Lourdes Millet: Sailing to Success

Lourdes Millet is a fine example of the new generation of dynamic, talented, professional Valencians with an international outlook and the necessary skills to deliver the goods. And as she says herself, having worked with lawyers and clients of all nationalities, when Valencians throw off their insecurity and inferiority complex, they soon discover that they need envy nobody.

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As a lawyer, Lourdes has been at the centre of some of the most important projects that have developed the Valencian Community as an international focus of attention, namely the Terra Mitica theme park near Benidorm, and the America’s Cup sailing event.

Lourdes studied law at Valencia University, and then did an M.A. in business law in Madrid. On returning to Valencia she started working for one of Spain’s top law firms, Uria Menendez before being snapped up at the tender age of 28 by the American multi-national entertainment giant Paramount, who were impressed by her abilities when she serviced their account with Uria Menendez.

Terra Mitica was of course a fine idea, as was the euro at some distant, idyllic moment in deepest history, but one that was perhaps inexpertly executed, and in the end became a source of considerable work for the lawyers and economists who had to restructure the company, comply with the creditors’ agreement and undertake a complicated suspension of payments procedure in order to avoid bankruptcy.

Later Lourdes returned from the Costa Blanca to Valencia, moving to another of the country’s important law firms, Broseta, where she worked closely with Manuel Broseta, son of the great jurist of the same name who was assassinated by Basque terrorist group ETA in front of the Valencia Law Faculty in 1992. Nevertheless, she maintained her connection with Terra Mitica, working with them for Broseta for one day a week.

Four months later, as Valencia was chosen as the site for the 32nd America’s Cup, the organisers needed support for their legal department and immediately began looking for local lawyers.

Lourdes was chosen by the America’s Cup Management (ACM), to deal mainly with insurance, commercial and corporate matters, not only because of her outstanding legal abilities and experience with important international clients, but also because she is an excellent linguist, having been educated in Valencia’s Lycee Francais, speaking Italian, as well as excellent English after several years in Valencia’s British Council. In fact our conversation was conducted entirely in English.

As ACM had Swiss managers, such linguistic versatility was essential for her to communicate with participants from so many countries and to report directly to Swiss lawyers. The work also involved a great deal of travel; to Switzerland, the Arab Emirates and Sicily among other places as the various qualifying regattas took place

As everybody now knows, the aftermath of the 32nd America’s Cup became a nightmare of litigation (nothing to do with Lourdes) as the winners, Alinghi and the challenger Oracle-BMW fought over the interpretation of the Deed of Gift, the founding document of the America’s Cup which established the guidelines for future events.

As a result, and after two years of law suits, the event finally took place in Valencia in February 2010.

The suspension of the America’s Cup did give Lourdes an opportunity to take stock, to take care of her two children, and to launch her own law firm Millet & Calatayud Abogados. The connection works well as she prefers the role of a solicitor and Enrique Calatayud the role of barrister.

Whatever its current future locations, the America’s Cup certainly helped to put Valencia on the map, and as a result, many international companies, such as Future Fibres, set up in Valencia and liked it enough to stay.

The success of a city is not just a question of its location or products, a key part of its infrastructure is the quality of the professionals working there and providing the essential services needed by potential investors, and with efficient, skilful Valencian professionals such as Lourdes Millet, we can be sure that more important ships will be coming in to this welcoming harbour on the Levante seaboard.

 

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