LATIN AMERICA

Latin America is a world of civilization, natural resources and beauties and dynamism. its ability to deliver on its promises has been challenged by a level of poverty that makes social and political consensus impossible .

 

It is in Mexico that I started my journey in Latin America, working closely with the Mexican Government. At that time, Venezuela was still a key country in the field of energy and finance.

Brasil is the economic leader of Latin America by size and wealth. I am sometimes surprised to see how unclear that dominance is. Argentina is a gulf of political corruption from the Perons to the Kirchners who have now been eliminated from the political scene.

Mexico

 

How could Mexico, with its wealth of oil, manage not to improve the situation of its own people. It remains for me surprise to see how a country that looks almost like California not have found a way to create the sustainability of its people.

The first contacts I had in Mexico was in the context of a financing for the Mexican Government. At the time, Jesus Silva Herzog and Angel Gurria were ruling “Hacienda” , the Mexican Ministry of Finance.

I was fortunate to get to know Carlos Slim and his wife Sumia when he was a member of the Latin American Advisory Committee of the NYSE. An avid art collector who built several museums in mexico, he managed to modernize the moribund state-owned telecommunications.

He might be the richest man in the world, but he is also one of its most discreet and effective philanthropists.

The beauty of the Aztec and Inca civilizations is a source of discovery and to understand Mexico, one must leave the capital city to visit the magnificent archaeological sites of the country.

Brazil

 

One of the most successful stories in Brasil has been the creation of the largest brewer in the world. Jorge Paulo Lemann was leading Brahma and initiated the internationalization of the Group who made many acquisitions, in particular the Belgian Interbrew (owner of Stella Artois) and Anheuser Bush (owner of Bud in the US). AB Inbev is now acquiring SAB Miller, the second largest brewer for $ 104 billion.

The relationship with Bovespa, the Brazilian Stock exchange,  was a difficult one for the NYSE, accused to poach (not without merits) Brazilian companies away form the domestic market. The most spectacular case was the listing on the NYSE of the seven privatized companies that were composing Telefonica.

The complexity of Brazil cannot be underestimated. Criminality, poverty and natural resources create a huge challenge for those who want to live honestly in the country. It is also one of the most cosmopolitan country in the word with huge Jew, Japan and German born populations.

It is also a reservoir of natural beauty and its Amazon Forest by itself needs to be protected for the sake of the planet.