BUENOS AIRES, June 21 (Reuters) - Argentina could soon see a boom in initial public offerings, investment bankers and market sources said, thanks to economic reforms and a potential upgrade of the country’s “frontier market” status.
“We have a file of some 20 companies that are interested in opening capital on the exchange as a way to raise funds,” said Emilio Ilac, executive manager of local investment bank Puente.
The companies would follow in the footsteps of Banco Supervielle and Havanna, the maker of Alfajores cookies that earlier this month raised $11.5 million by listing its shares.
Before that, Argentina had not had an IPO since 2010.
Interest in going public is especially strong from companies in the energy, agriculture and finance sectors, market sources said.
The expected offerings are part of a broader pro-market shift in Argentina as center-right President Mauricio Macri works to open the country to investors and end isolation from capital markets seven months into his term.
It comes amid a lull in IPOs elsewhere in Latin America and in the United States.
Macri has cut subsidies and promised other austerity measures to reduce the deficit in Latin America’s third-largest economy.
In April, Argentina paid holdout creditors that had refused debt restructurings after a record 2002 default on some $9 billion, ending nearly a decade of messy litigation.
“Thanks to the agreement with holdouts, Argentina is returning to the world,” Adelmo Gabbi, president of the Buenos Aires stock exchange, said in an interview.
Index provider MSCI Inc said last week it would include Argentina’s index in its 2017 annual market clarification review for a potential upgrade to emerging market status. Argentina has been classified as a frontier market since 2009.
The status upgrade would lead to near-immediate investments in domestic assets of around $4 billion, a banking source told Reuters.
“I‘m sure the companies will come, because there is money for them,” Gabbi said.
Argentine billionaire Eduardo Eurnekian told Reuters in January that he plans to publicly list four units of his Corporacion America this year, including his airport business, an energy firm, a microchip-making business and an agri-industry unit.
Some 100 companies are now listed on the Buenos Aires exchange, down from 364 in its heyday in the 1970s. (Additional reporting by Jorge Otaola; Writing by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)