15 Most Valuable Latin American Companies
Among the most valuable Latin American companies in the blog post, you’ll find a direct competitor to Amazon and some really cool tech startups. Not exactly the image that some people may have about the Latin American business environment, right?
The truth is that Latin America, like every region in the world, has evolved more and more into a digital economy that reflects the way the world is changing.
Keep reading for a review of Latin American companies, startups, and entrepreneurs, and to discover some of the coolest Latin American “unicorn” companies. Ready to learn about the most valuable Latin American companies today? Let’s get started.
Latin American Companies and Startups
Besides its rich history and diverse culture, Latin America is also a modern region where businesses thrive and startups develop.
For decades, the most valuable Latin American companies were state-owned enterprises related to oil. However, in recent years that has changed, as the Latin American business environment has evolved to reflect the transformation of the world economy. Nowadays, only Petrobras from Brazil fits that “state-owned oil company” label among the most valuable Latin American companies.
Latin American Entrepreneurs and “Unicorns”
Latina America is full of stories of success from bold entrepreneurs who opened new markets and developed “unicorns.”
A “unicorn” in business-speak refers to a tech company that is privately-owned, venture-backed, and valued at $1 billion USD or more. The term reflects how complicated it is to find a company that fits that description, and it also serves as a “call for investment,” as global investors love these companies.
15 Most Valuable Latin American Companies
Companies are rated by market value, by sales (which can be misleading), or by the value of their brands. I’ve made an eclectic selection considering these different criteria, and I’ve included 5 “unicorns” to reflect the new tech-startup culture emerging from Latin American companies.
1. Mercado Libre
Mercado Libre is the most successful Latin American company of the last decade. It’s a startup, a “unicorn,” and the most valuable company in Latin America by market value. The Argentinian tech giant is an e-commerce platform that directly competes against global companies such as Amazon and eBay.
This Brazilian company is “the world’s largest producer of iron ore and nickel” and comes in second in Latin America in value market. Vale has a presence in 30 different countries and employs 125,000 employees around the world.
This giant Brazilian company has managed to handle the changes in the fossil fuel industry and stay on top. Petrobras specializes “in the oil, natural gas and energy industry,” and although its market value is still huge, its revenues have been decreasing constantly the last few years.
4. Itaú Unibanco
Itaú Unibanco is the biggest bank in Brazil (are you noticing a trend here?), and the 4th Latin American company by market value. With 95 years of history, this Brazilian bank is also considered one of “the largest companies in the world based on business generated, assets, and market cap.”
5. América Móvil
The first Mexican company on the list was the biggest success story in Latin America at the turn of the century. Twenty years later, the telecommunications giant, owned by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, is the 7th largest mobile network operator in the world, with a presence in 25 countries in the Americas and Eastern Europe.
It’s normal that the largest companies from the largest country in Latin America are also the most valuable Latin American companies. That’s why the biggest Brazilian companies in the mining, oil, bank, and beverages industries filled the spots on this list. Ambev has 30 brands of beer, 35,000 employees in Brazil, and a presence in 19 countries around the world.
This Brazilian company that started producing electric motors has evolved to become one of the largest producers of electrical and electronic parts, motors, and complete industrial electrical systems in the world.
Strictly speaking, Corona is not a Mexican company anymore, as it was acquired by the Belgian brewery company AB InBev (the maker of Heineken, among other brands). However, it’s still a powerful global brand ranked 3rd among best-valued Latino brands, as it’s widely recognized as a Mexican creation.
This Chilean online retail company is the most valuable brand in its country with a value of $5.186 million USD, and the 7th Latin American company according to brand value. It has a productive partnership with Swedish furniture giant IKEA, and things are going so well for Falabella that it has just announced a $3.9 billion USD investment in Latin America.
With a market value of $1.293 million USD, Cristal is the most valuable Peruvian company, and that alone allows it to crack the top 10. The largest beer producer in the Andean country, Cristal is also one of the most recognized Peruvian brands in the world.
Latin American “Unicorns”
As promised, here are some of the most interesting Latin American “unicorns.”
Digital banking has arrived in Latin America, and Nubank is the best example of this. Valued at $10 billion USD, the future looks good for this Brazilian “unicorn.”
This Brazilian tech startup was founded in 2006 in Sao Paulo, and in 2018 raised $2.27 billion USD in its initial public offering on Wall Street. PagSeguro offers financial technology solutions for small businesses.
The Colombian food delivery company is one of the greatest “unicorn” stories of the last few years in Latin America. Valued at $3.5 billion USD in 2020, Rappi now has a presence in 9 Latin American countries, and its app is widely praised for its simplicity and efficiency.
Founded in 1999 in Argentina, Despegar was created as the Latin American answer to Expedia. Today, its shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange, it’s valued in billions of dollars, and it’s financially backed by its former competitor, Expedia.
The only “unicorn” from Uruguay to make the list, dLocal is valued at $1.2 billion USD. This tech startup provides payment solutions in emerging markets in Latin America, Asia, and Africa.
Have a Business Conversation in Spanish
These are some of the world’s most valuable, successful, and recognized Latin American companies. From huge oil and mining enterprises from the past to the most dynamic tech startups in the region, Latin America offers a thriving business environment.
If you want to have a proper business conversation in Spanish, consider learning more about the benefits of learning business Spanish and reading other incredibly inspiring success stories in Latin America.
Leave a comment and tell us which are your favorite Latin American companies and start a conversation with Spanish students from all over the world.
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