Peru, BlackRock in talks on infrastructure financing
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LIMA (Reuters) - Peru is in talks with BlackRock Inc (NYSE: BLK), the world's largest asset manager, about obtaining infrastructure financing, President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said Monday after meeting with the company's chief executive officer Larry Fink.
In comments by phone to local TV channel Latina, Kuczynski said he was taking advantage of his stay in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly this week to promote infrastructure projects that his government wants to push out.
"Right now I'm sitting with Mr. Fink, the head of BlackRock," Kuczynski said. "They're interested in doing financing in Peru on infrastructure, and I'm in talks with them about that."
Kuczynski, a 77-year-old former Wall Street banker who narrowly won June's presidential election, did not mention any project in particular and stressed that contracts would be awarded through competitive auctions.
BlackRock representatives had no immediate comment. The New York-based company has about $5 trillion under management and has said it is eager to grow in places like Peru.
Kuczynski's comments come as his government aims to halve the country's $69 billion infrastructure funding shortfall by the end of his five-year term and BlackRock prepares to launch a private equity infrastructure fund in Latin America this year.
BlackRock reported $752 billion in assets under management for Latin America infrastructure equity investments and had 26 dedicated employees to the effort as of March 31.
Global mineral exporter Peru is one of Latin America's fastest-growing economies, with gross domestic product expected to expand by about 4 percent this year. But roads, sewage treatment plants and other basic infrastructure are lacking in scores of districts.
Kuczynski's centrist government wants to increase private investments in infrastructure to 6 percent of gross domestic product by 2021 from the current 4.5 percent, Finance Minister Alfredo Thorne said last week.
Kuczynski has pledged to ensure that every town in Peru has running water. He also has been promoting a commuter railway for Peru's central coast to connect districts in metropolitan Lima, as well as new refineries and ports to bolster the country's exports of copper, gold and zinc.
(Reporting by Marco Aquino and Mitra Taj in Lima; Additional reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in New York; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)
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