(Bloomberg) -- Eduardo Eurnekian, an Argentine billionaire and former boss of presidential frontrunner Javier Milei, praised contender Patricia Bullrich while stopping short of offering his explicit backing ahead of the country’s general election in October.

In a surprise move given his close relationship to Milei, the airport mogul raised a toast to Bullrich at a luncheon gathering of over 200 business leaders at the Sheraton hotel in Buenos Aires on Wednesday, saying her efforts in the presidential campaign deserve “the applause of society.”

Argentina Goes to the Polls Amid an Economic Crisis. Follow Our Coverage

“Argentines are disoriented by solutions given by those who, with good intentions, have the biggest of imaginations,” he said at the event, before turning to Bullrich to add: “But your case is different. You promise order, discipline, administrative speed and a state that works without miracles or gimmick tactics.”

The comments come as the race to govern Argentina heats up ahead of the Oct. 22 vote, with Milei exchanging sharp attacks with members of Bullrich’s Juntos por el Cambio coalition.

Eurnekian, 90, told the Financial Times in an interview published late Tuesday that he trusts Milei, the former chief economist at his holding company Corporacion America SA, to be the “most pro-market” candidate in the presidential race. At the same time, he criticized Milei’s proposal to change Argentina’s currency from the peso to the US dollar as a strategy to squash 124% inflation.

A spokesperson for Eurnekian said none of his comments should be understood as explicit support for any candidate.

Bullrich delivered a 30-minute speech that filled the room with applause over a lunch of steak and wine. It was followed by a question-and-answer session with her chief economist, Carlos Melconian, who provided few specifics about policy proposals. 

Business advocates gathered at the event spared no criticism of the current Peronist government and Argentina’s economic situation. In opening remarks, Marcos Pereda, head of the business chamber known as CICyP that hosted the lunch, said the administration of President Alberto Fernandez has left the country “on the edge of hyperinflation.”

While business leaders generally back Bullrich’s probusiness coalition, it’s still to be seen if she would garner enough voting support next month to make it to a runoff. She is vying with Milei and the ruling coalition candidate, Economy Minister Sergio Massa, for one of the two spots in an eventual second round if none of them reach a 45% of valid votes (or 40% of them with a 10 percentage point difference from the runner-up.)

Read More: Javier Milei Wows Tucker Carlson, Elon Musk and Argentine Elite

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.