Exclusive: Argentina bondholder group ACC makes new debt offer to government

LONDON (Reuters) - One of Argentina’s main creditor groups has submitted a new offer to the government in the country’s $65 billion debt talks in a bid to secure a deal by a deadline later this month, bondholder sources have told Reuters.

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The Argentina Creditor Committee (ACC), which includes over 30 funds and investment firms, made the new offer of around 54.5 cents per dollar after smoothing out recent internal tensions, the sources said.

The offer is a modest shift down from the 55-56 cents that bondholders would have received for their securities under the ACC’s previous proposal. The ACC hopes it could also get the backing of the two other main creditor groups involved in the debt talks.

“The idea is to try and get broad support,” one bondholder told Reuters on the condition of anonymity.

The move comes at a crucial stage in talks with the Argentine government.

The debt negotiations have been extended a number of times in an effort to reach a deal, though the other two main creditor groups, the “Ad Hoc” and “Exchange” groups, complained this week of a lack of “meaningful engagement” from the government since mid-June.

Pressure is building with the next deadline for an agreement looming on July 24 and the coronavirus compounding a long recession that has already battered the government’s capacity to repay its debts.

A source close to the government’s thinking told Reuters earlier on Thursday that it was willing to bring forward its proposed payment schedule on restructured debt to make its latest offer of around 50 cents per dollar plus sweeteners, proposed on June 8, more attractive to creditors.

The ACC bondholders who spoke to Reuters said the 54.5 cents per bond value of the deal included so-called past-due interest (PDI) on defaulted bonds which has been building up at around $10-15 million a day since late May.

Under the new ACC proposal, the PDI is recognised 100% until July 29 and is given via a bond that matures in 2030 with extremely low coupons, one said.

The offer also has 66 2/3 eligibility clause, meaning that the exchange should only go ahead if this amount of bonds tender.

“It requires only some date adjustments and a reduction in the haircut from 3 to 2% on the front-end bonds with respect to Argentina’s offer from the 8th June,” the person added.

A creditor source with knowledge of the talks said the Ad Hoc bondholder group including names like BlackRock and Fidelity would not support the new ACC proposal.

The person added there had been no engagement by Argentina with the Ad Hoc group since talks stalled in mid-June: “The government seems to be doing everything possible to avoid negotiating with the country’s most significant creditors.”

Reporting by Marc Jones; Additional reporting by Karin Strohecker; Editing by Catherine Evans, Susan Fenton and Andrea Ricci