Antonio Garamendi has had a rival to repeat as president of the CEOE in the elections on November 23. After the withdrawal of Gerardo Pérez, from Faconauto, who first aimed to present himself to later abandon the attempt, it seemed that the current president would have a free hand to repeat his mandate and by acclamation, without reply.
Ultimately, it won't. Her rival will be Virginia Guinda, CEO of the Iberboard company, vice president of Foment del Treball and who has been part of the CEOE board since 2018. Business sources indicate that this week, Virginia Guinda will make her candidacy official. She has room to do so until November 8, which is when the deadlines close, and she will be the first woman candidate to preside over the employer's association.
Sources close to Guinda indicate that the presentation of a candidacy “is positive for the CEOE because in these times of change a new version of the employers' association is necessary. We must be more active, listen more and be influential in the design of the new Spain”. Others go far and point to "a new stage, a new more participatory CEOE that listens to sectors and territories."
Virginia Guindo is a young 48-year-old businesswoman from the paper industry, currently CEO of Iberboard, a leading graphic cardboard company, of which she has been a partner since 2018. Previously, she had founded an energy consulting company, Energía Local, to assist both to administrations, as well as to energy-intensive industries. Iberboard, with more than 150 workers, is a paper company that exports to 33 countries.
It has accumulated experience in the field of industry with co-generation and promoters of energy products. Since 2006 she has been technical director of the Spanish Cogeneration Association (Acogen), and representative of this sector in the Electricity Advisory Council of the National Energy Commission. She also collaborates with COGEN Spain. She was the founder of the Foro Energía Empresa and merged them with the Foment del Treball Energy Commission.
The struggle between the presidents of the CEOE, Antonio Garamendi, and of Foment, Josep Sánchez Llibre, has been known for a long time, and has turned the Catalan employers' association into a focus of opposition to Garamendi's management. Some discrepancies that were openly manifested in the vote on the labor reform when Foment, together with the Madrid employers' association CEIM, Asaja (the field sector), and Anfac (from the automobile) abstained in what was interpreted as a voice of protest against the reform that Garamendi defended. Since then, relations between Garamendi and Sánchez Llibre have not improved.
When he called the elections for the presidency of the CEOE on November 23, at the same time Garamendi announced that he would run and began to gather support. The opposition front could not agree on an alternative candidate who would take the step, although there was speculation that both the president of the CEIM, Miguel Garrido, and that of Cepyme, Gerardo Cuerva, would do so, but neither of them decided.
On the other hand, Gerardo Pérez, from Faconauto, did publicly announce that he was considering running, although he finally gave up. In his resignation on September 26, it was decisive not to get the employers of the Asaja field to position themselves publicly in his favor. He then resigned stating that he had considered running "as long as he could bring about a change in the CEOE."