The recent purchase by Mexican brothers Amodio 16% of OHL -more the option to acquire another 9% before November that will give them control of the construction company-, joins the long list of Spanish companies that have passed into foreign hands since the start of the 2008 crisis. This loss of power worldwide is reflected in the indices Fortune 500 and Forbes 2000, where Spain loses weight.

With the ‘loss’ of OHL, the historic construction company of the Villar Mir family, which will maintain 7% of the company through Inmobiliaria Espacio, two of the six major Spanish construction companies are in foreign hands, specifically Mexicans: Carlos Sim (FCC) and now, the Amodium.

The same has been happening in other sectors. The great ones of the game, Codere and Cirsa, are no longer from Spanish businessmen; nor the cava producers, Freixenet and Codorníu; Abertis It is mostly Italian and the oil giant Deoleo, from the CVC fund. Spanish companies have gone from buying to selling, as a result of the debt crisis that started in 2008. Crisis that is the origin of the sale of OHL or that Telefónica is in the process of selling its Latin American division -except Brazil-.

Long gone are the times when companies were in a buying position. Only in 2006, according to a study by the specialized firm Transactional Track Record (TTR), Spanish companies spent 113,149 million to acquire companies around the world.


The true reflection of the loss of business power in the country after the ‘binge’ before 2008 is the index Fortune 500 -Prepared by the magazine une Fortune’-, which shows the 500 strongest listed companies in the world. In 2009, there were 12 Spanish companies on this list and the first, Banco Santander, ranked 35. The second, Telefónica, rose to position 66.

Fifteen years later the situation is different. In the Fortune 500 list of 2019 -last published- there are only nine companies and the first, which is still Banco Santander, is now ranked 85. The operator who presides José María Álvarez-Pallete maintains second place but now is the 176 of the world. Repsol has gone from position 76 to 200. The Spanish list is completed by BBVA -post 234-, ACS -272-, Iberdrola -292-, Inditex -406-, Naturgy -430- and Mapfre -452-.

A similar evolution occurs in the Forbes 2000 list, produced by the ‘Forbes’ magazine. The 2020 ranking was released on May 13 and, again, Spanish companies lose positions. In 2009 there were 33 national companies Among the 2,000 largest in the world, with Banco Santander in first place in 37th place. Telefónica was second, in 104th place in the world.

Now, in 2020, there are 15 Spanish companies in this index and the first, the entity that presides Ana Botín, has dropped to 55th place. The second is now Iberdrola, at 120th place, and Inditex is third, at 244. Telefónica is fourth, occupying 265th place.