Last year had several bitter drinks the largest Argentine multinational, the steel and oil group Techint. In August it was learned that two executives of the company, with industrial operations in a dozen countries in America, Asia and Europe, are listed in the so-called "notebooks of briberies", the annotations of the chauffeur of a senior official of the Governments of Néstor and Cristina Kirchner (2003-2015) who uncovered the biggest case of corruption in recent Argentine history. Four months later, its main shareholder and manager, Paolo Rocca, owner of one of the greatest fortunes of Argentina, he joined the list of the big businessmen prosecuted in that cause. As if that were not enough, in October, justice registered the company's headquarters in Buenos Aires for a process that investigates the payment of bribes in Brazil.
These turbulences have not affected the company's business in excess. In Saudi Arabia, it acquired 47% of the Saudi Steel Pipe Company, while in Argentina it tripled shale gas production to 10% of national consumption. Likewise, its subsidiary Ternium, which in 2017 represented 50% of the 18,500 million invoiced in total by the group, is heading to close the year with a record gross operating result (Ebitda), as the company itself advanced.
The good performance of the income statement, however, does not prevent cases of corruption being a source of concern. Last August, shortly after the case of notebooks was uncovered, Techint employees received an unusual video from the company. They were images of 10 years ago that interspersed a high-sounding speech of the then Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, and scenes of riots and burning buses in the streets of Puerto Ordaz, the city of the Caribbean country where Sidor is located, one of the largest steel mills in Latin America, until then a subsidiary of the Argentine conglomerate. Chávez threatened to nationalize and occupy the company's facilities, which he did shortly afterwards.
The company had reason to remind its employees what happened in Puerto Ordaz. The violence of those months around Sidor is one of the reasons that Techint uses to explain why in 2008 its executives made illicit payments to former employees. The version they defend in the company is that the payments were "contributions" that the previous Administration demanded to intercede with Chávez and that the company could repatriate its employees without risking their safety. "We act to defend our people," said Paolo Rocca in front of an audience of businessmen at a meeting of the Argentine Chamber of Commerce last summer. In the years following the nationalization, the company received compensation of 1,900 million dollars from the Venezuelan Government.
Its manager and maximum shareholder, Paolo Rocca, is prosecuted for the case of the 'notebooks'
Outside the judicial plane, the good news predominates. In September the company announced that the main hydrocarbon project that its subsidiary Tecpetrol develops in the Vaca Muerta formation, the second largest reserve of shale gas in the world, reached a production of 15 million cubic meters of natural gas per day, which represents more than 10% of the total consumption of the country. In addition, the group has budgeted an investment of 2,300 million in the Fortín de Piedra project, an area of 243 square kilometers in which the company has 100% of the exploitation concession, and which is the largest non-conventional gas development in the country. Argentina.
The creation of Tecpetrol in 2003 allowed the conglomerate to have interests in the strategic business of hydrocarbon production, a sector on which the steel pipe industry is heavily dependent. It is precisely in this steel segment where Techint is a world leader through its subsidiary Tenaris. Siderca is located in Campana, a town near Buenos Aires, the tube plant that was the basis on which the company cemented its international expansion. Today it is part of a conglomerate with industrial operations in Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, the United States, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico and Romania.
Shop in Saudi Arabia
The Tenaris group is listed on the stock exchange and has a production capacity of 6.9 million tons of steel tubes. The company announced in September the acquisition of 47.8% of Saudi Steel Pipe Company, manufacturer of welded steel tubes, for 144 million dollars, an operation still pending authorization. The new plant has a production capacity of 360,000 tons per year and will allow it to expand its operations in the Arab country and expand the variety of products already provided to Saudi Aramco, the state oil and gas company.
Its operations in the finished steel products industry, in turn, are grouped under the umbrella of Ternium, a conglomerate with plants in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, the US, Guatemala and Mexico, and a production capacity of 12.4. million tons per year. This subsidiary closed the year 2017 with sales of 9.7 billion dollars. That year he announced two major projects to expand his operations in Mexico and Colombia, in which he will invest more than 1,000 million until 2020.
In 2017, the sum of the sales of Ternium and Tenaris, its two large steel companies, accounted for 78% of the Techint group's turnover. The announcement by the US government that it would increase steel tariffs ignited the alarms. The measure, however, did not hurt Techint. "Argentina was excepted from the measure and there is still no deviation of Asian production to Latin America," explains Franco Roland, analyst at the consultancy Abeceb. "At the moment, the tariff increase is more an opportunity than a threat."