Alberto Kassis evaluates his future at Copesa: "I'm watching what I do"


The low profile entrepreneur recognizes that the media business is not good. Today he wants to put his chips in the company that has been running for nearly 50 years, Cial, a company that controls brands such as San Jorge and La Preferida. It owns 16% of the media holding, which supports La Tercera. The conglomerate has made important adjustments to improve its performance and Kassis can pull away.

There have been a few occasions when he speaks to the press, and few to those who meet publicly with the authorities. This, despite its proximity to certain political strengths. This is Alberto Kassis Sabag, the businessman who received Finance Minister Felipe Larraín yesterday at his sausage factory on Avenida Pudahuel, where among canapes of sausages were clapping. "This is the kind of work that President Piñera's government wants to create," said the secretary of state.

Kassis proudly shows you his factory, the one he founded more than 50 years ago. "Here who has been working for 50 years, who are already two employees, we give them a Mazda," he says happily. He believes that the Labor Reform, although it does not support the companies, does not affect them much. They have just closed the collective bargaining of two areas of the company. Everybody in the factory calls him "Don" Alberto. He does not call it a factory, but a family business. His two daughters and his wife are on the board of directors of the company. Therefore, the opening to the Stock Exchange or the adhesion of partners to the matrix of La Preferida and San Jorge is not in its plans.

In the reproach, which included the salami sandwich, Kassis reveals its tradition: it serves Arab sweets to the guests. He says goodbye to the minister and talks to some journalists who recognize him. The rest of the press does not pay much attention, despite its relevance in the business world.

The businessman was part of the group baptized as one of 10 mosques, Arab men who surprised the market in the late 80's buying the bank of Osorno. Part of this group was also integrated by businessman Álvaro Saieh, his holding of media Copesa. Saieh would then begin his life as a recognized banker.

Kassis was christened by the press as the Pinochet businessman closest to Michelle Bachelet. Indeed, they had neighboring houses in the south with the former president. In addition, two former ministers of the dictatorship – which he calls the "military government" – are on the board of directors of his company: Carlos Cáceres and Hernán Büchi.

The businessman is also part of the board of the Pinochet Foundation, where he participates as a counselor. Despite this, he has always been recognized for his cordiality and transversality, so much so that with the former president they met several times beyond the context of the holiday, at dinners and meetings at the Palestine embassy.

His projects for the CIAL, which also includes Winter, are investing about $ 20 million in a modern factory in 2019. In that complex, he has invested more than $ 100 million. It is his main business, but he also shares one of the oils with his business friend José Said (controller of Parque Arauco), he invests in cranberries and Chilean and, of course, Arabian horses.

"I felt good (for the Government) and I see that there is confidence, there is tranquility with this Government and I hope that this allows investments to be made and the country continues to grow, we are interested in the growth of the country, there is greater consumption in each order of things and that favors us as a food company, "he said. The market counter.

The businessman, who also owns the San Benito and Sinergia real estate agencies, the La Reserva de Lancay farm and the Alka agroindustry, owns 16.6% of the consortium that owns newspapers. The third and it has been a long time since the rumor of his intention to get rid of the package.

Copesa's pain

The media are going through a difficult and stormy time and, among the layoffs and closures, Copesa is one of the ships that is sailing in a crisis that has led it to rethink. Jorge Andrés Saieh – son of the holding hierarchy – today drives the conglomerate's progress, which has taken a series of decisions to stop what is christened behind the scenes as a historical year of losses.

The closing of the paper version of the What's up and Paula, the total The fourthand adjustments in Pulse and The hour, were part of the decisions. The arrival of the former rector of Adolfo Ibáñez University, Andrés Benítez and Carolina Schmidt, who left the ship earlier to go to the government, promised an improvement in health that has not yet arrived.

The latest news was the departure from the The third by Juan Pablo Larraín. He would be replaced in the position by Jose Luis Santa Maria, that has not yet been confirmed in the position. Part of the reason would be the demands that Kassis is making at Copesa. He never got too involved, but he would have a firm decision: he does not want Copesa to remain a bottomless bag.

His evaluations were made through his representative in the directory, lawyer Luis Gutiérrez. Capital magazine cited in a report that the announcement of the arrival of Santa Maria had been delayed, not by doubts in its capacities, but by "the proprietary differences that since the two partners of the conglomerate dragged since: since that year, Alberto Kassis tried without sell their 16.6% to partner Álvaro Saieh, who has 83.3% of the media group, but they have not been able to reach an agreement on prices and some say that the owner of Cial Alimentos would have veto power in the appointment of the director of The third and top executives. "

And this option to get out of the way today is valid. Although Kassis does not want to tarnish his day of illustrious visits and only comments briefly that he does not want to make any further comments about Copesa. "I'm in a situation where I'm seeing what I'm doing … the medium is not an easy business," he told El Mostrador Mercados during the activity.

Reducing costs would be part of the irrevocable mandate of the managers in charge of the ship. Despite the fact that the media has made strong personnel adjustments, the industry indicates that in March there would be a new grip on Copesa, hand in hand with the implementation of its digital project. It was also rated for scanning The third Monday through Thursday, but the option would have been discarded at the time.

In other periods of crisis, Kassis also wanted to sell its stake. Thus, in August 2014, the businessman wanted to sell his shares. "Kassis would have appreciated its share of around $ 17 million, based on the fact that at the time, Copesa was valued at $ 120 million," he said. The price would be the main stone for the entrepreneur's departure. The value of Copesa is a mystery nowadays. Although it has a multitude of brands, it does not have important assets. He sold a significant portion of his land a few years ago to real estate ventures (from his former headquarters on Ñuble Street) and alienated the crown jewels, which was the concession of some of his radios. For the sale of Carolina to Mega, it would have been about $ 10 million.

With one year of historical losses, the question remains about what the true value of the company is. This, despite the fact that two colony families – from emerging groups – would have expressed their intention to buy the shares. The entrepreneur also holds a stake in digital media O Libero.


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