Argentina finally returns to international bond market

Argentina returned to the international bond markets for the first time in 15 years on Monday as it winds down a long-running battle with investors following its 2001 default, IFR reported.

Argentina announced a US$10-$15 bln bond, whose proceeds will help pay off the holders of its defaulted bonds who had rejected the payment terms of the country's debt restructuring.

New President Mauricio Macri wasted little time after taking office in December in agreeing terms with most of the holdouts, led by US hedge funds Elliott Management and Aurelius Capital.

Argentina's President Mauricio Macri (R) and President Barack Obama leave after posing at the Casa Rosada government house in Buenos Aires, March 23, 2016.
David Fernandez | Pool | Reuters

That cleared the way to start wrapping up the messy litigation in the US courts and come back to the bond market, where the new offering is expected to price on Tuesday.

Argentina set initial price thoughts of 6.75 percent area on a three-year bond and 8 percent area on a 10-year. A five-year is offered at 50 basis points below the 10-year yield, and a 30-year at 85 basis points over it.

"Some clients are a little bit skeptical," Jorge Piedrahita, CEO of broker Torino Capital, told IFR. "They don't think [pricing] is that generous."

Deutsche Bank, HSBC, JP Morgan and Santander are acting as global coordinators on the bond sale, while BBVA, Citigroup and UBS are joint bookrunners.

Past and future

Given Argentina's long history of defaults, investor interest in the new deal appeared to have been strong when officials were marketing the deal last week.

The deal was heard to have garnered indications of interest of around US$25bn.

That level of demand is testament to Macri's efforts to restore confidence in the country as he attempts to overhaul Latin America's third-largest economy.

"We looked at valuations [on the new bond] with respect to Argentina's history," said one London-based investor.

"It has a good government now, but a poor track record. The Macri story is already in the price."

Finance Secretary Luis Caputo and his undersecretary Santiago Bausili led two separate teams that met with investors in London, New York, Boston, Los Angeles and Washington.

Caputo was also holding a conference call with other investors on Monday morning about the deal, expected to carry junk-bond ratings of B3/B- from Moody's and Standard & Poors.

After being locked out of the international capital markets because of the default, the government was often reliant on printing new money — which sent inflation soaring.

The holdout creditors, who under the agreement with the government will be getting around 75 percent of what they demanded, will get first dibs on proceeds of the new deal.

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