Testimony: Mario Brescia Cafferata (Grupo Brescia)

"Many businesspeople in Peru, the region and the world are looking at Chile with special interest"

In acquiring Lafarge Chile from the cement manufacturer's French owners, Grupo Brescia made the largest ever Peruvian investment in Chile and became the country's N°1 cement producer. With annual sales of US$1.7 billion and operations in 12 sectors - including banking, mining, tourism and agribusiness - the group is one of Peru's largest business conglomerates. In 2008, it embarked on a process of regional expansion, making its debut in Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador.

What prompted you to invest in Chile?

We take a very positive view of the economic performance of the belt of progress formed today by Colombia, Peru and Chile. Along with Brazil - because of its size - they are the economies that offer investment opportunities with a level of stability that permits a long-term commitment such as we have made in Chile.

What's your evaluation of the results of that investment?

It's still very early days. As well as the initial investment in the acquisition we made in 2009, we also have plans for further investments in Cemento Melón that are already underway and include a new mill plant in Ventanas. What I can say, however, is that, at Melón, we found a first-class professional team and are counting on them to achieve good results within a reasonable period of time.

How do you think Chile's political and economic stability will affect those results?

Political stability is very important and economic stability even more so. We are long-term investors and place a high value on those conditions. However, the quality of the people we work with is also important as well as the maturity of the market in which we operate and we pay a lot of attention to these factors.

What opportunities do you see for your company in Chile's reconstruction after the earthquake?

Melón goes back 100 years and has stood by Chileans throughout its history, providing a highquality product that is valued by the construction industry and society in general. That is a great responsibility and a recognition that, in the present circumstances, we are not going to let them down. Melón's executives have our full support in responding to the country's needs and I have no doubt they will play an important role in a reconstruction process to which everyone must contribute. In this situation, the most important opportunity - if that's the right word - is for us to demonstrate our capacity to meet the country's demands with the quality and speed that the sector requires.

Would you recommend investing in Chile to other Peruvian businesspeople?

Commercial relations between our two countries are at a very interesting time and we are certain that many other businesspeople in Peru, the region and the world are looking at Chile with special interest. That's fair; it's what Chile deserves because of its economic conditions.

Are you considering other investments in Chile and, if so, in what sectors?

At the moment, we're focusing on Melón and its challenges. There'll be time later to look around because we're always interested in new opportunities.

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