Holdout fund decries Argentina's position ahead of hearing

NEW YORK, July 22 Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:07am EDT

NEW YORK, July 22 (Reuters) - A leading holdout investor in Argentina's debt battle said Tuesday that the country still has no interest in negotiations, just hours before a hearing on previous orders requiring the country pay holdout bondholders.

Late Monday, Argentina asked U.S. Judge Thomas Griesa to put on hold an order requiring it to pay bondholders who did not participate in debt restructurings after its 2002 default. In response, Aurelius Capital Management, LP, one of the primary holdouts, said this "latest pleading continues a sorry litany of made-up excuses."

"The simple fact is that Argentina's leaders have had no interest in negotiating - not now, and not during the two and one-half years a stay was in place," Aurelius said in a statement. "They would rather gamble with the livelihoods of the Argentine people than sit down and reach a deal."

Aurelius is one of the primary funds to which Griesa ordered Argentina to pay $1.33 billion plus accrued interest in a 2012 ruling. On Tuesday, Griesa is expected to hear a range of requests by Argentina, bondholders and financial institutions over how to enforce his ruling requiring payment to the holdouts.

Argentina, Latin America's No. 3 economy, has been pushed to the brink of a fresh debt default by U.S. court decisions. The judicial rulings have forced it to negotiate with holdout investors who declined to restructure their bonds after the country defaulted on about $100 billion in 2001-2002.

The country is running out of time to negotiate a settlement with the holdout investors, led by Elliott Management's NML Capital Ltd and Aurelius, ahead of a July 30 deadline to reach a deal or face a new default.

The Argentine government late on Monday quietly kicked off the official procedure for the other coupon payments due this year, in September and December, by issuing statements to the stock market on the debt servicing.

The move comes well ahead of time, as such statements are usually issued a month before the payment, and suggests the government is preparing to transfer all coupon payments in one fell swoop if Griesa orders a short stay of his ruling.

In June, the country attempted to make a $539 million payment to the restructured bondholders by transferring money to the custodian, Bank of New York Mellon Corp. However, Griesa said that was a violation of his order, and told BNY Mellon to return the money. (Reporting By Nate Raymond in New York and Sarah Marsh in Buenos Aires; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)