CARACAS – The Venezuelan government claimed on Monday that the country has successfully begun the process of refinancing its foreign debt during a meeting earlier in the day in Caracas with bondholders from various countries.
“The government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela wants to inform the world that today, at the Miraflores Government Palace, the process of refinancing Venezuela’s foreign debt was started with resounding success, as a strategy to fully comply with our obligations,” an official statement claimed.
Venezuelan government representatives met with creditors to try and renegotiate the debt, an initial meeting from which no agreements or concrete proposals emerged and at which the Nicolas Maduro administration informed its creditors of its limitations to pay.
“We rate this meeting, in which Venezuelan debt holders from Venezuela, the United States, Panama, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Japan and Germany participated, as highly positive and very auspicious,” the statement continued.
Bondholders didn't see it that way. Quoted by Reuters, one unnamed bondholder had a perfectly succinct summary of what happened: “There was no offer, no terms, no strategy, nothing,” the bondholder said, leaving the meeting that lasted a little over half an hour at the ‘White Palace’, departing with a colorful gift-bag containing Venezuelan chocolates and coffee.
Instead of offering solutions and plans, bondholders report that Venezuela used the 30 minute meeting to accuse Washington of “attacking” its economy and denounced that the credit rating agencies, following the pattern of financial blockade undertaken by the Donald Trump administration, assist to hinder the country.
The meeting was ostensibly led by 43 year old Vice President Tareck El Aissami, who Washington put on a U.S. Treasury sanctions list in February, labeling him a "drug kingpin" and seizing over $500 million in cash and property from accounts related to him in the U.S. El Aissami read from a prepared text railing against Washington's sanctions, with another sanctioned individual - Simon Zerpa, who is the CFO of PDVSA and acting Finance Minister -- standing next to him.
U.S. citizens and companies are forbidden by the Treasury sanctions from negotiating with sanctioned individuals.
Caracas claimed that it has “punctually” paid $73.35 billion for debt services in the last 36 months, and hoped that Monday’s meeting will help reiterate its willingness to comply with its commitments. However, bond payments from Venezuela and PDVSA together have roughly averaged $10 billion a year, leaving analysts unclear as to what makes up the other $36 billion.
“The positive climate in which this refinancing process began indicates that we will move forward and continue to build the welfare state that the people of Venezuela deserve,” the official note added.
According to the Venezuelan National Assembly’s financial commission’s estimates, Venezuela holds a total debt close to $150 billion, which results in an annual payments close to $10 billion, “not including what is paid to China and Russia” by various agreements.
Venezuela and PDVSA have been struggling to pay $3.6 billion due on their $65 billion of bonds in October and November.
Venezuela owed a $27.6 million dollar coupon payment on its $650 million Electricidad de Caracas (EDC or ELECAR) 8.5% of April 10, 2018, on October 10. The bond indenture allows for 30 days of coupon non-payment to pass before it becomes a full-blown "event of default." That 30 days default period ended Thursday, November 9, and on Friday, November 10, the Trustee, Wilmington Trust issued a Notice of Default. Later on Friday, Standard and Poor's also cut the state-owned power company to Default.
Today, the 30 Day Technical Default Period on PDVSA 2027 interest ($80.6 million due October 12), Venezuela 2019 interest ($96.7 million due October 13), and Venezuela 2024 interest ($102.9 million due October 13) expired. As a result of no payments by Venezuela and PDVSA on the $280 million owed on these bonds within the 30 day period to cure the technical default, S&P cut Venezuela to Default and Fitch cut PDVSA to Default.
Separately, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) is deliberating on whether PDVSA's failure to pay $1.12 billion on a PDVSA bond maturity within 3 days of its November 2 due date triggered Credit Default Swaps, a type of bond insurance. An answer is expected Tuesday.VENEZUELA CUT TO DEFAULT by S&P
Venezuela State Oil Company PDVSA Cut to DEFAULT by Fitch
Venezuela's State Power Company CORPOELEC Cut to Default by S&P