New scenario, new rules, new solutions – Nutreco
Today’s legal world is a very different place to that of a decade ago, and handling compliance and corporate governance issues has become paramount, says Estíbaliz Gállego Longás
Hace doce años, cuando Estíbaliz Gállego Longás, Directora Jurídica para España y Portugal de Nutreco España empezaba en la empresa, el mundo era muy distinto al de hoy. La labor interna era suficiente firmando algunos contratos y coordinando algún que otro procedimiento disciplinario. Actualmente, sin embargo, hay que hablar de otro nivel de riesgos, como la responsabilidad penal, las grandes sumas de deudas y los continuos cambios normativos. Un mundo absolutamente cambiante.
Twelve years ago, when Estíbaliz Gállego Longás, Legal Manager for Spain and Portugal at Nutreco España, began working at the Group, legal matters used to be focused on the business. “Nowadays we are talking about new commitments, such as corporate governance, compliance and corporate social responsibility, or contingencies that can bring big risks not only from the financial point of view but also from that of corporate reputation. It’s a completely different world out there!”
She started out at Abogados Asociados in Bilbao, whose clients included some savings banks like the-then CaixaGalicia or industrial companies like Conservas Garavilla. And while a great experience, it taught her that she really wanted to work in-house. “In private practice, you cannot see the whole picture and are normally limited to specific areas determined by the clients” she explains. “In-house, your scope is bigger, you work with other departments, and this allows us to advise or implement in each area taking all perspectives into account.”
Gállego then took a Masters at IE Law School for In-House Lawyers before moving in-house to Nutreco España Group in 2001. In 2005 she became Legal Manager for Spain and Portugal, and a year later General Secretary for the Nutreco Group – global leader in animal nutrition and fish feed.
Just the two of us
Gállego shares the Legal Department with just one assistant, and she outsources all kinds of judicial procedures, big acquisitions or very specialised legal matters.
As there is no one in-house in Portugal, Gállego has always relied on the same local legal firm, Vasconcelos, F Sá Carneiro, Fontes & Associados.
In Spain, she relies on a team of 11 regional external lawyers who are in charge of judicial procedures. To cover certain very specific needs, she works with Mar de Pedraza at De Pedraza Abogados (legal compliance), Juan Ramón Ayala Cabero (criminal law), Jose Antonio de la Calle at De La Calle Abogados .(competition law), Joaquín López Bravo at Aspamar (industrial property agent), Orlando Cárdenas Perdomo at Miguel Pinto Abogados (disciplinary administrative law), Pilar García Lucas at Integratia Estudio Legal (debt collection) and Argimiro Mayoral at Mayoral Sánchez Abogados (urban law).
She also works with bigger legal firms and Baker & McKenzie is top of her list, having dealt with some of Nutreco’s largest acquisitions. “For quality of service and knowledge they are second to none,” she says. “They really get involved in your problem and support you efficiently and in a timely fashion.”And that is the same feeling she has with Paulo Vasconcelos in Portugal.
And while most budgets are tightening, Gállego’s can be adapted to the legal needs of the Group when necessary. “Nutreco bets on the importance of the Legal Department, which can support the companies in difficult times and a rapidly changing environment, helping the development of our activities.”
Recent changes to the Spanish Criminal Code mean that Gállego is very busy ensuring the entire Group is up to speed on their compliance obligations. “We have developed a programme on legal compliance, and corporate governance is also applied in all the countries where Nutreco is present because it is a listed company in the Amsterdam stock exchange. The big challenge has been adapting this to Iberian legislation.”
Third party liability is an important area as well. The company can be held responsible for liabilities assumed by third parties, and she has to avoid any risks and foresee every contingency.“These come from both inside and outside. Nowadays, all of us are going through difficult times, so you must keep an eye out on everybody.”
“Because of all of this, new scenarios, new rules and new solutions are required” she says. Gállego is also introducing new technologies to apply the compliance programme throughout the Group. New training is needed, as is the use of an online platform.
The Feed Industry has become highly regulated but new legislation is expected by the markets and that means preparing the business for any upcoming challenges.
A good example of those changes is the use of alternative dispute solutions such as mediation, which she is introducing in the Group.
Gállego is also always conscious of what the Legal Department can do to increase value for the Group. “The analyses for new legal projects or initiatives must be done always thinking about what value they can provide or create in favour of the business. That is the rule”.
Aligning the Legal Department with company targets, she advises, should be a priority for 2013 for any in-house counsel.
Estíbaliz Gállego Longás is Legal Manager for Spain and Portugal at Nutreco España and General Secretary for the Group.