16.5 billion bond concerns last week reflected an unexpected level of confidence in the new federal government of Mauricio Macri, given the country’s significant economic problems and the ones of its fallen-angel neighbor, Brazil. It also showed an unquenchable thirst for produce on the part of investors willing to seize at a 683 basis points spread over 10-calendar year German bunds for a B3 scored bond by an issuer with an extended background of defaults. Perhaps more important, however, is that it signaled the final end of a difficult 15-year effort to restructure Argentine bonds that defaulted in 2001 and regain usage of capital marketplaces.
The default was probably inescapable, the overall economy was in free-fall and money was rushing of the country out. However, the government chose a popular but highly confrontational method of dealing with its creditors politically, eschewing any involvement by the IMF, and ignoring demands of creditor committees. 0.34 on the money. To help persuade banks to simply accept the offer, the Argentine parliament passed a statutory law making it unlawful for the government to change the terms of the offer.
A 75% most of the banking institutions folded and took what they could easily get, writing off the others. But there have been some holdouts that refused to switch their debt, hedge funds that acquired bought their positions from banks mainly. 18 billion of claims accepted. In the end, despite mighty and heavy-handed attempts by Christina Fernandez to get around the courts, the game was lost.
Her second term as chief executive expired in 2015, and Macri changed her. Macri was heartily welcomed by politicians such as Barack Obama, and by investors. He made settling with holdout bondholders important and made a decision to take benefit of the market’s good will to raise the new debt, with a few of the proceeds heading to repay the hedge money. The brand-new bonds are released under NY law and you will be at the mercy of future court rulings if the Argentine federal government seeks to interfere with bondholders’ rights in the foreseeable future.
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- 2008 – 13.3 Spending (2012B$) – $772
If the CAC covers exchange offers, issuers have the ability to avoid the headache of holdouts, which in Argentina’s case added ten years to the time it could re-enter capital marketplaces following the first exchange offer. Investors in rising market debts know that governments are shielded by sovereign immunity that enables them to avoid immediate legal remedies for default such as personal bankruptcy.
Mr. Macri offers off to a good start, from a bondholder’s viewpoint. He devalued the country’s money, moved to lower subsidies, let go 20,000 unionized public service employees and enforced other austerities to help shore in the country’s finances. But Argentina has many issues still. Thousands of workers have already marched in protest of Macri’s proposals, and analysts expect the economy to shrink this season.
Lots of unexpected things can block the way between a good start and a good surface finish to a bond issue. If they do, the CAC will do away with both the chance and the pressure on the national government represented by holdouts. And Argentina’s go-it-alone, cram-down restructuring involving a 66% write-off in 2005 is a tough precedent for this to resist in the foreseeable future.
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