Nearshore Americas

Argentina Government Takes Greater Control of Big Companies

Source: Bloomberg

Argentina’s benchmark stock index fell for a third straight day after the government announced it will increase its control over the boards of some of the country’s biggest companies, including local units of Petroleo Brasileiro SA and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA (BBVA).

The Merval index fell 0.6 percent to 3,382.55 at 11:11 a.m. New York time. Developing market stocks were higher, with the MSCI Emerging Markets index rising 0.7 percent.

The government, through investments held by the state pensions agency Anses, wants to “defend its holdings on the same terms as all other investors,” according to a presidential decree published in the official gazette today.

“The market didn’t like the news,” Guillermo Maresco, a trader at the brokerage unit of Banco de la Nacion Argentina, said in a telephone interview today from Buenos Aires. “The stocks that are falling the most are those in which the government has a higher stake, such as Banco Macro.”

Previously, Anses was allowed a maximum of 5 percent of voting rights in companies even if it owned a greater amount of shares. Anses took ownership of the shares after President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner nationalized the $24 billion private pensions system in 2008.

Banco Macro SA (BMA), in which Anses owns 31 percent, led losses among members of the Merval index, falling 1.5 percent to 16.95 pesos, its fifth day of losses, and the longest losing streak in almost four months. Power line operator Transener SA, in which the government has 19 percent, lost 1.4 percent.

Protecting Workers

The increase in voting rights “allows us to better protect the interests of the workers and pensioners’ funds that the government manages,” Economy Minister Amado Boudou told reporters last night.

Anses has a stake in all 18 members of the Merval. Its holdings include an 11.8 percent stake in oil and gas producer Petrobras Energia SA, the local unit of Brazil’s largest energy company, and 7.5 percent of BBVA Banco Frances SA, a unit of Spain’s BBVA.

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The agency also holds a 26 percent stake in Siderar SAIC (ERAR), the country’s largest steelmaker, 22.5 percent in Pampa Energia SA (PAMP), the biggest energy holding company, and 20 percent in Molinos Rios de la Plata SA, the biggest food producer, according to a statement on the agency’s website. It owns 9.3 percent of the shares of Aluar Aluminio Argentino SAIC (ALUA), Argentina’s sole aluminum producer.


Kirk Laughlin

Kirk Laughlin is an award-winning editor and subject expert in information technology and offshore BPO/ contact center strategies.

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