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2017-09-11 12:25:00

VENEZUELA'S RESTRUCTURING

VENEZUELA'S RESTRUCTURING

FTVenezuela has invited international bondholders to negotiations over its foreign debt as the government in Caracas seeks to mitigate the impact of US sanctions and survive a deepening economic crisis.

"In the next two weeks all holders of Venezuelan public debt that have been negatively affected by the decisions of Donald Trump and [head of the Venezuelan parliament] Julio Borges . . . are invited to several rounds of negotiations," Nicolás Maduro, the country's president, said.

Almost three-quarters of the bondholders were from the US and Canada, Mr Maduro told the government-controlled constituent assembly on Thursday.

Russia, a critical lender to the South American country, confirmed that it had been asked to help with a restructuring. Moscow has extended state loans as well as financial assistance from Rosneft, the Kremlin-controlled oil producer, to Venezuela's state-owned PDVSA.

"There was a request from our colleagues in Venezuela to carry out a restructuring," Russian finance minister Anton Siluanov said. "There are difficulties in fulfilling the debt."

Mr Siluanov said discussions were taking place within the Paris Club of creditors and "on the other hand, we are directly engaged in bilateral contacts in order to work out a mechanism for restructuring the debt."

The Russian state is owed around $2.8bn by Venezuela. "I am confident that we will find acceptable solutions with Venezuela," the minister told reporters.

Venezuela and oil company PDVSA have around $4bn in debt maturities and interest to pay in the remainder of this year. Its foreign reserves have dwindled to around $10bn, much of it in gold.

The US recently hit Venezuela with financial sanctions that in effect blocked it from raising more money from international bond markets and also rendered a bond restructuring a practical impossibility. That has led some investors to bet that Venezuela will try to stay current on its bonds any way it can, including seeking deals with sovereign creditors such as Russia and China.

Venezuela's financial and economic plight became acute after oil prices plunged in 2014. Investors have speculated that it is only a matter of time before the country was forced to default and restructure its debts.

However, concerns that a default on its international bonds would trigger creditor lawsuits in New York and London — potentially allowing creditors to seize Venezuela's vital oil export revenues — has spurred Caracas to insist it will keep paying bondholders.

The cost of servicing about $100bn of bonds and loans at a time of subdued oil prices has forced the Venezuelan authorities to conserve dollars by dramatically crimping imports on basic goods, worsening an already acute humanitarian crisis.

Rosneft extended $1bn in additional credit to PDVSA this year in the form of prepayments for oil supplies, bringing total lending to its Venezuelan counterpart to $6.5bn.

Last month Rosneft said PDVSA had repaid around $750m of that in oil shipments and $500m in interest payments, taking the total outstanding to $5.7bn, plus $300m in unpaid accrued interest. All outstanding obligations are scheduled to be settled by the end of 2019, the Russian company said.

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Tags: VENEZUELA, RUSSIA, ROSNEFT, PDVSA

Chronicle:

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November, 15, 15:20:00

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