Fontana appointed as CEO as Cuatrecasas reshuffles board

Iberian firm Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira has appointed new members of its board of directors, which will see the roles of chairman and chief executive separated for the first time.

The decision came following a vote to elect new members of the firm’s board at the end of July and will see the firm’s former managing director Rafael Fontana take on the executive responsibilities which were previously undertaken by firm executive chairman Emilio Cuatrecasas.

Name partner Cuatrecasas is the grandson of firm founder Emilio Cuatrecasas Buquet, who founded the firm in 1917, and was managing partner before being appointed executive chairman following the death of his father around a decade ago.

The decision to change Cuatrecasas’ responsibilities at the firm was in line with terms outlined by Cuatrecasas himself in the firm’s 2020 strategic plan, which was approved last September, confirmed Barcelona-based litigation partner Jorge Badía.

“A couple of years ago Emilio presented us with a new strategic plan which outlined that the roles of executive and chairman would be separated as part of the firm’s ongoing focus on institutionalisation, the goals for its international strategy and the greater participation of younger partners at a managerial level,” commented Badía.

Badía added that the changes to Cuatrecasas and Fontana’s responsibilities would have little discernible effect on the day-to-day running of the firm.

The new board, which met yesterday for the first time since their appointment, comprises Emilio Cuatrecasas as chairman, Rafael Fontana as CEO and corporate partner Raimundo Segura as secretary.

The other new members are corporate partners Francisco Pérez-Crespo and Miguel Trías, banking partner Eduardo Ramírez, litigation partners Jorge Badía and Ricardo Echevarría, tax partners Martí Adroer, Alberto Moya and Antón Pérez-Iriondo, which are roughly evenly split across the firm’s offices in Madrid and Barcelona. The joint managing partners of Cuatrecasas’ Lisbon office, Diogo Perestrelo and María Joao Ricou, are also members.

Commenting on his new role, Rafael Fontana said: “It is a challenge and a responsibility to take on the position of chief executive officer. I aim to continue with the projects defined by the former board of directors, to constantly contribute value to the firm, and to continue with the firm’s business strategy, particularly focusing on its international expansion.”

As Rafael Fontana noted in an interview with The Lawyer last year, the prominence of the Cuatrecasas name within the firm seemed likely to diminish in coming years as none of Emilio Cuatrecasas’ children are lawyers (18 July 2011) and therefore the recent changes can be seen as part of Cuatrecasas’ succession plan.