Argentina readies first IPOs since 2010: stock exchange

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - A bank and a business group are likely to launch Argentina’s first initial public offerings in over five years as foreign investors take new interest in Latin America’s third largest economy, the head of the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange said.

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Adelmo Gabbi, president of Argentina’s principal stock exchange, said he expected the IPOs to be part of a flurry of investment activity on the heels of Argentina’s first foreign debt issue since its 2002 default, which is set for next week.

“This year, with Brazil falling, Chile less receptive and Peru showing trouble, the only destination for major foreign investment is Colombia, followed by Argentina,” Gabbi told Reuters in an interview on Friday.

“The big issue now is that there’s no supply here, because without demand there have been almost no new companies raising capital on the bourse,” he said, adding that the first two to go public are likely to be a bank and a business group listing shares simultaneously in Argentina, United States and Luxembourg.

The investor interest follows moves by center-right President Mauricio Macri to settle the legal battle over Argentina’s 2002 default and implement market-friendly reforms to revive the struggling economy.

Argentine billionaire Eduardo Eurnekian told Reuters that he plans to publicly list four units of his Corporacion America this year. Grupo Supervielle SA, which controls Argentina’s Banco Supervielle, also filed in January to list its shares in New York and Buenos Aires.

On Monday, Argentina expects to launch its first international bond issue in 15 years, raising up to $15 billion to settle litigation from the $100 billion default in 2002.

With that dispute resolved, Gabbi said he expects investment banks such as Morgan Stanley to lift Argentina’s “frontier market” designation, allowing a host of institutional investors to invest locally.

At least $10 billion of private investment should enter the country this year, aside from some $5 billion from multilateral organizations and as much as $15 billion that the government aims to raise on global markets next week, he estimated.

The last IPO on the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange was real estate developer TGLT, which raised 220 million pesos, worth $55 million at the time of the offering in November 2010, according to exchange officials.

In the past three days alone, about a dozen businesses and investment funds have visited the stock exchange to explore opportunities, Gabbi said.

Writing and additional reporting by Brad Haynes