TCRLA_Public/010316.mbx        T R O U B L E D   C O M P A N Y   R E P O R T E R

                   L A T I N   A M E R I C A

            Friday, March 16, 2001, Vol. 2, Issue 53

                           Headlines

A R G E N T I N A

SPORTSYA!: Ceases Argentinean Operations; Lays Off Employees


C H I L E

GENER: Copec Interested In Acquiring Puerto Ventanas Assets


M E X I C O

BANCRECER: Banorte Improvements Signal Real Interest
CHRYSLER: May Say Goodbye To Some Suppliers
CINTRA: Congress Demands IPAB Confer on Future Moves


P E R U

PACIFIC INDUSTRIAL: Bank Shut-Down Connected To Ex-Spy Chief


V E N E Z U E L A

VENEPAL: Smurfit Signs Intent To Buy Controlling Stake



         -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -   -


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A R G E N T I N A
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SPORTSYA!: Ceases Argentinean Operations; Lays Off Employees
------------------------------------------------------------
Argentine General Manager Diego de la Torre confirmed reports
that the Miami-based sports portal Sportsya! closed its office in
Argentina, laying off 30 employees, Business News Americas said
Wednesday. According to de la Torre, operations in Argentina,
launched in December 1999, were not profitable. Banner sales and
events did not reach the expected level, he added.

In February, Sportsya! was rumored to be on the brink of
bankruptcy because of its financial situation. Executives tried
to dispute the rumors, saying that the company has reoriented its
activities toward the traditional media business, producing
television programs and promoting live sports events. Sportsya!  
said that it was planning to cease operations in some countries
to focus on Mexico, Argentina and Spain, where operations were  
profitable.



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C H I L E
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GENER: Copec Interested In Acquiring Puerto Ventanas Assets
-----------------------------------------------------------
Chilean holding company Copec has confirmed its interest in
acquiring Puerto Ventanas, principally for those assets at the
port that until last June belonged to Petroleos, Asfaltos y
Combustibles (Pacsa), Business News Americas reported Wednesday.  
Copec will formally express its interest to Chilean electricity
generator Gener, which controls 79.8 percent of Ventanas, on
March 21. Spain's Urbaser, a Dragados group subsidiary, and the
Von Appen family, who own Ultraterra investments, might also be
interested. Gener's sale of Puerto Ventanas is part of its plan
to offload non-electricity assets.



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M E X I C O
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BANCRECER: Banorte Improvements Signal Real Interest
----------------------------------------------------
Grupo Financiero Banorte is making efforts to upgrade its
computer systems, spending 4 million dollars on a new system to
handle the sale of its banking products and services,
Reforma/Infolatina said Wednesday. The move by Banorte, which
also includes investing in a new sales system called Customer
Relationship Management, increases speculations that the bank is
truly serious about a planned bid for government-intervened
Bancrecer. IPAB is expected to put Bancrecer on the auction block
in several weeks' time.


CHRYSLER: May Say Goodbye To Some Suppliers
-------------------------------------------
DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group will dump suppliers that
refuse to comply with its December 7 demand to reduce prices.
This was announced by CEO Wolfgang Bernhard, a top executive at
the automaker's U.S. arm, in an AP Business News report released
Wednesday. Lower prices from suppliers are just as essential as
plant closings and job cuts for Chrysler's survival, Bernhard
said, and about half of its suppliers bargained for smaller or
eventual cuts, while one in 10 refused to negotiate prices. About
40 percent of the suppliers have already agreed to cut their
prices by 5 percent and are starting to win more business for
future models. As for the 10 percent who refused to budge, "Over
the next year, over the next two years, the next product cycle -
we'll say good-bye," Bernhard said.

Many suppliers complained that the cuts demanded in December were
too drastic and too sudden but Chrysler countered it, saying that
it was paying more than Ford and General Motors for identical
parts.


CINTRA: Congress Demands IPAB Confer on Future Moves
----------------------------------------------------
Mexican congressmen, from all parties, were furious about Mexican
bank bailout agency IPAB's failure to consult them on its
decision to hire the local office of Merrill Lynch to handle the
breakup and sale of government-owned airline holding company
Cintra.

According to a report in Reforma/Infolatina Wednesday edition, a
group of congressmen met with IPAB head Julio Cesar Mendez Rubio,
to demand that the Congress be consulted on all further IPAB
decisions pertaining to the breakup and sale of Cintra. It is
reported Mendez agreed to consult congressmen before making major
decisions on Cintra in the future.



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P E R U
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PACIFIC INDUSTRIAL: Bank Shut-Down Connected To Ex-Spy Chief
------------------------------------------------------------
Pacific Industrial Bank (PIB), a clandestine financial
institution linked to fugitive ex-spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos,
was shut down, Bloomberg reported Wednesday. Judge Saul Pena,  
investigating corruption connected with Montesinos, received a
tip that the bank, operating for several years, took in funds
including a $30 million deposit, from associates of the former
spymaster.

PIB, which was not registered with Peru's Banking and Insurance
Superintendency, issued credit cards, took deposits, issued
certificates and provided other services, such as wire transfers,
for figures linked to Montesinos.



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V E N E Z U E L A
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VENEPAL: Smurfit Signs Intent To Buy Controlling Stake
-------------------------------------------------------
Smurfit Carton de Venezuela has signed a letter of intent with
Venezuelan paper maker Venepal that will allow Smurfit to buy 64
percent of the struggling company, Reuters reported Wednesday.
According to the vice-president of Venepal's board of directors,
Juan Calvo, he signed the agreement on Tuesday, giving Smurfit 60
days to decide whether to take control of Venepal.

Venepal, wrestling with financial problems for the last two years
and US$58 million in restructured debt, has until September 2001
to find a new partner. If unsuccessful, bank creditors could
exercise their right to own a controlling 64 percent of the firm.

Smurfit Carton de Venezuela is a unit of Irish packing firm
Jefferson Smurfit Group. U.S. container-board producer Smurfit
Stone Container, an affiliate of Jefferson Smurfit Group,  
already owns 20 percent of Venepal.




S U B S C R I P T I O N   I N F O R M A T I O N

Troubled Company Reporter Latin American is a daily newsletter
co-published by Bankruptcy Creditors' Service, Inc., Trenton, NJ,
and Beard Group, Inc., Washington, DC. John D. Resnick, Edem
Psamathe P. Alfeche and Janice Mendoza, Editors.

Copyright 2001.  All rights reserved.  ISSN 1529-2746.

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