Why Liberty chose Panama to stamp its presence in LatAm

Bnamericas Published: Thursday, February 07, 2019
Why Liberty chose Panama to stamp its presence in LatAm

Liberty Latin America's announcement this week that it plans to establish an operations center in Panama City is indicative of how competitive that market is becoming, as well as its strategic importance for Latin America.

The competitive dynamics of the market are changing, as Millicom entered Panama through the acquisition of Cable Onda, while Telefónica is talking about selling its Panama operation,which would complete its withdrawal from Central America, and Liberty continues to explore M&A opportunities, despite its frustrated attempt to acquire Millicom.

BNamericas spoke to Betzalel Kenigsztein, SVP and chief operating officer of Liberty Latin America, about the reasons behind its choice of Panama to set up an operations center.

BNamericas: What's the driving force behind establishing the center?

Kenigsztein: The operations center will allow us to build on our regional operating model, leverage our scale and expertise, and provide future growth opportunities to our people. One of the great opportunities to grow the business comes from utilizing scale by creating efficient and effective operations.

BNamericas: Is the timing of the operations center due to the fact that rival Millicom acquired Cable Onda and is this a move to ramp up competitiveness?

Kenigsztein: No. We have been planning this operating center for a number of months as part of our strategy to leverage the scale of our operations across the region, and in so doing, deliver cost efficiencies and improved products/experiences for our customers.

BNamericas: How much investment is involved?

Kenigsztein: The operations center is scalable and will appropriately ramp up over time to meet the needs of our business. As currently planned, we expect to create ~500 new jobs over the next five years.

BNamericas: What sort of work will done at the operations center? Will it serve Cable & Wireless' other operations? In what way?

Kenigsztein: We'll be moving non-customer-facing functions to the center. This could be, for example, T&I, finance and human resources. The aim is for the center to serve all of LLA's Operating Companies.

BNamericas: The press release mentions leveraging Panama's economic stability and profile as a logistics hub. In what way can that create business opportunities, add value for Liberty?

Kenigsztein: We chose Panama City as the location for our new Operations Center because of its strategic relevance, financial benefits, talent scalability and sustainability, competitive environment, business climate and real estate infrastructure. Also, Panama´s economic stability and its high connectivity as a logistics hub in the region allow us to continue to deliver innovative products and services. This center will operate under the Multi Headquarters (MHQ) platform, which provides significant financial, immigration and labor incentives for corporations.

BNamericas: Are there plans for other such hubs? If so, where?

Kenigsztein: The operations center will be our centralized hub for LLA.  There are no current plans for any others.

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