* Cencosud to invest around $425 million this year
* Retailer has expanded aggressively in South America
* No purchases or new debt issues planned in 2014 -CEO
SANTIAGO, Jan 9 Chilean retailer Cencosud will
invest less this year than in 2013 and shy away from purchases
as it seeks to consolidate its Brazilian and Colombian
operations and lower debt after an aggressive expansion in
booming South America.
The retailer said on Thursday it will invest roughly $425
million in 2014, under last year's planned $731 million
Analysts say the retailer's investment plans have been
affected by the decision by Itaú Unibanco Holding SA,
Brazil's largest bank by market value, to scrap plans to buy a
51 percent stake in Cencosud's card payment unit in Argentina
"Our focus is on consolidation," Chief Executive Officer
Daniel Rodriguez told reporters on Thursday.
"We're going to keep growing, but at a different speed," he
said, adding the company isn't planning any fresh purchases or
new debt issues this year.
Cencosud, which says it aims to become the region's
biggest retailer, will open more stores in Argentina, Brazil,
Chile, Colombia and Peru.
Its 2014 investment plan includes $210 million for the
opening of 51 new stores, $75 million for maintenance of current
ones and $100 million for technology and Internet-based
Several Chilean retail heavyweights have expanded in South
America, lured by a growing middle class with easy access to
Still, some analysts warn the consumption boom is
unsustainable and could slow if commodities demand from key
trade partner China slows sharply.
Cencosud is expecting to reap between $20.4 billion and
$21.3 billion in 2014 revenue.
The company in February forecast 2013 revenue would be $22.5
Results for full-year 2013 have not yet been released.