The word for “crisis” in Chinese apparently comes from two roots meaning “risk” and “opportunity” – there is both a downside, and the potential for an upside. That’s how César Alierta, Telefónica Chairman and CEO, began the opening keynote of their 2010 Leadership Conference in Miami (where I spent several days last week). For Telefónica, that definition has played out with the global economic crisis. While results in Spain have been their downside, Latin America has been the opportunity. Telefónica has a presence in 15 countries in Latin America (and 42 countries worldwide), with offerings in mobile and fixed telephony and in IT services. Not all offerings are available in all markets but in many countries Telefónica has leveraged a strong position in one offering to expand into the others becoming the first integrated operator in the region.
According to José Maria Pallete, CEO of Telefónica Latinoamérica, Latin America represents 65-70% of their total customer base, 40% of revenues and about 40% of the operating income. In the enterprise space (as opposed to consumer services), 37% of Telefónica revenue comes from Latin America. That corporate segment (including public sector) marked double digit growth in Latin America in 2009, with its biggest markets in Brazil and Mexico.