Juan Miguel Villar Mir, former vice chairman of the Government and dean of builders, dies at 92 | Economy | EUROtoday

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The businessman Juan Miguel Villar Mir died within the early hours of this Saturday on the age of 92, in accordance with sources near the household, after a number of days with severe well being issues. Removed from public life lately, he was one of many main businessmen for the reason that eighties and dean of the big building corporations in Spain by way of OHL and its Villar Mir Group, with a big presence in the true property sector and industrial companies. He additionally held the vice presidency within the first monarchical authorities after the loss of life of the dictator Francisco Franco. A younger Juan Miguel headed the Ministry of Finance between 1975 and 1976 underneath the presidency of Carlos Arias Navarro. “I was in the first Executive of the monarchy,” he mentioned when he was linked to Francoism.

Born on 30 September 1931, his profession was marked by success, many appearances in corruption instances, from which he emerged with no sentence, and a convincing fall through the monetary disaster after having been accountable for OHL, Fertiberia and Ferroatlántica, or having all of the affect in Abertis and Colonial.

He means of the cross The latest enterprise disaster compelled him to depart the capital of his OHL as a result of excessive debt of the household holding firm Grupo Villar Mir. All the symbolism surrounding the creator of one of many six main listed Spanish building corporations, marquis and everlasting candidate for the presidency of Real Madrid, ended up fading away. His skyscraper within the north of Castellana, a kind of often called Cuatro Torres, was offered to an Asian investor; giant lodge developments equivalent to Mayakobá in Mexico modified palms; Villar Mir's youngsters misplaced all affect within the administration of OHL, and his enterprise empire was left in debt even to its former building firm.

Villar Mir married Silvia de Fuentes Bescós in 1958 and so they had three youngsters: Juan, Silvia and Álvaro, with totally different careers within the enterprise world. In 2011, the then King Juan Carlos granted him the title of Marquis.

According to the sayings within the sector, there was nobody like Villar Mir in building. He knew each visitors signal on the smallest of its motorways; he had affect in banking, with particular ties to Santander; he landed his non-public airplane at any airport within the Middle East and was handled with honours; he even sat among the many largest in Mexico or Brazil. His firm represented the success of the internationalisation of building like no different. In public works he coexisted with different notables equivalent to Florentino Pérez, Rafael del Pino or the Entrecanales. With hindsight, many within the sector spoke of extreme danger within the tasks; of worldwide litigation that buried OHL, or of extreme closeness to the political class.

Villar Mir managed to amass a fortune that positioned him among the many richest within the nation. He stood out within the membership celebrities who reside within the unique ecosystem of Puerta de Hierro, in Madrid, or in Sotogrande, in Cádiz, and he was all the time related to the suitable. But his cash was not associated to political affiliations and he by no means hesitated to place himself on the service of socialist governments. Being already an lively octogenarian, he didn’t hesitate, nonetheless, to strongly assault President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero as soon as the monetary disaster broke out.

Engineer, in Administration and within the firm

His father was Juan Villar Lopesino, a soldier with sturdy monarchist convictions who, after taking refuge within the Mexican embassy, ​​went to the Francoist zone in July 1937 and later labored in an insurance coverage firm. His mom was María del Carmen Mir.

He had a privileged thoughts. He studied highschool on the Pilar faculty in Madrid and was awarded the highest prize within the state examination. He entered the Special School of Civil Engineering and graduated in 1955, primary in his class. He had a doctorate in Civil Engineering from the Polytechnic University of Madrid. Almost concurrently he graduated in Law from the Complutense University of Madrid and obtained a diploma in Industrial Organization from the EOI and the Economic Development Institute in Washington. He obtained the chair of Accounting and Legislation on the University School of Public Works and that of Business Organization on the Higher Technical School of Civil Engineering, each from the Polytechnic University of Madrid.

In 1955 he requested a go away of absence from his place as a Public Works technician, a place that might be accessed straight after finishing his research, to maneuver into the non-public sector and work for Dragados y Construcciones as a delegate (answerable for works) in Andalusia. In 1958 he joined the Port of Cadiz as an engineer, regaining his standing as a civil servant. In 1961, when he was 29 years outdated, he was appointed deputy director common of Ports and Maritime Signals.

Villar Mir modified his profession path by changing into a businessman. In an interview he defined the method: “Before being a businessman, I was a business administrator. In fact, I specialized from a young age in saving companies. A former professor who was the president of Hidronitro Española, on the verge of suspension of payments, told me one day that the three banks that owned it would be willing to make a last effort to save it, and asked if I would be willing to study the case. A few days later I replied that Hidronitro could be saved, and they made me president with full powers; the following year we were making a profit, and after two years the value of the shares had multiplied by 10.”

In 1973, he purchased the Sociedad General de Obras y Construcciones Obrascón, SA from Banco de Bilbao from Altos Hornos de Vizcaya. He thus laid the primary stone (the O) of what would turn into his nice firm, OHL. He left Altos Hornos de Vizcaya to affix the primary Government of the Monarchy in December 1975, presided over by Carlos Arias Navarro, as head of the Treasury portfolio, in addition to occupying the vice-presidency for Economic Affairs of the Cabinet. He remained in these positions till June 1976 and from there he promoted tax reform, on which he ready a white paper, and submitted the Personal Income Tax Law to Congress. He negotiated a mortgage of 1,000 million {dollars} with worldwide banks and provided ensures that he might arrange places of work in Spain.

Regarding his time within the Government, Villar Mir recalled that “I do not boast about it, but I believe I am the only Spaniard who twice refused to be a minister under Franco. But then, I believed that it was necessary to serve my country to get out of a difficult situation. But I had a business vocation, not a political one, and in that Government we rushed to do many urgent things.”

After leaving the federal government, he returned to the presidency of Hidronitro. A shareholder dispute with the French firm Pechiney compelled him to depart the put up in January 1979. In 1982, the corporate Electra de Viesgo got here underneath the management of Banco de Santander and Villar Mir was named president in 1983. He remained so till June 1991. In 1987 he submitted a suggestion to Banco de Bilbao to purchase Obrascón for one peseta. The following 12 months the corporate was already making a living. The businessman himself responded in an interview concerning the recipe for his success: “There is no secret. I had no capital, I come from a family of middle-class professionals, without business ancestors or rich relatives. I was just very lucky to take over the presidency of companies that were going badly and to get them back on track. This gave me prestige in the eyes of the banks and made it easier for me to buy Obrascón.” Since then, I’ve all the time been looking out for no matter would possibly come alongside, however as I had no cash, I might solely purchase corporations in hassle… the extra troubled, the higher, and the larger the corporate, the higher.”

The creation of OHL was attributable to its means to reap the benefits of alternatives, whether or not attributable to its shut place in politics or its imaginative and prescient, and to suit a sophisticated puzzle collectively: “I came to the conclusion that Obrascón needed size to be present in all the autonomous communities, to work abroad and to reduce the cyclical risk of construction. I moved to buy other construction companies in difficulty, and thus, between 1996 and 1999, I integrated 11 in total. The most important ones were Huarte, which was in suspension of payments, and Laín. Together with Obrascón they form the acronym for the OHL parent company.” He was appointed president and his participation grew till it exceeded 50% of the corporate's shares.

Another very notable facet of Villar Mir's profession was his curiosity in Real Madrid. He turned vice-president of the membership in 1995, however resigned attributable to disagreements with the president Ramón Mendoza, who accused him of attempting to take away him from workplace. In 2006 he offered his candidacy for the presidency, however misplaced the vote to Ramón Calderón, though there have been alleged irregularities within the counting of votes that led to challenges and an enchantment in opposition to the outcome by way of the courts, which closed the case.

The fall of OHL

The monetary disaster hit OHL with heavy debt positions, stress that elevated upstream and gripped a household holding firm that included different giants equivalent to Fertiberia and Ferroatlántica. Among the doable options, Villar Mir relied on the Monegasque fund Tyrus Capital, which landed within the building firm in 2015 with 8.4% as a part of a capital enhance of 1,000 million.

The applause that Villar Mir used to obtain at every shareholders' assembly, when he had greater than 50% of the capital and dividends had been piling up, started to show into murmurs, complaints and boos. The inventory plummeted and the continual efforts of the members, together with the Villar Mir Group itself, didn’t cease the bleeding. The businessman, a private good friend of the now emeritus king, Juan Carlos I, was additionally concerned in corruption plots in Spain from which he emerged with out fees: the Lezo case, the Navalcarnero prepare or the Son Espases case. Finally, he left the presidency of OHL in July 2016, which was taken over by his son Juan Villar-Mir de Fuentes in a fall that was already unstoppable.

The building firm closed 2018 with losses of 1.529 billion. And the proprietor didn’t make the suitable alternative of CEO. Juan Osuna, Josep Piqué and the person he thought of his pupil, Tomás García Madrid, handed by way of that workplace, till one other trusted man, José Antonio Fernández Gallar, was consolidated. In March 2023, the businessman lastly left the listed building firm, presently managed by the Mexican Amodio household and renamed OHLA.

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