Peru: Busy year for the bourse
Recent developments in Peru’s wider economy indicate imminent growth in the stock exchange, with a greater emphasis on attracting retail investors likely to increase the number of initial public offerings (IPOs) this year.
“Peru’s expansion is putting pressure on companies to come to the market,” Francis Stenning, the president of the Bolsa de Valores de Lima (BVL), Peru’s stock exchange, told international press in December. As a result, Stenning was reportedly expecting a “very active market for IPOs” in 2012.
The first sign that the BVL president’s predictions may be coming to fruition came in early February when port operator Andino Investment Holding (AIH) became the first company to conduct an IPO on the BVL in more than a year.
While the AIH sale was eventually deemed a success by the company’s management, it was not without some initial difficulties. Though the IPO was originally scheduled for January 17, an unsteady global economic outlook and concerns about pricing pushed AIH to return to the drawing board before finally going public on February 3.
In the end, the firm sold more than 34m shares, capturing $42.7m in funding to support the development of the northern port of Paita. Credibolsa, a firm that trades in shares and securities, managed the sale.
Not only did AIH lead the way as the first IPO of the year, but Roberto Flores, the head of research at Inteligo, an equity research firm, told OBG that what made this IPO particularly interesting is its relatively smaller size, which allowed AIH to focus on attracting retail investors.
“AIH made the IPO in three stages,” Flores said. “They limited the number of shares that could be purchased by institutional investors and specifically targeted three groups: institutional investors in Peru, institutional investors abroad, and retail. This structure allowed an important number of retail investors to participate in the IPO.”
Pension funds were unable to participate in the AIH IPO as it was valued at less than $100m. In the end, mutual funds and insurance companies in countries such as Chile and Colombia accounted for around 30% of the AIH shares, while Peruvian insurance companies and individuals bought up the remaining 70%.
This investor composition is considerably different from that formed during BVL’s last IPO, from fishing company Pesquera Exalmar, in November 2010. In the case of Exalmar, pension funds, which tend to buy and hold, were the dominant participants, leaving the market for Exalmar shares relatively illiquid.
Flores speculates that some of the IPOs that may take place later this year are likely to follow a similar format. “I think personally that the next IPOs will follow this example because this type of IPO ensures that the stock will have liquidity,” he said.
Alonso Segura, the head of strategy and chief economist at Banco de Credito PeruCrédito del Perú (BCP) begs to differ. “My guess is that if the AIH IPO had been over $100m it wouldn’t have followed this type of structure,” Segura said. “Otherwise, I think we will see IPO structure determined on a case-by-case basis. I would speculate that some of the big public companies will reserve a portion of shares for retail, but we will have to wait and see.”
Segura is referring to the potential listing of state-owned energy and electricity companies Petroperú and ElectroPerú, which are able to list up to 20% of their value on the local exchange. While previous leadership has discussed listing Petroperú and ElectroPerú to no avail, general sentiment in Lima at the moment seems to be that the companies will go public this year.
Flores concurs, stating that, “The difference now from the past is that, with the change of government, we have seen more advances to perform these IPOs. [President Ollanta] Humala always wanted to improve the presence of public companies and one way to do this is to let the company list on the local exchange.”
Guillermo Arbe, the chief economist at Scotiabank in Lima, agrees. “The government has greater intentions of doing this than in the past, certainly,” Arbe said. “I know that Petroperú’s management is looking for the company to play a more active role in the market. There comes a time when a company gets so large you have to start operating differently. We are seeing that now. It is just a question of time before a larger mass of companies have the dimensions in which they need to take on a different type of corporate management.”
It appears that 2012 could be the year when widespread growth among Peruvian companies pushes more firms to come to the market and obtain the necessary funding for expansion.