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Merrill Lynch wins injunction in Novo Banco bail-in row

In the latest twist in a complicated and controversial saga, the administrative court in Lisbon has provisionally blocked the Bank of Portugal's attempt to bail in some of its senior bondholders.

On Thursday it issued a precautionary injunction, halting the transfer of a tranche of bonds (PTBENKM0012) from state-rescued Novo Banco back to bad bank BES and demanded they be transferred back to Novo Banco. 

The move was requested by Merrill Lynch, an investor in the bonds. The Bank of Portugal was given 10 days to respond.

"There has been no definitive decision by the court," insists the Bank of Portugal. "The Lisbon administrative court provisionally issued a precautionary injunction concerning one series of bonds, without hearing the Bank of Portugal's position.

"The Bank of Portugal respects the provisional decision, but will immediately request that it be lifted."

The Bank of Portugal has taken an aggressive stance in its attempt to bail in bondholders and plug Novo Banco's capital hole. The patience of the Portuguese public has been sorely tested with a series of bank bailouts and the central bank's options are limited. 

The transfer of these bonds together with four other tranches of bonds back to BES at the end of last year provoked uproar in the market and was an inauspicious debut for Europe's Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive. 

For the full story see Banking: Portugal’s bail-in bombshell.

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