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Roberto Dunn

ECUADOR - Economy

Ready for Leadership

Executive Director, Nobis

Bio

Roberto Dunn has a degree in Finance and Marketing from Boston College and an MBA in Finance and Administration. He is currently Executive Director of Nobis. Previous positions include Manager of Bebidas Sabrosas (BESA) and General Manager of Sociedad Ecuatoriana de Transporte Aéreo (Saeta SA).

"There are two areas of great development here in Ecuador. One is logistics and the other is energy."

What is the success story of Nobis in Ecuador?

Our success has been driven by a woman named Isabel Noboa, and it is her vision that has brought us to this level. We are still a very young conglomerate of companies—we are not a consortium, but rather a conglomerate because we are so diverse. The key elements of this success have been our teamwork and a vision that has allowed us to get involved in business areas that have driven the company into new areas. We believe that we can profit from the growth of the country, and this has actually proven through the years to really help drive our success.

How do you maintain a focus on core business interests?

We have a very well-developed, strategic board within the company that overlooks all of the operations and decides the strategic path. It may seem as if we are very diverse in our interests and companies, but we are actually focused on three main sectors; agriculture, industry, and commerce. We move along these three core areas of development and will soon be expanding into a fourth area: energy. This is not a self-sufficient area as of now as it is very much connected to production; however, we have looked at a map of needs that the country has and we work to meet those needs. We are entering 2014 with a division of self-sufficient businesses in the energy sector.

“There are two areas of great development here in Ecuador. One is logistics and the other is energy.”

What will be the level of investment for these projects?

We have three energy plant projects that are already approved and, of those, one is 15 MW and will cost between $10 million and $12 million. It will be self-funded, but we have another that will be 25 MW in size and we have already received confirmed funding from a consortium of private banks. We will fund about 40% of that project. Then, we also have a larger plant that is 47 MW in size, and we are discussing the creation of a partnership with a foreign group for this.

Would you like to partner with more foreign investors?

Yes, we would like to partner with some foreign investors and we would like to choose the most strategic partner. Usually, we are looking at South American partners because we share the same language and face similar programs. When we enter a partnership, it is not that I open the doors for them to come to Ecuador, but it is more to create a network of partnerships around the region, specifically South and Central America, more than North America and Europe.

Would you be willing or able to work with Colombia or nearby countries in the region?

Sure. Even though energy is something that you have to produce and sell primarily to the central government, we also sell to partnerships and it is still a business. However, there is just one major buyer, and this is why you need to look at how these partnerships can come into these new businesses. We have to take new ideas from one starting point, and in doing so, sparks that create new ideas end up developing into something greater. One idea can lead to another, and one growth area can also lead to another.

Is this new approach part of the big changes set to take place here in Ecuador?

I think that there are two areas of great development here in Ecuador. One is logistics and the other is energy. We will be present in both areas, and the role that we intend to take will be as leaders. We would like to be the logical leaders that foreigners want to contact in order to attract investors from the private sector.

How would you evaluate the strength of the Ecuadorean economy?

I think that Ecuador has a strong economy, but one that can be held back at times by the government’s policies. I think the country is doing very well and has been growing for the last 12 years, and especially in the last four. Economically, the country has been growing, and for the last four years there has been some substantial growth as debt levels have fallen. I do not think that anyone in the industrial private sector could say that they have never had a bad year, but anyone who has worked hard has had a good year. The government has been saying that there will continue to be a steady increase in growth for the years to come.

Is this the right moment for expansion at Nobis?

We always target a five-year strategy and follow it. It has proven that, in the last eight years, due to stability within the government and the economy, we have really been able to meet our plans. If you plan and do your job well, then you can accomplish your plans. I believe that is one of the main drivers in the economy. You cannot blame the government for not having been here, because it has really pushed the private sector to grow and that is the good part. If you do your planning and you can fulfill your business quota, then you can build a company and do something that you want.

Are there any new projects in the pipeline?

We are going into the logistics sector for a deep-water port. If everything goes well, we will work with the people from DP World, and we will be able to have the port ready soon.

How will this contribute to the country’s main interests?

It has been planned to cover the needs of the next 75 years. The plan will be able to accommodate ships of more than 15 meters in draft, which will allow it to function very much like a hub. The shipping lines are always building larger boats to put more tonnage on each ship, so that is why they decided to do this; to follow those ships.

Do you foresee servicing more exporters?

Exports will be more associated with the agriculture sector. Right now, one of the biggest exports that Ecuador has is through the banana trade, which is still mainly carried by freighters. This port will see significant container traffic, and this is good because you can ensure the parameters based on the time that it takes the fruit to get to each specific market. This is a big project for us because it is worth some $600 million.

© The Business Year – July 2013

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