Who’s who in the new Milei Administration in Argentina.
BY LATINVEX STAFF
[Updated 1/31/24] Libertarian Javier Milei assumed Argentina’s presidency on December 10, 2023.
After four years of expansionary economic policies under outgoing president Alberto Fernandez, Argentina is now expected to go the opposite direction, with a “shock therapy” of dramatic cuts to public expenses, including privatizing state companies such as oil company YPF and airline Aerolineas Argentinas.
Milei has also pledged to formally dollarize the economy by abolishing the peso and to close the Central Bank.
While never holding an executive public role before, Milei, does have ample private sector experience. He has served as chief economist of Corporación América (one of the world’s largest airport operators by number of airports managed and owned by mogul Eduardo Eurnekian), private pension company Máxima AFJP and financial consultancy Estudio Broda and as senior economist at HSBC Argentina. He also worked as a government consultant at The World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).
Milei has recruited two former executives at Corporación América to serve as his chief of staff and interior minister.
Latinvex takes a closer look at key members of Milei’s new team that have been named so far.
The selection of Luis Caputo as economy minister was a big surprise. Both Milei himself and several of his close advisors had been highly critical of Caputo when he was finance minister under the administration of President Mauricio Macri (2015 to 2019), the last business-friendly government in Argentina.
Caputo – who has close ties to Wall Street and Argentina’s banking sector — will be tasked with spearheading everything from the recovery of the crisis-ridden Argentine economy to Milei’s plans for dollarization and closing the central bank.
During the Macri period, Caputo served as undersecretary of finance (2015 to 2017), minister of finance (2017 to 2018) and head of the Central Bank for three months in 2018.
Macri’s chief of staff, Marcos Peña, dubbed Caputo “the Messi of finances,” alluding to Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi.
As undersecretary of finance he was able to reach a 2016 deal with holdouts of Argentina’s 2005 debt restructuring and facilitate the country’s return to capital markets. As finance minister he successfully issued a historic 100-year bond for Argentina that raised $2.7 billion in June 2017.
However, Caputo was also linked to the crisis that hit the peso and led Macri to get a $57 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Caputo had been criticized for boosting Argentina’s debt to such a degree that capital markets started hesitating, leading to the request for aid from the IMF. He also was criticized by the IMF and many economists for reducing international reserves and for meddling with the exchange rate.
“Most of his peers, colleagues and former colleagues in the economic cabinet of Mauricio Macri’s government define him as a trader, a Wolf of Wall Street and not as a macroeconomist,” Argentine newspaper Clarin writes.
Caputo, who has worked at JP Morgan in Argentina, Deutsche Bank and AXIS, has a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics at the University of Buenos Aires and has been Professor of Economics and Finance at the Postgraduate Course of Universidad Catolica Argentina.
His appointment may have played a role in Milei backtracking on plans to name economist Emilio Ocampo as the head of the central bank. Caputo and Ocampo had clashed over several issues, including the autonomy of the central bank during its transition period.
Presidential Chief of Staff
Nicolas Posse has been an executive at Argentina-based Corporación América since 2009. It was there he met Milei, who had served as chief economist at the company and the two have reportedly remained close friends since.
As general manager of the Sur business unit, Posse has been in charge of a total of 11 airports, including Mar del Plata, Neuquén, Bariloche, Viedma and Río Gallegos, which handle more than 3 million passengers per year.
Before joining Corporación América, he served as general director of the Río de la Plata region for the energy drink Red Bull, was marketing director of Telecom and held different roles at the food company Molinos Río de la Plata.
President of Central Bank
Santiago Bausili, a close friend to Economy Minister Luis Caputo, is the new president of the Central Bank, where he will have to deal with everything from record low reserves to plans by Milei to close it down after the economy formally becomes dollarized.
Bausili, worked as undersecretary of finance when Caputo was finance minister during the Macri Administration. As such he helped Caputo with the successful negotiations with the debt holdouts, which helped bring Argentina back to capital markets, as well as the later talks with the IMF for a bailout.
In the private sector, Bausili worked for Deutsche Bank both in New York and in Argentina as well as J.P. Morgan.
Along with Caputo he co-founded consultancy Anker Latinoamerica.
He holds an economics degree from Universidad de San Andres.
EDUARDO RODRÍGUEZ CHIRILLO
Under Secretary for Energy
Eduardo Rodríguez Chirillo is considered an expert in privatizations, a key qualification for Milei’s plans to privatize state oil company YPF. Milei plans to move the energy portfolio from the economy ministry to the Infrastructure Ministry.
Chirillo worked in the Energy Ministry during the administration of president Carlos Menem (1989 to 1999) and as an advisor to the Infrastructure Ministry in 2001 (when Fernando de la Rua was president).
Chirillo also served as legal director for Mexico and Brazil for Spanish energy company Iberdrola for seven years.
One of his tasks will be the restructuring of public service contracts and the gradual elimination of energy subsidies.
Under Secretary for Mining
Lawyer Sergio Arbeleche is now the point man for the government’s mining policy. Although he lacks mining sector experience, he is well-regarded by the sector, business newspaper Ambito reports.
“In the sector they describe his work as “implacable” and assure that he compensates for the lack of [direct sector experience] with excellent dialogue with interlocutors,” the paper says. “In addition, they attribute to him a notable condition for the position: he knows the history of all the mining projects in the country.”
Arbeleche is a partner at law firm Bruchou y Funes de Rioja, where he has been co-head in charge of the Mining and Environmental Areas.
He holds an LL.M in law from the University of Suffolk.
CEO of YPF
Horacio Marín is an industry veteran who has worked at Tecpetrol, the third-biggest gas producer in the country, for 35 years. Tecpetrol is a unit of the Argentinian-Italian industrial conglomerate Techint. Several media report that Marín is a trusted advisor to Techint owner Paulo Rocca.
Marín is a chemical engineer from the University of La Plata, with a master’s degree in petroleum engineering from the University of Texas and a postgraduate degree from Stanford.
Milei plans to sell YPF after a transition period aimed at boosting its efficiency and value. American Depository Shares of YPF soared as much as 43% the day after Milei was elected, the biggest intraday move since they began trading in 1993.
YPF was originally privatized in 1999, but President Cristina Kirchner expropriated it in 2012 in a move that led minority share holder Petersen to sue. In September a US judge ordered Argentina to pay $16 billion for damages and interest to entities backed by litigation funder Burford Capital, which acquired the right to pursue Petersen’s claims in 2015.
Diana Mondino – who was Director of the Latin America region for Standard & Poor’s, based in New York until 2005 – now leads Argentina’s foreign policy.
She has ample experience in economic and management issues. She is Chairman of Banco Roela, a board member of Loma Negra and former board member of Pampa Energía.
She has also been a professor of finance at the CEMA University in Buenos Aires.
Mondano has an MBA from IESE, Spain, and a BA in Economics from the National University of Córdoba.
Ambassador to US
Businessman Gerardo Werthein has been named as Argentina’s new ambassador to the United States.
He is Chairman of Caja de Seguros (the largest property and casualty insurance company in Argentina) and Vice-Chairman of Telecom Argentina.
He served as CEO of winery Finca Flichman (1984-1986) and Director of Finance at Banco Mercantil Argentino (1986-1993).
He has also been president of Argentine Olympic Committee the past 14 years.
President, Banco Nacion
Daniel Tillard has been named to head Argentine state bank Banco de la Nacion Argentina. Tillard had previously headed up the state bank in the Province of Cordoba for eight years and is seen as a close ally of Cordoba governor Juan Schiaretti, a moderate Peronist and one of Milei’s rivals in the recent presidential elections.
He also served as director of the Bank of the Province of Buenos Aires during the administration of Buenos Aires Governor Daniel Scioli and had a brief stint in the Economy Ministry of Domingo Cavallo in 2001 as undersecretary of Patrimonial Normalization. Tillad also served as president of Provincia Bursátil and technical manager of the Córdoba Stock Exchange.
Head of Securities Commission CNV
Long time Marval O’Farrell Mairal partner Roberto Silva has been named to head Argentina´s Securities and Exchange Commision, known locally as Comisión Nacional de Valores (CNV).
Before joing Marcakl in 1993, he worked with Shearman & Sterling in New York from 1991 to 1992 and has served as the president of the Banking Law Committee at the International Bar Association.
He holds an LLM from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Head of tax agency AFIP
Florencia Misrahi has been named to head the federal tax authority AFIP, replacing career politician Carlos Castagneto, who was close to Cristina Kirchner (the former president and vice president of Argentina known for her investor hostile policies). She served as Regional Legal, Tax & Customs Counsel for US food giant Cargill for 15 years until July this year when she joined tax law firm Lisicki Litvin as a partner.
Other key appointments include Guillermo Francos, who will head the Interior Ministry. In addition to a background in politics, Francos has worked at Corporación América, between 2007 and 2011 he was the President of Banco Provincia de Buenos Aires and most recently President Alberto Fernández appointed him Argentina’s representative to the Inter-American Development Bank.
In a surprise move, Milei has opted to keep some appointments from the previous government. That’s the case with Leonardo Madcur, who served as chief of staff for former economy minister Sergio Massa (who was Milei’s rival in the secodn round of presidential elections). He played a key role in Massa’s talks with the International Monetary Fund and will now be part of Caputo’s team at the Economy Ministry doing the same.
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