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González, left, is all smiles with López Obrador but the two are not close. González, left, is all smiles with López Obrador but the two are not close.

Kimberly-Clark recants after announcing no new investment

Company CEO initially declared no capital spending due to slow growth, president's policies

Kimberly-Clark México indicated on Monday that it wouldn’t invest any new money in the country in the short term due to the slowing economy and a lack of confidence in the policies of President López Obrador.

But in a statement issued on Tuesday, the consumer products company did a quick turnaround, saying it was actually investing 3 billion pesos (US $157 million) in Mexico this year and expects to make an even bigger investment in 2020.

The CEO of Kimberly-Clark México made the initial announcement in a call with investors and analysts to review the company’s third quarter results.

“Unfortunately, we are continuing to see signs that the economy in general is slowing and we’re continuing to see announcements from the government, or new policies of the government that are not what we would like to see in order to start investing in the short term,” said Pablo González Guajardo.

The company’s criticism of the government is not surprising considering that Kimberly-Clark chairman Claudio X. González Laporte, Pablo González’s father, is a prominent opponent of the president, with whom he shares a strained history.

González Jr. expressed doubts about the government's policies.
González Jr. expressed doubts about the government’s policies.

In the lead-up to the 2018 presidential election, López Obrador described González Laporte as “malicious” and “influential” and accused him of participating in “the electoral fraud of 2006.”

The president believes that he was the rightful winner of the 2006 poll, which he narrowly lost to Felipe Calderón.

López Obrador also claimed that González Laporte instructed the previous government to raise gasoline prices and asked former president Enrique Peña Nieto to “steal the presidency” from him.

“It’s scary . . . It’s something very serious . . . Claudio X. González is endeavoring to carry out a dirty war against us,” he said in a video posted to Facebook early last year.

“He went to Los Pinos [the former presidential residence] to see Peña Nieto and he asked Peña Nieto to apply himself completely against us, against me . . . with the same [fraud] as 2006 . . .” López Obrador claimed.

Despite the bad blood, Kimberly-Clark México said today that it is committed to investing in López Obrador’s Mexico.

“Since its foundation, the company has invested in our country to improve the quality of life of its collaborators, offer better products to consumers and contribute to the economic development of Mexico,” the statement said.

“As has been announced in financial reports, the company will invest about 3 billion pesos in 2019 and it is estimated that in 2020 – contrary to what has been published in some media reports that refer to the call with investors – the figure will be greater,” the company said.

“In said call, the company referred to the national and international context in which a slower pace of growth is observed. Consequently, an improvement of conditions is required to attract more investment in the short term. Particular judgements about specific [government] policies were not expressed,” the statement continued.

“KCM is a proudly Mexican company that generates approximately 13,000 direct and indirect jobs. The company has always collaborated with authorities of the three levels of government and will continue to do so to improve the quality of life of all people with whom it comes into contact and to contribute to the development of the country.”

Kimberly-Clark México, which makes toilet paper, tissues, diapers and feminine hygiene products among other goods, reported sales of 10.4 billion pesos (US $543.3 million) in the third quarter, a 5.1% increase compared to the same period last year.

In the first nine months of year, the company recorded sales of just under 32.7 billion pesos and recorded a net profit of 3.7 billion pesos.

Source: Infobae (sp), Aristegui Noticias (sp), El Economista (sp) 

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