Our two last blogs focused on those Latin American companies that have gone truly global, the “multilatinas”. Our research on multilatinas showed that Grupo Quiñenco in Chile actually owns CSAV, one of the largest shipping companies in the world. So the question posed was, who are these “groups”, these business conglomerates that control some of the most famous and well-recognised companies in Latin America?

Let’s start with Grupo Quiñenco. It claims to be “one of Chile’s largest business conglomerates with consolidated assets of

Cristal. Another CCU brand.

approximately US$57.0 billion”. Operating across food and drink, financial services and manufacturing, the group controls, amongst others, Banco de Chile, CCU and Madeco. Going back to our “multilatinas”, both CCU and Madeco are in the top 80 this year amongst the companies ranked by America Economia.

The story doesn’t end there, because Grupo Quiñenco is in turn controlled (83%) by the Luksic Group. Forbes ranks the Luksick fortune, now headed by Iris Fontbona, first in Chile and no.35 in the worldwide billionaires ranking.

Moving across to Peru, Grupo Romero is the largest economic group in the country. They cover “mass consumer products, industry, logistics, infrastructure, trade and services”. Their companies include Consorcio Naviero Peruano (shipping) and Primax (leading seller of fuel in Peru).

In Argentina, Grupo Pérez Companc is one of the largest business groups. With a fortune of USD 1.5bn, its leader, Gregorio Perez Companc, makes the Forbes top 1000 list of millionaires in the world and 3rd in Argentina. The oil and gas business was sold to Petrobras in 2002 but the group remains in control of food multinational Molinos Rio de la Plata as well as in cattle and agroindustrial production. “Molinos”, its main food company, claims to be present on average in 11% of each Argentine’s shopping basket, and boasts 5,000 employees, exporting 67% of its produce.

There are many other large business groups in Latin America worth knowing and this should be part of any thorough market research you undertake or commission, since they can be huge influencers in your industry.

Unless you are in very specific sectors like legal advice or corporate finance, it is unlikely that that these business groups will mean much to you now, but it is all part of getting to know the markets that you seek to operate in. This information might be “common knowledge” for the business people you meet, and you could impress many a potential partner with your (even basic) understanding of the bigger picture. Also, what happens to these groups (whether a huge lawsuit or share price fluctuations) will no doubt somehow impact on your business with them. Whether they are your clients, suppliers, partners or competitors, it’s best to know about them.

After all, knowledge is power.

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