SOLUTIONS FOR INVESTORS

Panama 2017 | FINANCE | B2B

Panama is becoming a hub for investment in the region, and these companies are ahead of the game.

Olivier Nanzer
OLIVIER NANZER
Executive Director
UBS Asesores
Paulo Miguel Filho
PAULO MIGUEL FILHO
CEO
Kreuz Capital

How has your company evolved in Panama?

Olivier Nanzer We have been based in Panama since the 1960s and are exclusively focused on wealth management here. Outside of Switzerland, the bank has three main divisions: wealth management, which is the core business; asset management for the institutional side; and investment banking. We are still the only true global wealth manager. We have clients around the world and, in 2016, we generated over CHF40 billion of net new money in our wealth management businesses. At the group level in 2016, on the net revenue side, we generated CHF3.3 billion in net profit. So humbly speaking, we have had great results. We cannot be complacent, however. Market conditions are difficult, both in terms of cost pressure and in terms of volatility. In times of uncertainty, some clients are reluctant to invest or increase their activities. With the challenges of 2016, we focused on generating value for our clients and providing diversification in this volatile and constantly changing global climate, without forgetting our shareholders and employees.

Paulo Miguel Filho We focus on cross-border transactions across all Latin America, mostly M&A, hence our name, Kreuz, which is the German word for cross. Panama is the perfect location for us to cover North, Central, and South America, as well as the Caribbean. It is also a business-friendly country and has great infrastructure from which to operate and is extremely well connected, which makes travel less expensive than other countries. Our founders have Swiss citizenship in common, while each of us is a citizen of a Latin American country as well. We have been based in Panama for several years now and have extensive experience in the region. Since M&A opportunities in Panama are limited and well covered by established local players, from here we can look at the entire region, mostly Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and even Brazil, despite their economic and political crises, as many multinational organizations have or are settling their regional headquarters here in Panama. There are also many opportunities in Central America and the Caribbean, where we already have certain projects in the pipeline as well.

How do you manage to find the right human capital in Panama and how do you help facilitate knowledge transfer into Panama?

ON The most interesting and challenging aspect of my job is drawing the line between where UBS has to adapt to the local realities while remaining UBS. We have 14 different nationalities in our office here and are an international and multicultural team. It is a luxury to have such a cultural mix in the office. Every market and country has its own peculiarities and unique traits and it is important to know how to deal with this and understand this. We try to leverage this multicultural dimension in our services and business. We ensure we bring local people on board and train them where necessary. We have an internship program for recently graduated Panamanian students, giving them up to a 12-month internship program at UBS and later offering them the chance to stay on and work with us.

How much do you focus on alliances to facilitate your expansion in Latin America?

PMF We form a great deal of alliances and have been doing so in various countries, even locally in Panama where we are based. We prefer to work together with local bankers so we can focus on other countries and on certain competitive advantages such as our unique understanding of private equity. We form alliances with local investment banks in different countries, even where we have our own team members. For example, in São Paulo we have a senior team member but also work together with local investment banks there in order to have a stronger extension of our team when required. We sometimes talk to other investment bankers or consultants after we get a mandate and after having prepared the information material for a deal, but then we also like to work from the beginning alongside other people in order to exceed our clients' expectations and create even stronger alliances for the future.

What are your priorities for this year?

ON My focus will be on making sure we are relevant to clients in our expertise as global financial advisors. In 2017 our aim, once again, is to make sure that our clients sleep well at night.

PMF We have no specific targets for 2017 because we have very long-term thinking. We have accepted that it can take a few years to just close a single deal, so we may just have two deals that we will be working on in a single year.