South America

Samarco Mineracao SA, a joint venture between Brazilian miner Vale SA and BHP Group Ltd, has filed for bankruptcy protection to prevent creditors’ claims from affecting its operations, Vale said in a Friday securities filing, Reuters reported. The collapse of a dam at the Samarco mine complex in 2015 killed 19 people and severely polluted the Doce River with mining waste, one of Brazil’s worst environmental disasters. The facility, which resumed production in December, is the focus of significant litigation from bondholders holding nearly $5 billion in debt.
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Stoneway Capital Ltd., the owner of four power plants in Argentina, filed for bankruptcy in New York on Wednesday after an Argentine Supreme Court ruling against the company prolonged the closure of one of its generation facilities, WSJ Pro Bankruptcy reported. Stoneway missed an interest payment on March 1, 2020, and soon after entered forbearance agreements with its creditors, according to a declaration filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York by David Mack, Stoneway’s sole director.
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Argentine Finance Minister Martin Guzman said finalizing a plan with the International Monetary Fund to repay $45 billion in debt likely won’t happen by May or June, Bloomberg News reported. Changing the terms of a previous repayment program would require the support of nations like the U.S., China, Germany, Japan and France, the finance minister said in an interview with CNN Espanol. The Argentine government is unable to pay the IMF the $45 billion required between September 2021 and 2024, he said.
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Suriname skidded into default after the government ran out of time to convince bondholders to yet again push back bond payments, Bloomberg News reported. Fitch Ratings downgraded the nation to RD from C and declared default on the $675 million of dollar bonds due in 2023 and 2026 after the country failed to make an already delayed debt payment on March 31. That’s Suriname’s third default event of the Covid era per Fitch’s criteria.
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Net losses at airline Avianca Holdings increased 22% to $1.09 billion in 2020, due to the near-paralysis of global air travel because of COVID-19, Reuters reported. The airline, which is carrying out a restructuring process under the chapter 11 bankruptcy law, had losses of $894 million in 2019. Operations contracted 74% year-on-year, the airline said in a filing to Colombia’s financial regulator, while operating income was down to $1.71 billion, from $4.62 billion in 2019.
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Bondholders filed suit in New York on Tuesday against Argentina's Buenos Aires province after talks broke down over restructuring $7.1 billion in provincial debt as the country’s leftist government seeks a larger accommodation with the International Monetary Fund to regain market access, WSJ Pro Bankruptcy reported. GoldenTree Asset Management LP and other investment firms sought a judgment in the U.S. District Court in New York over the province’s failure to make debt payments stretching back to April of last year.
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A unit of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA on the Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire has declared bankruptcy, citing the impact of U.S. sanctions on Venezuela, a court filing showed, Reuters reported. In a March 9 filing published last week by the Court of First Instance of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, PDVSA-owned Bonaire Petroleum Corporation (BOPEC) said it could no longer pay its debts because sanctions had cut off its “access to international trade,” as well as cash held in bank accounts.
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Hundreds of Brazilian economists, including former finance ministers and central bank presidents, urged the Brazilian government in an open letter published on Monday to speed up vaccination and adopt tougher restrictions to stop the rampant spread of COVID-19, the Associated Press reported. The signatories of the letter decried the “devastating” economic and social situation in Latin America’s largest nation. They also attempted to debunk President Jair Bolsonaro’s assertion that lockdowns and restrictions would inflict greater hardship on the population than the disease.
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After nearly a year of extending the deadline of its debt restructuring proposal, fresh documents published by Argentina’s largest province show talks remain stuck, Bloomberg News reported. The province of Buenos Aires presented the details of a proposal shown to one of its largest creditors, GoldenTree Asset Management, under a nondisclosure agreement which has since expired, according to a statement posted online.

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