UPDATE 2-Chile Cencosud debuts in NY, raises $474 mln
* Cencosud shares make debut on U.S. markets
* Broader capital increase looks to garner $1.26 bln
* Cencosud CEO sees sales growing 20 pct this year
By Anthony Esposito and Felipe Iturrieta
SANTIAGO, June 22 (Reuters) - Chilean retailer Cencosud began trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday and raised $474 million as part of a broader capital increase aimed at funding expansion across South America and repaying debts.
The retailer said it sold about 91.3 million shares on Friday, of which roughly half were sold on the New York Stock Exchange as American Depositary Shares and half on the Santiago Stock Exchange.
Cencosud , which operates in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Peru joined the ranks of 11 other Chilean companies currently trading American Depositary Receipts.
"When you look at the result of the placement, which was more than five times oversubscribed, you see that despite what the most developed economies are going through, the Latin American region is very positive," Cencosud's chief executive Daniel Rodriguez told Reuters in a phone interview from New York.
Listing in the U.S. "will give us many opportunities in capital and debt markets," he added.
The company sold the equivalent of 45.8 million shares in New York and sold 45.5 million in Santiago. Each American Depositary Share is equivalent to three common shares, and were priced at $15.61 U.S. dollars a piece. Shares sold on the local market were priced at 2,600 pesos each.
Following the public offering, a preferential option period for the remaining 138 million shares at 2,600 pesos each will run for 30 days in a bid to raise a total of around $1.26 billion.
"We're very confident that considering the (share) price that was agreed on by the board the capital increase will be fully subscribed," Rodriguez said.
The mega retailer, propelled by booming consumer demand in Latin America, has a $1.28 billion investment plan this year to open stores and malls across the region and expects revenue to reach $18 billion in 2012.
"Company sales have been growing at annual rates of 25 percent, this year we expect sales to grow by over 20 percent," Rodriguez said.
Since 2005, Cencosud has more than doubled the number of stores it operates to over 900 through organic growth and acquisitions, such as the recent purchases of Brazilian supermarket chain Prezunic and Chilean department store Johnson's.
"With the position we have in the markets we operate in, we have a lot of room to grow organically and that's going to be our focus in coming years," the company executive said.
"The countries we operate in offer us great opportunities, so our focus in the coming three to five years is going to be to take advantage of those opportunities there."
Rodriguez didn't rule out future acquisitions saying that cash flow and the capital increase will put the company in a financially "healthy and flexible position" to look at opportunities as they come.
Regarding Brazil, which accounts for about 25 percent of Cencosud's overall sales, Rodriguez said that the firm would remain focused on bolstering its supermarkets division there over the next three years and wasn't currently considering introducing its other business units, such as department stores or home improvement.
Shares in Cencosud were trading 1.46 percent lower in midday Friday trade in Santiago, far outpacing a 0.3 percent fall in the Santiago blue-chip IPSA index.
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