Manuel Conthe is a Spanish independent international arbitrator. Being both a lawyer and an economist, and a former securities regulator, he is a recognized expert in finance, energy, M&A transactions,  damages and, more generally, economic disputes .

He started his career as an arbitrator in 2010 and has served so far in more than 40 panels. In February 2020, he was appointed by Spain to the list of official ICSID arbitrators. He is also a member of the panel of experts of P.R.I.M.E Finance.

Previously, as a career senior civil servant, he was Director General of Foreign Investment (1987-1988), Director General of the Treasury and Financial Policy (1988-1995), Deputy Minister of Economy (1995-1996), Vice-president for Finance in the World Bank (1999-2002) and Chairman of Spain’s Securities & Exchange Commission (CNMV) (2004-2007). He was also a partner at a financial consultancy (2002-2004).

During his stint in Brussels as Chief Counsel for Economic and Trade Affairs at the Spanish Mission in the European Union (1996-1999) he was closely involved in international trade and investment negotiations and WTO arbitration panels.

 He is the author of three books on economic and political paradoxes, game theory and Behavioral Law & Economics.

Manuel Conthe is ranked by Chambers Europe 2021 and Chambers Global 2022 in Dispute Resolution, Most in Demand Arbitrators, Spain.

  • Languages: 
    • Spanish: mother tongue
    • English: perfect command
    • French: fluent
    • German: full reading proficiency
    • Portuguese: full reading proficiency


  • Independent arbitrator
  • Columnist of Expansión, Spain’s leading financial newspaper

Professional Experience

Feb 2020   Appointed by Spain to the list of official ICSID arbitrators

Apr. 2018 – February 2022    Non-executive independent director of Unicaja Banco

Dec. 2017 – March 2019    President of  Spain’s Arbitration Court 

June 2011 – April 2019    Non-executive independent director of Acerinox, the listed international stainless steel  manufacturer 

Dec. 2007 – February 2022    Chairman of the Advisory Board of Expansión

Sep. 2009 – March 2015    Of Counsel at Bird&Bird

  • He started his work as an arbitrator in late 2009 as Of-Counsel in Bird&Bird LLP Madrid, a position he left in March 2015 to avoid conflicts of interests.

Oct. 2004 – May 2007         Chairman of Spain’s Securities & Exchange Commission (CNMV)

  • He chaired the Task Force which drafted Spain’s 2006 Corporate Governance Code.
  • He oversaw the introduction of IAS-IFRS accounting standards by Spanish listed companies in 2005.
  • He chaired IOSCO´s Task Forces on “Board independence” and “Protection of minority ”
  • He was a member of the High Level Committee overseeing the new Iberian Electricity Market.
  • In May 2007 he resigned in disagreement with a majority decision taken by the CNMV Board related to the public take-over bid of Spanish electric utility Endesa.

Oct. 2002 – Oct. 2004         Partner of Analistas Financieros Internacionales (AFI)

  • He led consulting projects in Latin American and Eastern Europe for the World Bank, IFC and IDB on funding of transnational infrastructure projects, regulatory risks in FDI projects, financial regulation and housing finance.
  • He worked for Spain’s Regional Governments on the use of Public-Private-Partnerships (PPP) for the provision of health services.

April 1999 – September 2002             Vice President at the World Bank

  • He co-chaired the World Bank Finance & Private Sector Infrastructure (FIPSI) Network.
  • As Vice-president for Finance (April 1999-June 2001), he represented the World Bank in the “Financial Stability Forum” and was a member of its working group on capital movements.
  • In close cooperation with the IMF, he rolled out the “Financial Sector Assessment Program” (FSAP).
  • He promoted a special Technical Assistance Program on the development of domestic bond markets.
  • He represented the World Bank in the 2000 AAOIFI-World Bank Conference on Islamic Banking and Finance.
  • As Special Advisor to the Bank’s CFO (July 2001-September 2002), he worked on the IMF’s “Sovereign Debt Restructuring Mechanism” draft and on the World Bank Group’s strategy to promote foreign direct investments in emerging economies.

July 1996 – March 1999      Chief Economic and Commercial Counselor, Spain’s Permanent Representation to the EU

  • He was Spain’s Deputy Representative to the EU’s Trade Policy Committee (“113 Committee”) in Brussels and as such was (indirectly) involved in:
    • The negotiation in the WTO of the ITA Agreement to remove tariffs on IT products
    • WTO dispute settlement panels involving the EU (e.g. bananas)
    • EU’s Preferential Trade Agreements
    • The preparation of the then called “Millenium Round” (the fore-runner of the “Doha Round”)
    • Bilateral EU-USA trade issues and negotiations (e.g. Helms Burton)
    • The OECD negotiations on a “Multilateral Agreement on Investments” (MAI).
  • He participated as part of Spain´s delegation in the first Ministerial WTO Conference held in Singapore in December 1996.

Nov. 1995 – May 1996          Deputy Minister for Economy (“Secretario de Estado de  Economía”)

  • During the December 1995 European Council in Madrid, he drafted its Conclusions on the “scenario for the introduction of the eur”
  • He approved the securitization by Spanish electric utilities of the so-called “nuclear moratorium”
  • Non-executive director of SEPI, the Spanish State’s industrial holding company.

Oct. 1988 – Nov. 1995           Director General of the Treasury and Financial Policy

  • As the Kingdom’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO), he was in charge of Spain’s sovereign borrowing, derivatives and cash management programs, and took a leading role in the modernization of Spain’s domestic public debt market.

In close collaboration with the Bank of Spain, he specifically helped develop:

  • The Treasury´s group of market makers;
  • The regulation of Spain´s first future and option markets on peseta government bonds;
  • The new system of personal government bond accounts at the Bank of Spain for retail investors (“cuentas directas”);
  • A new type of mutual funds investing primarily on government bonds (“Fondtesoros”)
  • He drafted all major Government regulations and laws on banking and financial markets, including the Law on Autonomy of the Bank of Spain, the Law on Securitization of Financial Assets and the regulation of the domestic futures and options markets.
  • As member of the EU Monetary Committee, he negotiated the entry of the peseta into the European Monetary System (June 1989) and its subsequent four devaluations.
  • He led Spain’s delegation to the 1990 Conference which created the EBRD.
  • He led Spain’s delegation to the 1991 Inter-governmental Conference on Economic and Monetary Union which negotiated the 1992 Maastricht Treaty.
  • Member of the Board of the Bank of Spain and of Spain’s Securities & Exchange Commission (CNMV).
  • Member of the Board of the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Dec. 1986 – Oct. 1988            Director General for Foreign Transactions & Investments

  • As head of Spain’s Foreign Transactions Directorate, he chaired the committee which screened and approved all major FDI projects involving a foreign majority stake.
  • He led Spain’s delegation to the 1988 Washington conference which led to the creation of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA).
  • Non-executive director at Banco Exterior and Repsol Exploración.

Dec. 1984 – Dec. 1986           Deputy Director General of the Treasury for External Finance

  • As Deputy CFO for the Kingdom of Spain, he managed Spain’s foreign borrowings and its relations with international capital markets and rating agencies.
  • He negotiated and managed the Kingdom´s currency and interest rate swaps.
  • He controlled and supervised foreign currency borrowings by Spanish public entities, as well as highway companies benefitting from a sovereign exchange risk guarantee.
  • He promoted and supervised the foreign peseta bond market (“mercado matador“).

1979 1984

  • 1981-1984 Technical Assistant to Executive Director at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Besides reviewing all loans and investment projects funded by the IADB and submitted to the Board for approval, he was closely involved in the negotiation of the IADB’s fifth capital replenishment and the establishment of the Inter-American Investment Corporation.
  • 1979-1981 Junior official at the Ministry of Commerce of Spain, dealing with trade promotion and screening of FDI projects in Spain.
  • In December 1978 he joined the “Special Corps of Government Economists” (“Técnicos Comerciales y Economistas del Estado”) of the Ministry of Commerce.


  • Financial markets (equity swaps, IRS and derivatives, securitization, banking regulations, credit insurance, IFRS, accounting and financial reporting; investor protection and mis-selling claims, market abuse)
  • Regulation of electricity & energy markets and valuation of electricity & energy companies
  • Corporate transactions and governance (valuation of companies and joint ventures, shareholders’ agreements, M&A and take-over disputes; corporate governance issues, directors’ fiduciary duties, related-party transactions)
  • Foreign direct investments, including regulatory risks, financing and regulation
  • Public-Private Partnerships
  • Monetary and currency laws & contractual clauses
  • Trade laws & WTO Agreements (GATT, GATS, TRIMS…)



  • He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Foundation for the Good Use of Spanish (“Fundación del Español Urgente”, Fundéu).
  • He is a member of the Advisory Board of “Indexa Capital,” a Spanish securities firm offering passive wealth management on-line services. 


  • 1971-1976 Law degree from Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM). Final research paper: Special Drawing Rights (SDR).
  • 1976-1977 Research grant on International Private Law at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM) on the public order exception.
  • 1971-1974 Undergradute studies on Economics (Macroeconomic analysis) at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM).
  • 2001 Executive Education Program at Harvard Business School. 


  • Spanish: mother tongue
  • English: perfect command
  • French: fluent
  • German: full reading proficiency
  • Portuguese: full reading proficiency