Venezuela creditors meet with Rothschild in London: sources

LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Venezuelan creditors’ meeting in London on Thursday to discuss how to handle the cash-strapped country’s request to restructure some $60 billion in outstanding bonds drew sovereign debt advisers including Rothschild, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The meeting, organized by UK-based hedge fund MacroSynergy Partners, aimed to discuss a likely path forward on debt issued by the government and state-owned oil company PDVSA, as well as whether to form an informal, ad-hoc bondholder committee, according to an invitation seen by Reuters.

Among those in attendance were lawyers from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, including Lee Buchheit, a partner who specializes in sovereign debt restructurings.

Rothschild ROTH.PA, the Paris-based global advisory firm, also participated, two sources familiar with the meeting told Reuters, a sign that top financial firms are interested in advising on what could be one of the world's most complex sovereign debt workouts ever.

Investors participating in the meeting declined to comment afterward. Rothschild and Cleary Gottlieb officials did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

The meeting was one of the most concrete signs yet that holders of Venezuelan bonds are meeting with each other to strategize on how to handle the country’s deeply distressed bonds. The country’s debt has plunged further this month after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced that he wants to restructure it.

While he has said Venezuela will keep servicing its obligations for now, bondholders ranging from hedge funds to emerging market funds are starting to lay the foundations for what could be a bitter showdown over the OPEC-member nation’s debt down the road.

Venezuelan bonds ended the day mostly in negative territory, with its 2019 $2.5 billion sovereign bond down 2 percent at 25.125 and yielding 90 percent. The PDVSA 2022 bond fell 1.8 percent to 30, with a yield of 72.9 percent.

Reporting by Sujata Rao in London and Paul Kilby in New York; additional reporting by Tom Hals in Delaware; editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Cynthia Osterman