Juan Villalonga Navarro

Juan Villalonga Navarro

Former head of the Spanish company - Telefonica
Date of Birth: 08.04.1953
Country: Spain

  1. Juan Villalonga Navarro: The Former Leader of Telefonica
  2. Introduction

Juan Villalonga Navarro: The Former Leader of Telefonica


For four months now, the largest telecommunications company in Spain, Telefonica, has had a new leader. However, there haven't been any significant new achievements from the telecommunications giant. The roots of all Telefonica's current success were laid under its first chairman, Juan Villalonga Navarro. As a partially government-owned private company, Telefonica has only existed for four years. Throughout this time, events within and surrounding Telefonica have been in line with the traditions of Southern Europe, especially in Spain. Despite some American publications claiming that many successful European business leaders owe their achievements to their education or work experience in the United States, the history of business in the Old World is unique and based not only on business acumen but also on personal relationships.
Early Life and Education

Juan Villalonga Navarro was born on April 8, 1953, in Madrid. He completed his studies in economics and law at the prestigious Deusto University and obtained a master's degree in management economics from the Higher Institute of Economics in Barcelona. After his education, Villalonga worked for nine years with the consulting firm McKinsey & Co., which has branches in the United States, Portugal, Italy, and Spain. He then became the executive director of the First Boston Business Bank in Spain.
Leadership at Telefonica

Villalonga was appointed as the chairman of Telefonica, the leading telecommunications operator in Spain, in the spring of 1996. This position made him one of the most influential people in the country. However, in July 2000, Villalonga was removed from the leadership of Telefonica and the then-owned Terra Lycos. The reason for his resignation was an accusation of using his position to distribute securities within the company. By that time, Villalonga had increased the value of Telefonica fivefold, making it the leading telecommunications operator in Latin America. He expanded its reach by acquiring radio, television, and cable companies in Europe, Africa, and the United States. He also created the Terra Networks internet portal, which is now one of the largest dot-com companies, and acquired the American portal Lycos.
Legacy at Telefonica

Thanks to Villalonga's efforts, Telefonica is now the leading provider of communication services among Spanish and Portuguese speakers. The company operates around 41 million landline connections worldwide and serves over 20 million mobile phone subscribers. In Spain alone, these numbers are 20 million and 11 million, respectively. Telefonica's branches handle the transmission of voice and data and participate in European auctions for third-generation wireless communication licenses.
Controversies and Departure

Villalonga's leadership at Telefonica was not without controversies. His personal life and relationships with government officials and politicians strained his position within the company. His relationship with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar deteriorated after Villalonga divorced his wife, who was a close friend of Aznar's wife. Villalonga's new partner was Adriana Abascal, the widow of Mexican television magnate Emilio Azcarraga. In addition, disputes within Terra over the distribution of options among top executives caused tension. These factors, combined with the upcoming elections, led to Villalonga's removal from Telefonica in July 2000. Despite allegations of insider trading and conflicts of interest, no evidence was found to support these claims.
TerraLycos Merger

In May 2000, Telefonica made a significant move by acquiring the American portal Lycos for $12.5 million. This allowed Telefonica's internet portal, Terra, to enter the US market, where 30 million people speak Spanish, and expand into new regions such as Asia. The merger created the world's first truly global internet company, operating in 40 countries and owning 122 sites in 19 different languages. The new company, TerraLycos, attracted approximately 91 million visitors per month, with approximately 7 billion page views.

Juan Villalonga Navarro's tenure at Telefonica was marked by significant accomplishments and controversies. He transformed Telefonica into a telecommunications giant, expanded its presence in Latin America, and led the merger with Lycos to create TerraLycos. However, his personal life and conflicts with government officials ultimately led to his departure from the company. Despite the controversies, Villalonga's leadership left a lasting impact on Telefonica's success and its position in the telecommunications industry.