South America

Two sugar mills in Brazil owned by India’s Shree Renuka Sugars Ltd, which filed for bankruptcy protection three years ago, will be put up for sale in a judicial auction on Dec. 18, according to court documents seen by Reuters on Wednesday, Reuters reported. U.S.-based fund Castlelake is among the interested parties in the auction, two sources following Renuka’s court case told Reuters. Brazil’s Grupo Teston, which makes equipment for the sugar industry, is also a potential bidder, the sources said. Castlelake and Teston had no immediate comment.

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After four years, dozens of arrests and a handful of restructurings, holders of bonds from Brazil’s construction giants are still suffering the fallout from a corruption scandal that all but halted the industry in Latin America, Bloomberg News reported. The building unit of Odebrecht, which was forced into talks with banks earlier this year amid dwindling cash flow and a dearth of new projects, is again seeking help to deal with debt it can’t afford to pay back, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

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Brazilian food processor BRF SA posted a wider-than-expected quarterly loss on Thursday as trade embargoes, a drop in sales volumes and higher feed prices weighed on management’s efforts to turn the company around, Reuters reported. In its second quarter after a corporate restructuring following a string of bad financial and operating results, BRF said it lost 812 million reais ($218 million). That was almost double the average loss of 443 million reais forecast by analysts, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

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Brazilian companies are again looking to raise capital by selling shares or refinancing debt as the pre-election uncertainty that put such dealmaking into a deep freeze gives way to optimism after the selection of market-friendly candidate Jair Bolsonaro as president, five people familiar with the matter told Reuters. One of the sources, who asked for anonymity to disclose details of private negotiations, said that up to 10 companies are in talks with investment bankers to sell shares and five other companies are planning bond transactions by January, Reuters reported.

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Brazil’s largest private lender, Itaú Unibanco Holding SA, may pursue loans with a higher risk of defaults in the near future as a way to accelerate loan-book growth, Chief Executive Candido Bracher said on Tuesday. Bracher told analysts on a conference call that a proposal to increase loan-risk appetite will be submitted to the bank’s board, without specifying when it could be implemented. Itaú’s move toward riskier loans would address the concerns of some analysts, who believe that remaining too cautious has hindered lending, Reuters reported.

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Venezuela just forked over almost $1 billion to stay current on a bond backed by shares of its U.S. refiner Citgo, Bloomberg News reported. The question is why. Yes, the payment ensures that Venezuela’s state-run oil company PDVSA gets to hold onto Citgo Holding Inc. for now, but many analysts think it’s just a matter of time before it has to forfeit the company. "It is hard to visualize a scenario in which Venezuela does not sooner or later lose Citgo to one of its defaulted creditors," Francisco Rodriguez, chief economist at brokerage Torino Capital, wrote in a note on Monday.

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An arbitration chamber run by Brazil’s Sao Paulo Stock Exchange has temporarily suspended a capital hike planned by Oi SA in order to adjudicate a dispute between the major telecommunications company and a shareholder, Reuters reported. In a statement on Monday, Oi shareholder Pharol SGPS SA said it had been given until Nov. 5 to present additional arguments to the body regarding the legality of the planned capital raise.

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The International Monetary Fund’s executive board approved a $56.3 billion credit line for Argentina, clearing the way for the embattled South American economy to receive a larger amount of funding at a faster pace than originally negotiated, Bloomberg News reported. The board’s sign-off Friday ratified a revised agreement announced in September. Under the new deal, Argentina will receive about $35.8 billion throughout the remainder of this year and all of 2019, representing nearly a $19 billion increase from the original arrangement negotiated in June.

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A Portuguese court approved on Friday a debt restructuring plan that was passed by creditors in major Brazilian telecom firm Oi SA, marking a step forward in the company’s tortured bankruptcy recovery process, Reuters reported. With the court’s approval, seen by Reuters, bankruptcy courts in all relevant jurisdictions - Brazil, the United States, the Netherlands, and now Portugal - have signed off on the recovery plan, which was approved by creditors in December.

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