When a king leaves his throne to urgently fly to Brazil, as the king of Spain Juan Carlos did this week, something is in the air. As the world already knows, Spain is experiencing the most serious financial crisis in its history, with the unemployment rate above 20% and banks in need of almost 100 billion euros of capital injection.
This is pretty much the context in which king Juan Carlos and his entourage (mainly made of Santander and Telefonica’s executives) went to Brazil and met with President Dilma Rousseff. But sources close to the Brazilian president said the King’s business proposals were somewhat “indecent”.
News site Folha reported yesterday that, at this same meeting, Santander’s President Emilio Botin offered President Rousseff to sell a 10% stake in Santander to Brazil’s public bank Banco do Brasil (BB) in exchange for a few billions. Allegedly, this partnership would link BB to Banco Santander’s headquarters in Spain, not its Brazil operations. But rumors spread out are that the Brazilian government is definitely not interested in the transaction, especially one that looks like a bailout in the midst of a crisis. Despite the negative, BB is preparing a formal letter to reject the deal, for diplomatic reasons.
But more “indecent” was the request made by the President of Spanish telecom group Telefonica, Cesar Alierta, who was also part of King Juan Carlos’ entourage. The chief of the telecom group, owner of Brazil’s Vivo, asked Dilma to facilitate visas for Spanish workers. As Telefonica plans to cut 6,000 jobs in Spain, a potential solution to minimize the negative impacts on Spain’s already lagging economy would be to transfer these employees to Brazil.
Since 2007, approximately 11,000 Brazilians were stopped while trying to enter Spain, a number considered high by Brazilian authorities, who slapped back the Spaniards and adopted the so-called “reciprocity measures” by implementing stringent measures for the entry of Spanish tourists in Brazil. Hence, this last request made by Telefonica was considered indecent to Brazilians. Though it seems that both governments are working to solve the issue.