Finding the Positive in Bridgestone’s Retreat (Updated)

Every day brings a new dose of terrible for Venezuela’s corporate sector. One day we find out there is no sugar for Coca-Cola. Another day we learn that production of Harina Pan will end soon.

Yesterday’s news that tire manufacturer Bridgestone was leaving Venezuela – a place where finding a tire for your car is only slightly easier than finding a heart donor – seemed like the whammy of the hour. But that was until we learned that it was actually selling its business … to established Venezuelan paint manufacturer Corimon.

In the press reports, Bridgestone appears frustrated by our economy’s seemingly endless collapse. Yet it seems one company’s bailout is another company’s opportunity.

Corimon has had a long presence in Venezuela’s industrial sector. Founded by a legendary businessman, the late Hans Neumann, the company makes household brands such as Pinturas Montana. It has recently branched out into other parts of Latin America, building a presence in Paraguay, Panama, and the Dominican Republic.

For a while we have been wondering when we will hit rock bottom as a country. But with the barrage of bad news on the economic front and a seemingly hapless government at the helm, it seems some people are smelling an opportunity. In fact, I was recently told by a wealthy Chilean businessman that the time to buy in Venezuela … was now.

Corimon is making a huge gamble. If they are succesful, they will have snatched up a tire manufacturer at a dirt cheap price. Who knows – in time, we may become a bonafide tire exporter.

Let’s hope their gamble pays off – for them, and for us.

UPDATE: A reader alerts me that Corimon’s owner, Carlos Gill, is a well known boliburgués. My response is twofold: 1) damn, you can’t take a step in Venezuela without stepping in turd; and 2) I hope he honestly wants to learn how to make tires profitably.

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