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Making Your Own Rules: Environmental Due Diligence In Mexico

Over the last several years, we’ve been observing a growing interest within the Commercial Real Estate (CRE) towards business dealings in Mexico…

Over the last several years, we’ve been observing a growing interest within the Commercial Real Estate (CRE) towards business dealings in Mexico and other Latin American countries. While it remains to be seen how the American election results will impact this trend, other factors include a booming e-commerce industry with a growing need for warehouse space to support retail needs and more recently, relaxed ownership laws in Mexico. In performing environmental and engineering assessments in these regions, I’ve noticed American banks and investors are frequently looking to due diligence firms for guidance. It’s important and valuable to engage a firm you know and trust for deals abroad, especially in instances where the divide between American expectations and the realities of international projects leaves the client with less comfort than the more traditional American due diligence, typically to ASTM standards.

Alternatively, this flexibility can turn out to be a benefit to the client. It is important that a firm be well versed in bridging the gap, as international due diligence is an entirely different ballgame. That said, with the right approach, and a clear understanding of project goals, we’ve found that an equivalent comfort level can absolutely be attained.

With respect to environmental due diligence (Phase I Environmental Site Assessments or other reports) there are different drivers for due diligence abroad and the American emphasis on liability is lacking in many other countries. Additionally, in many instances historical and regulatory records are limited/lacking if sources even are available. An assessor can request access to all archival research and or the review of city, county or other governmental records, but relying on this information alone may result in a lower level of investigation. It becomes even more critical then, to manage data gaps by planning ahead:

Ensuring detailed site observations during site-walk: While historical records may be lacking/limited, a consultant has the opportunity to make up for this void with an in depth site-observation. With a (ASTM) compliance focused site walk, an assessor can pay attention to visible concerns; this could mean taking precise inventory of chemicals in a Phase I, documenting manufacturing processes, or just generally developing innovative approaches to challenges, thinking out of the box, and soliciting input from well-informed parties.

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