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ARGENTINA | 04-03-2020 12:26

Argentina hires Morrow Sodali as it asks bondholders to come forward

Government recruits leading banks to help restructure debt. On Tuesday, New York-based firm Morrow Sodali was contracted to help identify bondholders.

The government says it has started drawing up a list of holders of its  sovereign bonds as it prepares to enter a crucial stage of its bid to restructure the nation's heavy debt burden.

The government also confirmed that it had appointed financial services firm Morrow Sodali Global LLC as an "information agent" to help identify and gather data about its bondholders.

“The Economy Ministry asks holders of external public bonds to report their identities and holdings in order to facilitate communication with them,” a statement released Tuesday said, saying it had set a March 16 deadline for creditors to identify their holdings.

President Alberto Fernández has said he wants debt restructuring talks to be finalised by March 31.

The Economy Minister, led by Martin Guzmán, published a list of 29 bonds that will be subject to its debt-swap offer. The concerned bonds can be found on the Morrow Sodali’s website

The objective is "to contact the greatest possible number of holders in order to establish relations and find out their opinions," the Economy Ministry's statement added.

Morrow Sodali is a provider of strategic advice and services based in New York and London, serving some 700 corporate clients in 40 countries.

Earlier this week, the government recruited three major banks to help guide its restructuring efforts. The institutions designated as underwriting banks are the Bank of America, HSBC and Lazard, which has been retained as a financial advisor.

President Fernández is reportedly seeking to restructure a total debt load that amounts to US$323 billion, according to the AFP news agency.

Some US$44 billion of that relates to the 2018 credit-line taken out with the the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The insitution's officials recently expressed support for Argentina, saying the country's debt-load was unsustainable and that an austerity-led adjustment plan "is not economically or politically feasible," given that the country's economy has been gripped by recession for almost two years.

Argentina has not yet indicated how much of its commitment it will try to restructure. Experts expect the government to ask creditors to take a 20 to 35 percent haircut on their holdings. 

Fernández said in a speech to Congress on Sunday that restructuring would not "be made at the expense of the people's hunger," adding that the country will pay when its economy "returns to growth."

An IMF mission team is currently in Argentina for meetings with officials. 

“The meetings are of a technical nature and are aimed at deepening the understanding of the authorities’ economic program, including their debt strategy,” an IMF source told Reuters Wednesday, adding that talks this week have been “very productive”.

- TIMES/AFP

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