Ricardo Nuñez is general counsel, senior vice president and corporate secretary for HD Supply, the Atlanta-based industrial distribution company that was spun off from Home Depot in 2007 and reported sales of more than $7.7 billion for the year ended January 2012. Nuñez focuses his expertise on compliance, complex commercial and supply chain transactions, international operations, and real estate and land use law.
Previously, Nuñez held leadership positions at General Electric Energy, which included lead legal counsel responsible for global manufacturing and sourcing, global compliances and sales of products and services. He also served as counsel at Esso Inter-America Inc, the Latin American affiliate of Exxon Corp., where he was responsible for downstream operations throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. He also spent four years at Steel, Hector & Davis, a Florida law firm, where he practiced real estate and land use law.
Nuñez received a bachelor's degree in economics from the Wharton School of Business in 1986 and his J.D. from Columbia Law School in 1989.
He serves on the board of the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, where he is vice chairman of its Economic Development Committee, and of Nuevo Caminar Inc., a South Florida-based charity dedicated to the rehabilitation of people addicted to drugs. He also is on the board of directors of The Atlanta Speech School and Westminster Schools and has been active in various civic and charitable organizations, including Junior Achievement, Latin American Association, and National Society of Hispanic MBAs.
He lives with his wife, Carmen, three childrenRicky, 20, a student at the University of Georgia; Ale, 18, a student at Vanderbilt University; and Daniel, 9, a student at Westminsterand Charlie, a rescue dog, Madison Bubbles, a cat, and Fred, a hermit crab.
His hobbies are fishing (especially deep sea fishing), hiking and watching his children play sports, particularly wrestling, where his eldest son was a state finalist. On a recent fishing trip to Costa Rica his 52-foot Hatteras motor yacht caught fire and sank, requiring him, his son and three friends to jump into the Pacific Ocean and float until a boat came by and rescued them.
Tell us about your department and your role.
Our department has 11 attorneys, eight paralegals/contract specialists, and two executive assistants. On average each team member has approximately 20 years of legal experience. We've focused on hiring a team with diverse experience and skill sets, and our strategy has been to hire the absolute bestnot only subject matter experts, but commercially savvy team players.
Within HD Supply we are not only viewed as lawyers, but as commercial partners. Also important is having team members that value giving back to society. Not only do our team members give back individually, but we do at least one community event annually as a team.
My role as general counsel is to help my team members achieve their personal and professional goals, while delivering the most effective, proactive and efficient legal advice possible. Oh, and if you don't have a sense of humor or like to have fun, our legal department is not the place for you.
Your company has done a lot of refinance activity. What is the most challenging legal aspect?
In the past two years (actually two years and eight months), we have successfully completed four major refinancing events. During 2012 alone, we refinanced approximately $5 billion over three transactions.
In each case, the refinancing was opportunistic, meaning that we did not have to refinance, but highly favorable market conditions made it an excellent opportunity to lower our overall debt cost and extend the maturity of our senior debt.
The most challenging aspect was preparing to launch at a moment's notice. Credit markets have been particularly volatile this year, and a market window can disappear as quickly as it appears. Over the course of each transaction, almost the entire legal team was engaged, some working around the clock, to help launch and close the transactions. Calls at midnight were relatively common and revising documents was constant. The deal documents were complex and included, among several others, a nearly 200-page offering memorandum.