Chances are good that this year will break previous records regarding the number of foreign tourists coming to Spain. So many of those reading this will have seen for themselves that in most places it's business as usual: most restaurants, bars and cafes are crowded, beaches are fully packed, plains are full and traffic on the road is slow. So where is the crisis you have heard so much about?
Those of you who haven’t had the opportunity to visit Spain still depend on what they read in the press and see on the news: huge unemployment, an enormous budget deficit and Catalonia (theoretically one of the rich parts of Spain) asking for a bailout from the central government, while preparing a protest march toward independency. Meanwhile, Catalan public debt is now downgraded to junk status.
This issue of Catalonia is very interesting and being resident in Barcelona since 1985, I can assure you that never since my arrival has a Catalan separation from Spain seemed as close as it is today. It will be interesting to see the demonstration next Tuesday afternoon, both to know how many people will attend and also to see the reactions in the following days.
I am happy to give you my view on this, but for the time being let’s go back to private equity. The purpose of this article is to inform you that even though everything that you hear and read about Spain seems to be bad, life continues, even in Catalonia, and not only in tourism and leisure.
On 4 August, the Catalan venture capital fund Inveready announced that it had raised €15m for its third fund: Inveready Venture Finance. Inveready is an early-stage venture capital investor. In its two previous funds it has around 25 portfolio companies, mainly in the technology sector.
Meanwhile, Highgrowth Partners, a similar fund manager also based in Barcelona, announced that it is starting its third fund, as the first two are completely invested and partially already successfully divested.
These may not be huge investments, but it is encouraging to see them, which shows that not all investors have written off Spain and Catalonia. It is a pity that they get so little attention.
Maarten de Jongh is managing partner at Spanish advisory firm Norgestion.