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March 6, 2021
BUSINESS

Argentina’s Congress approves law to restructure bond debt

The plan aims to enable Argentina to make payments on its foreign-held bonds locally.

Argentina’s Congress gave final approval today to a law proposing to restructure the country’s debt to skirt a US court ruling that forced it into its second default in 12 years, ABC News informs.
The debt restructuring plan aims to enable Argentina to make payments on its foreign-held bonds locally or elsewhere beyond the reaches of the US court. It also encourages investors to move their Argentine debt from the United States or other foreign jurisdictions to either Argentina or France. The effectiveness of the law is in question, however, given that US District Judge Thomas Griesa in New York has declared it illegal because it violates his order favouring creditors in a dispute over the country’s default in 2002.
The lower house of Congress passed the bill by an early-morning vote of 134 to 99 following a marathon debate that started Wednesday afternoon. The law had already been approved last week by the Senate.
Judge Griesa in June barred Argentina from servicing in debt restructured under US law in the wake of its USD 100 billion default in 2002 until it settled with hedge funds who rejected the terms of its 2005 and 2010 bond swaps and sued for repayment in full.
Argentina’s next coupon payment is due on September 30th. Argentine president Cristina Fernandez has accused Griesa of overstepping his bounds and interfering in Argentina’s national sovereignty. She announced the new debt bill last month to get around his ruling.
If creditors refuse to participate in the debt swap, the government can still hope it will succeed in replacing the Bank of New York Mellon as trustee for bond payments with Nacion Fideicomisos, a unit of state-controlled Banco Nacion. That way, it can service its debt locally. But scepticism over this part of the plan is growing too, and Kicillof told politicians on Tuesday the government was open to suggestions from bondholders about where to make payments if they were unhappy with its proposal.

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