Jerónimo Martins’ founder: the Portuguese banking “is not able to finance company’s investments”

  • ECO News
  • 21 September 2017

The Portuguese banking is being deeply restructured and is becoming more Spanish than Portuguese. In addition, it continues to have no money to finance Jerónimo Martins' investments.

Jerónimo Martins invests a lot of money per year. But Alexandre Soares dos Santos, the founder of the company, states that those millions of euros Jerónimo Martins needs are almost fully borrowed from foreign banking, since the Portuguese financial institutions — which are increasingly becoming more Spanish — continue to have no money to finance companies. And “it is much easier to work with the banking abroad”, Soares dos Santos says.

“When Jerónimo Martins’ holding, whose headquarters is in the Netherlands, moved to Portugal, we needed money and the Portuguese banking wasn’t available“. This lead the owner of the supermarket chain Pingo Doce to search for financing in foreign banking, Soares dos Santos stated in an interview to ECO24 [a partnership between the newspaper ECO and the TV channel TVI24].

“Abroad, banks invite me in to the main room. In Portugal, I am left standing at the door”, he adds, highlighting that currently, Jerónimo Martins “has pretty much stopped working with the Portuguese banking, except for normal operations”. “It is much easier to work with foreign banking” than with the Portuguese banking, Soares dos Santos says.

The Portuguese banking cannot afford to finance [Jerónimo Martins] when we need to invest abroad.

Alexandre Soares dos Santos

Founder of Jerónimo Martins

But Alexandre Soares dos Santos considers the Portuguese banking is “in a situation of full restructuring… that is if we can call it Portuguese banking, since it is increasingly becoming more Spanish“, he says. “People generally speak of the positive side of this Spanish influence in Portugal, but all decisions will be coming from Spain. The granting of credit is decided in Spain, with a few exceptions such as smaller cases”.

Nowadays, although Portugal has overcome its most difficult time, Jerónimo Martins continues to avoid the Portuguese banking: “The Portuguese banking cannot afford to finance us when we need to invest abroad”, Soares dos Santos states.

In investments alone, Jerónimo Martins invests between 700 and 800 million euros per year. Even in Portugal (where it is said we don’t invest), we spent 300 million euros this year — for example, we are opening a new logistics center in Valongo, near Oporto, worth 75 million euros”, Soares dos Santos stated. He concluded by wondering: “Tell me how many Portuguese companies invested 300 million euros this year?”.