Over the last few months, Argentine aluminum company Aluar has been talking to bankers about a potential export deal in the cross-border market, according to sources. Talks have apparently not crystallized into a mandate however, as key international players - even those once active in the country - are staying aloof from the country and its issuers.

One source said a deal could come this year, given that a US$150 million export backed-bond issued by the company via Citibank in 1997 paid down on June 14 in full. Others doubt a cross-border jaunt will come in the medium term. "The problem is credit committees will show you the door at just the mention of Argentina," said one banker, adding that paying down the deal will win Aluar "a pat on the back" but not much more. Company officials could not be reached for comment.

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