Prakash Hinduja, the scion of one of India’s richest families, was crossing the lobby of the Westin hotel in Lima when Swiss technology entrepreneur Carlos Moreira called out to him.
Interrupting an interview on the sidelines of this week’s World Economic Forum on Latin America, Moreira jumped from his chair to shake hands with the Indian billionaire. After the two men spoke for a few minutes, Moreira resumed the interview, explaining that he’s trying to take his online-security venture, Wisekey SA, to India, and that the Hindujas have the banking license he needs in order to do so.
“Davos is very high-level, so that means that people are extremely busy,” Moreira said, referring to the forum’s better-known annual meeting in Switzerland. “Here is more business; here is cutting the deal. The lobby is one of the best networks on earth.”
This week’s event in Peru is one of the half-dozen regional offshoots that keep the Davos conversations -- and deal-making - - running almost year-round. Moreira has also attended the East Asian edition, while Hinduja has attended at least two of the eight Latin ones so far, and both men said the meetings had yielded deals.
“It’s an ongoing process,” Hinduja said in an interview at the close of the forum yesterday, as attendees -- such as billionaires Carlos Rodriguez Pastor, the Peruvian owner of Intercorp Financial Services Inc., and Woods Staton, controller of McDonald’s Corp. franchiser Arcos Dorados Holdings Inc. -- milled about and waiters doled out pisco sours.
The main difference, Hinduja said, is that there’s “less ego” at the Latin edition.
Line of Presidents
“I met the president of Peru, I met the president of Panama, I met the president of Mexico, and all three presidents want us to come to their country,” he said. “The ministers and all these people are very down to earth. They want to grow; the eagerness is there.”
Hinduja said he wants to buy call centers in Latin America to mirror the outsourcing empire his family already commands in their home country. He and his three brothers also control IndusInd Bank Ltd., which has a market value of $4.5 billion, and Ashok Leyland Ltd., India’s second-largest truck maker, worth $1.1 billion, among other diversified ventures across the globe.
Prakash Hinduja, 67, was accompanied by his daughter Shanu, who, he said, he wants to introduce to the world’s power brokers as she takes an increasing role in the family business.
Other heirs in attendance: Peruvian gold billionaire Alberto Benavides’s son Roque, who chairs Buenaventura SA; Argentine airport tycoon Eduardo Eurnekian’s nephew Martin; and Alejandro Bailleres, son of Alberto Bailleres, the mining magnate worth $20.5 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Klaus Schwab, the conference’s founder, was also there.
“I want to bring the third generation into Davos so that they can continue the whole thing,” said Hinduja. “I’m a Davos man.”