July 1, 2016 / 12:02 PM / 2 years ago

RPT-Chile's Falabella sees investment opportunity in Argentina

(Repeats story published late on Thursday, with no change to text)

By Anthony Esposito and Antonio De la Jara

FRUTILLAR, Chile, June 30 (Reuters) - Chile’s Falabella , one of Latin America’s largest retailers, sees big growth opportunities in Argentina after business-friendly President Mauricio Macri took over the reins of Latin America’s third-largest economy in December.

“The first country we invested in many years ago was Argentina and we’ve never stopped investing. However, we believe there is great potential to invest a lot more,” the retailer’s chairman, Carlo Solari, told Reuters on Thursday on the sidelines of the Pacific Alliance trade bloc’s summit in picturesque Frutillar.

After taking office, Macri quickly cut a deal with hold-outs from Argentina’s 2002 default, ditched capital controls and let the peso float.

“The deal with the hold-outs is very positive because it allows the government to access new resources to invest in infrastructure and a number of projects. And as that advances and as inflation eases I believe there are going to be big opportunities,” said Solari.

Falabella, whose operations include department stores, supermarkets, home improvement centers, malls and financial services, is present in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Uruguay.

In April, Falabella inked a memorandum of understanding for a joint venture with Organizacion Soriana, Mexico’s second-largest supermarket chain, to develop its Sodimac home improvement stores and CMR financial services in Mexico.

“Right now we’re working to finalize the deal in Mexico ... the company’s focus is going to be getting into Mexico. It’s a tremendous opportunity,” Solari added. (Reporting by Anthony Esposito & Antonio de la Jara)

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