SyCipLaw Announces New Banking, Finance & Securities Department Head, and Re-Appointment of Intellectual Property, Litigation, and Special Projects Heads

October 5, 2022

SyCipLaw is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Philbert E. Varona, a partner at the Firm, as the new head of its Banking, Finance & Securities (BFS) department, effective October 2022.

Mr. Varona will succeed Mr. Vicente D. Gerochi IV, who is stepping down from the role after four years.

Mr. Varona's appointment will make a strong contribution to the development of the Firm's transactional practice, as he will continue to implement the Firm's growth strategies in the next four years. His practice areas include finance and securities, foreign investments, mergers and acquisitions, and infrastructure and government contracts. Some of the more recent and significant transactions Mr. Varona worked on include the following:

  • the US$1.3 billion sale by Citibank, N.A. of its Philippine consumer banking business to Union Bank of the Philippines;
  • the issuance and listing by Bank of Commerce of fixed rate bonds with an aggregate principal amount of PhP7.5 billion;
  • the grant by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation of a US$110 million overseas investment loan to Mitsubishi Philippines; and
  • the issuance by other banks such as Asia United Bank, Philippine National Bank and Land Bank of the Philippines of long-term negotiable certificates of time deposit Basel-compliant capital instruments, and other bonds and securities.

Mr. Varona has been consistently cited by IFLR1000 as a highly regarded lawyer in the practice areas of capital markets, project finance, and mergers and acquisitions.

He was a professional lecturer at the Ateneo de Manila University School of Law and has contributed articles on various topics to international legal publications. Mr. Varona also worked as a foreign attorney at Mori Hamada & Matsumoto in Tokyo, Japan from 2006 to 2007.

Managing Partner Hector M. de Leon, Jr. comments: "I am pleased to announce the election of Mr. Varona as head of our BFS practice. He joins the leadership team as we continue to build on our expertise, focus on our strengths while delivering excellent legal services to our clients and the community."

"I also would like to thank Mr. Gerochi for his contributions over the last four years and for playing a key role in driving the Firm's success despite the challenges brought about by the pandemic."

SyCipLaw's BFS department has been consistently recognized by the financial and business community as the Philippine leader in this practice. It is consistently recognized as a top choice for local counsel. SyCipLaw represents and advises most of the major banks and financial institutions in all types of financing transactions and regulatory matters in the Philippines.

The Firm also announced the re-appointment of these partners for four-year terms:
Intellectual Property (IP): Vida M. Panganiban-Alindogan
Litigation: Ricardo Ma. P.G. Ongkiko
Special Projects: Rocky Alejandro L. Reyes

Ms. Panganiban-Alindogan has been head of the Firm's IP Department since 2018. Her practice area includes, among others, the management, prosecution, and enforcement of intellectual property rights. She advises a diverse international clientele which include well-known fashion and apparel brands, and companies engaged in luxury goods, technology, and pharmaceuticals. She likewise provides counsel on issues involving trade secrets, domain names, copyright, and social media. Ms. Panganiban-Alindogan has successfully headed enforcement campaigns for clients in a variety of industries. She has been recognized consistently as a leading intellectual property practitioner by Chambers Asia Pacific, The Legal 500, Managing IP, IAM Patent 1000, and World Trademark Review, among others. Ms. Panganiban-Alindogan currently serves as the President- Elect of the Licensing Executives Society of the Philippines (LESP).

Mr. Ongkiko has been head of the Firm's Litigation Department since 2012. He has extensive experience both as arbitrator and arbitration counsel in international and domestic arbitration involving commercial and construction disputes. He has acted as Chairman and Member of Arbitral Tribunal, and sole arbitrator, in ad hoc arbitrations under the Philippine Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Act, and institutional arbitrations under the Rules of Arbitration of the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center, Inc. (PDRC), the Construction Industry Arbitration Commission (CIAC) and the National Arbitration and Mediation (NAM) (New York). Mr. Ongkiko is President Emeritus of the Philippine Institute of Arbitrators, and a Trustee of both the PDRC and the Philippine Institute of Construction of Arbitrators and Mediators, Inc. where he is the immediate Past President. He is an accredited arbitrator of, among others, the Singapore International Arbitration Centre, the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre, the Asian International Arbitration Centre, the Korean Commercial Arbitration Board, the Vienna International Arbitration Centre, and the PDRC, the CIAC, the Philippine International Center for Conflict Resolution, and the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market. Mr. Ongkiko has been consistently recognized by Chambers Asia Pacific, The Legal 500, asialaw Profiles, and Benchmark Litigation as leading practitioner in Dispute Resolution and Arbitration.

Mr. Reyes has been head of the Firm's Special Projects Department since 2014. He specializes in taxation, project finance, construction, leveraged leases and infrastructure projects. He acted as legal advisor in connection with the drafting of the proposed implementing rules and regulations for the revised Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law of the Philippines and advised on the drafting of proposed legislation to create the Private Sector Infrastructure Development Fund. Mr. Reyes continues to be involved in various private power and other infrastructure projects in the Philippines and other Asian countries. He is a professorial lecturer at the University of the Philippines College of law and has written papers and delivered lectures on the BOT Law, the Foreign Investments Act, the law on telecommunications, taxation of securities and banking transactions, project financing and Philippine infrastructure projects. Mr. Reyes has been ranked consistently by Chambers Global, Chambers Asia Pacific, The Legal 500, IFLR1000, asialaw Profiles, Who's Who Legal, among others.

The other SyCipLaw department heads are Imelda A. Manguiat for Corporate Services, Carina C. Laforteza for Tax, and Dante T. Pamintuan for Employment and Immigration.