December 17, 2015 / 11:20 PM / 5 years ago

U.S. judge urges Argentina to settle bond litigation

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Thursday urged Argentina to resolve bondholder litigation stemming from its $100 billion default in 2002, in his first remarks on settlement talks following the South American nation’s election of a new president.

People are reflected in the glass window of a currency exchange store in Buenos Aires' financial district, August 14, 2014. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci

At a court hearing in Manhattan, U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa urged Argentina and creditors suing over defaulted bonds to “make some attempt at that direction” after years of litigation that led the country to default again last year.

Griesa made no reference to the Nov. 22 election that brought to power Argentine President Mauricio Macri, who has it a priority to settle the dispute with creditors who rejected the terms of the country’s 2005 and 2010 bond restructurings a priority.

But Griesa said he wanted to put “some emphasis on the need to work on as prompt a resolution to this litigation as possible,” noting the dispute had been ongoing for “a very long time.”

“It is time to work toward a conclusion,” he said. “It is time.”

His comments came a week after a court-appointed mediator in the dispute, New York lawyer Daniel Pollack, confirmed he had met with Argentina’s new secretary of finance, Luis Caputo, who he said expressed the intention to commence settlement talks “promptly.”

Pollack at the time said he also met a week earlier with representatives of bondholders holding $10 billion in judgments against Argentina. No substantive negotiations to resolve the litigation occurred at either meeting, he said on Dec. 9.

The talks would be aimed at resolving litigation by holdout creditors spurned Argentina past debt restructurings, which resulted in 92 percent of its defaulted debt being swapped and investors being paid less than 30 cents on the dollar.

Argentina defaulted again in July 2014 after refusing to honor court orders to pay $1.33 billion plus interest to holdouts including Elliott Management’s NML Capital Ltd and Aurelius when it paid restructured bond holders.

Griesa, who has long overseen the litigation, in October extended similar relief to holders of several billions of dollars more in defaulted bonds.

The hearing on Wednesday focused on efforts by NML and Aurelius to subpoena three banks including Deutsche Bank AG and JPMorgan Chase & Co for information related to Bonar 2024 bonds the country issued in April.

The bondholders are seeking to determine if those bonds are subject to Griesa’s orders. Griesa made no ruling on the issue.

Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York

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