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LAVCA in the News

As LatAm Currencies Slump, Investors Eye Bargains

26 February 2015

(Financial Times) It’s been a bruising month for Latin American currencies.

The region – hit by falling commodity prices and the end of quantitative easing in the US – has earned the dubious distinction of being home to the two-worst performing major emerging market currencies over the past four weeks.

The Brazilian real, which is also feeling the heat of the Petrobras corruption scandal, is by far the biggest loser, falling 6.6 per cent this month and 7.5 per cent so far this year.

It’s closely followed by the Colombian peso which, after extending its decline by another 4 per cent in recent weeks, sank to a near six year low on Monday.

Elsewhere, Mexico’s peso hit a record low of 15.08 per dollar this week while in Chile, the peso has fallen to its weakest level since the financial crisis as it follows copper lower.

And then there are so-called “dismal two”.

With capital controls and runaway inflation in Argentina and Venezuela, sending the black market exchange rates there soaring, speculation is mounting that the two countries could soon be forced into a currency devaluation.

Analysts aren’t expecting the pressure to let up until the second half of this year at the earliest.

Indeed, the abrupt collapse in energy, food and metals prices over the past 12 months have opened up trade and financing gaps that governments are now scrambling to cover.

Mexico and Colombia are among those that have slashed their budgets and spending plans this year as the two look to cope with weaker oil prices.

In Brazil, the latest weekly survey of market economists by the country’s central bank is now forecasting a 0.5 per cent contraction this year, making it the country’s worst performance since 1990.

But one man’s pain is another’s gain.

While weaker currencies are adding to the headwinds facing the region’s government, foreign investors are looking to take advantage of the cheaper valuations to clinch deals.

Private equity and venture capital groups focused on Latin America raised a record $10.4bn last year according to the latest data published on Thursday by the Latin American Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (Lavca).

The figure is nearly double the $5.5bn raised in 2013 and tops the previous fundraising record of $10.27bn recorded in 2011.

Of this, Brazil received the lion’s share ($5.56bn), followed by Mexico ($1.33bn).

Cate Ambrose, president of Lavca said:

…despite regional growth projections of under 2% for 2015, LP demand for exposure to the region remains strong.