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ECONOMY | 10-03-2020 21:45

Government hires banking veterans for debt talks

Three experienced Latin American bankers from HSBC Holdings Plc, Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp. will lead the restructuring of more than US$76 billion of debt owed to global investors by Argentina and the province of Buenos Aires.

Three experienced Latin American bankers from HSBC Holdings Plc, Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp will lead the restructuring of more than US$76 billion of debt owed to global investors by Argentina and the province of Buenos Aires.

Gerardo Mato, chairman of global banking in the Americas for HSBC, is leading the team that is helping the federal government restructure US$68.8 billion of sovereign debt, according to people familiar with the matter. 

HSBC’s team will also include Andres Nicastro, they said.

Nicolas Bendersky, a managing director at Citigroup, is overseeing the group working on behalf of Buenos Aires Province, Argentina’s largest, to restructure at least US$7 billion, the people said.

Sebastian Loketek, regional head of investment banking at Bank of America, is working on both deals together with a team of about eight people that the US lender has deployed in part to help coordinate the negotiation strategy between the national government and the province, according to the people familiar. The Bank of America team will also have Maxim Volkov and Matthew Radley.

Representatives for HSBC, Cititgroup and Bank of America as well as the Economy Ministry declined to comment.

Argentina, which has defaulted eight times in its two centuries of independence, struck a record US$56-billion credit line with the International Monetary Fund in 2018 and is trying to again reduce its foreign-debt obligations as the economy heads for its third straight year of contraction in 2020.

Both Bank of America and HSBC will work as market agents in the debt talks together with Lazard Ltd., the appointed financial adviser for the sovereign deal.

The three Wall Street giants, which won the advisory mandates over competing firms including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Itau Unibanco Holding SA, will likely rely mainly on local bankers in the physical talks and teleconferencing beyond that as the spread of the coronavirus is making travel from the U.S. and Europe difficult, the people said.

Bank of America helped restructure Argentina’s debt in 2005, while Citigroup handled the negotiations on behalf of the province of Buenos Aires the same year.

by Pablo Gonzalez, Bloomberg

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