Belize Seeks to Avoid Default on Superbonds Through Talks

Belize’s government aims to restructure its debt through negotiations with bondholders and will consider any proposal presented, Prime Minister Dean Barrow told reporters in Belize City Wednesday, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. The country has worked in “good faith” with its creditors and is willing to discuss alternative restructuring scenarios, Barrow said, while stating that the government would only accept proposals that involved sustainable debt levels. “Debt sustainability is the whole and entire object of this exercise,” Barrow said. “It is clear that serious good faith, face-to-face negotiations are the only root to a consensual solution.” The Central American country skipped a $23 million coupon payment on $544 million of bonds due in 2029 on Aug. 20. Finance Secretary Joseph Waight said the same day that the government is unlikely to make the payment during a 30-day grace period and has instead offered bondholders three different restructuring options. Facing slowing economic growth and rising expenditures after the nationalization of telecommunications and electricity companies, Barrow said the $1.4 billion economy couldn’t afford to continue payments on the debt. The coupon on the bonds climbed to 8.5 percent this year from 6 percent as part of an agreement reached with bondholders in a 2007 restructuring. Read more.