Funds poised for a post-Castro boom
Sunday 04 September 1994
Despite a hardening of the 33-year-old US trade embargo in response to the new refugee crisis, millions of dollars have already poured into a listed fund whose trading symbol is CUBA, and whose assets - despite the fanfare that greeted its public offering in May - cannot legally be put to work on the Caribbean island. Or at least, not yet.
'To call this premature would be putting it lightly,' says Lars Schonander, chief Latin American economist at Baring Securities in New York. 'There's an assumption that Cuban-Americans are poised to flood back into the country, but even then it would be hard to imagine exactly what one would invest in.'
Tourism is the one obvious Cuban growth industry, and Communist officials are happy to remind Washington that Spaniards, Canadians, Mexicans and others are already active in resorts and travel. But that avenue is closed to American investors by the embargo.
So while Wall Street waits for the overthrow of Fidel Castro, the Herzfield Caribbean Basin Fund, the Americas Growth Fund and others have been looking instead into what are called 'surrogates' - regional companies whose fortunes will almost certainly rise as those of the revolution fall.
It's not sugar cane, cigars, nickel mines or even Cuba's tiny medical bio-tech industry the funds are speculating on. American capital is instead being channelled to Puerto Rican cement makers, Mexican telecoms, Bacardi, the expatriated rum distillers, and Scandinavian Marine Group, a Miami company that has commissioned a 600-passenger high- speed ferryboat that will shuttle Cuban-Americans to and from Havana.
Americas Growth, listed on the NASDAQ stockmarket last week as Cuban and American officials met to defuse the regugee crisis, has raised more than dollars 5.5m ( pounds 3.5m) to gamble on such Cuban plays, arguing that a breakthrough in the embargo is imminent. Cuba will eventually benefit from US trade preferences such as the Caribbean Basin Initiative that have already helped its neighbours.
But most emerging-markets analysts say that it will be a gradual process, and one that will almost certainly require Fidel Castro's ousting or death. They also argue that other similar-sized economies in the region offer investors considerable advantages - including market-oriented island nations such as the Dominican Republic and, more recently, Jamaica.
The tiny Jamaican stock exchange, for example, was the world's best performing equities market last year.
'I suppose it's better to be first than last,' says Baring's Mr Schonander. 'But surely there is a more profitable place somewhere between.'
- 1 I'm A Celebrity 2014: Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' near to camp
- 2 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 3 Jeremy Hunt: 'I took my children to A&E because I didn't want to wait for GP appointment'
- 4 Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
- 5 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Exclusive: UK approved £7m Israeli arms sales in six months before Gaza conflict
iJobs Money & Business
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Langley James : IT Support; Helpdesk, VMware; Manch...
£35000 - £450000 per annum + £3k car, £70k ote: h2 Recruit Ltd: Do you want to...
£Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: Prestigious financial institution seeks to...
£Negotiable: Citifocus Ltd: Experienced operational risk professional with ban...