A hostile takeover using a legal loophole saw Apymell being taken over and its board of directors replaced against the wishes of its now ex-chairman. This has led to large companies in La Línea joining forces under a new association which sets out promote the city’s entrepreneurial culture, improve its deteriorating image, redefine its offering and strengthen ties with Gibraltar.
Lorenzo Pérez-Periáñez is not one to throw in the towel when things get tough. He is a well-known businessman from La Línea who, like a phoenix, has recently risen from a major setback:
His organisation “Apymell” (La Línea Association of Small and Medium Enterprises) was recently taken over through the backdoor as a result of a bureaucratic loophole after the company failed to update its status in the Junta de Andalucía’s registry – allowing other businessmen and women to become directors.
After a few weeks of quiet contemplation, and after much encouragement from other local businessmen in the city, Lorenzo decided to push on with setting up a new association which focusses on improving La Línea’s image; to redefine its offering and continue to strengthen relationships with Gibraltar.
“A group of businessmen from La Línea took advantage of a bureaucratic loophole in the system by acquiring the acronym after we failed to update our registry due to Covid and other issues we had.”
“Out of total disloyalty, because there is no other way to say it, they have appointed themselves as the new board of directors of Apymell.”
“Our legal advisor, Juan Carmona, told that that we could win this case in a ‘Contentious-Administrative litigation’, but the process would have dragged on for years. So, we decided to start up a new organisation which has received a lot of encouragement from entrepreneurs in La Línea. We’ve got support from names like Ruiz-Galán, the Ubago canning company, clinics and big franchises such as McDonalds”, Lorenzo Pérez-Periáñez told ReachExtra.
“The mayor of La Línea said that this was nothing short of a coup. The chairman of the Campo de Gibraltar Chamber of Commerce Carlos Fenoy encouraged me to start a new organisation. Every cloud has a silver lining. There are many people who praise our efforts for the positive work that we have carried out, and this has helped us come back stronger than ever, and with new issues to tackle”, he said.
The new organisation is yet to be named, but we are told that several names are currently under consideration for this new, more ambitious project:
“It’s a comprehensive project. Not only will we be pursuing business development, but also training and integrating young people into our member companies and helping finance entrepreneurial endeavours… we don’t want any project to be stranded due to lack of funding and we have people willing to contribute money”.
One of the main goals the association will be working toward is improving La Línea’s deteriorating reputation: “We cannot move forward with this deteriorated image any longer. We have a moral obligation to push for change. La Línea is hurting.”
Another goal is to clearly define the city’s offering once and for all:
“We don’t have great expanses of land or a primary sector, and we need to fight, along with our politicians, to become a city with an economy reasonably similar to that of Gibraltar. La Línea needs to become attractive to investors, financial services and insurance companies, among others. To do this, it is essential that the State grant us a special tax regime to make our city an attractive investment opportunity.”
The association is also setting out to revitalise La Línea’s tourism offering, with Gibraltar as an ally:
“Our tourist offering needs to go hand in hand with that of Gibraltar; we should offer something together because we complement each other. Gibraltar can offer all its attractions like shopping, history… and we can offer our gastronomy, golfing, beaches…”
Pérez-Periáñez, together with those businessmen supporting him, believe that it is achievable: “We are certain that we can move forward, but to do this we need to change La Línea’s image”.
He told us that he will not assume the position of president of the new association, but that he will become a spokesperson and will deal with matters relating to Gibraltar from a position of understanding and synergy.
“I’ve received many calls from concerned Gibraltarian businessmen after they found out what had happened”.
“The Gibraltar Chamber of Commerce as well as the Gibraltar Government have shown me their full support. There was some cause for concern because, in these 11 years, we have had harmonious relations. It was very comforting to me that so many Gibraltarians reached out to show their support. One of the first steps we will be taking is for our new association to visit the Government of Gibraltar to introduce ourselves and express our desire to strengthen relations. This is fundamental for the economy of La Línea.”
The New Board of Directors
The board of directors has already been chosen and their responsibilities have been assigned. Lorenzo Pérez-Periáñez told ReachExtra that businessman Fran López will leave his position as coordinator of the Ciudadanos del Campo de Gibraltar group and lead the Commerce Department; training will be in the hands of Rosa Cañamero; Carmen Cumbres will assume the Hospitality Department, Large Industries and Industrial Estates will be the responsibility of businesswoman Raquel Ruiz Galán; and Entrepreneaurship and Institutional Relations will be headed by Antonio Espinel.
“The charter for the board of directors has already been signed, so the launch of the association is imminent.”
As to membership of the Cross-Frontier Group, he says that this would not be possible because the group has a limit of 10 members taken from the business community and the unions from both sides of the frontier.
“The [Cross-Frontier] Group is not made up of people, but by organisations. Right now, Apymell is a member, but several members of the Group have not put up with the way in which these gentlemen took control of Apymell and I think that they will be removed from the Group to make way for our new association…”
Lobbying Against Brexit
Currently, there is a complex journey ahead caused by the global reaction to the pandemic and the threat of Brexit still lingering:
“The agreements in relation to Gibraltar have not yet been properly defined. There are many fringes and themes to tie in. I know there is a good disposition but there are questions that need to be resolved. With Brexit, we need to have a lobby of influence. The moment is now, and all the social and economic agents, and all the politicians, must be united to move La Línea forward”.