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A little justice in Argentina’s debt saga

Who says the little guys always lose out?


Hidden among the long-running Argentina debt saga is a small snippet of good news for a sub-set of investors who have suffered a torrid time throughout the last two decades of Argentine debt negotiations.

The story starts all the way back in 2001.

Italian banks then held roughly €15 billion in Argentine debt that was clearly heading for default.

The euro was being introduced then, and suddenly there were a lot of Italian retail investors looking aghast at the new low eurozone interest rates.

At 11%, Argentine debt was yielding roughly the same as the old Italian bonds – and so the risk passed from the banks to these retail investors.

Then default happened.

The same Italian banks that had sold them the debt led the negotiations for these investors in the first round but, given clear conflicts of interest, no agreement came. Nor were these retail investors included in the 2010 agreement.

As the Argentine government passed through rounds of debt negotiations, these bonds continued to fall through the cracks.

The logistical challenges of tracing and contacting individual holders, compounded by the relatively small size of this  tranche (less than 1% of the recent $65 billion restructuring) created practical and costly challenges.


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