Argentina may be falling to pieces, but the country's best companies have learned from the decades of experience that with robust balance sheets, international expansion and steady cashflows, they can do more than just survive. Unfortunately, they are a minority.
Quilmes Industrial, the brewer that produces Argentina's
favorite beer, is in remarkably good shape. Carlos Olivieri,
the company's finance director, says it has achieved this by
obsessive attention to financial health and to improving the
quality of its beer - thanks to an alliance with Heineken,
which holds 15% of Quilmes International, its
Bermuda-registered operating company. Olivieri says Quilmes can
access rock-bottom financing: "Our cost of capital is 7%, a
quarter of the national average. There is no crisis at Quilmes.
We are a like an island. No other Argentine company has the
same track record as we have. We are 110 years old and no one
can remember ever posting losses." The company's solid
financials and offshore status have won it an investment grade
rating from Fitch. Over the years, the company has expanded
into Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia. Revenues from these
subsidiaries may be vulnerable to...
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