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Argentina's Biggest Brokerage Weighs Local IPO Before Year End

  • Puente Hnos plans to double money managers this year to 200
  • Brokerage aims to boost assets under management to $5 billion

Puente Hnos SA, the largest local brokerage in Argentina, is weighing selling shares of its U.K. holding company in Buenos Aires before the end of the year.

The company is still considering an initial public offering in New York or London, Federico Tomasevich, Puente’s global chairman, said in an interview on Friday. Selling the securities in Argentina is preferred because a U.S. offering may prove too expensive and there’s limited appetite for Latin American companies in the U.K., he said.

“We would be a much bigger force in the Argentina stock market,” Tomasevich said in Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay. “But we are analyzing whether we can list our holding company in Buenos Aires. The Argentine bourse is booming, it’s about to enter the MSCI and there isn’t enough paper available.”

Puente is betting that the recent tax amnesty in Argentina, which may have attracted as much as $115 billion in undeclared assets, will fuel a boom in money management for Argentines who have hidden their savings in cash or foreign assets for decades. The amnesty ends Friday. Argentina may see as much as $1 billion in inflows if MSCI Inc. adds the nation to its emerging-market indexes, JPMorgan Chase & Co. said in February.

“We are going to have a disruptive advantage in Argentina with all the money that is coming in from the tax amnesty,” he said.

Local IPOs

IPOs in the local Argentinean market are expected to get a lift from a new capital markets bill that President Mauricio Macri has sent for approval in Congress. The legislation includes benefits for companies and tax exemptions for investors in connection with new stock market listings.

The Buenos Aires-based brokerage has hired banks to advise on the acquisition of wealth and asset managers in Argentina and Uruguay and hopes to buy one this year that manages $100 million to $1 billion. In Paraguay, Puente hired four people from Citigroup Inc.’s wealth management unit. Puente plans to double to 200 the number of wealth managers it has by the end of the year.

The IPO would be for 20 percent to 25 percent of the company’s shares, Tomasevich said. The partners hold about 20 percent of the company and he holds the remaining shares. They are in the process of hiring a chief executive officer for Argentina in the next two to three months, Tomasevich said. By February, the company should have about $5 billion in assets under management in its wealth management unit, up from approximately $3.6 billion now, he said.

— With assistance by Pablo Rosendo Gonzalez, and Carolina Millan

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