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Becoming a Multilatina

Key factors to regionalizing in Latin America

This report takes an in-depth look at the key differences between Multilatinas and Global Latina companies, and how those differences affect a company's strategy, capabilities and performance. It also identifies country-specific factors that affect business growth—specifically, economic situation, political stability, and access to capital—while offering detailed and actionable insights that senior executives and national policymakers can use to help their companies operate effectively within Latin America and succeed as Multilatinas.

About the study

​As with our earlier study on Latin American companies, this study is unique in that it examines a wide range of business factors, including strategies, key management practices, and organizational competencies, as well country-specific factors that promote or inhibit growth. This is fundamentally different from most of the business-oriented studies of Latin America that other organizations have produced, which tend to focus on narrower or more specialized topics such as mergers & acquisitions, corporate finance, social responsibility, and environmental sustainability, among others. Moreover, the small number of past reports that have sought to address the broader topics of management competencies and international expansion have largely been descriptive in nature and did not provide senior executives and national policymakers with the deep and practical insights necessary to help their businesses succeed on a regional and global scale.

Our research for this study focused on companies in four priority countries: Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Peru (based on GDP and relevance for Multilatinas), and consisted of two distinct parts.

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Key characteristics of Multilatinas

Our analysis identified five key characteristics typically associated with companies that successfully become Multilatinas. One characteristic (profile of executives) is very similar between Multilatinas and Global Latinas. However, the four other characteristics are significantly different.


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Country-specific factors that affect regional growth (the "Chile Effect")

Companies based in Chile are responsible for 50 percent of Multilatina revenues, far more than all of the other countries in the region–even those with much larger economies: Brazil (14 percent), Mexico (11 percent), Colombia (10 percent), Peru (8 percent), and Argentina (4 percent).

To understand Chile's disproportionately high representation in the pool of Multilatinas, we compared it to the three Latin American countries that are most similar in terms of GDP: Argentina, Peru, and Colombia. Relative to these countries, our analysis found that Chile demonstrates a strongly differentiated position in the region due to its favorable economic, political and financial situation, featuring a stable, open and competitive economy, and a positive regulatory environment that give Chilean companies a competitive advantage when expanding regionally.

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Embracing Multilatinas

At first glance it may be easy to assume that becoming a Global Latina is the natural evolutionary development or maturity path for every successful company in Latin America—with Multilatinas being just a stepping-stone toward that higher goal. However, our analysis found fundamental differences between Multilatinas and Global Latinas that in most cases put them on different tracks to international growth:

  • Scale versus scope.
  • Different industries.
  • Local knowledge fuels organic growth.

The bottom line is that there is more than one effective path for Latin American companies to grow internationally and achieve success. Becoming a Multilatina is a distinct growth path and end goal in and of itself—not just a stepping stone or consolation prize for companies not quite good enough to become Global Latinas. Business leaders and national policy makers should recognize this fact and consider taking deliberate action to address the individual factors that can help Multilatinas–and aspiring Multilatinas—compete more effectively at the regional level, instead of viewing global expansion as the only goal worth pursuing.

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Many successful Latin American companies likely will thrive in the region as Multilatinas but may never become global companies. Others will jump directly from the local to global level without ever becoming dominant players at the regional level.

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