September 3, 2019 / 6:20 PM / 18 days ago

Venezuela opposition retains U.S. law firm Sullivan & Cromwell in debt restructuring

CARACAS (Reuters) - U.S. law firm Sullivan & Cromwell LLP will be the lead counsel for Venezuela’s opposition as it seeks to restructure the country’s foreign debt, opposition leader Juan Guaido’s overseas legal representative said on Tuesday.

President Nicolas Maduro’s government has defaulted on most of roughly $60 billion in foreign bonds issued by Venezuela and state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A., known as PDVSA, but has had minimal contact with creditors about addressing the situation.

Guaido, the leader of the opposition-run Congress who has been recognized by more than 50 countries as Venezuela’s rightful leader, is preparing for a negotiating process after Maduro leaves power. The legislature last month said it would form a commission to eventually renegotiate the debt.

Venezuela is mired in a hyperinflationary economic crisis that has led to shortages of food and medicine and prompted more than 4 million people to emigrate. Making debt payments in those circumstances would likely draw criticism from some sectors of the opposition who believe helping the vulnerable should be a priority.

The law firm offered “an accommodation on legal cost for an initial period” due to the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, Guaido’s office said in a statement posted on Twitter.

Sergio Galvis, Sullivan & Cromwell’s head of Latin American and Sovereign Finance practices, and Jim Bromley, the co-head of the firm’s Restructuring Group, will lead the negotiating team, according to the statement.

Sullivan & Cromwell did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reporting by Luc Cohen; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Leslie Adler

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