Mapping Opportunity and Risk in Latin America

Baker & McKenzie Partner David Malliband led a panel discussion this afternoon at Doing Business Globally in Chicago on doing business in Latin America, featuring Firm practitioners from around the world including J. Roberto Martins* from Sao Paulo, Erik Gutierrez-Zuniga from Mexico City, and Jaime Trujillo from Bogota.

Here are key takeaways from discussions on doing business in Colombia and Mexico:

Colombia:

  • Choose a local partner on the basis of cultural fit as well as reputation.
  • Do not believe that doing business in Colombia is as easy as it seems.
  • Do not underestimate local competition for deals. There are several formidable, world-class companies with deep pockets or access to acquisition financing.

Mexico:

  • When doing business in Mexico, note that personal relationships are as important as business. Get to know your business partner.
  • Expect a more relaxed and flexible attitude toward time.
  • Commitments and agreements must be in writing and signed, people sometimes forget the details.

 

* In cooperation with Trench, Rossi e Watanabe, a Brazilian law firm.

The Future of Global Business

Following Colin Dyer’s keynote address this morning at Doing Business Globally in Chicago, Baker & McKenzie partner Dieter Schmitz led a panel discussion with four industry leaders on the future of global business.

The panelists were:

  • Matthew Damall, Managing Director at Goldman Sachs
  • Marci Winga Fábrega, Associate General Counsel M&A/Strategic Initiatives, Ecolab
  • Louis Samson, Partner, Platinum Equity
  • Herman Uscategui, Director of Global Strategy – Strategic Alliances, Starbucks

The panelists discussed a range of issues, from the growth of cross-border M&A this year, to strategic acquisitions, to regulatory risk and compliance for multinational companies.

Some takeaways from the discussion:

  • Legal and regulatory frameworks are evolving quickly outside of mature markets. Authorities in these areas have not determined what the expectations are going to be, the process, or the timing, and that creates a lot of unknowns for international transactions.
  • Information security is a clear risk as businesses expand across borders. The number of “back doors” that create information security risk, and the amount of work that goes into closing off those back doors and making sure your systems are talking to each other is significant.
  • Risk management has always been part of the conversation for buyers and sellers, but it has gone from an issue for general counsel or assistant general counsel, to a CEO-level issue.
  • Integration tip for companies looking at a transaction that covers many jurisdictions: assemble the right team upfront. Create a team that has experience and understands the industries that the buyer and seller operate in, and the intricacies of how the organizations operate.

JLL Executive Shares Global Business Insights

Colin Dyer, CEO of JLL, delivered the keynote address this morning in Chicago, the second day of Doing Business Globally. Mr. Dyer discussed the motivations for becoming a global organization, the path for doing so, and the hard and soft skills needed within the organization to remain successful.

Mr. Dyer then took questions from Baker & McKenzie partner Dieter Schmitz on topics ranging from cybersecurity, to diversity, to risk management.

Colin Dyer

Key takeaways from the keynote and conversation:

  • Global is different than international. Planting flags in several countries is international, but global means linking the locations together with a common standard of processes and uniform branding. Global means creating a culture where any executive from any country within the organization can make an impact and grow into any role.
  • The “inconvenient truth” about being a global business is that most products and services have to be tailored to the local audience.
  • Being successful globally is about being a “broad church,” taking good ideas from anywhere as being worthy to spread across the organization.
  • On risk management, global companies must set clear expectations of ethical behavior, applying one standard uniformly around the world. Make it the highest bar you have to meet anywhere (e.g. make EPA pollution standards your universal norm.)
  • A balance of hard skills (connectivity, data) and soft skills (cultural understanding, leadership) are imperative to global business.
  • In terms of global markets, India is the “brightest spot” globally, and Africa is coming soon. China’s growth has slowed, but the rate is still about 6-7 percent annually.

Read more about Mr. Dyer.