Five centuries after Spanish conquistadors took over Mexico, Mexican billionaires are busy buying up chunks of Spain. After four years of recession, it was the perfect match between cash-rich customers and a needy economy.
According to the analyis of worldcrunch.com:
Clearly the billionaire Carlos Slim had been eyeing investment opportunities in Spain for some time now. And with the recession slowly ending here — at least for the rich — he is not the only Mexican to have arrived to do some serious shopping.
The world's second richest man, with total assets estimated at around $77 billion, became a principal partner of the Catalan bank La Caixa (now Caixa Bank) back in 2011, after buying almost a million shares. In 2012, he bought 439 buildings belonging to the bank through his real estate firm Inmobiliaria Carso. Other investments include buying up 1.98% of Prisa, the group that owns the Madrid-based daily newspaper El País.
The wave of Mexican investors arriving here is starting to look like a reversal of roles, more than 500 years after Spaniards conquered Mexico. Mexican investors are sinking their pesos both in strategic sectors, and on a scale that is leaving local observers awed.
Antonio Hernández, an energy and international strategy partner at the Spain offices of international consultants KPMG, says Mexico has become the sixth-largest foreign investor in Spain and No. 2 outside of the European Union. A 2013 study estimated accumulated investments valued at almost $21.5 billion.
In 2014, Mexico invested just under $1.2 billion in Spain, which was about 40% of all Latin American investments, and it was already the leading investor in the first half of 2015.
Several factors are helping send Mexican capital into Spain. Firstly, for these investors, Spain is a gateway to the eurozone, says Massimo Cermelli, an economics professor at the Deusto Business School in Madrid.
"Spain is the only Spanish-speaking country in Europe, which makes it a privileged entry point for Mexico," he says.
That was the point for Gruma, a food conglomerate, which last March bought the Fat Taco and Azteca Foods ready-made tortillas and condiments business, run until then by Azteca Foods Europe. It plans to distribute its products in more than 20 European countries, and in the Middle East and North Africa.
The recession in Europe, which was worse in southern Europe, helped attract these investors by knocking prices down to more "attractive" levels. "Let's not forget that right now it is cheaper to set up a business in Spanish cities like Madrid, Barcelona or Valencia, than anywhere else in Europe," says José Carlos Diez, an economist at the Alcalá de Henares University.