During the 1990s, Spain changed from a net recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) to one of the most important investors in Latin America. Fieldwork in this article identifies trends and directions of Spanish acquisitions, with an emphasis on the 1990 to 2001 period. An overview of the emergence of the Spanish MNC is followed by statistical analysis of their competitive (i.e. ownership) advantage as measured by the relative strength of market size, wage differentials and cultural affinity. This analysis helped in explaining the link between strategic decisions of the Spanish MNCs and their choice of geography and industrial sector. Empirical analysis finds Spanish MNCs responded to privatisation opportunities and to gain access to specific foreign markets rather than to an attempt to create global export platforms.