By Guillermo Parra-Bernal
SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil's busiest pipeline of bond and equity offerings in at least six years is being fueled by increasing investor confidence in the country's ability to emerge from a harsh recession and shrug off global market turmoil, bankers said.
In what the bankers say is a window for offerings that opened last week and may extend for another three weeks, Brazilian companies raised $5.2 billion from bond investors - helping seal financing needs ahead of Donald Trump's inauguration as U.S. president this week.
Trump's plans for an infrastructure program and tax cuts rattled emerging markets late last year on fears they would trigger faster increases in borrowing costs, luring capital out of Latin America.
Benign market conditions so far may allow mining giant Vale SA <VALE5.SA>, steelmaker Gerdau SA <GGBR4.SA> and petrochemical producer Braskem SA <BRKM5.SA> to offer debt in coming days, five people familiar with the plans said. They would follow state-controlled Petróleo Brasileiro SA, which last week raised $4 billion in a bond sale.
At least two initial public offerings worth about 2 billion reais ($619 million) are slated to price during the window. Aside from Movida Participações SA's IPO, slated to price on Feb. 6, toll road operator CCR SA <CCRO3.SA> is among companies preparing equity deals, two of the people said.
Brazilian officials have said efforts to undertake ambitious budget and pension reforms have partially offset worries related to Trump's pledges to curb trade and ramp up budget spending.
Extending the existing window and providing cheaper funding for the country's companies largely hinges on President Michel Temer's ability to push ahead with those reforms and lower the country's risk perception, said Leandro Miranda de Araújo, head of investment banking for Banco Bradesco BBI.
"Given that global liquidity is looking for investing opportunities in Brazil, we think market bargaining power is now more in the hands of the issuer than with investors," he said.
FAVORABLE FUNDRAISING CONDITIONS
Unlike last year, when Trump's victory caught them by surprise, Brazilian companies have heeded the advice of bankers and raced to tap fresh cash as quickly as possible. As Temer's success in advancing his agenda slowly pays off, companies are getting more favorable fundraising conditions.
The wave of bond and stock deals will temporarily stop around mid-February due to a requirement that companies present investors updated financial data, but it should resume rapidly around late March or early April and stretch for longer should market conditions prove favorable.
Central bank policymakers' decision to accelerate the pace of interest-rate cuts may make upcoming equity offerings in Latin America's No. 1 economy more attractive, said Roderick Greenlees, global head of investment banking at Itaú BBA SA[BIHFIU.UL].
"Markets have received very well the adjustment in the pace of monetary easing, which will certainly play in favor of future share offerings" in the country, Greenlees said.
Other IPOs in the offing include the listings of medical laboratory Hermes Pardini SA and Movida's peer Unidas SA.
Vale and CCR declined to comment on market speculation. Gerdau and Braskem did not have an immediate comment.
Greenless and Araújo, who declined to comment on specific deals, expect fundraising plans to translate into firm deals as the economy slowly emerges from a recession entering a third year.
Investment banks are counting on increased debt and equity underwriting to make up for slowing mergers and acquisitions announcements in Brazil.
Fees from bond and stock underwriting have fallen more than 50 percent in the past four years - an amount equivalent to a quarter of M&A advisory proceeds in the same period, Thomson Reuters and Freeman Consulting data show.
The nature of debt capital market transactions, faster to execute than equity deals, will probably mean companies will raise more from bonds than from stock sales during the current window, bankers said.
With global investors putting their money to work following a long drought that began with Donald Trump's U.S. presidential election victory in early November, the backdrop looks positive for issuers as flows into emerging market securities remain benign, Bradesco BBI's Araújo said.
Petrobras <PETR4.SA> kicked off this year's issuance window for Brazilian companies on Jan. 9. Investors placed bids north of $20 billion for the securities, or five times the amount sold, underscoring how appetite for Brazilian paper has swelled in recent weeks.
Fibria SA <FIBR3.SA>, the world's No. 1 eucalyptus pulp producer, and biofuels and logistics giant Raízen Energia SA tapped global bond markets a day later.
Tapping funding pre-emptively may help cash-strapped companies refinance looming debt. In the second half, when Brazil's economic recovery may firm up, proceeds from offerings could pay for new investment or acquisitions, said Sandy Severino, head of international debt capital markets for Grupo BTG Pactual SA.
According to Severino, the upcoming March-April window should allow not only corporate but sovereign issuers to tap debt markets in much more favorable terms.
(Additional reporting by Paula Arend Laier and Tatiana Bauzter in São Paulo; Editing by Christian Plumb and Bill Trott)