, communication and the transparency and responsibility of the candidates’ boards of directors, among other factors.

Net Serviços de Comunicação is the largest cable television operator in Latin America. Founded in 1991, the company currently operates in 44 cities in Brazil, providing services to more than six million subscribers.

Net Serviços de Comunicação stands out for its high degree of social responsibility, which has led the company to promote many educational, cultural and environmental projects. “With this prize everyone in our company is a winner. We are proud to receive it because transparency and good corporate governance was the first decision we took in our company. We firmly believe that it is one of the necessities of our business,” affirmed Edgar Prado Lopes, Director of Treasury Services for Net Serviços de Comunicação.

Desarrolladora Homex, S.A. was founded in Mexico in 1989 and has focused on the design, construction and sale of affordable entry-level and middle-income housing. One of Mexico’s largest construction companies, in 2004 Desarrolladora received the “Socially-Responsible Business” award given by the Mexican Center for Philanthropy and Alliance for Corporate Social Responsibility in Mexico. “The prize was awarded to Homex, but I know that the investors are happiest of all, because it means that we are doing the right thing ethically,” said Eustaquio de Nicolás, chairman of Homex’s board of directors.

Along with the prize winners, the finalists for the Garrigues-Affinitas Prize were YPF Repsol and Molinos Río de la Plata (Argentina); Suzano Petroquímica (Brazil); Endesa Chile and CMPC (Chile); Bancolombia and Interconexión Eléctrica S.A. (Colombia); Bimbo (Mexico); Pro-Futuro AFP and Ferreyros S.A. (Peru). At the award ceremony, Antonio Garrigues encouraged all Latin American companies to follow the finalists’ example and make advances in the introduction of ethical practices: “No one can question that ethics are profitable. There is no future without good corporate governance.”

Affinitas was created on February 4, 2001 by four law firms: Garrigues, which promoted the alliance; Barbosa, Müssnich & Aragão Advogados (Brazil), Bruchou, Fernández Madero, Lombardi & Mitrani Abogados (Argentina) and Mijares, Angoitia, Cortés y Fuentes S.C. (Mexico). The law firms Garrigues Portugal, Barros & Errázuriz (Chile), Gómez-Pinzón Abogados (Colombia) and Miranda e Amado Abogados (Peru) have since joined the alliance. Currently, Affinitas unites 2500 professionals working in 40 offices throughout 12 countries.