7 QUESTIONS WITH FERNANDO MARGARIT: Talking Technology Trends With Hunton Andrews Kurth’s Partner
March 22, 2022
As published in the March Issue of SubTel Forum Magazine
- What is Hunton Andrews Kurth’s mission?
Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP—with more than 900 lawyers in the US, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, and serving clients across a broad range of complex transactional, litigation, and regulatory matters—has a simple, but important, mission: To provide the high-quality legal services, together with practical business counsel, that allow our clients to accurately assess risks and rewards and then act accordingly. On this mission, we also commit to amplifying and championing diversity and inclusion; providing predictability, cost efficiency, and matter transparency; and giving back to our communities in the form of pro bono projects and other indispensable services.
- How does Hunton Andrews Kurth participate in the submarine cable market?
Our attorneys have been representing all types of clients in the submarine cable market for over 30 years, and many of our telecom attorneys work exclusively in this space. In the last number of years, we have been involved as counsel in the builds and development of many of the most significant and recognizable subsea system builds around the world. Our clients in these systems range from one of the most active technology companies in the industry to telcos and non-traditional telecom investors seeking to participate in the industry. We advise our clients on all aspects of the system build, development and implementation, including as to the system supply contract, consortium joint build agreements, marine and any terrestrial maintenance agreements and the myriad of other project documents; fiber purchase (IRU and non-IRU) arrangements; all types of landing party arrangements; access and security agreements, permitting issues and regulatory issues. We also often represent clients in respect of their money raises and project financing associated with the system build as well in connection with ancillary matters, such as to commercialization of the system, related real estate issues, tax structuring and analysis, and issues associated with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
- Is Hunton Andrews Kurth currently involved with many new submarine cable projects?
Yes. We have been involved as counsel to some of the most active subsea cable system developers in the industry throughout the last number of years, and are currently involved in many of the most significant subsea cable system projects currently being developed. These projects connect landing locations throughout the world.
The spike in system builds is being driven by, among other things, a demand for bandwidth that has grown exponentially with the increasing dependence of individuals, businesses, and governments on global connectivity. Never has the need for fast and reliable bandwidth been more evident than it is now, especially with the changing landscape of the world resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic; even the most traditional of industries have moved their services online and directed employees to work remotely. The proliferation of virtual events, meetings, and celebrations, and basic human desire to feel connected while being apart, has made this work more essential than ever.
- What makes Hunton Andrews Kurth unique in the submarine system market?
We are unique because of our depth of experience—both a cause and result of our strong position in the market—in this cutting edge subject matter and number of lawyers active in the industry. Our team of practitioners dedicated to this space and related matters has now grown to over 20. I have been advising clients in this field for almost 30 years, and have been involved in systems from their build and development to decommissioning. In that time, my team and I have had hands-on experience with the large variety of issues – good and bad – that can impact a system build. We have also developed good relationships with the key players in the industry, including the principal system suppliers.
- What are the elements of Hunton Andrews Kurth’s success?
We are successful for many of the same reasons we are unique: our experience, expertise, solid teamwork, and geographic reach enable us to obtain the best result for each client in each matter. We have assembled a close-knit team that is completely devoted to working on the most state-of-the art, groundbreaking systems. This team is well rounded; we understand not just the development phase of these projects, but also the commercial side of the business, and we provide corresponding financial, investment, and M&A services. Clients benefit from the strength of the firm as a whole and the practices that tangentially relate to, yet complement, our core work, including real estate (which is becoming critical here with respect to, e.g., data centers), tax, renewable energy, intellectual property, privacy and cybersecurity, litigation, and more.
- As sustainability has become a hot button issue in our industry, what are Hunton Andrews Kurth’s plans for sustainable operation for the next 5 years?
Sustainability is being flexible as technology and culture changes, and shadowing our clients as they navigate those changes. The growth in our industry mirrors the way in which society is evolving, interacting, and working—leaning into the future (e.g., with virtual networks and networking, the rise of Zoom and other online meeting platforms, the unending demand for smart electronics, and the growth of the Internet in general). The work that we do makes all of that possible. Hunton excels at adaptability. We are currently building strong practices for the energy transition, renewables, and product stewardship, all of which encompass legal issues that are becoming increasingly important by the day.
- What is next for Hunton Andrews Kurth?
Hunton will maintain growing as the space grows. Subsea cable systems are the backbone of digital communications, enabling the Internet to connect across continents and transporting the vast majority of the world’s data traffic. But telecommunication systems reach farther than submarine cables (into satellites, smart cities, the cloud, 6G technology, and beyond). We will continue to develop our lawyers to anticipate the requirements of companies existing in and entering the industry. We will be flexible in addressing the needs of our clients in their efforts to bridge the communications gap through the worldwide construction of terrestrial and subsea cable systems. We are excited to see what is next and happy to be part of the subsea ecosystem.
Fernando Margarit is Partner at Hunton Andrews Kurth and represents clients on domestic and cross-border financing transactions, mergers and acquisitions, infrastructure projects and other corporate transactions.
Fernando routinely represents project sponsors, developers, equity investors and financial institutions on a wide range of infrastructure projects, including some of the world’s most significant subsea fiber optic cable systems. He also regularly represents clients in complex mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, strategic alliances, financings and other corporate transactions, often on a cross border basis. Fernando has particular experience and familiarity with the legal systems, culture and business practices of Latin America.
Fernando’s clients range from start-up corporations to some of the world's largest multinational telecommunications carriers, financial institutions and private and public companies.