Wednesday 30th July 2014
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TICKER - WEDNESDAY - JULY 30th: Avanti Mining Inc has entered into a debt financing mandate letter with a syndicate of six lenders to provide secured debt finance facilities worth $612m to develop the Kitsault molybdenum mine. Lenders include BNP Paribas, Caterpillar Financial Services Corporation, Export Development Canada, Korea Development Bank, Mizuho Bank and UniCredit Bank. The facility set out in the term sheet is comprised of $500m senior debt for a term of 10.5 years, $42m in equipment finance for a term of 5 years and $70m in the form of standby cost over-run facilities for a term of 8 years. The interest rate is LIBOR based, loan repayments are semi-annual or quarterly (for equipment finance) and there are mandatory prepayment provisions of a portion of excess free cash flow. The facility will include customary provisions for a financing of this type, including fees, representations and warranties, covenants, events of default and security customary for this type of financing - Jupiter Fund Management reports strong investment performance with assets under management rising to £33.1bn, with the asset manager benefitting from net mutual fund inflows of £875m over the first half of this year. The firm says it has maintained operating margins above 50%. Maarten Slendebroek, chief executive, says “We are pleased with the progress being made on the implementation of our growth strategy during the first half of 2014. The Board’s intention to increase cash returns to shareholders through a combination of ordinary and special dividends reflects this progress and confidence in our future growth potential. We believe this approach will allow shareholders to participate in our organic growth story while receiving an attractive yield.” There will be an analyst presentation to discuss the results on July 30th at 9.00am at FTI Consulting, 200 Aldersgate, Aldersgate Street, London, EC1A 4HD and is also accessible via a live audiocast for those unable to attend in person - CME Clearing says it will remove the Exchange-For-Swap (EFS) identifier for all NYMEX, COMEX and DME exchange futures executed in accordance with CME Rule 538 (Exchange for Related Positions). CME products were removed from EFS eligibility in October of 2010, and CBT products were removed from EFS eligibility in July of 2012. With this final transition, EFS will no longer be a supported transaction type at CME. The EFS transaction type has been harmonized into, and falls under, the Exchange for Risk (EFR) transaction referenced in Rule 538. EFR transactions are privately negotiated transactions (PNT) and include the simultaneous exchange of an Exchange futures position for a corresponding OTC swap or other OTC instrument. In addition, NYMEX, COMEX and DME exchange products will continue to be eligible for Exchange for Physical (EFP) and Exchange of Options for Options (EOO) privately negotiated transactions. Currently, an EFS transaction is represented as a TrdTyp=”12” on TrdCaptRpt messages. Effective on the above date, the TrdTyp value for these transactions should be submitted as “11” (EFR). CME Clearing will reject any NYMEX, COMEX, or DME exchange privately negotiated futures message sent as an EFS. The trade will subsequently need to be resubmitted with a valid transaction type to CME Clearing. Additionally, CME Clearing will re-categorize the Exchange of Options for Options (EOO) transaction type for all CME, CBOT, NYMEX, COMEX, and DME products. Currently, an EOO is represented as an option on an exchange for swap (EFS) in clearing and on FIXML TrdCaptRpt messages. Going forward, an EOO transaction will be represented as an option on an Exchange for Risk (EFR) - Chi-X® Japan Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of alternative market operator Chi-X® Global Holdings LLC, says local brokers Yamawa Securities Co., Ltd. and Ark Securities Co Ltd., have commenced trading on Chi-X Japan, bringing the total number of trading participants to 23. Yamawa Securities and Ark Securities will access its market centre through Intertrade’s platform - The upgrade of the cities of Bogota and Medellin by Moody’s follows the upgrade on Colombia's sovereign ratings and reflects the close economic and operational links that these cities have with the central government. The rating action also reflects Bogota and Medellin's relatively solid financial metrics and moderate debt levels. The ratings assigned to both Bogota and Medellin are supported by their strong economic position in Colombia that includes a high level of own-source revenues and diversified local economies. The positive prospects of economic growth in the country translate in supportive conditions for both cities through higher local economic growth and own-source revenue growth. The assigned ratings also consider the close oversight that Colombia's central government exerts over the country's regional and local governments. Bogota and Medellin show solid governance and management practices that have supported historical low to moderate debt levels and moderate cash financing requirements, says the ratings agency. Between 2011 and 2013, Bogota's cash financing requirements averaged -5.7% of total revenues and net direct and indirect debt averaged 18.4% of total revenues. Medellin's cash financing requirements over the same period averaged -5.8% of total revenues and debt levels averaged 17.6% of total revenues.

Argentina - Ten years on from the default

Friday, 15 June 2012
Argentina - Ten years on from the default In the hubble and bubble in the press around Greece and Spain, some commentators have lately drawn comparisons with Argentina, suggesting that is the way forward. Humbly, we suggest they might be wide of the mark. Greece will exit from a currency union; Argentina has its own currency and can set its own interest rates. In other ways too, the countries are way different and drawing comparisons between them is not helpful to Greece or Greek bondholders. Vanja Dragomanovich explains the long term impact on Argentina of its latest default (back in 2001) and what, if any, lessons might be drawn from that debacle and the long term impact on the Argentine financial markets. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

In the hubble and bubble in the press around Greece and Spain, some commentators have lately drawn comparisons with Argentina, suggesting that is the way forward. Humbly, we suggest they might be wide of the mark. Greece will exit from a currency union; Argentina has its own currency and can set its own interest rates. In other ways too, the countries are way different and drawing comparisons between them is not helpful to Greece or Greek bondholders. Vanja Dragomanovich explains the long term impact on Argentina of its latest default (back in 2001) and what, if any, lessons might be drawn from that debacle and the long term impact on the Argentine financial markets.

In the hubble and bubble in the press around Greece and Spain, some commentators have lately drawn comparisons with Argentina, suggesting that is the way forward. Humbly, we suggest they might be wide of the mark. Greece will exit from a currency union; Argentina has its own currency and can set its own interest rates. In other ways too, the countries are way different and drawing comparisons between them is not helpful to Greece or Greek bondholders. Vanja Dragomanovich explains the long term impact on Argentina of its latest default (back in 2001) and what, if any, lessons might be drawn from that debacle and the long term impact on the Argentine financial markets.

As Greece edges closer to political and economic immolation, market watchers have been in a flurry, casting around for examples of how a country could survive leaving the eurozone and a hard default. One example being touted around the markets is Argentina, which went through a spectacular default ten years ago but managed to follow it up with a decade of fast growth, a boom in commodity exports and a golden period in banking. Argentina’s finances are in relatively good shape. At $185bn, the country’s total debt load last year equated to just 41.3% of GDP. That’s better than both Spain, whose debt-to-GDP ratio stands at 70%, and Italy, which is saddled with an ­eye-popping 120% burden. Moreover, with GDP growth at 4% and funds available from central bank reserves, pension funds and YPF’s coffers, Argentina has ample cash.

Argentina’s expansion was fuelled by two things: liberal policies and a sharp rise in the prices of com­modities. Argentina is one of the world’s largest exporters of wine, soy, corn and wheat and China is its enthusiastic buyer. And while Greece may try to emulate the policies component of the Argentina story, unless the Chinese take to drinking retsina and cooking with olive oil it will have difficulty replicating the Latin American country’s recovery.

Argentina has also come good on almost 93% of its initial debt obligations, but to this day has not been able to return to international financial markets. In large part this is because of an ongoing dispute with two hedge funds. The bulk of the outstanding amount is owed to the Paris Club, a total of $6.4bn. “Technically, Argentina is not locked out of international markets the way it was in 2001 and 2002 when nobody would lend them money. In theory they could try to raise money but in practice they can’t go back because they would risk a seizure of assets while the [legal] cases are pending,” explains Michael Henderson, emerg­ing markets economist at Capital Economics in London

In 2001 the country defaulted on $100bn of its sovereign debt. Four years later, Argentina’s president at the time, Nestor Kirchner, offered to swap the defaulted bonds for new ones worth 70% less, in a similar deal to what Greece is hoping for. Around three quarters of the bondholders agreed. The process was repeated in 2010 by current president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner who said at the time that this was the final deal being offered to remaining bondholders.

Two distressed-debt hedge funds opted for litigation in US courts while a group of Italian bondholders asked for an arbitration award at the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

The US courts are still pondering the issue. Initially the courts ruled that NML Capital Fund, one of the funds suing Argentina, was entitled to a repayment of $1.6bn, including the payment of interest, only for this to be overruled this spring. Now the remaining debt holders are collectively appealing to the US Court of Appeal with the case due to be heard in mid-June.

While this is going on, not only is Argentina not in a position to issue bonds, it has also little hope  of raising loans from major international institutions as the United States is actively blocking the country’s loan applications on the grounds that it is a recalcitrant debtor. In September last year the US, which holds a 30% voting share in Inter-American Development Bank, voted against a $230m loan to the country.

 Of the remaining debt, $6.4 billion is still owed to the Paris Club of official creditors and Argentina has yet to reach agreement with the Club on how to reschedule the repayments. “For that Argentina would need to get the approval from the IMF and that is not likely to happen as they have a strained relationship,” says Henderson. He argues that that would mean that Argentina would have to let the IMF carry out a health check on its economy and in the process the government would have to admit that the country’s official statistics have been doctored. Just how far the country’s figures have been massaged was made clear by Carlos Maria Regunaga, a former adviser-in-chief to the Argentina’s secretary of commerce and a director at Menas Argentina. Regunaga cites the fact that although consumer price inflation in 2011 was around 22%, “the government denies this and insists that inflation is only 9.5%.”

So where does this all leave Argentina? Over the years it has been turning increasingly inwards for solutions. The government’s tactical arsenal has included printing money, dipping into central bank reserves, seizing the assets of pension funds, controlling imports and exports to tweak its trade balance and privatising pension funds. Moreover, both Kirchner presidents have been fuelling growth by heavy public spending. Despite some questionable actions, the economy has grown. Again, according to official statistics, economic growth came in at over 8% in 2010 and 9% last year. 

Even so, growth has come at a price and the high public expenditure is now a major problem, says Regunaga.  “Historically, the public sector represented an average of 30% of GDP. The Kirchners have increased it to a level of 45% of GDP,” leading to a financial shortage in the public sector, he says. In 2011, for instance, 70% of public sector spending has been financed by printing more pesos and reaching into central bank reserves.

Government raids

The government has been raiding what there is to raid in the country. In April it said it would borrow almost $3bn from the state-run bank Banco de La Nación to cover its funding needs, $2.36bn in 12 instalments and the rest as a lump sum. Argentina also regularly issues bonds directly to pension fund agency Anses, which operates the bulk of Argentina’s pension money after the government nationalised all private pension funds in 2008.“There are no signs that the government will go back any time soon on the nationalisation of pension funds. Why would it?” says a Buenos Aires banker who did not want to be named. “The move has achieved two major objectives: not only did it give the government access to a large sum of money but also major stakes in top companies and seats on their boards of directors,” the banker adds.

This and other political decisions such as strict exchange controls, import and export restrictions and the recent nationalisation of oil company YPF, formerly majority owned by Spanish oil producer Repsol has alienated Argentina from foreign mutual funds and private equity investors. Julio Lastres, managing director at Darby Private Equity, part of Franklin Templeton Investments, explains: “In order to make an investment you have to see how the local capital market has been developing, to see if you can fund the company in the local market and exit through an IPO. And then you typically have the growth of local pension funds that fuel the growth of the local market. But what we hear in Argentina makes it challenging to take a long term view and invest there. You have better places to invest in Latin America.”

Argentina has some presence in the international financial markets through GDP warrants, which were issued as part of two debt restructuring instalments (one in 2005, the other in 2010) to sweeten the deal for bond holders caught out by the country’s default on $100bn of debt in 2001.

The warrants are structured in such a way that the government will pay investors as long as the GDP grows by 3.3% per year, based on the annual GDP. Although initially there was little appetite for these GDP warrants in the open market, as the country’s economy grew so did niche investors’ interest. “We had very good volumes on Argentina’s GDP warrants, hedge funds in particular like them,” says Gabriel Sterne, director at frontier markets investment banking boutique Exotix.

This is also about to change as falling commodity prices and heavy government spending are catching up with Argentina’s economy. While the government predicts that growth this year will be 6% Henderson at Capital Economics forecast that the number will be closer to 2.5%. “Our belief is that Argentina is headed for a recession, most likely next year,” says Henderson, particularly if the global economic backdrop deteriorates over the next year, which could possibly lead to a more disorderly adjustment. With Argentine state accounts under pressure, it would be handy not to have to pay warrant holders. But that might do no favours to Argentina’s already rocky investment reputation. For now, warrant payments are hanging in the balance. Ultimately though, while Argentina has some mounting troubles, it is a story of rich resource management and a deep economy; very different from that of Greece. 

Greece’s economic recovery may also not be as certain as in Argentina’s case as it cannot devalue and does not have such a strong export market to boost its coffers. So if Greece is looking for a blueprint for the exit from the euro and a default it might be better looking somewhere other than Argentina. Or perhaps better yet, try and avoid the default in the first place. n

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