Argentina hits pause on full state takeover of embattled soy crusher Vicentin
Grains farmers owed money by Vicentin could end up as shareholders in the company, which went broke after going on a credit-fueled expansion last year, said the sources, who asked not to be named because the negotiations were private.
Center-left Peronist President Alberto Fernandez early this month decreed an intervention in Vicentin, once Argentina’s No. 1 exporter of soy byproducts, while his administration was to seek congressional approval for a state takeover.
That plan was put on pause after the government of Santa Fe province, where Vicentin is based, recently offered to lead the intervention in the company.
“Vicentin rejects Santa Fe province’s project. It’s not interested in it and doesn’t recognize the proposed intervening agency,” said a source close to the company.
Presidential adviser Gabriel Delgado told reporters the state was the final guarantor for maintaining employment and the health of the export sector as the country struggles with a recession compounded by the coronavirus pandemic.
“The state is looking at all alternatives that would guarantee the recovery of the company. The market in six months did not find a solution and now we are working to solve a problem of employment and production at very difficult times for the Argentine economy,” Delgado said.
“The state is using a set of exceptional tools to deal with an exceptional situation,” he added, addressing worries among farmers and export industry officials that the government was using Vicentin to gain a foothold in the key grains sector.
Vicentin has more than $300 million in commercial debt and more than $1 billion in bank loans. (Reporting by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Tom Brown)