South America

Latam Airlines Group SA Chief Executive Roberto Alvo, seeking to stave off an overture from rival Azul SA, said the bankrupt air carrier’s Brazilian operations aren’t for sale, Bloomberg News reported. Santiago-based Latam, which has now been in U.S. bankruptcy for more than a year, has its sights set on a strong chapter 11 exit -- not a piecemeal sale of the business, Alvo said in an interview Wednesday. The carrier’s shares briefly slumped last week after it denied reports that Azul SA planned to buy Latam’s Brazilian subsidiary.
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Colombia may start relying more heavily on shorter-term debt sales to cover its budget shortfalls, seeking to drive down interest costs after a failed tax-reform push triggered social unrest and sent yields higher. Yields on longer-term bonds fell, Bloomberg News reported. Public Credit Director Cesar Arias, a Finance Ministry official who is in charge of the government’s borrowing, said in an interview that he will begin to discuss with investors whether to scale back the maturities on some of the bonds it sells at auction.
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Authorities in Brazil are investigating senior employees at Connecticut-based trading house Freepoint Commodities for their alleged role in a bribery scheme involving state-run oil company Petrobras, Reuters has learned. Federal police here suspect Freepoint, through an intermediary, routed bribes to Petrobras employees for a roughly seven-year period ending in 2018. Reuters pieced together the purported kickback operation from three people close to the investigation, and hundreds of pages of previously unreported court documents filed by Brazilian investigators.
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Argentine power-plant owner Stoneway Capital Ltd. is discussing borrowing money from the senior bondholders challenging the company’s U.S. bankruptcy filing and pushing to relocate the restructuring to Canada, WSJ Pro Bankruptcy reported. Stoneway, seeking to finance its stay in bankruptcy, is discussing potential loan terms with senior bondholders and junior creditors, as well as potential outside lenders, the company’s lead lawyer, Fred Sosnick, said at a virtual hearing on Friday in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York. The bondholders, including BlackRock Inc.
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Peru’s closely watched presidential election race between two polarized candidates is the latest in a string of political risk events haunting investors in Latin America, a region struggling to keep up with its global peers despite a commodities boom, Reuters reported. Latin America was engulfed in social unrest before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Now a string of elections that continues into 2022, protests in Colombia and upheaval over Chile's constitution have investors bracing for a new wave of uncertainty over policy making.
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Brazilian airline Azul SA has approached Chile’s bankrupt LATAM Airlines Group with the aim of buying its Brazilian operation, Reuters reported. Azul’s shares rose more than 9% in Sao Paulo on the news, while LATAM’s shares in Santiago, where the airline is listed, were down 20%. LATAM filed for bankruptcy protection a year ago and, while it has secured new liquidity in that process, it has yet to present a formal restructuring plan.

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Covid-19 bankrupts a travel-industry power player. Investors dump its securities. But wait: vaccines roll out, economies reopen, and that once-doomed firm looks pretty attractive to traders once again. The tale of Latam Airlines Group SA’s Chapter 11 case is looking eerily similar to that of Hertz Global Holdings Inc. in some respects, Bloomberg News reported. Both went bankrupt as the virus raged. Both were in decent financial shape before the pandemic ground travel to a halt.
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Colombia’s dollar bonds dropped and the peso led losses among emerging-market currencies after S&P Global Ratings cut the country’s credit rating to junk amid a political crisis and mass unrest, Bloomberg News reported. The nation’s dollar-denominated bonds due 2031 dropped 0.4% to 96.7 cents in early New York trading Thursday, sending their spread over U.S. Treasuries up to 1.84 percentage points. The peso weakened 2% to 3,760 per dollar.
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As LATAM Airlines Group reshuffles its operations and cleans up its financial situation as a part of its chapter 11 bankruptcy process, the group’s branches continue their streamlining and cost-cutting measures. The latest agreement — and one of the most relevant with respect to labour relations so far — was announced this week at LATAM Brasil. In an internal announcement, the company announced it would be outsourcing its ground agent jobs at almost all Brazilian airports.

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Brazilian bus company Itapemirim is launching a new airline in June, betting it can dodge the financial ruin that has grounded many rival carriers even though the land transport company just spent five years reorganizing under bankruptcy protection, Reuters reported. The carrier expects to have a fleet of 50 Airbus A320 planes by next year, all painted in Itapemirim’s signature bright yellow color, trying to beat the odds that have led 11 airlines to fail in Brazil so far this century.

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