August 21, 2013 / 1:46 AM / 6 years ago

Venezuela to auction $300 mln in bonds through Sicad forex system

CARACAS, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Venezuela’s central bank said on Tuesday it will auction $300 million in previously issued dollar-denominated bonds through the Sicad currency exchange system, part of an effort to boost the flow of dollars to the economy.

The auction will offer bonds from state oil company PDVSA maturing in 2035 to participating businesses, marking the first time Sicad has auctioned debt rather than cash.

PDVSA in 2012 issued $3.3 billion in bonds in a private placement with the central bank that included bonds maturing in 2035. Companies buying those securities at this week’s auction will resell them for dollars to pay for imports.

Corporate participants will be restricted to companies importing food and beverages, bicycles and parts, toys, textiles and chemicals. Offers will be received until Thursday and results will be announced on Friday.

The central bank said Sicad will also auction $30 million to individuals for foreign travel, without making reference to the bond arrangement.

Sicad, which operates in parallel with a decade-long currency control mechanism, provides dollars at a weaker rate than the official exchange rate of 6.3 bolivars.

Government leaders insist it is helping overcome foreign exchange bottlenecks, which private economists describe as one of the reasons for a sharp growth slowdown during the first quarter.

Business leaders complain of unclear criteria for determining winners. They say it does not ensure a consistent supply of currency because companies do not know in advance if their industry will be able to participate.

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