Argentina wants bond payment unfrozen if debt talks to go on

Wed Jul 2, 2014 7:28pm EDT
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By Hugh Bronstein

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina will press a U.S. judge to unfreeze a payment to holders of the country's restructured debt as a condition for negotiating with a group of New York hedge funds suing for full repayment, a government official said on Wednesday.

Latin America's No. 3 economy has been pushed to the brink of a new default by a string of U.S. court decisions that have forced it to negotiate with "holdout" investors who declined to restructure their bonds after the country's 2002 debt crisis.

More than 92 percent of the country's investors agreed to receive less than 30 cents on the dollar in bond restructurings carried out in 2005 and 2010.

The holdouts rebuffed those terms and want 100 cents on the dollar, but say they are willing to negotiate.

The government is sending a team to New York next week to set conditions for talks by way of a court-appointed mediator.

"These conditions will naturally include our objective of honoring the restructuring of 92.4 percent of our debt and generating fair conditions for all creditors," Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich told a news conference. "We are going into the meeting with this objective."

Argentina tried to make a coupon payment on its restructured debt due on Monday but payout was blocked by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Griesa, who says the government must settle with the holdouts before any more payments can be made on restructured bonds.

The payment was in limbo after being deposited with transfer agent Bank of New York Mellon BK.N but not paid out.   Continued...

The facade of Argentina's Banco Central (Central Bank) is seen in Buenos Aires June 16, 2014.  REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian