gentaria (BBVA); Santander Central
A rapid rise in fixed-line and cellu-
lar demand was complemented by a
smart business strategy that priori-
tized geographic expansion, a focus
on individual consumers and diver-
Hispano (SCH); Telefónica; Endesa;
Iberdrola; Unión Fenosa (UF); and
Repsol-Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fis-cales (Repsol YPF).
But new sectors—Spanish venture capital, private equity and textiles—and companies have emerged
even more recently, most notably
the Inditex Group (the owner of 5,154
stores worldwide, including Zara and
The firms examined in Toral’s book
reaped massive success in Latin America. Some, like Telefónica, have gone
on to become major global players
in their industries. Now one of the
largest telecommunications groups
in the world, Telefónica became the
largest single private investor in Latin
America, having poured more than
$100 billion into the region over the
past two decades.
It is interesting to read this book
in the context of the Spanish (and
European) economic crisis. The year
2010 was a particularly bad year for
the Spanish economy, which contracted 0.1 percent. This year looks to
be better (with 0.7 percent estimated
growth)—but still weak.
By 2009, Toral notes, its customers in Latin America had grown from
zero in 1988 to more than 167 million.
2010, Santander acquired a 70 per-
cent stake in Bank Zachodni WBK
for $3.7 billion, Poland’s third-largest
bank in terms of branch offices. The
construction group Actividades de
Construcción y Servicios, S.A. (ACS)
successfully acquired a majority share
in Hochtief, Germany’s largest con-
struction company, in early 2011.
This international expansion is
reflected in the positive showing of
Spanish corporations in the IBEX 35,
the benchmark stock market index
of Spain’s principal stock exchange.
In the first quarter of 2010, almost 53
percent of the IBEX 35 revenue came
from overseas—an increase of almost
3 percent from the previous year.
The economic crisis is further accelerating the transformation of Spanish
corporations, which are no w increasingly looking out ward for investment
opportunities. Multinationals are significantly raising their profile, precisely because—as Toral shows—they
invested massively in Latin America.
Santander and Telefónica alone invested a fresh $14 billion in the region in 2010.
But Spanish interests are not con-
fined to Latin America: in September
In some cases, overseas income
greatly outweighed that from the
domestic market. For example, the
food processing group Ebro Foods,
S.A., saw 94 percent of its total in-
come originate abroad in 2010, while
Gamesa Corporación Tecnológica, a
manufacturing company focused on
wind energy, generated 80 percent of
its income from overseas. This trend
As a result
made in the
incomes and risk