Argentina loses appeal in $1.33 billion U.S. bondholder fight

Fri Aug 23, 2013 5:57pm EDT
 
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By Nate Raymond and Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Argentina on Friday lost its appeal of a U.S. court order requiring it to pay $1.33 billion to hedge funds that refused to accept steep discounts when the nation restructured its debt.

The decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York is the latest in a standoff between U.S. courts and the Argentine government that some investors fear could lead Argentina to default. The court stayed the decision pending review by the U.S. Supreme Court, giving Argentina a reprieve and nervous investors some relief.

While Argentina and its supporters have said a ruling against it could threaten future sovereign debt restructurings, the court said the case was an "exceptional one" that would have little impact on future transactions.

The court also had harsh words for the government of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, which has called the hedge funds vultures and vowed not to pay them.

"Argentina's officials have publicly and repeatedly announced their intention to defy any rulings of this Court and the district court with which they disagree," Circuit Judge Barrington Parker wrote for a three-judge appeals panel.

Argentina did not comment on the decision on Friday. Economy Minister Hernan Lorenzino, asked about the decision during a trip to Chile, declined to comment.

The case stems from Argentina's $100 billion default on its debt in 2001. In two subsequent restructurings, in 2005 and 2010, creditors holding about 93 percent of the debt received 25 cents to 29 cents on the dollar.

Dissident bondholders led by the hedge funds NML Capital Ltd, which is a unit of Paul Singer's Elliott Management Corp, and Aurelius Capital Management refused to go along with the restructurings, arguing in court that they should be paid in full.   Continued...