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Latin America investment banking: Prices push boundaries

Is equity issuance faltering in Latin America, in particular Brazil, because of overoptimistic expectations from issuers and their lead banks? Might a shift in focus away from Brazil be beneficial? Rob Dwyer finds out.

IN FEBRUARY THE in-flight entertainment system on TAM Airlines’ flights between São Paulo and New York was showing Wall Street II. Most of the many bankers that shuttled between the two cities that month were probably too busy working or trying to catch some sleep to watch the sequel to the 1987 film that made "Greed is good" one of the most memorable slogans of the decade.

However, whereas the sequel updates the phrase (Gekko: "Someone reminded me I once said: ‘Greed is good’. Now it seems it’s legal"), some Latin America-focused bankers argue that in Brazilian IPOs this year issuers’ greed has not been so good, and that greed-driven valuations damaged the first IPOs of 2011 and are in danger of constraining what was expected to be a strong year for the asset class.

Other critics stop short of accusations of greed but say lead banks have mismanaged the valuation process of recent deals and in doing so have damaged the wider market – still a harsh accusation. Of the first four IPO deals in Brazil, three priced at a big file-to-offer discount and performed quite weakly in the after market. The fourth, Adezzeo, was the exception to the rule on both counts.

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