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New Argentine stock exchange, B&MA, gets approval to start operations in 2017

Argentina's proposed new stock exchange, Bolsas y Mercados Argentinos, or B&MA, has received approval from the country's securities regulator, CNV, to start operations, the CNV said in a Dec. 29 statement on its website.

The exchange is now preparing to start operations in March 2017, El Cronista reported, citing the president of the B&MA, Ernesto Allaria.

The creation of the B&MA, which was initially agreed on in 2014, will merge the Bolsa de Comercio de Buenos Aires, or BCBA, with the Buenos Aires securities market Mercado de Valores de Buenos Aires SA, known as the Merval, as well as the Mercado de Valores de Córdoba and other provincial markets.

According to the CNV, the approval of the exchange "is the culmination of a year of hard work with the participants, which shared a common vision to establish the foundation of a stronger capitals market with the necessary infrastructure to grow."

The aim of the new exchange, which has been promoted by President Mauricio Macri, is to integrate the various markets in the country, which will significantly increase the capitalization of the exchange and facilitate foreign investment in Argentina.

The BCBA has a 40% stake in the B&MA, but the maximum stake that can be held by a single shareholder is 20%, which means it must sell half of its stake in the coming months, Allaria noted. The BCBA will initially offer shares worth up to 10% of the exchange to partners and employees and will then hold a tender to sell the remaining shares, he said.

The B&MA will emphasize strong corporate governance standards and plans to develop a special segment of the market, similar to Brazil's Novo Mercado, for companies that voluntarily meet these standards, Allaria said.

Finally, in terms of integration with other markets in the region, Brazil's Sao Paulo-based stock exchange, BM&FBOVESPA SA – Bolsa de Valores Mercadorias e Futuros, is interested in becoming a shareholder in the B&MA and in developing joint projects, Allaria added.