• Top Multinationals at ChicagoBooth’s Miami Conference: Latin America’s Footprint in the United States

Arquímedes Trujillo | Publisher

How did a group of CEOs and top managers from multinational companies in unrelated industries come together to talk about the relationship between Miami and their business strategies in Latin America —and viceversa? Talking to Mario Sacasa, International Development Director at Beacon Council, at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business conference, I learned that it took a fortuitous encounter, plus time, travel and effort to coordinate such an event.

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“I met Ramón Tisaire, a Spanish businessman, on one of the Beacon Council’s trade missions to Spain. He is a former student at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and he told me that they create this type of events all over the world. So I said he should organize a conference in Miami. That was about two years ago. . . and now they are here.”

5 panelists

After a brief introduction by Michael Gibbs, Clinical Professor of Economics and Faculty Director, Executive MBA Programs at Chicago Booth, the event’s moderator, Mar Hernández, Senior Client Partner at Transearch, formulated the questions to the panelists about their respective companies’ relationship with Miami and Latin America.

caputoMarcelo Caputo spoke about Telefónica’s consistent investment over the last two decades in modernizing the area’s state-of-the-art telecommunications industry.

“Although there’s no doubt of the ups and downs in the economies of many of these countries, today more than 40 percent of our company’s revenue comes from Latin America,” explained Caputo.

The Related Group’s Carlos Rosso said that “in 2008 in the U.S., the American real estate buyer disappeared. We tried to create a new model on how to develop real estate in Florida by applying some of the rules and practices long established in Latin America. We started again in 2010 and now, in 2013, we have over $2 billion in preconstruction new sales, mainly by applying the Latin American financial model.”

“So, basically, Latin American buyers are lending us money now to build in Miami,because American banks are not doing so” — Carlos Rosso, President, Condominium Development Division, The Related Group

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Burger King’s Global and Latin American Headquarter is in Miami, José Costa reminded the audience.

“We now offer delivery, an innovation born in Latin America. We tested it in Chicago and it is being implemented here in Miami. From a product standpoint, you’ll now see guacamole, jalapeños on our menu.”

Roberto Muñoz outlined that “Miami has been linked to Latin America since Copy of munozthe beginning of Pan American Airways flights from Miami to Havana. Latin America’s natural backbone is its nexus to Spain.”

BBVA has banks throughout the region and recently opened an international/private banking center in Miami.

Victor Kong from The Cisneros Group of Companies, whose Venevision division joined forces with Mexico’s Televisa and a U.S. partner, A. Jerrold Perenchio, in 1992 to acquire (and later sell) the Univision Network from Hallmark, adds that “the content that we create in Latin America does very well in the U.S. Hispanic market.”

Miami’s role as a regional financial/business capital holds the key to its economic stability. Muñoz says that success depends on getting everyone involved —public and private— organized and working together toward one specific objective.

“It must not, by its nature, be geared to one industry, like real estate. A diversification strategy is occurring now in Miami and you’ll see that as time goes on.”

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