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ECONOMY | 24-09-2019 10:34

Lacunza, Sandleris look to charm investors, IMF in New York

With President Mauricio Macri mixing with world leaders at the UN General Assembly, finance minister and Central Bank chief are looking to persuade key stakeholders that Argentina deserves their backing.

Finance Minister Hernán Lacunza and Central Bank chief Guido Sandleris will sit down for crucial talks with high-level officials from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) this afternoon, as the duo seek to persuade the institution to disburse the next instalment of its US$57-billion loan deal with Buenos Aires.

Lacunza and Sandleris will sit down in New York with the Fund's interim Managing Director, David Lipton and the director of the IMF's Western Hemisphere Department Alejandro Werner, according to sources inside the Treasury. 

The Argentine officials are seeking to deliver peace of mind for the lender and to unlock a US$5.4-billion payment, which was due last week.

Arguing his case, Lacunza has repeatedly said that Argentina has complied with the terms of its agreement with the IMF.

The government has received about US$44 billion so far of the three-year loan approved in June 2018 but soaring inflation and rising poverty stirred outrage at the government's belt-tightening measures. 

Last week, reports emerged that IMF officials were unlikely to approve the next tranche of the loan to Argentina without knowing the economic policy plans of the government that takes over in December, according to people familiar with the situation.

President Mauricio Macri suffered a stinging defeat in a primary election at the hands of populist challenger Alberto Fernández, which once again whipped up market volatility in the recession-hit nation and undermined the currency.

As well as today's meeting, scheduled for this afternoon, the Argentine officials will have a working lunch at the IMF's headquarters in Washington on Wednesday, at which they will be joined by the head of the IMF's mission team for Argentina, Roberto Cardarelli.

As well as Sandleris, Lacunza will be joined at the meetings by Finance Secretary Santiago Bausili and Economic Policy Secretary Sebastián Katz.

The finance minister, who is making his debut trip as a minister abroad after only taking on the post last month, will also seek to discuss a restructuring of repayments for the loan.

Talks with bondholders

On Monday, Lacunza spoke with foreign investors and Argentina's biggest bondholders at Argentina's Embassy to discuss the government's intention to restructure debt payments issued under international legislation.

Details of the meeting thus far are scarce, but pertain to the finance minister's recently announced move that Argentina would seek to restructure domestic debt worth around US$100 billion. Reuters reported Monday that the Treasury has already received "more than a dozen proposals from banks on how its international currency bonds could be restructured or reprofiled."

That meeting came just days after a key member of Alberto Fernández's economic team – ex-vice-economy minister Emmanuel Álvarez Agis – pitched the presidential frontrunner's economic plans to bondholders in a conference call.

Lacunza will remain in the United States until Thursday, when he will attend an event marking the 60th anniversary of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). He will return to Buenos Aires on Friday.

– TIMES/NA/TÉLAM

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