The Buenos Aires Star - The Politics of Business
Stock of Chilean Telephone, one of the major players in the communications infrastructure businesses, has been fluctuating rapidly as rumors spread about legislation that could affect its funding and future prospects. Due to uncertainty in several pieces of proposed legislation and the various actions and funding support of several major firms - many controlled by major Chilean business families - confidence in the future prospects of several major national firms has been wavering. One of the hardest hit has been Chilean Telephone, the communications giant headed by Mr. Arteaga.
When asked about the firm's situation, Mr. Arteaga said "The stock market is a very fickle thing. Someone starts a rumor - sometimes baseless, or misinterpreted off of a law they heard about - and investors rush toward or away from your company's stock. When a company is as influential as Chilean Telephone, the rumors are bigger and more frequent. If one of the major investors, like the business families or independently wealthy individuals, invests - all the smaller fish rush to invest as well.
There is a negative side as well. There was a rumor, based on some proposed legislation - that some people interpreted as potentially cutting off a major investor from Chilean Telephone. That was bad for investment - in times like these, people are afraid of risks."
Asked about whether he felt he should become more involved in politics, he replied that "To some degree, I already am. With a company dealing with infrastructure at such a large scale, it is impossible to be completely separate from politics. I would like to stay apart and just manage my business, but I may have to become more involved in cooperating with the government as well, especially as so many projects for reconstruction open up, and industry and politics are so closely intertwined."
Whether these new turbulent times for business will prompt more businessmen like Carlos Arteaga to get involved and perhaps even run for office is unknown. It is clear, though, that many are reconsidering how politics affects them in this post-civil war era.