South America

Colombia’s disaster fund will lend as much as $370 million to Avianca Holdings SA to help with its restructuring after a halt in travel during the Covid-19 pandemic forced the company into bankruptcy, the country’s finance ministry said in a statement, Bloomberg News reported. The emergency mitigation fund’s committee approved the government-backed loan, due November 2021, under the framework of debtor-in-possession financing the company is seeking in its U.S. bankruptcy court case, the ministry said in a statement on Friday.

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Low-income countries face long-term scarring that could undo gains in cutting poverty achieved over the past seven to 10 years because of damage from the Covid-19 pandemic, the International Monetary Fund said, Bloomberg News reported. “Absent a sustained international effort to support them, permanent scars are likely to harm development prospects, exacerbate inequality, and threaten to wipe out a decade of progress reducing poverty,” Daniel Gurara, Stefania Fabrizio, and Johannes Wiegand, economists at the Washington-based institution, wrote in a blog Thursday.

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Argentina’s government formally requested negotiations to begin with the International Monetary Fund on a new program to replace a record $57 billion agreement from 2018 which failed to lift its crisis-prone economy, Bloomberg News reported. Officials called for the beginning of consultations ahead of a program that will address $44 billion in payments owed to the multilateral lender as part of its previous arrangement that was never fully disbursed, according to a letter sent to IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and posted on Twitter on Wednesday.

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Colombian businesses on Monday asked the government to secure a loan from the central bank for between 30 trillion and 50 trillion pesos ($7.84 billion to $13.1 billion) to bail out companies at risk of collapse due to the impact of coronavirus, Reuters reported. Proposals include a rescue package in which companies could issue bonds for future conversion to shares, as well as a capitalization program under which the government would take part ownership of businesses, Colombian Business Association President Bruce Mac Master said.

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As serial defaulters Argentina and Ecuador near the finishing line on their latest sovereign debt overhauls, foreign creditors are nervy about investing again without macroeconomic reforms and International Monetary Fund support, Reuters reported. On the surface, the prospects for both countries look brighter. Absent complicated negotiations with the IMF, a clean slate post-debt restructuring will allow them to focus on reviving their COVID-19-ravaged economies with much less concern about looming foreign debts to repay.

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Wirecard inked a deal to sell its operations in Brazil, its insolvency administrator said on Friday, the first asset of global operations to sell after the company collapsed amid an accounting scandal earlier this year, Reuters reported. An agreement in principle has also been reached to sell some operations in Britain, and the process of selling its North American operations are well advanced with a deal expected “shortly”, the administrator said.

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Colombian airline Avianca, currently in Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization proceedings in US Federal Court has announced that it has been working with its advisors, led by investment bank Seabury Securities LLC to put in place a DIP (Debtor In Possession) financing structure, Finance Colombia reported.

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LATAM Airlines, South America’s largest carrier, on Tuesday reported a net loss of $890 million for the second quarter, hit by the coronavirus pandemic that drove the company into a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in May, Reuters reported. The carrier posted a 75% drop in revenue between April and June due to widespread travel restrictions around Latin America. “COVID-19 has had a very significant impact, which is reflected in the company’s numbers,” LATAM CFO Ramiro Alfonsin told journalists.

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Argentine bonds extended a recent dip on Tuesday after the government formalized its $65 billion debt restructuring offer, underscoring investor concern about the South American country’s shaky economy despite creditors’ rallying behind a deal, Reuters reported. Argentina’s over-the-counter bonds closed down an average of 0.3% and traded at around 45-50 cents on the dollar, well below the 54.8 cents net present value (NPV) of the government’s proposal. The country’s risk index also edged up.

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Brazilian telecom firm Oi SA proposed amendments to its restructuring plan on Friday, urging creditors to extend new loans and to get higher bids for assets put on the block. Creditors will vote on the proposed changes on Sept. 8, as Oi plans to exit bankruptcy protection by May 2022, roughly six years after starting the process, Reuters reported. “After lots of talks, we concluded that the plan needed some more flexibility than initially foreseen,” Chief Executive Rodrigo de Abreu said in an interview.

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