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Spanish investors look to the long term


José Luis
López de Silanes

The Spanish have invested heavily in Latin America over the past decade, pumping in around $80 billion, and show no signs of pulling out. And why should they with the region expected to grow between 4.1% and 4.5% next year and huge unexploited markets such as mobile phones in Brazil ripe for the picking?

The big Spanish companies that have plunged into Latin America, many over a decade ago, have no doubts about their long-term commitment to the region. "We are not tourists in the countries in which we are present; we are there permanently," says Santander Central Hispano (SCH) chairman Emilio Botín. "The medium to long-term scope for growth and development is enormous."

SCH has invested a total of $16 billion in the region and its Latin American activities account for 40% of the bank's EBITDA compared with around 50% for telecoms company Telefónica, 53% for oil company Repsol YPF and 39% for energy company Endesa.

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