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US-trained bankers tapped for new Argentine Cabinet

November 25, 2015

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Argentina’s President-elect Mauricio Macri has named U.S.-educated bankers and executives to key posts in a Cabinet he vows will revive the economy, local news media reported Wednesday.

As budget minister he reportedly named Alfonso Prat-Gay, 50, a U.S.-trained economist who worked from 1994 for J.P. Morgan in London and New York and later served as president of Argentina’s Central Bank.

Juan José Aranguren, former president of the Argentine division of the British-Dutch oil giant Shell, was lined up as energy minister, Argentine newspapers reported, citing sources in Macri’s Let’s Change coalition.

Former Deutsche Bank trader Luis Caputo was expected to be appointed finance minister in the Cabinet, which will take office on Dec. 10 along with Macri.

Macri won the presidency in a runoff vote on Sunday, heralding an end to 12 years of left-wing government by the populist Peronist movement.

He has vowed to liberalize the economy, lifting outgoing President Cristina Kirchner’s restrictions on imports and U.S. dollar transactions. These limitations have deterred foreign investors. His rivals warned his reforms would hurt poorer Argentines’ purchasing power.

Argentine media also named the person Macri wants to head Argentina’s Central Bank: Federico Sturzenegger, a lawmaker, former banker and ex-head of the nationalized oil company YPF, who also studied in the United States.

Macri may struggle to put Sturzenegger in the post since the incumbent Alejandro Vanoli, an ally of Kirchner, by law can serve out his term to 2019. To replace him Macri will have to get a motion through the Senate, where his rivals hold a majority.

Newspaper La Nación reported that the director of Macri’s six-member economic Cabinet was expected to be Gustavo Lopetegui, currently chairman of the airline LAN Argentina.

Macri had already named Francisco Cabrera as his future industry minister. Cabrera formerly worked for U.S. tech company Hewlett Packard, international bank HSBC and other financial groups.

Macro has announced that Susana Malcorra, the chief of staff of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, will be his foreign minister. She also has a business background, having worked for companies including IBM and Telecom Argentina.

After his election victory Macri vowed to strengthen Argentina’s foreign relations after 12 years under the combative Kirchner and her late husband, Néstor.

Macri named another economist, Rogelio Frigerio, as his interior minister.

Most of Macri’s reported appointees were privately educated in Argentina and went on to do further studies in elite U.S. universities.

An ex-footballer of top Buenos Aires side Boca Juniors, Carlos Mac Allister, said on Wednesday that Macri had named him to be sports minister. Macri was formerly president of Boca Juniors.

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