While big companies such as multinationals and banks have been doing it since the 1990s, the economic climate is now forcing the mid-market, across all sectors, to internationalise for survival, says Jordi Casas, Head of Corporate at Roca Junyent.
However, Casas stresses that there are a variety of ways to do business and these companies are not just dismantling their operations in Spain and going abroad. “In most cases, they are just trying to provide the same service but in other jurisdictions,” explains Casas. “It’s quite common to arrange a commercial agreement for distribution just to get a stake in a foreign market and then set up a subsidiary, joint venture or acquire a company.”
In terms of where this M&A activity is mainly happening, he highlights Asia and Latin America – although with the latter, businesses are now looking beyond the mature markets such as Chile and Mexico, to countries such as Colombia and Peru.
In response to this increase in activity, large domestic firms in Spain are having to follow clients abroad, forging international networks comprising of different kinds of alliances – whether it’s by keeping desks fronted by local lawyers in foreign jurisdictions or belonging to legal associations such as Terralex.
But for all the M&A activity happening abroad, he believes there’s more in the way of foreign investment coming back to Spain, with countries such as China employing similar internationalisation tactics. Right now, for example, Chinese inbound investment is more important than outbound in the firm, says Casas. “This is where our Asia office is well placed to allow us to take advantage of these opportunities, and operating locally while being related to a much bigger set up allows us to be culturally linked to these jurisdictions and have a stronger presence globally.”