(Adds Telecom CEO interview, background)
By Eliana Raszewski
BUENOS AIRES, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Argentina telecommunications provider Telecom Argentina said on Friday that plans to expand its networks and improve infrastructure would take longer than expected due to a sharp devaluation in the peso currency this year.
In January, Telecom Argentina announced a $5 billion investment plan aimed at improving connectivity and communications services after President Mauricio Macri rolled back regulations in the country’s telecom market.
“When we set out, we were living in a world of 20 pesos per dollar, and now we are in a world of 40 per dollar,” Telecom Argentina’s Chief Executive Officer Carlos Moltini told Reuters in an interview.
Moltini said the company will invest slightly more than $1.3 billion this year, but its original investment plan would not be completed by the previous target date in 2020.
Argentina’s peso has lost around 50 percent of its value against the dollar this year as the recession-hit economy has struggled with a financial crisis that led to a $57 billion standby financing deal with the International Monetary Fund.
“We are still struggling to understand what the size of our business is going to be in 2019. We need a little more clarity before we spend those $5 billion,” Moltini said.
Because of uncertainty in the economy, Moltini said the company would need more time to finalize a debt-issuance plan to issue debt in the financial markets.
“We have to wait a bit for the sun to appear on the horizon,” he said. (Reporting by Eliana Raszewski, Writing by Scott Squires; editing by Bill Berkrot)