Thursday, May 28, 2020
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ECONOMY | 21-05-2020 13:23

Government to extend debt offer as talks continue past Friday

Argentina will skip delayed US$500-million interest payment on Friday, but plans to extend talks by at least 10 days, sources say.

The government plans to extend the deadline for creditors to consider a US$65-billion debt restructuring offer into early June as both sides need more time to reach a deal, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.

The government will stick to the same offer it presented in mid-April, allowing several more weeks for talks between the parties to continue, said the people, who could not be named because the negotiations are private.

In the meantime, Argentina plans to miss a delayed interest payment on about US$500 million due Friday, the people said.

Argentine officials, who are still digesting the bondholder counter-offers received last week, don’t plan on presenting their own new proposal for now as both sides remain far apart on the net present value needed to reach a deal, the people added. The talks may be extended by at least 10 days, one of them said.

Negotiations started more than two months ago, with the government proposing US$40 billion of debt relief and a three-year moratorium on debt payments. Bondholders already rejected that offer firmly. The country says it can’t meet its obligations amid high unemployment, a sharp drop in the value of its currency and a deep recession made worse by the coronavirus pandemic.

Missing the debt payment on Friday, when a grace period ends, would lead the country into its ninth debt default in 200 years. President Alberto Fernández’s government doesn’t think creditors will immediately seek the repayment of all their bonds, a process commonly known as acceleration, as long as restructuring talks continue, the people added.

An Economy Ministry spokesman in Buenos Aires declined to comment.

While Argentina is less flexible to change the interest coupons and grace period from its original proposal, the government is willing to make some concessions on maturities and the overall haircut, according to the people.

The nation’s bond due in 2028 rose seven cents on Thursday morning, trading at 32.86 cents on the dollar.

After several weeks of impasse, some progress has been made in recent days. In an online forum Tuesday, Economy Minister Martín Guzmán said there was a “big chance” that negotiations extend past Friday.

“We are having a constructive dialog with the bondholders,” he said.

The Exchange Bondholder Group – alongside the Argentina Creditor Committee, Fintech Advisory and Gramercy Funds Management – submitted a joint proposal to the government last Friday that people familiar with the matter said would give bondholders about 55 cents on the dollar. A separate group that includes BlackRock Inc, Ashmore Group Plc and Fidelity Investments sent a plan that the people valued at about 59 cents on the dollar.

 

by Jorgelina do Rosario & Ben Bartenstein, Bloomberg

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