Helping business to still seek out new markets

The current business situation continues to present businesses
with new opportunities but the emphasis on advisers must now
be more than merely facilitating entries into new markets.

José Antonio Soler

The current economic crisis is
inevitably having an impact on the
Catalan economy, but the ability of
businesses to react to the difficulties
presented, and to capitalise on the
opportunities that such a situation also
presents vary significantly, says José Antonio
Soler, managing partner of Maniega & Soler
'Given the traditional industrial focus of
the Catalan economy, and the already
relatively high financial leverage of many
large companies, the ability of some to
manoeuvre in the current business climate is
being severely limited – which is a cause of
inevitable concern.'

Laura Maniega

Unlike previous economic crises, the
inability of companies to access credit is
impacting upon both small and large
companies alike. 'But conversely, it is within
a time of crisis that companies most have to
contemplate strategic or geographic changes –
foreign markets combined with the creativity
of employees may now provide alternative
returns,' he says.

La actual situación
económica está
teniendo un
interesante impacto
en la economí­a
catalana, pero el
tejido empresarial
está demostrando su
capacidad de
reacción ante las
dificultades que se
presentan y está
considerando cómo
capitalizar las
comentan en
Maniega & Soler. Los
abogados tienen que
ser más creativos,
más próximos y
ofrecer servicios
ágiles en su
comunicación con los
clientes para
adelantarse a los
acontecimientos y
prevenir antes que

The Catalan companies that seem to be
reacting most ably to the situation are
however the smaller and medium-size,
family-owned businesses. 'The speed of
decision-making and traditional risk aversion
of these companies is now proving

But many smaller companies are already
active internationally, and despite their
natural caution are not however delaying the
necessary investment when they see further

Such a scenario is bringing a demand for
new types of legal and business advice, more
tailored to companies individual needs, and
therefore a requirement for lawyers to be
more agile and more creative, says Barcelona
partner Laura Maniega. The poles have been
narrowed between the needs of major and
medium-sized companies – the crisis is
bringing common concerns – but different
clients will always require very different

'Today more than ever clients require and
appreciate an immediate response, and for
their lawyers to be unconditionally at their
side. In a crisis situation they want
commitment but they also want someone who
both understands their needs and who can
help to further develop their business. The
issue for many however is not to let issues
become problems,' she says.

New markets

Fundamental, they believe, is the lawyer's
ability to open clients eyes to potential new
opportunities – wherever they may be – and
if necessary to help facilitate any moves to
new markets. The firm itself has expanded
from Barcelona to Madrid, Seville and the
Canary Islands.

'It is important for lawyers not only to
have knowledge of new markets but
experience in them,' adds Vargas Yabar, who
leads the firm's Madrid office. 'Clients
appreciate particularly when they embark on
an international adventure that you are there
to 'hold their hand', to give them the
necessary assistance and piece of mind they
require when they step out into the

Spanish businesses have never been afraid
to venture into new markets, says Soler.
'Even in times of recession, companies have
continued to explore different markets be it
physically or remotely through their

Latin America presents obvious benefits
based on historical and cultural links and for
many Spanish companies few markets have
proved as attractive, he says. 'Nonetheless,
we are also starting to see interest and
movement towards other regions – to Africa
and Asia which continue to generate
opportunities in specific sectors.'

There are a range of markets, particularly
within emerging economies such as Brazil,
Períº, Vietnam and Malaysia, which are also
proving interesting, notes Vargas Yábar.

'Large Spanish companies are already
successfully exploiting opportunities
internationally, and now it is the turn of the
medium-size enterprises. Many see new
markets that they believe match with their
specific niches, and present attractive
business opportunities.'

'Many clients nonetheless continue to
find comfort in having their regular advisers
close by – to facilitate introductions, translate
foreign business or legal concepts, and to
work as a team,' adds Maniega.

The challenge for all, they say, is for
businesses – larger or small – to build and
maintain the requisite momentum internally
to take such leaps of faith, while also having
the external support necessary to realise the
business potential they see.