William Engels

  • Interviewed 21 August 2008 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, by Andrea Lluch, Research Fellow, HBS
  • Clip Duration – 3:31

Mr. Engels talks about his relationship with Bunge and the different stages in his career. He commends the changes implemented at Bunge during the previous decades, such as company asset sales, focus on core business activities, and board professionalization. From his experience at Quinsa, he reflects on the sale process for Argentine companies, Argentine conditions for developing businesses, and the relationship between companies and society.

Interview Excerpt

R: Soy sobrino de Jorge Born, sobrino nieto de Jorge Born abuelo, y mi bisabuelo es uno de los fundadores de Bunge & Born. Mi bisabuelo llegó a la Argentina en el siglo XIX, fue co-fundador de Bunge y Born con el señor Bunge. Esa es mi vinculación con Bunge desde un punto de vista familiar. Yo nunca trabajé en Bunge de forma operativa.

Hice mis estudios en EE.UU., mi undergraduate en Boston, luego trabajé durante dos años en un banco en New York, haciendo un credit training program, y terminé mis estudios en Filadelfia haciendo un doble máster, un MBA en Wharton y un MA en la Universidad de Pensilvania. Habiéndome recibido entré a trabajar en el Citibank, primero en Nueva York y, unos meses después, fui transferido a Brasil. Unos años más tarde, me trasladaron a Londres, donde trabajé en el sector de Corporate Finance y después quedé a cargo de la parte de “”Sales and Trading” de productos latinoamericanos, incluyendo bonos, commercial papers y productos derivativos, en Europa. Ese trabajo duró hasta el año 1992.

En ese año recibí una oferta de trabajo del grupo Quilmes (“Quinsa”) para venir a la Argentina. Entré como corporate finance manager. Después tuve varios puestos, incluyendo Group Controller y director de Mergers and Acquisitions. Negocié la venta junto con nuestro CEO de la empresa Quinsa a Ambev, una empresa brasileña, y renuncié en el 2002 a la empresa una vez concluida la transacción.

La familia Bemberg entonces me ofreció entrar como Director de Quinsa, como uno de sus representantes…quedando así cinco representantes brasileros en el Board y cinco representantes de la familia Bemberg, incluyendo cuatro miembros de la familia y yo. Con lo cual seguí trabajando durante ese período para Quinsa en esta nueva función.

Por otro lado, los Bemberg me ofrecieron también entrar en Bisa, un fondo de Private Equity, como Director. Ahí nos ocupamos de la venta de los últimos activos que tenía este fondo. Sus activos incluían en ese momento cinco negocios, que fueron vendidos, entre los cuales había empresas como Papel Misionero, etc.

A: I am Jorge Born Junior’s nephew. Jorge Born Senior was my great-uncle, and my great-grandfather was one of the founders of Bunge & Born. He arrived in Argentina in the 19th century and co-founded Bunge & Born with Mr. Bunge. This is how I am related to the Bunge family. I have never worked at Bunge in an operational capacity.

I pursued my undergraduate studies in Boston, United States. Then, I worked in a New York bank for two years while attending a credit training program. I completed my studies in Philadelphia with a double Masters: a Master of Business Administration from the Wharton School and a Master of Arts from the University of Pennsylvania. After graduation, I went to work for Citibank in New York and, within months, was transferred to Brazil. A few years later, I was sent to London, where I joined the corporate finance sector. Afterwards, I was assigned to the sales and trading area for Latin American products –which included bonds, commercial papers and derivatives- in Europe. I held that position until 1992.

That same year, the Quilmes Group (“Quinsa”) offered me a job in Argentina. I started out as corporate finance manager. After serving in several other positions, including group controller and director of mergers and acquisitions, I negotiated –in collaboration with our CEO– the sale of Quinsa to Ambev, a Brazilian company. In 2002, once the transaction was terminated, I resigned.

At that point, the Bemberg family offered me to join the Quinsa board as a family representative. Thus, the board came to be composed of five Brazilian representatives and five representatives of the Bemberg family, which included four family members and me. So, during this period, I continued to work for Quinsa in a new role.

In addition, the Bemberg family also offered me to join Bisa, a private equity fund, as director. I participated in the sale of the last assets owned by the fund. At the time, assets included five businesses, among them, Papel Misionero Company. All assets were sold.

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