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ECONOMY | 28-07-2020 14:36

Creditors once again reject government's debt restructuring offer

In a letter sent to Economy Minister Martín Guzmán, signed by 30 funds, main bondholder groups reiterate rejection of deal on table and say they hold veto power over any agreement.

Three groups of creditors have reiterated their rejection of Argentina's "final" offer to restructure more than US$65 billion in foreign debt, with just a week to go before the latest deadline for negotiations passes.

Last week the Exchange Bondholders, Ad Hoc and Argentina Creditor Committee groups rejected the government's  latest proposal and submitted a counter-offer of their own, which was subsequently dismissed by President Alberto Fernández.

In a letter sent to Economy Minister Martín Guzmán late Monday and signed by 30 funds, the three bondholder groups stated that they represent "60 percent of the exchange bonds and 51 percent of the global bonds in circulation," meaning that they have veto power over any potential deal.

Argentina has set an August 4 deadline to find an agreement, although it has extended that several times.

Fernández said last week "it is impossible for us to move from the last offer," but Guzmán admitted on Saturday that he was willing to make changes to "the contractual instruments" provided for in the deal.

The letter sent to the minister mentioned that "the fund holders include some of the biggest investors in Argentina."

"We're confident that a consensual resolution will provide a path to an even greater and more sustainable investment in Argentina's growth sectors, including agribusiness, energy, mining, infrastructure and information technology, and a brilliant and sustainable economic future for the Argentine people," it read.

Argentina's last offer, issued under foreign law, was worth 53.5 cents on the dollar, a significant improvement on its original starting position of 39 cents. But the three creditor groups are holding out for no less than 56.5 cents on the dollar, with a grace period of one year rather than the three Argentina is looking for.

The bonds represent roughly a fifth of the country's US$324 billion debt, which amounts to around 90 percent of its GDP.

In recession since 2018, the economy has been further punished by the coronavirus pandemic. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates it will contract by 9.9 percent this year, though private estimates put the figure higher. More than a third of the country's 44-million-strong population live in poverty.

Argentina has been in default – for the ninth time in its history – since May 22 when the country missed a deadline to pay US$500 million in interest on the debt that is subject to the current negotiation.

– TIMES/AFP

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