LONDON (Reuters) – Chile has sealed a long-awaited deal with Europe’s biggest securities settlement house Euroclear to include the country’s corporate bonds on the firm’s international investor platform.
Chile’s government bonds gained so-called ‘Euroclearability’ back in 2017, but adding its $20-$25 billion domestic corporate bond market had been held up by changes of governments and technical issues such as tax treatment.
Settlement forms the crucial, underlying plumbing of financial markets and in emerging economies especially Euroclear’s system can be a key way to attract big-money pension funds and sovereign wealth funds.
“We would like corporates to have access to this wider pool of international liquidity,” the Chilean finance ministry’s coordinator for international finance, Andrés Pérez, told Reuters as he confirmed the agreement.
“These are all pieces geared towards integrating the Chilean market into the rest of the world.”
The move could give a timely lift to Chile’s markets. Banks and multi-nationals have been facing widespread uncertainty since three quarters of Chileans voted in favour of rewriting the country’s constitution last October.
It was drafted during Augusto Pinochet’s 1973-1990 military dictatorship and has been credited with underpinning Chile´s free market model but also driving widespread inequality. Crafting a new one will start this weekend but could take up to a year.
Pérez said the timing of Friday’s announcement was a coincidence and had been something previous governments had also been working towards.
Euroclear’s Global Head of Capital Markets and Funds Services Stephan Pouyat said mid-sized emerging markets are now strategic to its expansion plans, with others likely to follow.
“This creates hope for a lot of countries that see Chile as a comparable market,” Pouyat said, adding “a good handful” were in discussions at present.
Perez and Pouyat’s deputy Frank Slagmolen both highlighted how Euroclearability has boosted foreign buying in the government bond market and lifted its weight in influential indexes that act as a shopping list for heavyweight international funds.
This week the government sold a 1.5 trillion Chilean peso denominated ($2 billion) ‘social bond’ where nearly half the buyers were from outside Chile.
“When you have euroclearability it is a self fulfilling prophecy,” Slagmolen said. “The market will grow.”
($1 = 739.9200 Chilean pesos)
(Additional reporting by Aislinn Laing in Santiago;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)