"For HSBC, Macri's reelection is all or nothing". A source close to LPO harshly summarized, in these words, what is the bank's bet in the Argentinian presidential campaign. The most influential players within the financial entity had a key role in choosing Miguel Pichetto as Macri's running team for the campaign, as a gesture of good faith and cooperation that the red circle was demanding for some time.
The man at the center of this decision in favor of the Macri-Pichetto formula is Gabriel Martino, friend and adviser to president's the president. He is also a regular guest to "Los Abrojos", the president's villa, where he chats with him regularly. The banker showed on Wednesday how strong is the bond with the president since both came back from Neuquén after the IDEA symposium. He was the only businessman who had that chance.
HSBC was behind an event that ended up being key to the election of Pichetto as vice president. The bank organized in April the trip of the senator to New York so that he defended Macri before foreign investors amid the economic turmoil. Carlos Rosenkrantz, who ended up abandoning his bid, and the presidential adviser José Torello, who last week defined the Pichetto as "a druglord", were also invited to that trip.
Pichetto spent several days in New York City, where he oversaw meeting with investment funds and other actors of the local red circle (who were interested in launching Governor Maria Eugenia Vidal instead of Macri at that time). Pichetto guaranteed them that Argentina would not slip into recession and tried to transmit economic predictability to them. "After the trip to New York, the steps of bringing Macri closer to us began," Pichetto said yesterday. The Government praised the senator after his declarations.
Other two names that drew attention during the conference organized by HSBC in New York were Gerardo "Gerry" Mato and Gastón Remy; the former being one of the most influential Argentinians in Wall Street and a former CEO for HSBC in Latin America, while the latter is IDEA director, who yesterday was in charge of setting the ideal stage for Macri and Pichetto to make their debuts as the new formula in the Think Tank symposium.
Remy's move was daring, since something like this was never seen before in the business community in Argentina, whose tradition is not to show public support during the election period, as well as not to engage with any candidate.
The event in New York, promoted by Mato and Martino, and the IDEA symposium, organized by Remy and Macri supporter Juan Procaccini, had a common point, (besides the central role of Pichetto) in that both of the organizers coordinated everything with the President's Chief of Staff, Marcos Peña.
The facts show a sequence of actions of the Pichetto's position that ended with his inclusion in the Cambiemos ticket. It seems to be a triumph of the red circle and their demand to Macri of "more politics" and "more Peronism" within the Government. After three and a half years of resistance, the President ended up yielding. In a report sent to its global clients, HSBC celebrated yesterday the "rationality fee" that the new VP candidate brings to the campaign.
Macri's close relation with Martino and HSBC has been more than evident during his first term. Just one day after the leader of the PRO arrived at the Casa Rosada, the banker obtained a precautionary measure that placed him at the head of the financial entity's leadership, from where he had been fired by the Kirchner administration after the scandal involving Swiss accounts and after serious accusations of money-laundering, a burden that HSBC carries in its operations in different regions of the world, including Mexico.
From then on, all were good news for Martino who even managed to situate an important person of the bank as director of the Financial Information Unit, a core position in charge of investigating money laundering, an issue for which the Kirchner administration had its eyes on Martino and that led him to take long vacations abroad for fear of being indicted.
Martino also got the government to condone millions of dollars in fines that the Kirchner administration imposed to him and returned the gesture with generous loans, while he made lucrative deals with government debt bonds.
There is no need to explain why HSBC is betting all or nothing on Mari's reelection.