Growing up I always heard the world was getting smaller. By the time I entered elementary school news of foreign countries was novel but, not unusual. By college, professors always talked about global enterprises and international business was the new frontier for American companies. I went to work for international enterprises and worked for foreign based global companies. I thought it would be exciting, and it was.
All the time I heard everyone talking about how the world was becoming global but, nearly everyone, American, German, British, Japanese and Latin approached the world from their local perspective as a primary base. I sometimes wondered if the world was ever really going to accept a global perspective or whether reality would always be local first and then, if necessary, international considerations would be explored.
Until very recently, I believe the prior statement was the prevailing way of conducting business. Oh sure, some countries were more adept at working outside their borders because they were export / import oriented. However, larger countries like America, China, Russia, India and Brazil were able to concentrate on domestic markets first, and then consider international activities if time allowed or offered opportunities.
Now I think those days are truly past for enterprises that wish to offer products and services in a broad manner. It is more of an attitude than a business model. Global companies cannot afford the luxury of developing a domestic product or service and then seeing if it can be modified to be offered in foreign markets. A whole new perspective must be accepted and embraced that plans for the offerings to be international from the start.
A recent example is the Google acquisition of Motorola. In the previous environment, a merger such as this would need the Department of Justice approval regarding competition and anti-trust. The approval would be based on domestic markets, and modifications, if necessary, would cover domestic offerings. In the last decade, European approval became important with the European Union and the Euro. If companies created mergers without consideration as to what European authorities might consider acceptable, they might be shocked to learn the merger would not be approved. This cannot be taken lightly as it represents a major portion of the world’s markets.
Today I noticed that the Google merger with Motorola has been approved by the Department of Justice and the regulators in Europe but, the deal is not final. They are waiting to hear from Chinese anti-trust officials before the deal can close. I think global markets have truly arrived.
When considering investing in global stocks remember to make a review as to whether they are global sales organizations or, do they really understand global positioning and planning. The latter will be successful; the other will struggle.