Argentina debt deal gets 'massive' backing, 99% of bonds to be restructured

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina’s debt restructuring deal received “massive” backing from creditors, Economy Minister Martin Guzman said on Monday, which would allow the country to revamp 99% of the total eligible bonds and gain breathing room during a swirling economic crisis.

Bondholders tendered 93.55% of the bonds in the restructuring, Guzman said at a press conference, after months of tense negotiations, pushed deadlines, and modifications to its offer helped strike an agreement with most creditors.

“In these recent days we have worked on the conditions of an offer that gained massive acceptance by our creditors as a result of the dialogue process in the past months,” Guzman said, adding necessary levels of support were reached on most bonds.

A strong deal is key for Argentina, Latin America’s No. 3 economy and a major grains producer, to drag itself out of default and revive an economy in its third year of recession and expected to contract around 12.5% this year.

“We told Argentines that we would seek a debt settlement that does not hit those who suffer the most. And we are succeeding,” President Alberto Fernandez tweeted earlier on Monday.

“We are doing what we said we were going to do. Now, united, we are going to rebuild Argentina.”

The 1% of bonds that did not meet collective action clause (CAC) thresholds of support for a restructuring underscores some pockets of holdouts on individual bonds.

The bonds being restructured have CACs that mean the government needs a certain level of support to restructure them. The older 2005 indenture bonds require a higher combined 85% of creditor support, with two-thirds on each individual series.

The strong support and few holdouts stands in contrast to Argentina’s 2005 debt restructuring, which saw creditors holding around a quarter of bonds reject a deal, leading to over a decade of legal battles.

Roberto Geretto, economist at Banco CMF, said before the announcement that a high participation level was assured, and that the only doubt was if all the 2005 bonds would reach the thresholds.

“In case the CACs cannot be executed on these bonds, there are two options: after a reallocation process some series of bonds may remain as holdouts, or become performing again if the government pays the unpaid interest,” he said.

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