* Holders of 'superbond' hire legal counsel
* Belize government wants tough debt haircut
MEXICO CITY Dec 4 Belize bondholders on Tuesday
rejected a new offer from the country's government on
restructuring its $550 million "superbond" and said they had
hired lawyers after the expiry of a reprieve on legal action.
Belize, which says it cannot afford to meet rising interest
payments on the bond, revised its offer last week after shocking
investors with its original suggestion that they take a haircut
of up to 45 percent.
But a committee set up to represent bondholders said the new
proposals still fell short and they had hired law firm Arnold &
Porter to act as their legal counsel.
Bondholders had agreed not to pursue legal action for 60
days after Belize paid half of the $23.5 million interest
payment due in August. But the grace period has now expired.
"Unfortunately, it seems we may be missing the window for a
timely resolution," said AJ Mediratta, of Greylock Capital
Management, co-chair of the bondholders committee.
"The committee will be spending the next few weeks
evaluating its options, but remains strongly committed to a
good-faith collaborative process and will make itself available
to the (government of Belize) as required."
The revised offer included a lower haircut of 33 percent and
an initial interest rate of 4.5 percent that would step up to
6.75 percent after five years - more than the 3.5 percent
interest Belize originally proposed.
Another option involved no haircut but lower interest rates
over 40 years, from 50 years originally, and a grace period of
10 years on principal repayments, from 15 years originally.
The committee urged Belize to reconsider its counter-offers,
which the country had rejected as inadequate.