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Argentina: Worth holding out for

Proposals to make a settlement with hold-outs to Argentina’s defaulted bonds could raise the country much-needed funds.

In a speech in New York last month, Argentina’s president, Cristina Fernández Kirchner, announced a major change of stance on the bond hold-outs. She said the government was considering a proposed deal for the remaining $20 billion of defaulted bonds from the 2001 crisis. She said the terms of the proposals were more favourable to Argentina than those in the 2005 swap, which carried a 76% haircut.

A group of investment banks, representing holders of $10 billion of the defaulted bonds, put forward a proposal for a bond swap that could be seen as a win-win for the country and the hold-outs. Hedge funds are likely to benefit most as they will be able to sell an asset at 40% of face value that has been trading at 30%. There are three key terms the Argentine government must satisfy.

First, it must issue dollar-denominated discounts due in 2033. Second, it must pay interest accrued in discount bonds and not in cash, as was the case in 2005. Third, GDP warrants must be issued along with the new discounts (although the government will not make any retroactive payments on the warrants).

This third requirement could be crucial for Argentine investors.

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