(WSJ) Brazil’s economy has faltered this year and its currency, the real, has tumbled, making the local business environment more challenging for private equity-backed companies. At the same time, private equity investors have unused capital and can now acquire assets at lower prices.
“If you raised [funds] in dollars, now would be a very attractive time to buy,” said Cate Ambrose, president and executive director of the Latin American Private Equity and Venture Capital Association, an industry trade group. She said a 50% decline in the Brazilian real over four years has made the nation more competitive as an investment destination.
Despite an array of negative political and economic news in Brazil—including a shrinking gross domestic product, a credit downgrade to junk status and a corruption scandal—private equity investors have continued to put capital to work there. According to Lavca data, investors took part in $2.28 billion of private equity-backed deals in the first half of 2015, compared with $1.89 billion a year earlier.
Lavca data show rising deal numbers in Latin America as a whole, with $3.58 billion deployed in buyouts in the six months ended June 30, compared with $2.57 billion for the year-earlier period. On the fundraising front, limited partners allocated $4.27 billion to Latin American funds for the first six months of the year, continuing the strong momentum of a record $10.4 billion raised last year.
Bain & Co. said in its 2015 report that dry powder earmarked for Brazil has piled up as international funds, including Actis, Carlyle Group, General Atlantic, TPG Capital and Warburg Pincus, have opened offices in the country and been actively engaged in deals.
At the beginning of 2014, private equity funds were sitting on $4.7 billion in capital commitments earmarked specifically for investment in Brazil, and a portion of another $6.6 billion targeted at South America will likely end up in Brazil, Bain said.