Ecuador sees strong investor demand for sovereign bonds

QUITO Thu May 15, 2014 7:54pm EDT

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QUITO May 15 (Reuters) - Ecuador's announcement that it plans to return to global financial markets following a 2008 default has been met with strong interest by sovereign bond investors, the South American nation's ambassador to the United States said on Thursday.

"There is great appetite and strong demand ... to buy Ecuadorean debt, there's a lot of interest," said Nathalie Cely, who has participated in meetings with investors, in an interview in Quito.

Ecuador is considering issuing around $700 million, which would be its first since a $3.2 billion default on bonds that President Rafael Correa called "illegal and illegitimate."

Cely said investors "understood the reasons for the restructuring and that it had been done in good faith."

Correa's government hopes to use the resources to finance economic development projects.

Cely added that it has been more difficult to bring investors into natural resource projects due to the ongoing dispute with U.S. oil giant Chevron regarding pollution in the Amazon.

"In the area of natural resources Chevron has affected us, because everyone is being told not to invest in Ecuador because business is impossible there," she said.

Chevron Corp sued Ecuador in the International Court of Justice in The Hague for alleged violation of the Bilateral Investment Protection Treaty and for delays and lack of transparency in a suit filed by a group of indigenous people seeking damages.

An Ecuadorean court ordered Chevron to pay $18 billion to the group, though another court later cut that award in half.

Chevron says the ruling is the product of fraud and that it will not pay. (Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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