The other side of the expansion story

Catalan companies, like many others in Spain, are expanding
internationally. It is important however to understand why they
are going as much as where they are going, say Joan Roca and
Francesc Segura Roda of Roca Junyent.

El flujo de negocio
procedente de
empresas con sede en
Cataluña continíºa pero
de forma más
moderada, expresa
Joan Roca y Francesc
Segura socios de Roca
Junyent en Barcelona. Las empresas no están
tan sólo deslocalizando
su producción sino que
están también haciendo
la prospección de
nuevos mercados para
sus productos. Por ello,
hay una gran diferencia
entre estos tipos de
empresa y sus
necesidades, las cuales
requieren un análisis
exhaustivo de las
opciones que poseen.

'Barcelona companies have
experienced a general trend
towards localisation but
that is certainly not the
whole story of Catalan companies going
abroad,' says Joan Roca, corporate partner
at Roca Junyent in Barcelona.

'We are now seeing a clear
differentiation between the types of
companies moving abroad and the markets
they are targeting – Catalan manufacturers
of course want to produce their goods costeffectively,
but they also need to sell their
products.'

While the last few years have clearly
seen companies delocalise operations to
Eastern Europe and to Asia, to capitalise on
cheaper labour and manufacturing costs,
the trend has however reduced
recently, believes Roca.

'Spain's economic slowdown is
presenting a degree of uncertainty,
which is prompting companies to
reassess their options. As a result,
many are beginning to adopt a 'wait
and see' attitude to their international
plans.'

Expansion

The other side of the international story,
emphasises Roca, is the expansion of
companies towards more mature economies
and an evident demand to reach new
consumer markets. 'Catalan companies
need mature markets for their products as
much as they need developing ones,' he
says.

The US and inevitably China, are seeing
an upturn in interest amongst reginal
businesses he says, while within Europe,
Poland and Bulgaria are attracting notable
attention: 'Relative to some of their
neighbours, companies perceive them to be
more mature markets, and from a legal
point of view are perhaps more stable than
some others.'

Such a trend reflects a growing desire
among businesses to choose locations that
enable them to reach across markets, says
Roca. 'It is important when companies are
deciding whether to enter new markets that
they have the necessary business and legal
certainty, and that they are protected from
any local practices that might prove
detrimental to their operations.'

The same emphasis is also apparent
among the growing number of Catalan
businesses now targeting the US, he says, and
where Miami is emerging as a preferred entry
point – it presents a 'double-hit' in terms of
geographic emphasis, he says.

'Some businesses appear now to prefer the
certainty offered by the city, which of course
gives access to the tremendous American
markets, but it also presents the ability to
reach across Latin America, and to exploit the
Miami's close cultural and business ties with
the region.'

Facilitation

Regardless of where clients ultimately extend
their operations, it is vital however that their
external legal adviser is able to offer the local
insight necessary to bring comfort to their
operations, believes fellow corporate partner
Francesc Segura Roda.

'A key part of our role when helping
clients embark on an international strategy is
not only to facilitate their entry into new
markets – for example, through partnership or
joint venture structures – but also to help
them understand the local legal framework, to
translate concepts, and to make them aware of
the issues that may affect their operations.'

There are however no easy markets in
which to operate he emphasises, and
highlights a Chinese saying: 'where there is
opportunity there is always risk'.

'China's scale, for example, offers
tremendous potential it is now a very different
place to what it was even a few years ago, he
says. 'It is now however a much more mature
market and inevitably some of the attractions
and opportunities that might have presented
themselves to companies only a few years ago
may no longer be so apparent.'

The firm's Shanghai office is therefore
seeing a change in scale in investments there,
he reports. 'The economy is proving less
attractive to smaller Catalan manufacturers, for
example, but presenting greater opportunities
for the region's utilities, infrastructure and
telecoms businesses,' he says.

The other side of the expansion story

Garcia-Sicilia

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