Chile

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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Even in an industry devastated by the coronavirus crisis, Latin American airlines stand out. Five of the biggest carriers in the region -- Latam Airlines Group SA, Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA, Azul SA, Avianca and Volaris -- have seen about $12 billion in their market value wiped out since the end of January through Wednesday’s close, Bloomberg News reported. On average, their stock tumbled 78% in local currency terms, more than all 23 members in the Bloomberg World Airlines Index. The global gauge is down 46% in the period.

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Latin American airlines need prompt government aid or many of them could go out of business as the global coronavirus outbreak forces widespread flight cancellations, the chief of regional airline association ALTA said…However, Chile’s economy minister dismissed the idea of providing aid to the country’s flagship carrier, the largest in the continent, Reuters reported.

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Chile is on the brink of losing its hard-won reputation as the safest bet in Latin America following the biggest social upheaval in a generation. One month into a wave of mass protests Chile’s credit-default swaps are near those of the region’s other most stable countries, Bloomberg News reported. The gap between the spread on its five-year CDS and Peru’s has narrowed 21 basis points to two basis points. The gap with Panama has disappeared over the same period, with the Central American nation now 0.6 basis point below Chile.

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