(Changes domestic debt figure in Feb. 14 story to $9.1 billion
from $9.1 million in 2nd paragraph per Moody's correction)
NEW YORK Feb 16 Moody's Investors Service on
Thursday put Jamaica's sovereign rating on review for downgrade
on a domestic debt exchange program that has already seen the
country cut by two other major rating agencies this week.
Moody's said in a statement it was placing Jamaica's B3 on
review "as a result of the authorities' announcement that the
government will pursue a debt restructuring involving a debt
exchange that will affect US $9.1 billion in domestic debt..."
"In Moody's opinion, the debt exchange is likely to
constitute a distressed exchange and, consequently, considered a
default event by our definition."
Rating agencies Fitch and Standard & Poor's on Tuesday cut
Jamaica's ratings on the debt exchange program.
Standard & Poor's cut Jamaica's rating to SD, or selective
"Based on our criteria, we consider this exchange a default,"
S&P said at the time.
Fitch cut the country to C.
"In Fitch's opinion, the exchange, if completed, would
constitute a 'distressed debt exchange' (DDE) in line with its
criteria, as the operation adversely impacts the original
contractual terms of domestic bondholders," the agency said on
Jamaica has been in talks with the International Monetary
Fund to discuss a new lending agreement that it hopes will
steady the economy of the debt-ridden Caribbean nation.
On Monday, according to Thomson Reuters IFR, Jamaican Prime
Minister Portia Simpson Miller announced plans to reduce the
country's debt as a pre-condition for implementation of a new
IMF loan program.
The debt exchange offer seeks to exchange Jamaica's
domestically issued debt.
(Reporting By Daniel Bases and Luciana Lopez)