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Argentina: Investment bankers hold their breath

When president Macri’s finance team settled with the bond hold-outs and re-opened Argentina to the capital markets, the good times rolled. But following that emerging markets feast came indigestion. Investment bankers in the country face an uncertain future.


President Mauricio Macri

To paraphrase a famous maxim: in good times, keep your clients close; in bad times, keep them closer still. So while Argentine companies have had to put deals on hold in the current financial crisis, the country’s investment bankers have gone into serious client relationship-management mode.

One locally based investment banker says: “That means lots of lunches” to keep the deal pipeline together – as well as some meetings to feel out the strength of the mandates of those deals he missed out on.

Investment bankers are an optimistic lot, and many point to the solid deal flow that was seen in the first couple of months of 2018 as saving what is going to be a very bad year from being a disastrous one for missed targets. But the immediate future is bleak. 

“Argentina is in wait-and-see mode,” says Sebastian Loketek, head of investment banking for Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Buenos Aires. “We’ve been very busy since 2016 and we have a large pipeline of capital markets transactions, but I believe we will see very little activity before the end of this year.”

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