Stanley Black & Decker buys stake in Argentine startup IguanaFix

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - U.S. toolmaker Stanley Black & Decker Inc has acquired a stake in IguanaFix, an Argentine online company that connects homeowners with service providers, the companies told Reuters.

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The unspecified investment, finalized during Argentina's worst-ever week of market turmoil, was Stanley Black & Decker's venture funding arm's SWK.N first in South America, according to Larry Harper, vice president of Stanley Ventures.

It also represents a small boom for tech-oriented startups in Latin America, recently led by Japan's Softbank Group Corp 9984.T.

In 2016, IguanaFix raised more than $20 million from Temasek Holdings, Singapore's state investor, and Qualcomm Ventures QCOM.O, the corporate investment arm of the U.S. tech giant.

The announcement by IguanaFix, which connects users with service providers for homes repairs, painting and other tasks through an app, comes as the future of Argentina’s budding startup sector has been thrown into question.

South America’s second-largest economy recently saw the biggest simultaneous fall in its stocks, bonds and the peso since 2001 after voters overwhelming snubbed free-market proponent President Mauricio Macri in its Aug. 11 primary election.

“I don’t believe that investment in tech will dry up in Argentina,” IguanaFix founder and CEO Matias Recchia told Reuters.

"Argentine entrepreneurs have proven that they can adapt to an ever-changing economic environment and rapidly expand to other markets from here," Recchia added, citing Argentine companies including U.S.-listed online marketplace Mercado Libre Inc MELI.O, one of Latin America's most successful startups.

A recent Harvard Business School study ranked Argentina No. 1 in “tech skills” among 60 countries worldwide.

As part of the investment, Stanley Black & Decker will gain distribution rights for IguanaFix’s technology, said the startup, which also operates in Brazil and Mexico.

Harper said there could be opportunities for the two companies beyond Latin America.

Reporting by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Bernadette Baum