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In 1912, a one-year-old construction company completed its first job – two docks in the Port of Lisbon. It was a fitting beginning for Sociedad General de Obras y Construcciones Obrascon, a Spanish company based in Bilbao. Over the years, it sought and met the challenges of increasingly complex work that included highways, airports and hospitals. Coordinating the finance, engineering, architecture, design, construction, maintenance and operations demanded by such large-scale projects became a company specialty.
In the late 1990s, Obrascon, now one of Spain’s most dynamic companies, merged with two similarly vibrant construction firms. Huarte, established in Pamplona by the Huarte and Malumbres families in 1927, joined forces with Obrascon in 1998. This merger made Obrascon Huarte the sixth-largest construction company in Spain. In the following year, the firm welcomed the final piece of OHL, Construcciones Lain. Established in 1963 as a subsidiary of the British group John Laing Construction, Construcciones Lain (dropping the “g”) has been an independent company since 1988. Obrascon Huarte Lain is the union of three firms with compatible strengths and ideals. OHL is established in sixteen countries on four different continents.
Now based in Madrid, OHL has 13,000 employees and an impressive growth rate. In 2006, its net sales amounted to more than 4.0 billion US Dollars, a growth of 34 per cent from 2005. At the same time, OHL is strongly committed to environmental responsibility and in 2003 produced its first Sustainable Development Report. As Juan Miguel Villar Mir, the chairman of the board of directors and the author of the report, noted, mindful attention to the long-term health of the environment creates a “virtuous circle” that benefits the company, its clients and the globe. OHL’s ecological diligence has served it well in Mexico, where strong government regulations are enforced to protect the environment. A presence in Mexico since 1980, OHL employs 400 people there and has built highways, bridges, hotels and hospitals. The tourism complex at Mayakoba, which will eventually include three golf courses and four luxury hotels, is OHL’s most ambitious hospitality project to date.
The President of OHL, Juan Miguel Villar Mir, received his Doctorate of Engineering degree from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and his Law degree from Universidad Complutense de Madrid. He holds additional diplomas in Industrial Organization from EOI in Madrid as well as from the Economic Development Institute (Washington D.C.). Juan Miguel Villar Mir is a faculty member of the Real Academia de Ciencias Económicas y Financieras de Barcelona, the Academia Mundial de Tecnología and the Academia de Ingeniería. He was Vice President of Economic Affairs and Minister of Treasury for the Spanish Government in the first Monarchy of the Government (1975 – 1976). He has dedicated his activities mainly to the business world, performing as chairman of the board and as an executive leader in businesses of great importance and dimension in very diverse sectors.
In 1987 Juan Miguel Villar Mir undertook the foundation and development of a new business group that belongs to OHL, Grupo Villar Mir, which, since its inception in 1987, has maintained the principle to develop and consolidate its activities in the different sectors and countries in which it operates. This principle is always conducted with long-range vocation and a business structure permanently directed to reducing costs, improving efficiency, strengthening business finances and creating value for shareholders and other interest groups.
With a 2006 sales forecast of almost 5.9 million dollars, Grupo Villar Mir is a private, industrial and diversified group. With a presence in 56 countries, Grupo Villar Mir has an active role in basic sectors of the economy, such as the construction and authorizations of infrastructures, but also fertilizers, ferro-alloys, energy and services.