U.S. Supreme Court meets to consider hearing Argentina bonds case

WASHINGTON Mon Sep 30, 2013 7:10am EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court was scheduled to meet behind closed doors on Monday to decide whether to hear a high-profile appeal by Argentina over its battle with hedge funds that refused to take part in two debt restructurings that sprang from the country's 2002 default.

Argentina has appealed an October 2012 ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York in which the court said the government had broken a contractual obligation to treat bondholders equally.

In two restructurings, in 2005 and 2010, creditors holding about 93 percent of Argentina's debt agreed to participate in debt swaps that gave them 25 cents to 29 cents on the dollar.

But bondholders led by hedge funds NML Capital Ltd, a unit of Paul Singer's Elliott Management Corp, and Aurelius Capital Management went to court, seeking payment in full.

If the justices on the nine-member court agree to hear the case, the court would likely make an announcement on Tuesday. The court would schedule oral arguments and the case would be decided sometime before the next term ends in late June 2014.

The court's online docket said the case was up for discussion on Monday. If the court decides against hearing the case, that would be made public on October 7, the first day of the court's new term.

The court could also ask the Obama administration to weigh in on whether it thinks the case merits the justices' attention, which would delay any further action. The court has one other option, which is to take no action on the petition and delay making a decision until a later date.

The litigation is still ongoing in the appeals court in New York. In August, that court issued another ruling, upholding a lower court's order that Argentina pay the bondholders $1.33 billion. The court stayed its decision pending Supreme Court review. Argentina also has asked the appeals court to reconsider its decision.

The case before the Supreme Court is Argentina v. NML Capital, 12-1494.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Howard Goller and Stacey Joyce)

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Comments (1)
Taunus wrote:
Why would the Supreme Court uphold a ruling that would accomplish nothing but blocking payments to 93% of bondholders? And at whose behest? Cayman-based money laundries using extortion against both Argentina AND the New York bond markets?

Argentina has paid its bondholders religiously since coming out of default in 2005 (93% accepted the swaps), and their offer to holdouts -even vulture funds- still stands. Those who accepted the first swap, moreover, have seen their bonds more than double since then (hence the resentment of those that did not).

The main litigator, GOP megadonor Paul Singer, feels he deserves a 1400% profit, or to simply cajole the courts into manufacturing a default in order to collect default insurance. Singer, of course, might still accept Argentina’s offer and clear a handsome 280% profit.

With talk of another debt ceiling fight here in the U.S., affirming Wall Street courts’ rulings that disregard the equal terms clause for the sake of giving vulture funds special treatment couldn’t be more disruptive. All the more so since the legal uncertainty vultures are creating around bonds issued under U.S. law will force much of New York’s multi-trillion dollar sovereign bond business to migrate.

No European court will give vulture funds or recalcitrant holdouts the time of day. What European courts have done instead, is uphold Argentina’s right to continue to pay its bondholders and the bondholders’ right to have their payments protected from extorsion by holdouts or anyone else.

The U.S. Supreme Court will thus have every constructive precedent they’ll need to do likewise.

Sep 30, 2013 3:20pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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