Striking gold in Latin America
Gold Data is in the midst of a comprehensive expansion in Mexico. Rafael Vanegas, the company’s CFO, joins Capacity to talk about the business’s future and about his wide-ranging role at the company.
Last May, Gold Data confirmed it would be entering the second phase of expanding its network in Mexico. This work, the result of US$180 million being invested over four years, has resulted in the company deploying a low-latency network to interconnect some of the country’s major data centres. The company has said it will also build the first cable system in the Gulf of Mexico, connecting Miami in Florida with strategic points in Mexico City, Cancún and Querétaro.
This third and final phase of Gold Data’s Mexican expansion is due to go live in 2025. This 10-fibre pair cable system, which will offer more than 250Tbps of capacity, is set to be the first cable to land in Mexico in 22 years.
Gold Data, which was founded in 2000, has a wide footprint and provides international connectivity from more than 17 American cities, connecting them with 35 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. While Gold Data’s headquarters are in the United States, Latin America has been a key component of its growth for more than 20 years.
“Brazil and Mexico are the largest economies in Latin America and are the main drivers of this region,” says Rafael Vanegas, Gold Data’s chief financial officer. “Consequentially, it is expected that any initiative to increase connectivity for this region with the rest of the world would probably be done through these two countries.”
Additionally, Vanegas says the deregulation of the Mexican market means there are more actors, and therefore more opportunities and services, following growing demand.
Gold Data relies on its network, strategic points-of-presence and diverse subsea capacity to offer end-to-end solutions from Latin America and the Caribbean for multinational companies and global operators.
Vanegas believes that Mexico’s local networks are low in quality and are reaching the end of their lifespan, and so soon it will be necessary to invest in infrastructure, both locally and internationally, to supply the growth that is expected in the region in the coming years.
In Mexico, there are four submarine cables. Three have landing stations in US cities, but none of them connect to Mexico and the United States through the Gulf.
“There are opportunities for other submarine cables to be brought into Mexico, especially now that three of them – PAC, Arcos and Maya-1 – are approaching 25 years of service and will be discontinued in the following years,” says Vanegas. He adds that the AMX-1 cable, which was commissioned by América Móvil, is the only one that has been built in recent years, but that this cable was built “simply to serve América Móvil’s own subsidiary companies around the region and to provide them with access to bandwidth at cost”.
Range of roles
As Gold Data’s CFO, Vanegas’ role is to manage the financial, legal and human resources departments of Gold Data.
But he also leads the financial planning and analysis, accounting, treasury and revenue assurance teams. His main task being to track and manage the balance sheet, profits and losses and cash flow while analysing the strengths and weaknesses in the company’s finances.
“The goal is to maintain Gold Data’s financial success, guaranteeing profitability and business continuity to shareholders, lenders and investors,” he says.
Additionally, Vanegas is Gold Data’s head of human capital, compliance and legal team where his goal is to continuously strengthen all of Gold Data’s teams and ensure legal aspects are covered with minimum risks for all of the companies of the group, its directors and stakeholders.
In North America, Gold Data anticipates inflation to slow as a result of Federal Reserve intervention with interest rate increases, gradual supply chain recovery and a close to 0% growth in GDP.
Unlike in the United States, according to Vanegas, there are no recessionary risks. He estimates annual growth in the region for 2023 will be close to 2%.
“Even though the expected slowdown in the United States will weigh heavily on Mexico, given the strong trade and investment links between the two countries, manufacturing activity and foreign investment are likely to
accelerate due to nearshoring,” says Vanegas. “Also, we anticipate for the Mexican currency to remain stable as it has been in the past few years.”
Yet the outlook is slightly more unfavourable for the Latin American and Caribbean regions with forecasted decelerations in global trade, higher interest rates, higher inflation and less liquidity.
“Domestically, the increase of inflation pushed central banks of the region to raise interest rates and to have a more restrictive monetary policy which has a direct impact on economic growth that will slow down in 2023,” Vanegas says.