Mexico congressional committees vote to lift a third of Pemex, CFE pension debt

MEXICO CITY, July 25 Fri Jul 25, 2014 7:31pm EDT

MEXICO CITY, July 25 (Reuters) - In an effort to boost the financial health of Mexico's two national energy companies, lawmakers approved a proposal in committee on Friday that would shift a third of the firms' massive pension liabilities to the federal government.

Current pension liabilities for both state-owned oil company Pemex and national electricity utility CFE total about 2 trillion pesos ($155 billion).

Lower house lawmakers in favor of the debt shift argued that it will help both state-run firms compete under the terms of an overarching energy reform that opens the oil and power sectors to private competition for the first time in decades.

The proposal conditions the debt relief on both companies adopting a new pension scheme, and would potentially improve the ability of both to borrow at more attractive terms.

Part of a package of so-called secondary laws needed to implement the energy reform, the proposal will be debated next week by the full lower house.

Final approval of the secondary laws is expected by early August. ($1 = 12.9408 Mexican Pesos) (Reporting by Noe Torres; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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