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< Jubilee USA Network Issues Statement on Outcome of the 'Debt Trial of the Century' - NML Capital, LTD. v. Republic of Argentina
27.02.2013 21:13 Age: 4 yrs
Category: Press Hits

Argentina firm on refusing to pay bond holdouts

Agence France-Presse

Argentina clashed in a US appeals court Wednesday with holdout bondholders demanding a $1.3 billion payment, triggering fears that the country could witness a repeat of its huge 2001 debt default.

In a sign of the importance of the hearing for Buenos Aires, Economy Minister Hernan Lorenzino and President Cristina Kirchner's vice president, Amado Boudou, attended the hearing in a packed courtroom.

"Argentina is not going to go beyond its public policies," Jonathan Blackman, a lawyer representing Argentina, told a three-judge panel, referring to the government's refusal to pay investors who declined to take part in the restructuring deal.

"Governments cannot be forced to do something that fundamentally violates their principles."

But he hinted that Buenos Aires would welcome a solution that includes renegotiating the payment.

Argentina defaulted on some $100 billion in debt in 2001, and has since restructured its debt twice, covering around 75 percent of the nominal value of the bonds.

Almost 92 percent of the bondholders agreed to cut their losses and take the exchange bonds.

But NML Capital Ltd and Aurelius Capital Management are demanding 100 percent repayment plus interest.

The appeal comes after US District Court Judge Thomas Griesa backed the two funds, sparking fears in Argentina of a flood of similar new claims that could send the country sliding towards default once more.

Griesa ordered Argentina to treat all creditors equally.

Theodore Olson, a lawyer representing the dissident bondholders, said that while Kirchner's government "had every opportunity, over and over, Argentina never made any proposal."

The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to rule in the coming weeks.

"We pray that they will side with the people of Argentina, the US government and the world's poorest people," said Eric LeCompte, executive director of debt relief group Jubilee USA Network.

"If the judges rule in favor of these hedge funds, it will mean these funds will more aggressively target poor countries in fragile financial recovery. If they rule with Argentina, it will mean that it will be harder for these types of funds to exploit countries in financial distress."

The row has also dragged in exchange bond holders, who had agreed to the restructured debt but now fear their own deals will collapse if Argentina is ordered to pay the holdouts.

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