Puerto Rico government bank misses payment, talking with creditors
By Nick Brown and Daniel Bases
SAN JUAN/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Puerto Rico's Government Development Bank, the main funding source for the U.S. commonwealth's public agencies, said it reached a tentative restructuring deal with some major creditors hours after declaring it would skip a $422 million debt payment.
The agreed framework is "a vital first step" that needs both restructuring legislation from the U.S. federal government and participation from all of the GDB’s creditors in order to work, the bank said in the statement issued late on Sunday.
Puerto Rico overall faces $70 billion in debt, a staggering 45-percent poverty rate and a shrinking population as it enters the most dire stretch of its fiscal crisis. It owes another $1.9 billion on July 1 that Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla says it cannot pay.
Both the government and the creditors, who call themselves the Ad Hoc Group and hold roughly $935 million of the GDB's nearly $4 billion in bonds, said they would continue negotiations for another 30 days.
These creditors said in a statement on Monday they would not pursue legal action during that time, although that does not preclude smaller investors from filing lawsuits.
As a U.S. territory, Puerto Rico cannot file for bankruptcy protection. It has been pleading for Washington to offer it a lifeline.
The GDB default is the most significant yet in Puerto Rico, because the bank acts as the main depositary and liquidity source for public agencies like the island’s highway and infrastructure authorities.
The indicative terms of the deal reached with the Ad Hoc group is a two-step debt exchange where they would likely recoup about 47 percent of what they are owed. Continued...