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Capital markets pick up as Argentina booms

Argentina’s capital markets have become much more active this year, as the country’s economy booms and foreign investors turn to it in the belief that it offers investment opportunities. Jason Mitchell reports from Buenos Aires.

LAST YEAR, ARGENTINA’S economy grew by 9.2% compared with 0.9% in 2009 and 6.8% in 2008, according to official figures produced by Indec, the national statistics agency. Econviews, a local economic consultancy, says that official numbers overstate the growth rate but that nonetheless the economy expanded vigorously at 8.1% last year after a contraction of 3.2% in 2009. It forecasts economic growth at 6.5% this year and 4% next year.

For the year to August 22, Argentina had a total of $3.9 billion of equity capital markets activity, made up of six separate transactions, according to data provider Dealogic. Last year, total activity added up to just $199 million in three separate deals; in 2009 it amounted to only $44 million with three deals; and in 2008 to $426 million again with three transactions. This year the country has accounted for 17% of all ECM activity coming out of Latin America, with Brazil accounting for 46%. Brazil’s dominance has dramatically weakened this year: last year it made up 90% of activity and Argentina 0%. In 2009, it accounted for 88% and Argentina again zero.

According to the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange, Argentina had the highest level of primary market activity this year in a decade: for the year to the end of July, total activity was $5.4

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