Sunday, 19 November, 2017

S&P cuts Venezuela's sovereign debt rating to 'selective default'

Ratings Agencies Cave: Venezuela Defaulted, Selectively Venezuela begins refinancing its foreign debt
Kenny Thornton | 14 November, 2017, 19:02

The decision from the ratings agency followed the government's failure to make good on coupon payments for debt maturing in 2019 and 2024 within a 30-day grace period.

Venezuela's government said its plan to refinance some $60 billion in bonds was successfully underway, while a rating agency declared the nation in selective default over missed coupon payments.

S&P's move came after Vice President Tareck El Aissami met with creditors in Caracas Monday, but offered no way out of the impasse.

Participants at the meeting told AFP that officials said the government meant to form working groups to evaluate short- and mid-term debt renegotiation proposals, but gave no specifics.

Bondholders had told Reuters on Monday they had not yet received payments on the 2019 and 2024 bonds but remained unconcerned by the delay, which they said was partly due to increased bank vigilance of Venezuelan transactions in the wake of US sanctions.

While placing those latter two ratings on CreditWatch, S&P added that it saw a one-in-two chance Venezuela night default again within the coming three months.

Caracas has less than $10 billion left in hard currency reserves, but must make $1.4 billion in debt payments before year-end, and another $8 billion next year.

Venezuela is buried under a $150 billion foreign debt mountain, including $28 billion owed to its biggest creditor China and another $8 billion to Russian Federation.

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Ratings on those bonds also will be lowered to "D", of default, if not paid on time, it said.

The US has designated vice president El Aissami himself a drug kingpin with whom US entities are barred from dealing.

"We also believe the Venezuelan government and people have the ability to handle the debt issue of their country", Geng said.

PDVSA, in turn, relies on credit lines from worldwide banks to finance oil production.

A committee of 15 financial firms met in NY "to discuss whether a Failure to Pay Credit Event had occurred" with respect to PDVSA, but ended up postponing a decision until Tuesday.

But Maduro remains defiant, insisting on Sunday that his country would "never" default and pointing to ongoing negotiations with China and Russian Federation.

Under the sanctions, no USA citizen can do business with Venezuelan individuals on the list.

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