After a solid dose of Barcelona’s cultural and nightlife scene, Chazen Spain had its first set of meetings today at IESE, a top European business school, based in Barcelona. Our first roundtable focused on private investment in Spain and the broader European region. Despite the gloomy backdrop of European fiscal crises and Spain’s stubbornly high unemployment (currently at 23%), the mood of the panel was optimistic. The panelists, representing Carlyle, Miura Private Equity, and VC shop Nauta Capital, stressed the difficulty of finding the right management teams – willing to sell at the right prices. Sector consolidation, opportunistic expansion, add-on acquisitions and revolutionary technology could provide the impetus for attractive returns looking forward.
Next, we discussed the importance and management of family businesses throughout Spain with three senior executives from Havas Media, Puig Corporation and Leti Laboratories. Family-owned businesses account for the lion share of overall GDP output in the country; effectively managing the delicate inter-generational transitions is crucial for these corporate dynasties. The notions of robust governance principles and being overly communicative with other family executives were underlined across the board. Judging from the three panelists’ level of familiarity with one another and other family-owned companies, the business climate in Spain is undoubtedly a small, tight-knit community.
Props to Borja Olaso and Ignacio del Valle for orchestrating a gnarly trip so far. On to Galicia in northwest Spain tomorrow to meet executives from Inditex (parent company of Zara). More to come.