Return of the Big Spenders

Apr 29, 2004

Signs of recovery in Brazil are luring deep-pocketed European investors back to the region, ready to splurge billions on Latin American companies.

In the space of a few weeks in March, buttoned-down, sober businessmen like John Brock, the American who runs Belgium's Interbrew beer company, and César Alierta, president of Spanish telecom giant Telefónica, offered billions of dollars to buy companies in Latin America, a region most multinationals had avoided for years.

Global companies, led by big European groups like Interbrew and Telefónica, are taking over competitors in Latin America or raising majority stakes in subsidiaries there in the most significant burst of foreign direct investment the region has seen in years. Belgium's Interbrew, advised by Goldman Sachs and Lazard, is offering $4.1 billion in stock for a controlling 21.8% stake in AmBev (see "The Killer Instinct"). Spain's Telefónica, advised by Morgan Stanley, coughed up $5.85 billion for BellSouth's Latin American business (see box, "A Bigger Footprint"). BBVA, Spain's second-largest bank, bought out minority investors in its...

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