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ECONOMY | 26-04-2024 13:33

Argentina to offer bonds in first step to lift currency controls

President Javier Milei's government readying a new instrument to allow companies to send dividends abroad, a first step to lift a cobweb of restrictions in its foreign-exchange market.

Argentina is readying a new instrument to allow companies to send dividends abroad, a first step to lift a cobweb of restrictions in its foreign-exchange market.

The Central Bank announced Thursday it is planning to offer companies the same type of dollar-denominated bond, known as “BOPREAL,” it has been selling to importers. The series offered to companies will mature in 2026 and could be auctioned on May 6, the bank said in a statement.

The bonds are subscribed in pesos at the official currency rate and can be either held to maturity, when they will be redeemed in dollars, or exchanged for greenbacks at any time in the parallel market.

The Central Bank estimates that US$5 billion to US$7 billion in corporate dividends are trapped into the country’s tightly regulated currency market, becoming the main obstacle for the removal of those same restrictions, according to two people familiar with matter who requested anonymity to reveal information that hasn’t been published yet.

Argentine authorities intend to release foreign exchange controls gradually, but as soon as possible. Their main goal is to avoid a spike in demand for dollars that could happen if large companies are suddenly allowed to take out of the country all the dividends they have accumulated over the past few years.

Officials are not worried about the impact of looser controls on individuals or small companies, the people said, because dollar demand from both groups has been low in parallel currency markets — which small firms are now allowed to access after a change in regulation.

by Ignacio Olivera Doll, Bloomberg

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