South America

Colombia’s government formally presented a $3.95 billion tax-reform bill to congress, even as unions and student groups sought to revive the street protests that helped scupper the reform’s original iteration, Reuters reported. The law would raise 15.2 trillion pesos per year, significantly less than the 23.4 trillion pesos sought by the government in an April proposal that was later withdrawn amid sometimes-deadly protests and lawmaker opposition.

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More than 1.5 million children worldwide saw a parent, custodial grandparent or other relative who cared for them die from COVID-19, according to a study published by the Lancet, UPI reported. Of these children, more than 1 million experienced one or both parents dying during the first 14 months of the pandemic, and another 500,000 experienced the death of a grandparent caregiver living in their own home, the data showed.

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A new weapon is gaining traction in the fight against the economic fallout of Covid-19: Debt sales designed to alleviate suffering, Bloomberg reported. Governments and companies in emerging markets have sold close to $16 billion of so-called social bonds so far this year, on pace to shatter last year’s total, according to data compiled by Bloomberg as of close on July 19. These bonds, with proceeds earmarked specifically for projects that address human needs — such as health, hunger and education — have already lured fresh investment to Chile and Ecuador, and soon, Ghana.

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Creditors of bankrupt miner Samarco Mineracao SA, a joint venture between Vale SA and BHP Group Plc, objected to the company's restructuring plan on Thursday, according to a court document, Reuters reported. Creditors said the plan's main goal is to protect Samarco's giant shareholders, Vale and BHP, and reduce future payments to creditors. They also rejected Samarco's offer to apply an 85% haircut to all creditors, including shareholders Vale and BHP, which extended 24 billion reais in loans to the company. Debt payments to creditors would occur in 2041.

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The court that had declared the bankruptcy of Correo Argentino SA, belonging to the family of ex-Argentine president Mauricio Macri (2015-2019), decided to provisionally suspend proceedings on Wednesday, after the company appealed the measure, the Rio Times reported. The ruling was issued by Commercial Court 6, headed by Judge Marta Cirulli who granted the appeal filed by Correo Argentino SA and and granted "suspensive force" of all proceedings arising from the bankruptcy.
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Brazilian telecom Oi SA said on Wednesday it had received the go-ahead from a court to sell a majority stake in its fiber optic business to funds managed by Banco BTG Pactual, Reuters reported. Oi, which filed for bankruptcy protection in 2016 and has since been selling assets to pay creditors, said the court had determined there were no other bids on the table. Oi in April accepted a 12.9 billion reais ($2.5 billion) offer for a 57.9% stake in its fiber optic business from BTG’s funds.
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The part owner of Chilean bank Itau Corpbanca on Thursday secured court approval in Delaware to fend off any potential creditor attempts to collect debts owed as it works to restructure in the U.S., Reuters reported. Corp Group Banking SA (CGB), represented by Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, filed for chapter 11 protection on June 25 to restructure nearly $2 billion in debt. That figure includes $500 million in bonds issued under New York law on which the company has defaulted. CGB, which is controlled by Chilean billionaire Alvaro Saieh, holds 26.2% of the bank’s common equity.

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Petroleo Brasileiro SA raised about $2.3 billion through the sale of its remaining stake in Brazil’s largest fuel distributor in the biggest equity transaction in Latin America this year, Bloomberg reported. Petrobras, as the company is known, fully exited Petrobras Distribuidora SA in an offering that priced at 26 reais ($5.23) a piece, according to company filings. The sale is part of a broader plan from the oil giant to exit non-core businesses, cut debt and focus on deep-water projects. The downsizing is also part of the government’s strategy to divest state-run assets.

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Bolivia’s government has arrested a former Treasury Ministry official as part of an investigation into a loan from the International Monetary Fund that was renounced by new President Luís Arce, the Associated Press reported. Former Vice Minister Carlos Schlink was arrested Tuesday as he was trying to leave the country, according to prosecutor Manuel Saavedra. Three former treasury ministers also are under investigation. Schlink served under former interim President Jeanine Áñez, who herself has been detained on charges of sedition.
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Corp Group Banking SA, a Chilean financial holding company controlled by billionaire Alvaro Saieh, filed for bankruptcy after the coronavirus pandemic sparked an economic slowdown that worsened fortunes in the banking sector, Bloomberg News reported. The Santiago-based company on Friday sought chapter 11 protection from creditors in the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. The move was expected after the company skipped an interest payment last year on $500 million of 6.75% notes due 2023 and didn’t cure it when a grace period expired Oct. 15.

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