South America

Brazil’s civil aviation regulator ANAC said on Friday it had suspended all flights and operations of carrier Avianca Brasil in the country as a precautionary measure, following the company’s filing for bankruptcy late last year, Reuters reported. “All the flights are suspended until the company proves it has the capacity to maintain operations safely,” ANAC said in a statement. Avianca Brasil has filed for bankruptcy protection and lost most of its fleet after lessors obtained favorable court decisions to take aircraft back for lack of payments.

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Avianca was a failing airline with 37 outdated planes when German Efromovich purchased it out of bankruptcy in 2004. Over 15 years the Bolivian businessman built it into a regional powerhouse as Latin America’s second-largest carrier. But for all its success, the Bogota-based company is now back on a rocky foundation, Bloomberg News reported. Its stock price is down by almost 75% since it went public in 2011 and its bonds are trading in distressed territory amid concerns it will struggle to refinance debt. Avianca’s first-quarter loss was the biggest since 2015.

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Samarco Mineracao SA, the Brazilian mining venture that hasn’t operated since a deadly dam collapse in 2015, is postponing restructuring talks for $3.8 billion of debt until at least November, according to three people with knowledge of the plan, Bloomberg News reported. Creditors of the company’s $2.2 billion in defaulted bonds and $1.6 billion in loans and other obligations are agreeing to the delay given the uncertainty around liabilities and fines the company may be subject to, said the people, who asked not to be named as talks are private.

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A spate of farmer defaults in Brazil’s top grain-producing state is creating headaches for global traders who are among their main creditors and posing challenges to the widespread use of barter in the world’s largest soybean exporter, Reuters reported. The battles in Mato Grosso bankruptcy courts pit farmers against international trading houses, such as France’s Louis Dreyfus Corp (LDC) and U.S.-based Bunge Ltd, which have been lending aggressively to producers through Brazil’s unique barter system to protect profit margins from newer traders in China.

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Venezuela’s opposition has hired veteran debt lawyer Lee Buchheit to help restructure the country’s more than $150 billion debt burden, suggesting it could take a tough approach to dealing with investors holding defaulted bonds, Reuters reported. Buchheit, a former Cleary Gottlieb attorney who has represented several governments in debt talks with bond investors, published an academic article last year suggesting ways for a future Venezuela government to minimize debt repayments.

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Brazilian telecommunications firm Oi SA reported a first-quarter net profit of 679 million reais ($170 million), in a quarter its revenue continued to fall, Reuters reported. This compares to a profit of 30.5 billion reais in the first quarter of 2018 after Oi reached an agreement with creditors in an in-court debt reorganization of the company. A debt for equity swap and a new capital injection were approved last year. The capital raise was completed in January.

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When the IMF completed its third review of Argentina’s economy in early April, managing director Christine Lagarde boasted that the government policies linked to the country’s record $56bn bailout from the fund were “bearing fruit,” the Financial Times reported.

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Brazilian airline Azul SA on Monday made a new attempt to purchase some of bankrupt airline Avianca Brasil’s most coveted routes, offering $145 million and reversing a decision not to participate, Reuters reported. Avianca Brasil filed for bankruptcy protection in December, setting off a fierce battle for its airport slots, the rights to land and depart in crowded airports, which were expected to be sold at a bankruptcy auction that was suspended indefinitely.

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Brazilian airline Azul SA has registered to participate in a bankruptcy auction for the assets of struggling carrier Avianca Brasil scheduled for next week, potentially walking back a previous decision not to participate, Reuters reported. The airline confirmed through a representative that they had registered, although he said no decision had been made whether to actually place a bid. The bankruptcy auction is set for Tuesday.

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Hobbled by recession and one of the world’s highest inflation rates, Argentina may be lurching toward the next in a series of economic crises afflicting the country over the last 70 years, Reuters reported. Consumer prices streaked more than 54 percent higher in the 12 months through March in defiance of central bank efforts to control inflation, fueling poverty and further damaging a business climate blighted by nose-bleed high borrowing rates. The peso, which lost 50.5 percent of its value against the U.S.

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