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Argentina: Domestic capital markets rebound after liquidity crash

"The local corporate bond market was getting better and more liquid before the nationalization of the pension funds in 2008 [into the publicly held National Association of Social Security]. Then liquidity shrank. Anses continued to buy some of these bonds but some issuance shrank," says Pablo Perez Marexiano, director of corporate banking at Standard Bank. Anses has continued to buy bonds related to infrastructure, with purchasing decisions more policy oriented than commercially driven. Despite this, Moody’s says local market volumes grew strongly in 2010 following a mild decline in 2009. Total issuance totalled the equivalent of $4,278 million in the first 11 months of 2010 (the latest data available), an increase of 86.5%.

The government is now the main player in the country’s equity markets too, accumulating stakes of the former privately held pension funds, and in turn preventing any new equity transactions. This year, apart from a NYSE listing by Adecoagro in January, which had Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley and Itaú as global coordinators, there has been no activity (although banks SantanderRio, Banco Comafi and Supervielle are all reported to be eyeing listings, likely to be dual incorporating a local element). "It’s difficult to perceive foreign investors buying a significant stake in a company where they have the Argentine government as a big shareholder," says a Buenos Aires-based banker.

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