Four years of the New Telefónica
The Ibex 35 has been attending a generational shift for five years in the noble plants of some of the main companies in the country, where now they talk almost exclusively about business, less and less about politics and more and more about social responsibility. José María Álvarez-Pallete He is one of the representatives of this new brood of young native businessmen. Today is four years at the helm of Telefónica. His presidency is being marked by market pressure, as reflected by the weak share price on the stock market. But the executive is convinced that he is building the teleco of the future and leads a speech in favor of the principles.
When Álvarez-Pallete took the reins of Telefónica in 2016, it carried a debt of 52.2 billion euros, one of the main challenges of his mandate. In four years he has managed to cut it by 15,000, but the markets demand more from him. Partly because of this, Telefónica shares have lost half their value under their presidency - they trade at 4.4 euros, compared to 9.31 euros in April 2016 -, in line with the rest of the sector, which faces a huge investment effort in 5G networks for which investors do not see an end date and are also moving in regulatory uncertainty.
At the end of 2019, Telefónica launched a crash plan that includes a deep reorganization of the business that will go through a withdrawal of the group in Latin America, among other things. "We did not design this thinking about how the action will react tomorrow, but rather preparing the company for what it will be in five or ten years," defended the executive, who talks about the new Telefónica.
The future is Álvarez-Pallete's obsession. First, the company. In recent years, Telefónica has gone from be a voice company to a data companyWell, these are already more than half of their sales. The group believes that data traffic will continue to skyrocket in the coming years and will be a business opportunity for teleco, and that the connectivity offered by its networks will be crucial in this digital disruption.
The future linked to this digital transformation is Pallete's other obsession, but also from the point of view of ethics, humanism and values. In fact, it has been defending the value of the personal data of the users with whom the Internet giants market and claiming a social contract for some time.
«We want to make our world more humane thanks to technology and at times like this it is when this maxim becomes especially relevant. Right now is when we demonstrate why we are here, "Álvarez-Pallete said in a video to the Telefónica staff following the coronavirus crisis, which is testing to what extent that new speech on the Ibex is sincere. "People come first," he also said in a meeting with the staff after halting Telefónica's commercial activity to safeguard the integrity of the installers and prevent contagion.