Belize PM aims for creditor superbond deal within month

BELIZE CITY Tue Oct 2, 2012 8:28pm EDT

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BELIZE CITY Oct 2 (Reuters) - Belize hopes to strike a deal with creditors to restructure its $550 million 'superbond' within a month, Prime Minister Dean Barrow said on Tuesday.

The tiny Central American country missed a $23.5 million interest payment on the sovereign bond in August and made a partial payment of $11.7 million on Sept. 20 when a 30-day grace period ended.

Creditors agreed in September to grant the country a second 60-day grace period as a sign of good faith as talks continue.

"We actually hope we can reach a point with the bondholders where we can launch the debt exchange offer by the end of October ... not later than very early in November," Barrow told Reuters. "I don't see any difficulty we would have in meeting those deadlines."

After the interest rate on the superbond rose to 8.5 percent this year from 6 percent, Belize said it could not afford to service its debt. The country is reliant on tourism, fishing and farming and cited increased fiscal liabilities from declining oil revenues and recently nationalized utility companies.

The Belize government has laid out three proposals for rescheduling its bond payments, shocking analysts with its suggestion that they take a haircut of up to 45 percent on their investment.

The country of roughly 350,000 has asked the Inter-American Development Bank for a partial guarantee on its debt and Barrow ruled out any possibility of a bailout from the International Monetary Fund.

"It is well known that we have asked for a partial guarantee (from the IDB)," Barrow said. "There is no question whatsoever of Belize needing or asking for IMF assistance."

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