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Merco Ranking -The Ranking of the 100 Most Reputable Companies in Argentina

Distinction. According to a study that processed approximately 12,000 surveys, Arcor, Unilever and Toyota lead this year's ranking. The ups and downs and people's favorites.

The concern for prestige and reputation dates back to the beginning of civilization. “The way to gain a good reputation, is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear”, said Socrates, the philosopher. Napoleon likened reputation to a great noise. “The more you make, the more it spreads. Laws, nations, monuments – everything crumbles. But the noise remains. With a more corporate vision, Warren Buffett often warns that “it takes 20 years to build a reputation, but 5 minutes to destroy it”.

Corporate reputation is, and always has been, an intangible but significant asset. In this sense, Arcor, the Argentinean multinational owned by the Pagani family, obtained the highest rating among the 100 most reputable companies in the country. Unilever and Toyota complete the podium, according to the 2018 Company Monitor on Corporate Reputation (Monitor Empresarial de Reputación Corporativa - the Merco ranking), an annual assessment carried out by the Spanish institute Análisis e Investigación audited by KPMG, and published exclusively by the newspaper's economic supplement.

This multistakeholder evaluation processed 12,088 surveys based on 23 information sources (executives, financial analysts, professors and the general public, among others) that assess the reputation merits of companies in the 11 countries where the Merco is carried out. According to scholars, a good reputation improves share prices, attracts talent, drives sales and “acts as a cushion against potential image crisis”, explained Manuel Sevillano, director of Merco.

Ranked below the Arcor-Unilever-Toyota trio are Google, Quilmes, Natura, Banco Galicia, Mercedes-Benz, Coca-Cola and Ford. Arcor and its CEO and President, Luis Pagani, led all the rankings of companies and business leaders, with the ideal score: 10,000 points. With respect to last year's top ten, the most significant change was the entry of Galicia (7th place) in place of Santander Río (11th). In addition, there are four new companies in this ranking (Pampa Energía, Elea, Fiat and SAP), which entered in place of Sancor, Carrefour, Mastercard and Sony.

The Merco was first launched in Spain in 2001. This monitor was designed with the purpose of exporting it and using the same mechanics in all countries. Therefore, it has been carried out in Colombia since 2008, Argentina and Chile (2010), Ecuador (2011), Peru (2012), Brazil, Mexico and Bolivia (2013), Costa Rica, Panama and Portugal (2017). With the global experience accumulated over the years, Sevillano concludes the following: “Companies are increasingly dedicating efforts to the management of their corporate reputation” (see An asset...).

It is a multiple, cross evaluation carried out in several stages. At first, 338 company directors with a domestic turnover of more than US$30 million are surveyed. As a result, a provisional ranking is created showing the 100 most renowned companies, in no particular order. Afterwards, this group goes through various filters (stakeholders), thus determining the reputation ranking. Strictly speaking, 6 evaluation processes were conducted.

This year 627 company directors, 80 financial analysts, 75 economic journalists, 50 government officials, 62 NGO representatives, 60 trade union members, 85 members of consumers' associations, 78 influencers and social media managers, 42 business professors and 60 communications directors and opinion leaders participated in the survey.

Parallel to the overall ranking, there were two other rankings, the Merco Consumo (Merco Consumer) (based on the opinion of 2,956 citizens) and the Merco Talento (Merco Talent), which measures the companies' attractiveness as an employer (7,866 surveys). Companies accumulate points at each stage, on a scale that starts from the ideal score of 10,000 to a minimum of 3,000, an essential requirement to join the exclusive club of the 100 most prestigious companies.

The consumer food category (5 companies) dominates the top ten of the Merco 2018: Arcor, Unilever, Quilmes, Natura and Coca-Cola. And three automotive companies are in second place: Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and Ford. The other is Google, the Silicon Valley giant. Its neighbor, Facebook, on the other hand, may be considered as a possible case study for analysts. This year, Zuckerberg's creature fell 26 places to finish 57th. In the previous Merco it had climbed from 99 to 31. In Sevillano's opinion, the Cambridge Analytica scandal and other data breaches affected the image of the most famous social network.

In comparison to last year's Merco, the companies that climbed the most were Despegar (from 97 to 39, i.e. it improved 58 positions), Banco Macro (from 99 to 44), Ledesma (from 100 to 49), Mc Donald's (from 71 to 28) and L'Oréal, which climbed from 54 to 14. Apart from Facebook, the companies that also fell the most were Citibank (from 43 to 90), Mapfre (53 to 83) and Grupo Osde (32 to 59).

Typically, reputation is more stable than corporate image, more emotional and subject to the ups and downs of social mood. In this sense, “Arcor does not come as a surprise, but it surely is remarkable”, explained Sevillano, since the food company led the 9 editions of the ranking. All the more so considering that of the 100 most prestigious companies, only 32% of them are considered “national”. A percentage well below those recorded in other countries where the Merco is conducted, for example Colombia (67% are Colombian companies), Spain (62%) and Chile (61%). Arcor is the only local representative ranked in the top ten. Argentine brand but is currently owned by the Belgian Group Ab InBev.

According to the study, Google is the best company not only for the general population but also for financial analysts, influencers and business professors. Government officials and NGOs also chose Arcor. In turn, in the opinion of economic journalists, Samsung led the ranking. Other ranking leaders were Mercedes-Benz (trade unions) and Adidas (consumer associations).

By business categories, the leaders were Los Grobo (agriculture), Arcor (food), Toyota (automotive), Galicia (banking), Quilmes (beverages), YPF (fuel), Accenture (consulting), IRSA (real estate), Farmacity (specialized distribution), Adidas (fashion), Natura (drugstore), Samsung (household appliances), Disney (entertainment), Tetra Pak (recyclable packaging) and Bagó (pharmaceutical).

Grupo Insud (finance), Tarjeta Naranja (credit cards), Pampa Energía (power generation), Clarín (media), PAE (oil and gas), Dow (chemicals), Mc Donald's (restaurants), MercadoLibre (retail), Osde (health), Sancor Seguros (insurance), Naturgy (utilities), Despegar (tourism), Google (technology), Telefónica (telecommunications) and Aerolíneas Argentinas (passenger transport services).


Determining the Merco Ranking

The Merco, Company Monitor on Corporate Reputation (Monitor Empresarial de Reputación Corporativa) was first developed in 2000 by the Complutense University of Madrid — headed by the Spanish scholar Justo Villafañe — and arrived in Argentina 9 years ago, brought by Clarin.

The ranking is carried out in six stages through which a global evaluation is conducted to measure perception and valuation based on 23 information sources. To this end, 12,088 surveys were conducted.

In the first stage of the evaluation, 338 company directors with a domestic turnover of more than US$30 million are surveyed. The 100 most mentioned companies in this measurement go on to the following rounds, in which they are assessed by financial analysts, economic journalists, government officials, NGO members, trade unions, consumers' associations, university professors, influencers, communication directors and opinion leaders.

In addition to the overall one, there are two other rankings: The Merco Consumo (Merco Consumer), which is obtained from the opinion of almost 3,000 citizens, and the Merco Talento (Merco Talent), which measures the companies' attractiveness as an employer.

At each stage of the evaluation, companies accumulate points so that the company that obtains 10,000 points reaches first place, while the minimum score for the one hundred most reputable companies is set at 3,000 points.


Luis Pagani, Galperín and Herrero Climb the Podium

Prestige.The CEOs of Arcor, MercadoLibre and Toyota lead a ranking which includes only 4 women. 15% of the total did not appear the previous year.

The case of Luis Pagani, CEO and President of Arcor, is more than remarkable. Once again and for the ninth time in a row, the businessman from Córdoba led the ranking of business leaders. In this edition of Merco, Pagani shares the podium with the founder of MercadoLibre, Marcos Galperín (who climbed one place) and the CEO of Japan's Toyota, Daniel Herrero, who last year ranked 6th.

The top ten is completed by Miguel Kozuszok (Unilever), Gustavo Grobocopatel (Los Grobo Group), Martín Migoya (co-founder and CEO of Globant), Cristiano Rattazzi (Fiat), Federico Procaccini (who left Google for Open Bank-Santander), Eduardo Costantini (Consultatio) and Gregorio Pérez Companc (Molinos).

In comparison to last year's ranking, there are 15 new business leaders in the current one, including Damian Scokin (Despegar), 32nd; Alejandro Asrin (Tarjeta Naranja), 45th; Alejandro Bulgheroni (PAE), 58th; and Pablo Di Si (of the German automaker Volkswagen).

The rest of the “newcomers” are Francisco Cervo (former Laboratorios Elea), Federico Trucco (Bioceres), Pablo Beramendi (brand new CEO of Google), Fabián Kon (Galicia), Daniel González (YPF), Roberto Souvirón (Despegar), Carlos Lisboa (Quilmes), Agustín Beccar Varela (Walmart), Marcelo Zimet (L'Oréal), Mariano Perotti (Danone) and Miguel Acevedo (Aceitera General Deheza).

As with the overall ranking of the 100 most reputable companies, the maximum score is 10,000 points and the minimum required to be considered is 3,000. In the evaluations, two stakeholders take on special importance: communication directors and economic journalists. The top five for the first group are Galperín, Pagani, Grobocopatel, Rattazzi and Migoya. The journalists favored Pagani, followed by Grobocopatel, Miguel Gutiérrez (YPF), Galperín and Rattazzi, in that order.

As in previous years, the presence of women was much lower than men. “A similar situation occurs in other countries, but Argentina has the lowest percentage of women leaders”, said Manuel Sevillano Bueno, Merco's General Director. In this edition, there are 4. Isela Costantini (Grupo ST) ranked 13th place. Two places below, Adriana Noreña (Google). Fabricia Degiovanni (Microsoft) ranked 23rd and finally, Rosario Altgelt (Latam Airlines), 59th.

Unlike the overall ranking of companies, the leaders ranking showed many ups and downs. One of the most noteworthy climbs was Fabricia Degiovanni, who moved up 73 places compared to last year (from 96th to 23rd). Noreña, General Director of Google for Latin America, had climbed from 63rd to 16th. In 2018 she climbed one place higher.

In addition to Scokin (32nd) and Asrin (45th), among those who climbed the most were Miguel A. Gutiérrez of YPF, who went from 80th place to 17th, i.e., he moved up 63 positions. And Enrique Pescarmona, who jumped from the 86th spot to the 47th. Some of the most noticeable drops included Juan Garibaldi (Private Equity Fund), from 31st to 82nd; Guillermo Hang (Techint), 29th to 84th; Federico Rava (Telefónica), 44th to 86th, and Alejandro Gorodisch (Farmacity), who dropped from 58th to 85th.


Awards and Awardees at the Teatro Colón

Absent with notice because of a previously scheduled business trip, last Wednesday Luis Pagani followed very closely the awards ceremony of the Merco 2018 ranking, held in the Golden Hall (Salón Dorado) of the Teatro Colón. From Paris, he called his assistants by cell phone every minute to follow the progress of the event, which had him as one of the leading protagonists since Arcor obtained the highest score, just like Pagani did among the most prestigious entrepreneurs in Argentina.

Thus, entrepreneurs, top executives, businessmen and public relations managers interspersed warm congratulations for the awards with interpretations and conjectures on the economic situation, the new deal with the IMF, the dollar fluctuations and the future of rates.

There was almost a full attendance: Daniel Herrero (Toyota), Adrián Kaufmann (Arcor), Cristiano Rattazzi (Fiat), Eduardo Costantini (Consultatio), Miguel Kozuszok (Unilever), Marcos Galperín (MercadoLibre), Pablo Beramendi (Google), Martín Migoya (Globant), Gustavo Grobocopatel (Los Grobo), Fabián Kon (Galicia), Martín Ticinese (Quilmes), Sebastián Bagó (Laboratorios Bagó), Roland Zey (Mercedes-Benz) and Diego de Leone (Natura), among many others.

Daniel Fernández Canedo, columnist and editor-in-chief of the newspaper's economic supplement, gave the welcome speech at 11:30 in the morning. Following the speech by Merco's General Director, Manuel Sevillano Bueno, the results of the rankings of companies, entrepreneurs and the 26 winners of each category were presented. Afterwards, Fernando Fronza, COO of Clarín, Fernández Canedo and Sevillano himself presented statuettes and diplomas to the best rated companies and entrepreneurs.

As it is traditional, the Golden Hall was packed. While awaiting the ceremony to begin, around a well-stocked table with espresso coffee, canapés and non-alcoholic beverages people gathered and grouped and talked regardless of what category they had been ranked. In one of the corners of the hall, Florencia Sabatini (Google), Valeria Bazzi (Free Market), Silvina Seiguer – former IBM and currently at Mc Donald's - shared their views on technological business. Herrero and Rattazzi, did the same, but on the automotive industry.

One of the many surprises was the presence of Galperín, founder, shareholder and CEO of MercadoLibre. Sitting one row behind Migoya (co-founder and CEO of Globant), he followed the progress of the event closely. He was awarded the crystal statuette for his 2nd place in the ranking of business leaders.


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