Business
Mexican mogul David Martínez goes after investment fund tied to Mauricio Macri
With Cristina Kirchner's return to power in Argentina, the Mexican mogul seeks to take over PointState investment fund's business. The firm is on the brink of defaulting on investors.

PointState investment fund, which arrived in Argentina with the help of financier Dario Lizzano during the government of Mauricio Macri (2015-2019), had a major setback this Friday. Josh Samuelson, one of the main partners and co-founder, decided to leave after the firm lost 19% of the 6 billion dollars, they were managing in 2018 and could not recover it in 2019.

To facilitate Samuelson's exit, the fund will have to go into partial default and incur an untimely sale of its assets, which include, in Argentina, the Sheraton and Park Tower hotels, and important portions of the TGLT construction company and the Genneia energy company, among others.

A source familiar with the firm's situation revealed to LPO that there is already an interested party in taking PointState's stake in Genneia. The Mexican mogul David Martínez Guzmán, founder of Fintech Advisory - a company specialized in investing in corporate and country bonds -, shareholder of the Spanish bank Sabadell and owner of the telephone company Telecom. He is also a minority partner in Grupo Clarín, Argentina's largest media conglomerate.

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While Clarín CEO Héctor Magnetto is currently engaged in a bitter confrontation with former President and VP Cristina Kirchner, Martínez has become one of the closest businessmen to her. His involvement in the potential removal of Lizzano -who has been historically close to former President Macri- from strategic business sectors in the South American country does not seem to be unrelated to the change in Argentina's political reality.

The losses of the PointState fund were largely due to the almost 3.6 billion dollars that were invested in Argentina and which were strongly liquefied by the devaluation of and crisis of 2018, and also by a strong bet on oil that was not realized in the last quarter of 2019. As a first consequence, Greg Ley, their CIO, will leave the fund. Zach Kurtz, the other co-founder, will replace him.

In the meantime, investors will have a sort of 12% "corralito", meaning that they will only be able to withdraw 88 of every 100 dollars they are entitled to, which is a strong limitation on the fund's liquidity and an anomaly for investors in the United States. The cash drain is dramatic enough that the company was forced to put a ceiling on the leakage until it sells some assets and regains liquidity.

Dario Lizzano and former President Macri during the inauguration of a wind farm in the Argentine Patagonia.

In Argentina, the New York fund created PointState Argentum and Pointbridge in 2014, two investment companies through which - on Dario Lizzano's recommendation - it first held defaulted bonds that yielded significant returns after Macri closed the deal with the holdouts in Judge Griesa's court. Lizzano is very close to Nicky Caputo, a millionaire partner and childhood friend of Macri's who made some big deals during his friend's presidency.

After dealing with the Argentine debt, Lizzano proceeded to acquire 100% of the Sheraton and Park Tower, shares of YPF, TGS, Pampa Energía and Caputo's own construction company. He also invested in shares of the Argentine banks Macro and Supervielle. In turn, they own -together with Jorge Brito from Banco Macro- the stock package of Genneia, the main renewable energy company in Argentina.

Lizzano's fund has already concluded its lifespan. It was never a private equity fund, but rather a combination of public and private investments, and if it received a request for return of capital from an investor, it was required to sell the public investments (sovereign and provincial bonds, for example). But once it returned the capital it still had to continue paying 4% a year to investors until the fund was exhausted. That's why the crisis in Argentina, which he couldn't foresee, affected him so much and dragged down all of Point State, since 25% of that fund was Lizzano's operations in the South American country.