June 1, 2003
After the party comes the hangover, and what a party it was. Five years ago, in an orgy of excess, private equity investors threw money at almost anything that moved. Even normally discriminating and sophisticated investors made deals that they must bitterly regret now. For instance, in a landmark transaction in December 1999, Goldman Sachs and two partners paid $500 million for an 18% stake in Clarín, the Buenos Aires-based media group. After the new economy bubble exploded in 1999 and after Argentina's government defaulted on its debts in 2001 and then devalued the peso by 75%, that investment is now in tatters. Goldman refuses even to discuss its Clarín deal, which was exception
Latin American companies are two a penny, but opportunistic private equity investors are nowhere to be seen. Investors are still struggling to extricate themselves from dodgy deals they made in the 1990s and even wonder if they still have a role in the region.