Cuba, the 52nd state? One CEO says maybe

Caterpillar CEO: Cuba may be like Puerto Rico someday
Caterpillar CEO: Cuba may be like Puerto Rico someday

Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman told CNBC on Monday that he sees big opportunities in Cuba.

"We can see Cuba down the road in a few years maybe like Puerto Rico," Oberhelman said in a "Squawk Box" interview. "I don't know if it would be the 52nd state, but there's a lot of Cubans in the United States who would like to see that. It's a big opportunity." (He implied that Puerto Rico, which is a U.S. territory, is like a 51st state.)

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"It's between us and Latin America, and I think we can look at it that way down the road," he added, saying the announcement last week by President Barack Obama about the thawing of U.S.-Cuba relations "was long overdue, frankly, not just for business reasons."

Oberhelman also told CNBC he expects uncertainty around battered oil prices to negatively impact Caterpillar next year. But he was hopeful the "stimulus" from cheaper oil on the world economy would eventually be a positive for his businesses.

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