Fall-out from Argentina’s flip back to an interventionist government has put crop trader Vicentin SAIC in a financial bind.
The nation’s top shipper of soybean meal and oil is working out how it can come good on US$350 million of payments it missed this week to farmers while it restructures debt worth even more, it said Thursday via an external public relations representative.
Vicentin, which operates a joint venture on the Paraná River with Glencore Plc, said it’s been hurt by recurring crises in Argentina, including high borrowing costs. Argentine markets collapsed earlier this year when President-elect Alberto Fernández trounced business-friendly incumbent Mauricio Macri in a vote. That’s because investors anticipated measures like a return to high export taxes, as well as price and capital controls that marked the administration of Fernandez’s running mate, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
With the Fernández duo taking office next week, farmers – moving to skirt the expected tax hike – have been hurrying to complete sales of a huge volume of soybeans.
That’s put Vicentin on the back foot, and the liquidity squeeze could change how soy crushers in Argentina trade, according to Chicago-based AgResource.
“Argentine exporters and crushers will move to doing business on more of a spot basis, compared to offering product out months in advance as has been the case in recent years,” AgResource analysts wrote in a report.
While full details of Vicentin’s financial stress are unclear, the news helped trigger a rally in Chicago soybean meal futures. Gains in January meal of as much as 2.2 percent are the biggest since November 7. Argentina is the top exporter of soy meal, used for animal feed.
Vicentin’s predicament raises concerns about Argentina’s capability to keep up global supplies of soy products, according to Michael McDougall, a broker at Paragon Global Markets in New York.
“If one of the larger crushers is already having issues, even before the new government comes in and most likely increases export taxes, then the caution factor will rise even more,” McDougall said. “So we are already seeing demand for meal.”
Renova, the JV with Glencore, operates the world’s biggest soybean processing plant. Last year, Vicentin shipped out 5.3 million metric tons of soy meal and oil.