Leading U.S. Law Firm POTENTE Is Expanding to the Caribbean
Leading law firm Potente is moving to the Caribbean, as the region’s hospitality and investment market continue to stay active even amid the pandemic.
The California-headquartered firm, which has offices in San Diego, Beverly Hills, Palm Springs, Mexico City and Tokyo, is setting up its new Caribbean office on the Eastern Caribbean island of Antigua.
To learn more about POTENTE and its regional plans, Caribbean Journal Invest caught up with POTENTE CEO Peter M. Potente.
Can you please explain your services and what your areas of specialty are?
International and domestic corporations and individual investors rely on POTENTE to be their legal advocate and advisor for business and investment activities globally. With a client roster spanning five continents, our firm has the experience to ensure its clients’ international business activities are properly structured and maintained, and to provide expert legal and business guidance. From a legal entity standpoint, POTENTE serves as a trusted advisor to its clients throughout the entire business and corporate lifecycle. Our firm has served as general counsel and professional consultants for companies and investors in a variety of industries, including hospitality (restaurants and hotels), media and entertainment, retail clothing, commercial real estate, and a multitude of other industries.
Why is the Caribbean interesting as a business destination?
The Caribbean is very interesting on many different levels. We are optimistic about the region. I think there is a tremendous investment opportunity from a commercial perspective within the hospitality sector. Additionally, if citizenship is an objective for investors and their families, the Caribbean region is probably one of the best in the world to achieve those personal goals. Furthermore, the Caribbean region is a stable and ideal location if tax planning and asset diversification is a goal for a company or an individual.
What’s your outlook for the region’s tourism and hospitality sector?
As I mentioned earlier, we feel positive about the region. We are always working with companies and investors that are looking for productive investment vehicles and to diversify their geographical footprint. This is especially the case right now—we are seeing a large appetite for multi-level diversification. Per my prior comments, the Caribbean region has the uniqueness of combining stable economies, efficient citizen/investment programs, a large population of strong business partners, and exceptional real estate in the hospitality sector. Furthermore, there is such a tremendous pent-up demand to travel—especially to high-end luxury properties; I have experienced this firsthand in the US and during my recent trip to the Caribbean. The Caribbean region will definitely benefit from this sentiment, as its location is about as ideal as it gets.
How has the pandemic affected things?
Well, the easy answer would be to say that it has affected every aspect of global business as a whole on many levels—especially travel and leisure. Clearly, we have never seen this in our lifetimes. Our client portfolio reflects a significant number of companies that substantially rely on global tourism, conventions, and leisure activities—and I can’t sugarcoat it—it is has been a very challenging time for folks in these industries. However, the success stories I’m seeing are that most of these clients were in a strong cash position prior to the pandemic.
As a result, they have used this downtime to become operationally efficient and they have also used surplus cash or access to credit to acquire competitors or expand their asset holdings. For example, we were recently working on a boutique hotel/restaurant transaction for a client and the purchase price dropped 25 percent post-pandemic — this is a clear example of an economic opportunity.
You chose Antigua as your Caribbean regional headquarters. Why?
We love and support many countries in the Caribbean. I personally travel to several countries in the region on a quarterly basis. I will be in Antigua over the next couple of weeks and then I will be in the Grenadines and Barbados the following month. So, the region as a whole is pretty special to our firm; the time we physically spend there represents these feelings. Our firm strongly believes that you cannot develop sustainable and meaningful relationships without personally investing “face to face” time with colleagues, clients, and potential business partners. This is what we have done in the Caribbean for the past several years will continue to do so. Video conferencing only goes so far.
Now—to directly answer your question… in addition to its natural beauty, stable economic environment, and wide range of investment opportunities in the industries that pertain to our client portfolio, Antigua is a place where we feel extremely comfortable and “at home” to some extent. Over the last few years, we have met some really wonderful people in Antigua. As a result, we have built a community of trusted advisors and business colleagues, giving us the strong confidence that we have the resources to best serve our clients looking to financially or physically expand into Antigua or the region as a whole. Plus, we simply love being there—I highly recommend a visit to Antigua if you have not been there.
The Caribbean is an incredibly diverse region. How does this affect your business plans?
It actually makes our business plans quite exciting! The topography, cuisine, and culture of each country makes the Caribbean region one of the most eclectic and diverse places in the world. Along those same lines, the business opportunities are just as diverse. Our team plans on focusing its efforts on assisting our clients in expanding their operational or financial presence into the Caribbean. While our primary focus in the region will pertain to travel, leisure, and hospitality, we are a diverse team that has the strong capabilities to represent our clients in a variety of industries and investment opportunities.
What kind of work have you done in the Caribbean?
Yes. We have gained significant knowledge and experience over the past several years conducting due diligence and working with our professional colleagues in the region for our clients looking to expand in the Caribbean. We have been involved with hotel development and site-selection, investment opportunities for citizenship purposes, and international asset vehicles. Most recently, we have been involved with the acquisition of a boutique hotel and restaurant. In the restaurant sector, we are looking to bring a very large international brand into the region. We recently expanded that brand in Mexico and have now set our sights on the Caribbean.
For more, visit POTENTE.