Chile

Latin American vehicle importer and distributor Automotores Gildemeister SpA has filed for bankruptcy protection in the U.S. with a prepackaged reorganization plan to cut about $200 million in debt, WSJ Pro Bankruptcy reported. The Santiago, Chile-based company, along with 12 affiliates, filed for chapter 11 Monday in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York. The privately held company had warned earlier this month that it would file for reorganization in the U.S. with support from its international noteholders.
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LATAM Airlines Group, the region’s largest airline, on Tuesday reported a loss of $962.5 million in the fourth quarter, hurt by a second wave of the pandemic which has hit Latin America particularly hard, Reuters reported. LATAM filed for bankruptcy protection last May and is still going through a court-supervised reorganization in the United States. Overall in 2020, the airline lost $4.6 billion, compared with a pre-pandemic profit of $196 million in 2019.
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Latin America’s luck will change. Pandemic lockdowns caused more regional corporations to default between early May and June. But yield-starved investors will ignore some of these risks, Reuters reported. There’s a lot of bad news to ignore. The International Monetary Fund expects Latin American and Caribbean economies to contract by more than 8% in 2020, the most of any region, with only a 3.6% improvement in 2021. And non-financial companies with foreign debt have seen revenue dented by a combined $200 billion due to the pandemic, Fitch Ratings estimates.

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LATAM Airlines has presented a new $2.45 billion financing proposal in the middle of its bankruptcy protection process in the United States, replacing a proposed debtor-in-possession loan that prompted the judge to reject the original plan earlier this month, Reuters reported. LATAM, the largest air transport company in Latin America, told the Chilean securities regulator in a letter on Wednesday night that the new debtor-in-possession loan maintained “basically” the structure presented in July.

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A U.S. bankruptcy judge on Thursday rejected a $2.4 billion financing plan for struggling LATAM Airlines on the grounds that a convertible loan included as part of the package would amount to “improper” treatment of other shareholders, Reuters reported. The move is a setback for LATAM, which needs short-term liquidity. But in a lengthy court decision, the judge left the door open for the Chilean carrier to introduce a similar financing plan in the future, this time without the possibility of converting part of the loan into equity. The airline had no immediate comment on the decision.

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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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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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LATAM Airlines Group, the continent’s largest carrier, filed for U.S. bankruptcy protection on Tuesday, becoming the world’s largest carrier so far to seek an emergency reorganization due to the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported. The filing highlights the financial weakness of Latin America’s carriers, following a similar bankruptcy earlier this month by the region’s No. 2 airline, Avianca Holdings. But unlike Avianca, which experienced management turmoil and losses, Chile’s LATAM posted profits for the last four consecutive years totaling more than $700 million.

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Chile’s Latam Airlines Group SA has hired U.S. investment boutique PJT Partners to explore debt restructuring options that may include bankruptcy protection filings in three countries, Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo reported late on Monday, Reuters reported. According to the paper, which cites sources with knowledge of the matter, Latam is considering filing for Chapter 11 in the U.S. and equivalent bankruptcy protection in Chile and Brazil, where are the company’s largest operations.

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Latin America’s economy was already going backward when the coronavirus hit. Now it’s at risk of losing a whole decade –- and pushing fragile democracies closer to their breaking points, Bloomberg News reported. Like most of the world, the region is bracing for the deepest recession in its modern history. Bank of America expects a 4.4% slump in output this year as the epidemic spreads. But what’s distinctive about Latin America is that incomes had already been declining for years –- driven in part by lower commodity prices.

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