* Retailer Cencosud would use issue to fund growth
* Cencosud to invest $1.285 bln this year to open stores
* US market provides liquidity, investor access -CEO (Updates with CEO and chairman’s comments)
SANTIAGO, March 1 (Reuters) - Shareholders of Chilean diversified retailer Cencosud on Thursday approved the issue of shares in the United States via American Depositary Receipts as part of a previously approved capital increase of up to 270 million shares.
If Cencosud joins the ranks of the 11 other Chilean companies currently trading ADRs -- bank CorpBanca in late 2003 was the last local company to list in New York -- it will use the funds raised to finance its aggressive growth strategy and to improve access to foreign investors.
“The U.S. market gives you liquidity and greater access to investors, that’s the main reason for doing this in the U.S.,” Chief Executive Daniel Rodriguez said following the shareholders’ meeting on Thursday.
Cencosud recently laid out plans to invest $1.285 billion this year to open just over 100 stores and three malls in Latin America, where the retail sector is booming on strong domestic consumption.
“When there are growth opportunities you need cash. You need to make sure you have the necessary funds, and that’s why this capital increase gives the company many more opportunities,” said Cencosud Chairman and founder Horst Paulmann.
At the current share price of around 3,165 pesos, the capital increase for the full 270 million shares would raise 854.55 billion pesos ($1.78 billion).
“Cencosud has 120 days to set the share price for the capital increase,” said CEO Rodriguez.
The regional retail giant, with operations in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru, has said it forecasts revenue reaching $18 billion this year.
$1= 480.10 pesos in Thursday trade Reporting by Felipe Iturrieta. Writing by Anthony Esposito, editing by Derek Caney, Dave Zimmerman