Alfajor-Maker Havanna Ends Argentine Local IPO Drought With Sale

  • Confectioner sells $11 million in shares in Buenos Aires
  • Equity offering is first in local market only since 2013

The Argentine company that makes one of the world’s most-famous alfajores raised 158 million pesos ($11 million) in the South American nation’s first local-only initial public offering since 2013.

Havanna SA, which produces the chocolate-covered biscuits sandwiched with dulce de leche, sold 4.27 million in common shares at 37 pesos on Monday after receiving offers for 8.85 million shares. The Mar del Plata-based company said last week it aimed to raise as much as 277.5 million pesos.

The confectioner was the second Argentine company to test waters in the IPO market over the past month, and the first to limit the offer to the local market. Financial group Grupo Supervielle SA, the controller of Banco Supervielle SA, raised $280 million on May 19 in New York and Buenos Aires. The stock offerings follow the nation’s decision to tap global markets with a blockbuster $16.5 billion bond sale in April, after Argentina made a deal with holdout creditors left over from the country’s 2001 default.

Havanna, which started selling alfajores in the 1940s, operates 212 stores in Argentina and 91 abroad and has expanded to serving coffee in its stores. The company now targets consumers in shopping malls and airports, and wishes to be “the first souvenir option for any foreign tourist,” Chief Executive Officer Alan Aurich said last week. The confectioner plans to use the proceeds of the sale to finance an industrial plant that will allow it to boost production efficiency, he added.

"About 90 percent of the orders we received were from retail investors, which is great news for Argentina’s capital market because it will guarantee high liquidity for the shares," said Emilio Ilac, chief executive officer at Puente, the Buenos Aires brokerage that arranged the sale. "This sale will encourage other small and medium companies to make similar transactions."

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