I got the idea of interviewing top managers from the Spanish companies, who have investment in China. They may offer potential applicators additional reason to perusing MBA at Instituto de Empresa. What they have achieved in China, what are their current strategies, and how the future looks like? I started this mission with ALSA Group. Not only because I am one of beneficiaries of ALSA -IE China Scholarship, but also ALSA is the first Spanish company investedin China in 1980s.
My first interviewee is Mr. Andres Cosmen, Chairman of ALSA Group Pacific Ltd. He also holds an important position as President of Spanish-Chinese Enterprisers Cooperation Committee. I am glad to learn that Mr. Cosmen is an alumnus of IE (Master of Financial Management 99). On the afternoon of January 15, we started our talk with a service of Chinese Longjing Tea at his office.
Zhang: What has promoted ALSA to sponsor this scholarship specially for the Chinese students?
Mr. Cosmen: ALSA has been actively participating in the Chinese market since 1984. The deep involvement in this fast growing market gives ALSA some insights: we need more talents who have cutting-edge business skills and at the same time understand the two cultures. Instituto de Empresa is one of best business schools in Spain and Europe. ALSA believes that this scholarship will attract the best Chinese students to study at Instituto de Empresa, who will contribute to the bilateral economic exchanges.
Zhang: How does ALSA perform in China?
Mr. Cosmen: This year ALSA will celebrate the 22nd anniversary of entering the Chinese market. We have been dedicated to the passenger transportation business. With 12 joint ventures in 16 provinces, ALSA carries about 13 million passengers every year. This year, the company will launch a new company in Inner Mongolia Province in step with the completion of Beijing-Huhehaote Expressway. At the same time, ALSA also diversifies into bus terminals, real estate, and finance business. Last year, we achieved 80 million Euros of sales in China.
Zhang: How dose ALSA compete with the low cost local companies?
Mr. Cosmen: We focus on the high- end customers, who are not sensitive to price and would like to pay more for conform and high quality service. ALSA runs the coach business mainly in the costal area with higher income and also between big cities.
Zhang: What is the localization policy of ALSA?
Mr. Cosmen: It is our guideline to run business by the local people. All our General Managers of 12 ventures are the Chinese. We only employ 3 Spanish in China now.
Zhang: How do you evaluate the future of Spanish-Chinese business?
Mr. Cosmen: Currently China exports a lot goods to Spain, but the imports from Spain is comparatively small. Spanish government, industry associations and private companies are acting toward a wider cooperation with their counterparts. In this March, a delegation of 300 Spanish business people, led by Mr. Samaranch, former president of International Olympic Committee, will visit Shanghai and hold a business forum with Chinese enterprises. So there is big potential for both countries. Good news is that year 2007 will be Year of Spain in China.
When I was leaving, Mr. Cosmen told me that ALSA has drafted out next 50-year business plan in China. 50-years maybe sounds a long time for a person to follow all the footsteps of ALSA in China, but its commitments to the dynamic country is blessed with a harvest in the near future.