Buenos Aires Scares Creditors Into Accepting Bond Swap

Axel Kicillof, the outspoken governor of Buenos Aires, called journalists to one of the province’s opulent 19th-century mansions and conceded defeat. It was early 2020, just weeks before the pandemic hit, and Kicillof, a man reviled in investing circles for his brash negotiating style when he was economy minister during Argentina’s default a decade ago, was once again doing battle with creditors. This time around, he lamented bondholders’ “enormous intransigence” in refusing his province’s request to delay a $250 million bond payment. He eventually coughed up that money for investors, but now it seems like the 49-year-old governor may have gotten retribution. The province announced Monday it managed to cram through a restructuring for almost all its $7.1 billion of defaulted debt, swapping it for new securities valued at just over 50 cents on the dollar, Bloomberg News reported. Some creditors are grumbling that Argentina’s wealthiest province could have done better, but say in practical terms they had no other choice than to accept the deal. That’s because the offer was structured in such a way that investors either needed to vote in favor of it, or risk getting dragged along at much worse terms. Their ability to fight was also hampered by the province’s plan to use complex legal tactics that would make it easier to compel reluctant creditors to take part in the deal, a strategy that also irked investors during Argentina’s sovereign debt restructuring last year. Read more.