South America

Less than two years after Argentina made a splash in markets by selling a $2.75 billion, 100-year bond, another debt restructuring is a real possibility after President Mauricio Macri was routed in a primary election, Bloomberg News reported. Money managers and analysts from firms including Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp. say investors are likely to recoup less than 40 cents on the dollar on its notes if Argentina reneges on its debt for the third time in two decades.

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The cost of insuring against an Argentine sovereign default climbed on Tuesday as Hernan Lacunza was sworn in as the new treasury minister of the crisis-hit country, Reuters reported. Argentine 5-year credit default swaps (CDS) were quoted by IHS Markit at 2,990 basis points (bps), up 77 bps from Monday’s closing level of 2,913 bps. Markit calculations, based on Monday’s closing prices, estimate a 82% probability of a sovereign default within the next five years.

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Shares in Brazilian telecoms carrier Oi SA posted heavy losses on Tuesday, after media reports that its largest shareholder, GoldenTree Asset Management, is seeking to replace Oi’s Chief Executive Officer Eurico Teles, Reuters reported. Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo reported earlier on Tuesday that GoldenTree, which holds a 14.5% stake in the company, sent a letter to the board saying Oi needs a CEO “that may execute the operational restructuring recently proposed,” the paper said, mentioning the letter was dated Aug. 16.

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The slump in the Argentine peso last week made the country’s pile of debt much harder to repay, signaling a renegotiation may again be in the cards for the South American nation, Bloomberg News reported. As of March 31, Argentina had $33.7 billion in foreign-currency debt payments due by year-end, the majority in short-term Treasury bills, or Letes, according to the latest debt report by the Finance Ministry. Most of that still needs to be repaid.

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After a brief respite at the end of last week, Argentina’s debt is getting hammered again. The nation’s offshore notes approached new lows on Monday, close to wiping out the small rebound from late last week, after the country was downgraded deeper into junk territory by two of the three biggest ratings companies and the Economy Minister Nicolas Dujovne resigned, Bloomberg News reported. The extra yield investors demand to own Argentine bonds over U.S.

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Fitch Ratings has downgraded Argentina, citing concerns about the country’s capacity to repay its debt following a collapse in the peso triggered by the surprise victory of Peronist Alberto Fernández over incumbent president Mauricio Macri in recent primary elections, the Financial Times reported. The rating agency slashed Argentina’s rating to CCC and warned the country could lose market access should Mr Fernandez move sharply away from the policy path set forth by the current administration.

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The Argentine opposition candidate, Alberto Fernandez, said that the country would struggle under present conditions to repay a loan to the International Monetary Fund and he would seek to renegotiate the repayment terms, according to an interview published on Sunday by the newspaper Clarin, Reuters reported. “I would say that there is only one incontrovertible reality and that is that Argentina in these conditions is not able to repay the debts it took on,” said Fernandez, the favorite to win the October elections.

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Brazilian telecom carrier Oi SA reported a steepening second-quarter net loss on Wednesday, confounding expectations for a narrower shortfall, as debt servicing costs rose and the real currency weakened, Reuters reported. In a securities filing, the company posted a quarterly loss of 1.559 billion reais ($384.81 million), compared to a loss of 1.258 billion reais in the same period of the previous year. Analysts on average expected a net loss of 437 million reais, according to Refinitiv data.

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In a related story, Bloomberg News reported that Argentina’s century bonds may have been in the spotlight as the country’s assets tumbled this week, but there’s another 100-mark looming: the yield on its domestic securities. Peso bonds have lost almost half their value in dollar terms since President Mauricio Macri’s defeat in last weekend’s primary election, which sparked fears that populist opposition leader Alberto Fernandez will defeat him in the main vote in October. Prices on short-dated securities maturing in November next year have collapsed to 63 cents, equating to a yield of 89%.

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