Brazil

Brazilian airline Azul SA said on Tuesday it had reached an agreement with its aircraft lessors that would help it save some 3.2 billion reais ($594.61 million) in working capital through 2021 and be repaid beginning in 2023, Reuters reported. The airline has been in negotiations with lessors as the coronavirus crisis derailed Latin America’s air travel industry in March. Azul hired a restructuring firm when the crisis set in and said it was renegotiating its debts out of court to avoid a potential Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

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Brazil's top four listed lenders are giving months-long extensions for consumers and companies to repay 235 billion reais ($43.98 billion) in outstanding loans, a move to give financially squeezed borrowers breathing room, the International New York Times reported on a Reuters story. The loans subject to forbearance programs, which range from 13% of Banco Santander Brasil SA's portfolio to 10% of Itau Unibanco Holding SA's, are an indicator of potential defaults.

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A Brazilian high court ruled on Thursday that the 11 billion reais ($2 billion) debt owed by bankrupt telecom Grupo Oi SA to Brazil’s telecommunications regulator Anatel will not get preferential treatment in restructuring negotiations, Reuters reported. The Superior Court of Justice, known as STJ, Brazil’s second-highest court, ruled that the debt was administrative and could not be given priority treatment. Brazil’s biggest fixed-line telecommunications operator filed for bankruptcy protection in June 2016. Oi had about 65 billion reais of debt at the time.

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Itau Unibanco Holding SA’s Chief Executive Candido Bracher said on Tuesday that next year he sees Brazil’s 90-day default ratio reaching higher levels than in previous crisis, Reuters reported. “Brazil’s GDP is poised to drop by unseen levels, so it is natural that there will be higher loan delinquency rates,”, Bracher told journalists in a conference call. Itau’s 90-day delinquency ratio reached a peak of 5.6% in 2009 and 4.8% amid a recession in 2016. Its second-quarter loan default was at 2.7%, but Bracher said he sees it going up next year, as grace periods extended to clients end.

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Brazil’s Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes on Friday said its daily cash burn could quadruple in the next three months compared with the second quarter, adding to heavy 2020 losses already totaling 4.3 billion reais ($823.3 million), Reuters reported. Brazil’s largest domestic carrier, like almost all airlines around the world, is reeling from the impact of the coronavirus crisis on travel. It reported a net loss of 2 billion reais in the quarter. Gol’s own forecasts show it could face a liquidity crunch soon. The airline is scheduled to repay $300 million to Delta Air Lines in September.

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LATAM Airlines will fire “at least” 2,700 workers in Brazil, including pilots, its Brazilian arm said on Saturday, as the bankrupt carrier struggles to cut costs and cope with an industry collapse due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Reuters reported. In a statement, LATAM Brasil said it opened a voluntary redundancy process on Friday which will run through Aug. 4, after which a further minimum 2,700 jobs will be cut. The announcement followed the breakdown in talks with the SNA union over workers’ pay, the statement said. O Globo and O Estado de S.

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Latin America is at the centre of the coronavirus pandemic, suffering some of the worst infection rates and highest death tolls in the world, the Financial Times reported. Now economists warn that the region faces more bad news: its sickly economies risk falling into a new debt crisis even worse than the last big bust of the 1980s. The continent was struggling with multiple “pre-existing conditions” before the virus took hold: anaemic growth, weak health systems, low tax revenues, high levels of borrowing and an over-reliance on commodity exports.

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LATAM Airlines, the largest airline group in Latin America, said today that it had secured an additional $1.3 billion for its financing proposal before a New York bankruptcy court, while adding its unit in Brazil to the debt restructuring process, Reuters reported. LATAM filed for U.S. bankruptcy protection in May, aiming to reorder $18 billion in debt. It was the world’s largest airline to date to seek an emergency reorganization due to the coronavirus pandemic. Today it said it had secured an additional $1.3 billion in funding from Oaktree Capital Management L.P.

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Bankrupt LATAM Airlines and Avianca Holdings are dramatically retrenching their once grand ambitions amid the COVID-19 pandemic, reducing competition in Latin America as they mull once-unthinkable cooperation with rivals, Reuters reported. Since May, LATAM has exited Argentina, partnered with rival Azul SA in Brazil and cut back domestic operations in Chile, while Avianca has departed Peru. LATAM is now open to a deeper alliance with Azul, even as the two airlines usually control a combined 60% of Brazil’s domestic market.

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Antonio Barbosa had hoped to find new employment when the bakery he worked at in São Paulo fell victim to Brazil’s prolonged economic slump, the Financial Times reported. Then the coronavirus pandemic struck, all but killing off the 41-year-old’s hopes of finding work and leaving him sleeping on the streets. “I fear things will not get better in this country, so I will never have a job again,” he said. His plight reflects the enormous challenges confronting Latin America’s largest economy.

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