Buenos Aires — Argentine President Javier Milei’s attempt at shock adjustment therapy for a crisis-ridden economy, his ambitious plan for a restructuring of the State, and a push for broad deregulation will have a greater chance of success than the gradualist pro-market experiment implemented by former President Mauricio Macri in 2015, according to Federico Sandler, a former Investor Relations Manager at MercadoLibre and Nubank. In this regard, the new administration’s reformist drive has a solid chance of leading to a more modern economy that might attract long-term foreign investment to the country, he added.
“We are still in a period of attempting to implement the required reforms; it will hurt, we will have to endure higher inflation and a reduction in public spending, but as these macroeconomic variables begin to normalize, you will have significant growth in investment and confidence in Argentina,” Sandler stated in an interview for Bloomberg Línea’s podcast, La Estrategia del Día Argentina. And he added: “And that will be reflected in the country risk, interest rates, cost of capital, and more.
Sandler, who served as Investor Relations Officer (IRO) at MercadoLibre from 2015 to 2021 and also represented Nubank before and during the IPO of the world’s largest digital bank in the United States, is currently based in Buenos Aires, where he works for Spider Investments, a company focused on real estate investments in the US.
Asked about the chances of both international investors and local companies adopting a “wait and see” approach to Milei’s pro-market reforms, even beyond the libertarian’s own term in office (until 2027), the executive emphasized that he is “very optimistic if the required reforms can be implemented.”
“The PowerPoint is very nice; now it needs to be brought to reality,” the economist remarked.
He justified this optimism by recalling that “before Pagseguro and Stone and all these Brazilian startups existed, the biggest creator of unicorns until 2015 was Argentina, not Brazil and not Mexico.”
“And that has a lot to do with human capital, with the ability of Argentines to push through adversity; It’s just that I think there has been a political, economic, and social deterioration,” he continued, arguing that these conditions led companies like Nubank, which came to Argentina in 2019, to ultimately decide that the country was not the best capital allocation, considering, for example, an inability to repatriate dividends.
If Milei’s pro-market shift materializes, Argentina would become an “extremely attractive” country for technology, energy, and agribusiness companies, stated Sandler. Although he pointed to the challenge of rebuilding trust in the international community, considering that Argentina has been a “serial defaulter,” he also highlighted the resilience of local companies in the face of challenges such as inflation.
The Spider IRO praised the level of talent of Argentine human capital, “in artificial intelligence, in crypto, in fintech,” emphasizing that, even with the current challenges, Argentina remains “a very large exporter of talent in engineering, artificial intelligence, product positions.”
He also pointed out the urgency of “making reforms as quickly as possible to have enough time to allow these investments.” Although he warned that “this will not happen overnight,” he expressed optimism about Argentina’s potential to emerge as a leader in the digital economy in the region.
The outlook for Latin American IPOs
Sandler also analyzed the outlook for Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) of companies born in Latin America, stating that although current conditions do not resemble the years of high liquidity between 2019-2021, there are opportunities, and the market is starting to recover.
He listed four key criteria for the success of companies when going for an IPO: Companies must have “sustainable competitive advantages over time, a business model that allows scalability and margin expansion with above-average growth rates, competent and responsible management, and a potential market large enough to justify the investment.”
Sandler envisioned opportunities in the digital sector for Latin America, especially in areas such as fintech, payments, e-commerce, logistics, and supply chain. He predicted an increase in B2B and B2C companies that could opt for IPOs in the coming years, highlighting that entrepreneurs like Nubank’s founder, David Vélez, often say that the region is still in a very early stage in the development of fintech technologies.
Keys to reaching the stock market “There are four very important aspects for companies to go public: Number one, they must have sustainable competitive advantages over time. Number two, they must have a business model that allows scalability and margin expansion with above-average growth rates. Three, they must have competent and responsible management, and four, they must have a potential market large enough to justify the investment,” said Sandler.
“If you have these four items, I believe you will have the potential to go public as interest rates ease, and Argentina normalizes its political, regulatory, and economic situation,” he affirmed.